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Results 1 to 10 of 51
  1. #1

    Default Changing substrate

    0 Not allowed!
    I have read several threads asking how to change your substrate in your
    aquarium after it is set up and running. So with a little help from
    other forum members, I decided to write up a step-by-step of how to
    accomplish this. In my case I have a 55 gallon freshwater tank and I
    switched from regular aquarium gravel to play sand.

    The first step in the process is deciding what kind of substrate you would
    like. After switching, I believe sand is the best choice, but there are a
    of options. I will review the the choices assuming you already have gravel in
    the tank. You can choose to go with gravel again if all you want to do is
    change the color. The good thing about gravel is all the debris left over
    from fish and plants settles down through the gravel and is never seen.
    This is also good because it gives some nutrients to any plants and it
    makes it were you don’t see it. Another great thing about gravel is you
    can get it in just about any color you can think of, giving your tank a
    different look. The bad thing about gravel is it is harder to clean because
    food, fish waste, and other bits have settled in. I know from when I
    pulled out my old gravel there was plenty of fish waste under it and I
    vacuum the gravel every time
    I do a water change.

    The other very popular choice, and my favorite, is sand. This is where
    people changing substrate begin to worry and for no reason. Sand is sand--
    it will not hurt fish as long as it is clean. However there are different
    qualities of sand. One very popular and high quality is Estes. This is
    aquarium grade sand that comes in different colors. Aquarium grade sand is
    always the best way to go but, if you are on a tighter budget you can go
    to your local hardware store and get pool filter sand or play sand. The
    downfall to play sand is that you should clean it prior to putting it in
    your tank. To clean play
    sand you put it in a bucket or a large tub. Then, put your water hose in
    it and let
    it run until the water looks clear. Use your hand to gently stir the sand
    and any debris will flow out with the water.
    55gal: 1gold severum(jasper),1 Green Sev (Spot), 3 tiger barbs (left), bovarian ram.
    29gal: 3 goldfish growing out

  2. #2


    1 Not allowed!
    While thinking about your substrate this would be a good time to think
    about if you are going to have plants or not. If you know this you will
    need to figure out how deep the substrate should be and if you want to use
    a plant
    substrate, such as fluorite. You can find many good plant substrates on
    different websites. You will also need to know how much gravel you need.
    You can either go by the one pound per gallon ratio or if you want it
    deeper or more shallow
    you can use the substrate calculator posted by Lady Hobbs in the tank
    setup section. (I would put a link to this to make it easier).

    Now to prepare for the change, before you start anything, I would recommend
    getting everything you need together during this change as you won’t want to
    take the time to run to the store. I will assume that you have the amount of
    substrate you need and want, and that is has been cleaned and rinsed, if
    You will also need all the equipment to drain the tank. I would recommend
    to have a
    towel laid out to lay all your décor on as you remove it from the tank.
    You will also need a place to put your fish. In my opinion the inexpensive
    Styrofoam coolers work the best. You also could use Rubbermaid tubs and
    buckets. What you use will greatly
    depend on your budget and size of fish. Personally I used the coolers. You
    also should have a thermometer to put in the coolers to monitor
    temperatures or you can just put your heater in there but it still would
    be good to have a thermometer. You will also need whatever you use to
    fill the tank with and a plate or something to slow the stream of water
    when pouring it
    back in.

    Now, how you do the change. The very first thing you do is turn off your
    filter and heater. You can also put these on the cooler or tub you have
    the fish in. If you’re
    changing to sand this is very critical that you turn off your filter with
    sand it can get into your impeller and ruin a good filter.
    55gal: 1gold severum(jasper),1 Green Sev (Spot), 3 tiger barbs (left), bovarian ram.
    29gal: 3 goldfish growing out

