Changing gravel/soil post setup

84Reasons

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Hi All,
So I setup my tank at the start of this year, with no knowledge of keeping plants in an aquarium. For this reason I have basic gravel. I wanted to do a re-scape and was thinking at the same time I would change the gravel to a soil - most likely tropica aquarium soil. I wanted to know if this soil would be okay to put into my tank, whilst some of the water is still in there? as I have read that changing the gravel/soil and keeping the fish in the tank is less stressful than moving them into a bucket/secondary tank. This would also be easier for me as I don't have a second tank or space for one even temporarily really. My worry is that the soil will not sink properly.
Any help is appreciated, cheers, H.
 

alto

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read that changing the gravel/soil and keeping the fish in the tank is less stressful than moving them into a bucket/secondary tank.
I couldn’t disagree more :eek:

If you chase relentlessly to net the fish, then yes that is very stressful (and fish can die from “exhaustion” after) - but all that upheaval and crashing movement and sound in their home tank is also stressful
(This nothing like trimming plants in the tank or large water changes, which can trigger a stress response in fish (they fade out, hide) but they are out and about moments later)


Additionally when you disturb existing substrate in any aquarium, there is always a chance of releasing anaerobic gases or ammonia (from trapped debris that has broken down in gravel or as nutrients that are part of Aquarium Soils makeup)
... I once had the former happen, or at least that is my surmise, there was no odour or anything visibly untoward UNTIL all of my fish showed sudden and severe distress, most dying shortly thereafter, even the ones I managed to move to a bucket with clean water
I’m now very conservative about anything involving substrate disturbance and always move my fish - I’ve never lost any in their temporary holding tank
- a 50- 60 litre food safe bin that I fill with 50% tap, 50% tank water, add extra Prime (5-10X dose will bind ammonia and nitrites for ~24 h) and some sort of current (an airstone, or small internal filter etc) and place on a sturdy coffee table
If convenient/possible add your usual tank filter
For smaller tanks, smaller fish, I use a suitable smaller bin ;)

I know that fish are safe & reasonably comfortable in their temporary tank, so then it doesn’t matter if I end up taking extra time with the rescape
Fish should be kept in dim light with minimal vibration so don’t keep the bin where you’ll be constantly looming over or next to it, off the floor is preferable

In the video, FO uses a styrofoam fish shipping box and likely closes the top and moves it aside during the rescape
( you might ask your lfs )

Filipe Oliveira rescapes all of the tanks at Aquaflora (display room, tanks that travel to competitions and trade shows - and as Aquaflora collaborates with Ruinemans Holland, they often have some very nice and unique fish) - fish are removed in the first several minutes (of video)

 

alto

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My worry is that the soil will not sink properly.
I’d be more concerned about possible ammonia release from soil - especially if ADA or other Soils known to release significant ammonia

I use Tropica Aquarium Soil Powder - there is some small percentage that is reluctant to sink (likely air trapped during manufacture)
It’s certainly easier to place as you like it, in a dry or almost dry tank
Placing hardscape is also going to be much cleaner/easier in dry soil (wet soil can crush, clouding the water, also most Soils are a composite of noted particle size plus some fine dust)
Planting in the dry/damp substrate is also much easier/cleaner
 

84Reasons

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I couldn’t disagree more :eek:

If you chase relentlessly to net the fish, then yes that is very stressful (and fish can die from “exhaustion” after) - but all that upheaval and crashing movement and sound in their home tank is also stressful
(This nothing like trimming plants in the tank or large water changes, which can trigger a stress response in fish (they fade out, hide) but they are out and about moments later)


Additionally when you disturb existing substrate in any aquarium, there is always a chance of releasing anaerobic gases or ammonia (from trapped debris that has broken down in gravel or as nutrients that are part of Aquarium Soils makeup)
... I once had the former happen, or at least that is my surmise, there was no odour or anything visibly untoward UNTIL all of my fish showed sudden and severe distress, most dying shortly thereafter, even the ones I managed to move to a bucket with clean water
I’m now very conservative about anything involving substrate disturbance and always move my fish - I’ve never lost any in their temporary holding tank
- a 50- 60 litre food safe bin that I fill with 50% tap, 50% tank water, add extra Prime (5-10X dose will bind ammonia and nitrites for ~24 h) and some sort of current (an airstone, or small internal filter etc) and place on a sturdy coffee table
If convenient/possible add your usual tank filter
For smaller tanks, smaller fish, I use a suitable smaller bin ;)

I know that fish are safe & reasonably comfortable in their temporary tank, so then it doesn’t matter if I end up taking extra time with the rescape
Fish should be kept in dim light with minimal vibration so don’t keep the bin where you’ll be constantly looming over or next to it, off the floor is preferable

In the video, FO uses a styrofoam fish shipping box and likely closes the top and moves it aside during the rescape
( you might ask your lfs )

Filipe Oliveira rescapes all of the tanks at Aquaflora (display room, tanks that travel to competitions and trade shows - and as Aquaflora collaborates with Ruinemans Holland, they often have some very nice and unique fish) - fish are removed in the first several minutes (of video)


I literally don't have the space/kit to re house the fish, and to say that I would be crashing around is an over statement, there would be minimal disturbance. I was planning on using the fine soil in addition to the normal one tropica do, and thinking about it again I may even put the soil directly onto of my existing substrate.
In the guide I read they also recommend that all the gravel be completely cleaned beforehand to prevent any issues of debris and ammonia rising into the water so I believe this would solve that issue.
I appreciate your response in saying the finer soil would probably sink better .
 
