20 September 2015

thirtyeight substrate change

I did a big job today that have been planning on for a long time. I changed out half the substrate in my large aquarium. Tired of noticing the gravel bed, want it to be more uniform size, smaller grains, darker color overall. Glad I did it but it sure was a lot of work. I tested my equipment the day before- a few small airstones, extra air pumps that I don't use all the time because they're too noisy. Got a few new clean five-gallon buckets also.
First thing was to reserve several buckets of tank water (to go back in at the end). Then catch the fishes- this was easier than I thought at first, all the gang of barbs went in the trap immediately.
Had to catch the last three kuhlis with a net and cup, I'm sure this stressed them out a lot but I didn't want them in there when all the substrate mess got stirred up. I put six barbs each in two five-gallon buckets, and the six kuhlis in the little QT tank- all with airlines running for some circulation. Picked out the nerite snails, the ramshorn and a handful of trumpet snails; a couple in each bucket.
Then scooped out the top layer of substrate, trying to get all the old gravel out, down to the layer of safe-t-sorb. I didn't get it all clean- siphoned out as much as I could then scooped handfuls, neither method is very precise. Layered on the new gravel- not sure if this is considered a fine gravel or coarse sand- but it's the same stuff I have in my tenner. Added new water so there was enough in there to see how the plants lie and replanted everything. Stuck in root tabs for them. Siphoned out all the water again down to substrate. Put in the water from reserve buckets, topped off with new. Made sure the filter was running again. Returned the fishes. I'd removed more than 50% old water (miscalculated how much I'd need to temporarily house the fishes) so to avoid shocking them let float in plastic bags and mixed in water from the newly filled tank intervals at of ten minutes. The kuhlis crowded into a corner.
Once released they found their old hideout under the flat stone- you can see Snaky Fish so pale, he looked the most stressed.
Here's a before and after. You can see how ugly the algae was getting. I'm expecting now to do some close monitoring and partial water changes for a while to deal with a mini-cycle. But even though the plants are diminished again (cleaned a lot of unhealthy leaves off and I discarded about half the rotala stems- all the ones with stunted leaves) I like the looks of the tank better already. The kuhlis seem to move easier over the ground, it's not big stones compared to them anymore. Feels like starting over again, but I hope this will be an improvement for them.

No comments: