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Tom, Changing Gravel to Soil/Sand

Discussion in 'Talk to Tom Barr' started by Joetee, Mar 31, 2008.

  1. Joetee

    Joetee Prolific Poster

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    Tom,
    Please check this out and let me know if everything sounds good. Possible problems that you my forsee etc.

    Thank you

    Joetee


    12 STEPS ON HOW TO CHANGE PLAIN GRAVEL TO A LOW COST SAND SUBSTRATE WITH NUTRIENTS ADDED.

    NOTE: Do not clean your filter\s prior or during this process for a while. They should be well established with bacteria etc. Also, do not clean your gravel before starting this process. It should be full of bacteria etc as well.

    (1) I went down to a local creek and got a bucket of soil/clay mix that looked pretty clean. Poured it into an empty 10 gallon tank. 1/2 filled it with water from hose and stirred it up to get all the floating debris out and braking up all the clumps. Poured most of the water out and continued to stir it up real well. Then added more water and let it settle for a while and poured most of it out, keeping as much soil as possible. Filled it up again and let it set over night to settle. The next day I carefully poured out as much water as I could trying to keep the soil/clay undisturbed. Then I pured all the soil out onto a clean concrete driveway into a pile and let all the water drain away.

    (2) I went to Lowes and bought 4 bags of "KolorScape Leveling Sand, step 2". It is a dark gray color, looks almost black in the bag. Each bag is .5 cu. ft. It cost $3.00 something a bag. I poured about 1/2 bag into the old 10 gallon tank and stirred and flushed it out really good. Several times until the water was about clear in the tank. Then I poured this sand out on the concrete driveway as well, letting all the water drain away. Continued this until all four bags where done.

    (5) I then siphoned out enough water to nearly fill a 5 gallon bucket and put all the fish in it.

    (4) Then I siphoned out all the water from the 50 gallon tank leaving as much mulm as I could. I removed all the objects, rocks, plants, heater, hoses etc. I then removed all the gravel, again being careful to leave as much mulm as I could in the tank. Whats left is maybe 1/2 to 1 inch of water and mulm.

    (5) Then I cleaned the glass walls which wet paper towels being careful not to scratch the glass.

    (6) Then I put into the tank, 1 part creek soil to 3 parts sand, (about 2 qts soil to 6 qts sand) for this tank (48x12). This made about a 1 inch layer. Mix it up real good. Then I added 3 inches more of the sand only for a total of 4 inches. This used a total of 3 1/2 bags of the purchased sand. Clean the glass again if necessary.

    (7) Then I put in the air stone (if you use one) and heater. Then I put in the rocks and driftwood where I wanted them. (NOTE: I made sure the rocks and wood had enough room around them so that the fattest fish could swim between them without scratching their sides if they became startled and made a fast dash to hide etc.) Then set back across the room and studied the tank layout to make sure it looks good and imagined how it was going to be planted. When I satisfied, I added a little more sand around the base of rocks and wood to help hold them in place and added some more sand in the back of the tank to help it have a 3D effect.

    (8) Then I placed a saucer in the tank to run water onto real slow so I don't stir up the sand while filling it. Then check the temp of the water in the bucket where the fish are and adjust the water from the sink to match this temp and start filling the tank real slow with my hose. When the water is high enough (about 1/2 full) I started the filter\s. I then added a double dose of Prime water conditioner. When I water is high enough, start your heater and air stone (if used). When tank was full, I added another double dose of Prime, just to make sure ammonia and nitrite are safe for the fish.

    (9) I then added the fish back into the tank and let them settle down for a while before I did anything else in the tank like planting plants.

    (10) After the fish has settled down a bit, its time to start planting your plants. A lot of plants will help your water and fish. Then dose your ferts, Macro's on day 1 and Micro's on day 2.

    (11) You should check your water parameters often until the cycling of your tank completes. You will probably need to change 25% of the tanks water maybe every 2 or 3 days for a while. What I found was on the day of Macro dosing I would change 25% of the water before dosing. After a week or so, I was able to wait 4 days between water changes. Your ammonia and nitrite will determon how often you need to change water. My ammonia level started to clear up after about a week. Then my nitrite was at .5ppm for a while. The fish seemed to not be bothered so I waited to change water. You can add Prime to detoxify ammonia and nitrite if necessary. You don't really need them to be zero as long as your fish are not bothered. You need some to let your filter bacteria feed on to grow and to completely recycle your tank.

    (12) The water was pretty clear but not perfect so I added some Seachem's Clarity to help clear it up. According to Seachem, Clarity will not harm or effect the cycling of a new tank. I placed a power head in the tank to help circulate the water and let it clear faster. It helped the Clarity clear the water faster. You will have to rinse out your filter floss or filter media a lot when using Clarity. Just siphon out some tank water and rinse it in a bucket. Do not replace the filter media. After you are satisfied with the water clarity of your water you can remove the power head if you choose.

    Joetee
     
  2. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    I'm not Tom, but I have found it works best to plant the plants before adding more than a little water to the tank. Then finish adding the water, the Prime, and making sure the water temperature is close to the final desired temperature. Acclimate the fish to the new water in the tank as if you just purchased them, and add them. This method has worked for me a few times.
     
  3. Joetee

    Joetee Prolific Poster

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    Hey Tom Barr,
    I have another question concerning a Non-C02 tank.
    Its a 50 gallon - 48 inch long. I have two 65 watt CF 6700/10000k bulbs mounted end to end and there on for 12 hours a day. Very low fish load, and lots of plants. Two HOB filters. One air stone running all the time.
    I change 50% water once a week. I dose once a week at water change.
    I dose on day 1: 1/4 tsp KNO3, 3/8 tsp K2S04, 1/16 TSP KH2P04, 20 mil Excel.
    I dose on day 2: 1/2 tsp CSM+B, 1/8 tsp FE, 10 mil Excel.
    On days 3-6: I dose 10 mil Excel.

    This tank has the sand/soil substrate as mentioned in the top of this thread. If you see anything wrong with the substrate please let me know.

    Questions are:
    Is this tank set up ok to not add C02?
    Should I add C02?
    Is my ferts schedule/amounts OK?
    What should the parameters be for a non EI tank?
    Should I just start going with EI?

    Thanks so much
    Joe
     
  4. Ardell

    Ardell Junior Poster

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    I'm not Tom either but having tried many methods i whole heartedly agree with Vaughn. It's easier and seems to be less stressful to the fish.
     
  5. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I am Tom and I agree with Vaughn.

    If you use Excel, or CO2, then you do large weekly water changes.
    You need to decide which you are going to do.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  6. Joetee

    Joetee Prolific Poster

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    So, If I am using Excel without C02, with 2 1/2 watts per gallon, would I be better off dosing ferts with the EI? or should I maybe dose less like once a week like I am doing now?
    Thanks again
    Joe
     
  7. Joetee

    Joetee Prolific Poster

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    Do you have any thoughts to my last post?

    Thank you
    Joe
     
  8. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Use about 1/3 EI for Excel only

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     

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