Replacing Substrate

SMW945

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I currently have a soil substrate topped off with gravel which does need replacing from a plant nutrition point of view, and I wish to just have a Tropica soil only substrate in order to plant delicate rooted carpeting plants. My thought process is to remove the fish temporarily with the filter/heater etc, in existing tank water. Once I have replaced the substrate and replanted, would I have to go through a period of cycling the tank for the fish or can you place them straight back in as long as I use previous tank water and the already previously used filter? I’m assuming that the new substrate would possibly leak some toxins?
 

Nick potts

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25 Sep 2014
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The new substrate is going to release ammonia. How much depends on the brand and the effects can last months. Heavy planting will help.

Rather than replacing you could add root tabs instead, also heavy water column dosing usually means a heavily fertilized substrate is not needed (though they are beneficial)
 

SMW945

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The new substrate is going to release ammonia. How much depends on the brand and the effects can last months. Heavy planting will help.

Rather than replacing you could add root tabs instead, also heavy water column dosing usually means a heavily fertilized substrate is not needed (though they are beneficial)
Thanks for that. I do daily dose with liquid fertiliser and I have got some Flourish tabs ordered as that was another consideration should substrate replacement be problematic. It would be nice to have some low foreground carpeting plants (ie Monte Carlo) which I have found difficult to get going in a gravel topped substrate. If I do a complete change I will probably have to consider a longer term temporary home for the livestock whilst the tank cycles fully and ammonia levels etc are neutralised.
 
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If your cap is the issue then why not just remove the gravel and replace with a finer substrate like sand? Adding an aquasoil will be more hassle than it’s worth IMO if your getting good growth with what you have. Just change the cap
 

Luketendo

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25 Feb 2008
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Townsville, Australia
I have a 60p and did a rescape recently on by draining water and adding an extra 3 L ADA Amazonia powder (very ammonia rich). The week before rescape I lost a few emperor tetras - I got a bunch of new plants in and left them floating in the tank but I think they brought in dermosporidia as noticed signs on my cardinal tetras. After rescape a lost a couple more emperor tetras but other stock - blue ram, ember tetras, cardinals, otocinclus all fine. I did get detectable ammonia and nitrite on my API tests day after rescape but next day it was all back to normal.

Anyway I would say minimal risk if you have an established filter, keep it running during the rescape like me and don't add too much soil. If you are adding loads of ammonia rich soil like regular Amazonia then you may struggle. However, there are soils like Amazonia II or Amazonia Light which aren't as ammonia rich hence you might be able to get away with those completely.

Edit - disclaimer - my planting density was extremely high - every inch covered including fast growing stems so that likely buffered any ammonia/nitrite rise as well.
 

Nick potts

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25 Sep 2014
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As above, you could replace the gravel with sand or finer gravel.

Can you post your aquarium details, lighting, CO2 etc.

While MC is a fairly easy plant, it does require good lighting and CO2 to thrive and grow well and most other carpeting plants are more demanding, so it might not be the substrate at all that is the issue (it very rarely is)
 

SMW945

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17 Aug 2020
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Gloucestershire
As above, you could replace the gravel with sand or finer gravel.

Can you post your aquarium details, lighting, CO2 etc.

While MC is a fairly easy plant, it does require good lighting and CO2 to thrive and grow well and most other carpeting plants are more demanding, so it might not be the substrate at all that is the issue (it very rarely is)
30 gallon tank, Fluval 3.0 lighting plus original LED strip, CO2 injection and Oase Bioplus Thermo 200 (internal, external not currently an option)
 

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