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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all,

This is my first cichlid forum post. I have been reading up for a little over a week, and I'm about ready to take on my summer project of re-scaping my Malawi tank. This is going to be a complete re-scape, so any advice is GREATLY appreciated. I am reletively new to the Cichlid hobby, but I'm having alot of fun so I wanted to take it to the next level.

My current setup is only cheap aquarium gravel with some decor that I purchased at Petsmart :(
The fish, although they do not have too many places to hide, seem very happy and out of about 25 fish, I've only lost about 3-4 in the past year.

I'm planning on cleaning pool filter sand and using some clean river rocks, maybe some shale or something "sheety" for a clean look, and possibly a Texas Holey for water quality. My main question is do I place the rocks before or after I put in the sand? Reading a few other relevant posts, *** read that placing the rocks directly onto the glass can put unwanted pressure on the bottom of the tank. However, *** also read to avoid letting sand come in between the glass and the rock. I'm guessing this is due to some sort of wear that the sand creates on the glass? If I wasnt going to over-think it (which I know I already have) I would lay the sand down first, and gently place the rocks on top. Im not talking a ton of rocks either, maybe enough to go 1/3-1/2 way up the back of the approx. 24 in high tank.

Also, any insight that anyone could share on keeping the fish healthy while I re-scape and let the water filter is greatly appreciated. I'm planning on using the styrofoam cooler method where you cut-off feeding 2-5 days before to avoid them pooping and creating a bad water condition. Do you think I NEED to completely remove the fish, or should I leave a few inches of water in the tank while I re-scape?

Thanks in advance,

Brandon :?
 
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Your aquarium is tempered glass and it can withstand you standing on it. You placing rocks directly on it will not break the glass. There are no negatives to putting rocks directly on the glass. The reason people say to not put them on top of sand is that your fish will dig in the sand and if you have a rock structure built and its not on the glass itself the fish can undermine the structure causing it to fall and possibly break the glass or harm your fish. Alot of people put eggcrate down on the glass then sand so if anything does fall the eggcrate disperses the impact and lessens the chance of breaking the glass.. i havent had any issues and i have lots of rocks

as far as rescaping you are thinking way too much. i have rescaped from gravel to pool filter sand quite a few times.. i left all the fish in the tank.. they get out of the way. i scooped the gravel out with measuring cups and then used square shaped shallow tupperwear containers to get the remainder and from the corners. you'll need something square to get all the gravel out trust me. i would just drain a little water so the waterline is 5 or 6 inchs down so no fish get spooked and jump out while you are doing this... i would usually do a water change and then do it before readding new water
 

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Rocks before substrate and this is so that the fish cannot topple the rocks by digging the substrate out from underneath. Also removes a cleaning headache...no sand under the rocks to get dirty.

I like to take the fish out. Since everything else has to come out anyway...why not get them out of your way. But they will be OK too if you leave them in. Just be sure prior substrate is extra clean because you will stir up whatever dirt is in it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks a lot guys, I appreciate the quick responses. I went to the local park today and gathered some black shale out of the river, I guess i will powerwash them, soak them in bleach, then soak them in tap water with de-chlorinating conditioner. I'm also going to buy a Texas Holey for water condition.

I'll post before and after pics of the re-scape.
 

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The holey rock won't really change your water parameters all that much. And even less if you do frequent water changes. Go more with what you like and will look good rather than worrying about a specific kind of rock for hardness. Sometimes mixing the types of rock too much can lead to an un-natural look. Plus holey rock is expensive if you don't live in Texas.

As for the fish during reworking a tank... If I'm just rearranging a few things I generally leave them in, but like DJ said, if everything is coming out, why not take them out too. It'll be easier to work in the tank and not have to worry about them.
 

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I left my fish in when i added the sand, they flashed for a day or two but were fine otherwise. I also left them in when i put in around 250 lbs of rock, they get out of the way and my tank has lots of juvis. I also just pulled all the sand to the front when placing my rocks at the back so they could rest on the glass, therefor not allowing a risk for rocks to topple. I stacked them about 18-20 inches high so not to risk any falling rocks. My tank is 24 high.

Collected about 250 lbs of rock from lake/beach $0
Pool filter sand 50 lb bag $10

Im very happy with my set up now, i collected all various types of rocks, but none look out of place, and i didnt try to create caves really, i built it so it was structurally sound, and still ended up with 30-40 caves.
 

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you could get some eggcrate if your worried about it. set it in then rocks or sand. if rock fallsover it will spread the weight out over whole bottom. But the sides wouldnt be protected. you can add baking powder to up the ph and epsom salt to make water harder. No need for texas holey.
GL
 

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Bodenhimer said:
you can add baking powder to up the ph
Baking soda. Baking powder is different stuff.
 
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