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Changing Dwarf Puffer Substrate


11 Jan 2021
United Kingdom
Hey everyone!

I have a two month old 20l Dennerle nano cube scape currently housing two dwarf puffers and I would like to change the substrate. I made the mistake of going substrate then gravel rather than my usual aquarium soil only. Though the tank has been growing well, it is an absolute nightmare to keep clean because the fine substrate is constantly getting everywhere. I've had enough at this point and I just want to switch it over to aquarium soil but I am concerned about keeping the parameters stable for the puffers. I've had the soil soaking in a separate plant-only tank temporarily for the past week whilst I rooted some cuttings I'm selling but I'm still not 100% sure on the best way to change it all over without disturbing the parameters too much.

My plan was to drain 3/4 of the puffer's tank water and house them in there with a heater and filter whilst I do the change. Use the other quarter to rinse the plants and filter (they have so much fine dust substrate on them) then completely empty the tank of the substrate, clean it (just a water wipe), add the aquarium soil and re-scape. Then I was going to add half the old tank water in, top the tank up matching the new water to the parameters then add the puffers back in. I think this is the best way to do it but I'm also worried the new soil may cause ammonia spikes later on.

Advice would be very much appreciated :D




28 Apr 2013
Suffolk/Norfolk Border
I would leave the puffers with their filter and heater in a separate tank for a few days after changing the substrate so you can just monitor it initially as they don't cope well with water issues :)