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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have read lots of posts in relation to changing and i just wanted to confirm my steps before i do anything. I want to do it so that it stresses the fish as little as possible.

For this reason i was going to leave them in while i do it. I would love any feedback that you all may have into any little tips to make change as easy on them and i guess me :lol:

1. take out rocks and decor
2. lower water level
3. take out all gravel
4. add polystyrene or egg crate
5. add cleaned and room temp sand (with filter off)
6. put back rocks etc.
7. turn filetr back on
DONE???
 

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From what I have read- if you use an egg crate- put in the egg crate, fill it level with sand, add rocks, then add remaining sand around rocks. This ensures your rocks are on a stable bottom.

I changed from gravel to a different gravel once and I removed the fish as it was easier on me, but you can leave them or remove them. . .
 

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If I was going to change from gravel to sand this is what I would do. First, I don't know what size tank you have but let's just assume it's 50 gal. Go buy yourself 2 x 20 gal totes (in Canada we use them for storage and are made of plastic/rubber compounds). Siphon water into each of these totes. Move your rocks and decorations into the one. The other one is for your fish. Move a heater and a filter to the one holding the fish. Treat this temporary storage with prime.

Remove all gravel from tank and clean as necessary. Add your egg crate and then lay down the sand just to fill all the holes. Next add the base rocks for your aquascape (rocks wont topple this way when fish begin to excavate) and continue to lay in the rest of the sand and continue your aquascaping. Next get a good size bowl and set in tank and pour the water back from the tote you had your rocks and deco in into this bowl. This will eliminate stirring of the sand and will be a lot less cloudy.

Now add back 2/3 of the water that the fish are in and compare your tank temperature to fish tote temperature and adjust tank as necessary. Put filter and heater back on tank and reintroduce your fish to the tank. Great Job! and a lot less stress for the fish. (don't forget to take the bowl out lol)
 

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i do not understand why people want to remove fish from an established tank to change the substrate.

first, length of time: if you have a tank like mine, 48 x 18 x 26, with 25+ fish, it is probably impossible to catch every fish. if you could, it would take forever.

second, stress on fish: as stressful as it is to take out everything around the fish, the stress to the fish as you try to catch them and finally do catch them and then remove them only to put them back in the tank is so much greater.

if you have a small tank with only a few fish then I would understand taking out the fish. so basically, in my mind it is a numbers game.
 

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I would do it exactly like rockydog suggested. If you have a lot of fish, its a PITA to work around them & I think it would stress them out more by them tearing wildly around the tank while you try to get this done.

I just siphoned out my old gravel during multiple water changes & when I finally had most of it gone, I just did what Rockydog suggested. This worked great for me though it took a week to get it completed.
 

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i vacuum my gravel weekly and the fish just move to the other side of the tank, so if you clear one side at a time and once it is all cleared you add sand one side at a time there's no reason for fish to be racing around the tank freaked out.

if they had to tear wildly around the tank you'd obviously be right that it's better to take them out, but the only time they'd race around the tank is while you're trying to catch them!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
thanks guys some very intersting thoughts. I think i might try to do it with fish in to start and do half at a time and if they start going crazy will take them out. i will do it this weekend and let you know how i go :-?
 

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You never know what toxins are lurking under rocks or ornaments that haven't been moved in a long time. Once the toxins are circulating in water that you cant even see your fish through, it's too late. You feel my process is overkill, but believe me it's better to be safe than sorry. Good luck Bro, hope all goes well.
 

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I'm with rockydog on this one. A tank can easily be partitioned off with a plastic bread board or sheet of plexiglass to allow for easier scooping up of your little ones. My fish get upset when I rearrange the rocks. I can't imagine trying to take all the substrate out of the tank with them in it. Plus it's VERY disgusting how much detrius gets between your gravel. I did very thorough gravel vacs weekly as well.
 

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certainly not going to say anyone else here is doing something wrong, but i've done the switch once before and fish were fine.

whenever i've had to remove a single fish because s/he's ill that has caused them all to freak out and race around. swapping out one substrate for another though was no different than a really long water change with a thorough vacuuming for them.

also not sure why it matters that it's really gross beneath and around the decor. take them out one at a time and vacuum suck with the python as you do it. end result is just a really good cleaning which fish will certainly appreciate.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
i did a big vac last night to make sure that when i swap to sand that not too much **** it floating around.

what do you think about taking some gravel out over the next few days so it does not take as long v's doing it all at once..
 

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well i don't know how large your tank is or how thick your gravel bed is or how intricate and heavy your decor is, but assuming none of those make the task too intense, i don't think it should take too long.

as an aside, i figure you already know it is very important to have the sand cleaned and at room temperature. if the sand is already properly cleaned and has been inside the house long enough that it's at a nice 76-78 degrees so that when you put it in the temp. won't plummet then your fish should be fine.

especially if you clean one side, say the left side, starting all the way from the left and then when you reach the center jump all the way to the right and work your way back to the center, then the fish can just move the the side you already cleared.

put the sand in slowly and cover one spot at a time. don't just dump it all in as that can just freak them out (to me this is just common sense, but just in case it isn't i'm mentioning it).

again, there may be reasons specific to your tank that it will take longer, but i don't see why it cannot all be done (once the sand is cleaned and that can be time consuming) in, at most, two hours or so.

as you can imagine, it isn't the best day in a fish's life, but if you ask me (though clearly others disagree) it's a whole lot better than watching your tankmates get trapped one by one twice (out of the tank and back into it) and then having the same happen to you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
yeah def will make sure sand is clean and warm before putting it slowly in the tank..

thanks again for all the advice.
 

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just updating this. I finally switched to sand and it took me just over an hour to do.

My tank has a surface area of approx 775 square inches and the gravel was well under an inch high. In addition I just put in 16 lbs of sand (maybe 1/2" high and half the tank has decor/plants/rock covering the bottom). So that obviously helped speed up the process. Still, the fact that leslie's pool filter sand (highly recommended by many) needed virtually no cleaning and was instantly crystal clear made the biggest difference. It looks great too and was $10 for 50 lbs.

I did it just as I described above and the process went very smoothly. Couldn't be happier with the results.
 
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