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Be careful to do a nice thick layer of aquarium soil, if the gravel and soil end up mixing then it will look quite ugly! You might want to try and remove some of the gravel if not all of it using a siphon hose, it should get sucked up in a decent siphon flow.
 

alto

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Crashing was obviously from fish perspective :D
I’m sure from human point of view you will be as gentle as possible
 

84Reasons

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Be careful to do a nice thick layer of aquarium soil, if the gravel and soil end up mixing then it will look quite ugly! You might want to try and remove some of the gravel if not all of it using a siphon hose, it should get sucked up in a decent siphon flow.

This is true, I was planning on doing a deep layer of soil anyway, the gravel I have is black but I think even mixing it will look bad, may have to go back to my original plan and remove all of it!

I'm hearing conflicting things really as I have read articles on how leaving the fish in is better, and now I'm hearing that people think its better to move them out. I think it just goes on people's different experiences.
 

Kalum

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place some soil in a half filled bucket and move it about a bit, it can get messy very quickly and take time to settle which can't be pleasant for the fish

plus you'll more than likely end up being too cautious and rush things and not getting things exactly how you want it
 

84Reasons

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place some soil in a half filled bucket and move it about a bit, it can get messy very quickly and take time to settle which can't be pleasant for the fish

plus you'll more than likely end up being too cautious and rush things and not getting things exactly how you want it

This is a good idea, I was planning on just changing the soil one day and completing hardscape and such another day so there is less stress at one time.
 

Kalum

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will cause you and the fish less stress if you remove them, plus you can always set up your existing filter on whatever container you are keeping them in temporarily so it's still keeping the bacteria alive and filtering the container
 

alto

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FWIW I’ve an acquaintance who’s quite a talented scaper and has no qualms about rearranging hardscape, plants etc without removing livestock ... and isn’t too bothered about replacing the livestock ...
 

Edvet

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I would move the fish to a temporary holding, some plastic tub/pond/childrens bath. Fill it with tank water ( draining the tank to net fish easier)and put the filter on it. Float all the plants in it.
Then add fish.
You will have all the time to rescape and let it settle before ading filter and fish back.
 

84Reasons

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I would move the fish to a temporary holding, some plastic tub/pond/childrens bath. Fill it with tank water ( draining the tank to net fish easier)and put the filter on it. Float all the plants in it.
Then add fish.
You will have all the time to rescape and let it settle before ading filter and fish back.

Without a heater? this is what I'm most worried about. Also I'm planning on doing a re-scape at the same time which is why I'm changing the gravel. Chances are I'll get rid of most, if not all the plants currently there to replace them. So may take a little longer to put the hardscape in and get the plants ready and replanted.

FWIW I’ve an acquaintance who’s quite a talented scaper and has no qualms about rearranging hardscape, plants etc without removing livestock ... and isn’t too bothered about replacing the livestock ...

Yeah I've heard similar stuff
 

84Reasons

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If kept indoors in this season there should be no problem, natural temperatures fluctuate anyways.

Okay. Well I can't imagine from them entering the temporary holding to when I put them back in being more than 3 hours so, should be fine as you said.
 

tam

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Tbh, when you are completely changing substrate it's easier and therefore usually quicker to completely empty the tank and start from scratch than muck about trying to work around things like fish and the odd plant you are happy with the location off etc. Just go for it and remove the lot and put it back how you want.

Prep before hand and have everything ready - plenty of buckets on hand, fermentation buckets are good as they are 25L with a clip on lid. I'd fill something like that, add the fish, hang the filter off it if it's small/practical. You want buckets/washing up bowls for other equipment, gravel your removing, plants you want to keep (tuck a wet paper towel/plastic bag over the top to keep moist). If your new substrate needs washing do that before you start. A few hours and you can completely empty and redo.
 

84Reasons

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Tbh, when you are completely changing substrate it's easier and therefore usually quicker to completely empty the tank and start from scratch than muck about trying to work around things like fish and the odd plant you are happy with the location off etc. Just go for it and remove the lot and put it back how you want.

Prep before hand and have everything ready - plenty of buckets on hand, fermentation buckets are good as they are 25L with a clip on lid. I'd fill something like that, add the fish, hang the filter off it if it's small/practical. You want buckets/washing up bowls for other equipment, gravel your removing, plants you want to keep (tuck a wet paper towel/plastic bag over the top to keep moist). If your new substrate needs washing do that before you start. A few hours and you can completely empty and redo.
Yeah sounds like a good idea tbh!

Don't think I'll be able to put the filter on it though as it's external and may not fit!
 
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