  3. #3


    0 Not allowed!
    1. First you start draining your tank until there is only about 8 inches
    of water left in the bottom. While draining let the water go into your
    coolers. This gives your fish the same temperature water when you put them in
    2. This is a good time to take all the décor out and place it on the towel
    you have laid out. Getting this out of the way makes it easier and safer
    to catch your fish. Make a note of what décor might need to be cleaned
    before it goes back into the tank.
    3. Now you catch your fish and place them in the cooler.
    4. Finish draining all the water you can out of the tank.
    5. Scoop all the old substrate out of the bottom of the tank and dispose
    of properly. This is also a good time to clean the inside of your tank.
    6. Now you can add your new substrate. If you decided on plant substrate
    be sure to add this first.
    7. In this step you can do one of two things. You can either go ahead and
    add your décor how you like it or in my case I went ahead and put 6-8
    inches of water first so I could get a feel how the sand was going to
    8. If you are using sand this is the tricky step adding water. If it is
    gravel just start filling. With sand on the other hand this is where the
    plate I told you to get comes in handy. When filling pour against the
    plate to dissipate the water so it will disturb the sand as little as
    9. After the tank is completely full. You can turn back on your
    heater and let the water get to the desired temperature. (Don’t forget to
    add dechlorinator just like you were doing a water change.)
    10. Once your tank is at the right temp you can add your fish back. (You
    can do this even though the tank is not settled yet it won’t hurt the
    11. Now here is another tricky part if you are using sand. You can now put
    your filter back on but you can only turn it on if you put a sponge on the
    intake or a pair of panty hose to ensure to stray sand particles enter
    your filter.
    Now you are finished and in about 24 hours will have settled 100%.
    55gal: 1gold severum(jasper),1 Green Sev (Spot), 3 tiger barbs (left), bovarian ram.
    29gal: 3 goldfish growing out

  4. #4


    0 Not allowed!
    You probably have several questions about this here are a couple FAQs.

    Q: Will you lose a lot of beneficial bacteria?

    A: Yes you will lose some
    but most of the bacteria you need is stored in your filter so as long as
    you don’t leave your filter shut down too long you will be ok.

    Q: How long will my fish be in the coolers and will it hurt them being in

    A: In my case it only took me 2 hours to complete the change, and
    my fish were only in there for 4hours. Yes this will cause your fish a
    little stress but as long as you are careful while catching them and watch
    all your temperatures you shouldn’t have any problems.

    Q: What are the benefits of sand? A: Sand is the substrate of most natural
    habitats of many fish and it's much to clean.

    If there are any other questions I would be happy to answer them. If I
    don’t know it I will find out.
    55gal: 1gold severum(jasper),1 Green Sev (Spot), 3 tiger barbs (left), bovarian ram.
    29gal: 3 goldfish growing out

  5. #5


    0 Not allowed!
    Nice job, mollielover! It's now a sticky!

  6. #6


    0 Not allowed!
    Would a larger or smaller grain sand be better? Or does it depend on the type of tank?

  7. #7


    0 Not allowed!
    I would suggest that it depends upon the type of fish you have. If you have any type of fish like corydoras or fish that are active in or about the substrate, finer grains would be better. If not, go with what you like best.

  8. #8


    0 Not allowed!
    I agree with fin_n_fur. also one good thing about larger grain sand is it settles faster.
    55gal: 1gold severum(jasper),1 Green Sev (Spot), 3 tiger barbs (left), bovarian ram.
    29gal: 3 goldfish growing out

  9. #9

    Default cleaning...

    0 Not allowed!
    i got a few questions:

    1)how do you clean sand? wont the water get all murky everytime?

    2)do we have to catch and put the fish in a cooler everytime we clean the sand as the water will murky?

    3)do we have to wait for the sand to settle down before putting the fish back in?

    I have a couple GT's, which already spawned a few time, and a pleco... I have heard that stress can cause the pair-bonding to break... i want to change the substrate to sand but not at the cost of my GT couple...

  10. #10


    0 Not allowed!
    I assume that your questions are about after you have changed to a sand subsrate and need to clean it:

    You only need to hold a gravel vacuum just above the surface of the sand to clean it. As sand compacts, the fish poop and debris rest on the top of the substrate for easy cleaning. You do need to gently stir some of the sand gently from time to time. You shouldn't have any murkiness from cleaning the top of the substrate or from stirring gently.

    No, you don't have to remove the fish for cleaning--only if you are changing the substrate, it makes it easier to have the fish out of the tank.

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