Adding more substrate?

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FrezhFinz

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I have a new setup 40 gallon and I was wondering to see if it’s possible to add sand substrate to the gravel I already have in my tank it’s only a few weeks old is this something safe to do I saw a few people on YouTube using plastic water bottles to do it , but my next question would be would this harm any of the fish I currently have in the tank??
 

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outofwater

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As long as it's aquarium-safe sand, and you rinse it before you put it in to prevent getting your water murky for hours or a couple of days, it won't give you much grief and definitely won't harm the fish.
 

Byron

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It won't in itself harm the fish, but there are some aspects to recognize. The sand will in time fall to the bottom because it is the smallest material, leaving the gravel on top. You can create divisions, but the materials will mix here too unless you somehow separate them permanently. Glass strips fastened to the tank bottom glass with silicon for example. If you have a reason for doing this, we might have suggestions. Two different substrate materials can look very unnatural, if that matters. And it visually draws your attention to the tank size.
 
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FrezhFinz

FrezhFinz

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As long as it's aquarium-safe sand, and you rinse it before you put it in to prevent getting your water murky for hours or a couple of days, it won't give you much grief and definitely won't harm the fish.
Thank you so much for the tip I will keep that in mind 🙏🏽
 
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FrezhFinz

FrezhFinz

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It won't in itself harm the fish, but there are some aspects to recognize. The sand will in time fall to the bottom because it is the smallest material, leaving the gravel on top. You can create divisions, but the materials will mix here too unless you somehow separate them permanently. Glass strips fastened to the tank bottom glass with silicon for example. If you have a reason for doing this, we might have suggestions. Two different substrate materials can look very unnatural, if that matters. And it visually draws your attention to the tank size.
This tank has been set up for a few weeks would my fish die if I change the substrate completely to sand?? I also have Cory’s in the tanks and I was reading that gravel can damage there barbells against the sharp edges of the gravel
 

outofwater

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This tank has been set up for a few weeks would my fish die if I change the substrate completely to sand?? I also have Cory’s in the tanks and I was reading that gravel can damage there barbells against the sharp edges of the gravel
You definitely should change to sand since you have cories. No, a total change won't hurt the fish, again, just be sure to use aquarium-safe sand. I was in the same exact situation when I started my tank. I see you're in Florida, go to home depot and get quikrete play sand, a 50 lb bag will be more than enough and it's gonna be cheaper than whatever you'll ever find at any pet store.

You'll need buckets to get the fish, plants and decorations out, put an air stone and heater (if needed). Remove the gravel and set aside. Remove the water (or the other way around, lol).

Get another big bucket, like the home depot orange 5 gallon ones, put some sand, maybe about a quarter of the bucket, add water and swish it a few moments, let the water go, repeat two or 3 times, then put that sand in your tank, and keep going until you reach the desired depth. 2 inches will do unless you have other plans.

If you want mixed media, as @Byron said; you'll need permanent dividers to prevent mixing, the aesthetics are up to you.

Once you've got enough sand, put the plants back, decorations, fill with enough clean, treated water to bring the fish back in, then continue filling.

When I did it it was the first time I had done it, and the whole process took me less than 2 hours, all rookie mistakes included. Had I read about it before jumping in it probably would've taken much less, then again I tend to learn better by doing anyway.

Good luck!
 

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I concur with outofwater. I changed all my tanks' substrates over to sand some 9-10 years ago. I have also along the way changed this or that tank to a new aquascape, and I always use fresh sand when I do this. The largest bed of bacteria, both aerobic (and not just the nitrifying) and anaerobic, live and work in the substrate. Obviously replacing this "factory" will deplete these, but they quickly return. Plants, especial lots of substantial floating plants, easily handle the change.
 

AdoraBelle Dearheart

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I concur with outofwater. I changed all my tanks' substrates over to sand some 9-10 years ago. I have also along the way changed this or that tank to a new aquascape, and I always use fresh sand when I do this. The largest bed of bacteria, both aerobic (and not just the nitrifying) and anaerobic, live and work in the substrate. Obviously replacing this "factory" will deplete these, but they quickly return. Plants, especial lots of substantial floating plants, easily handle the change.

I've experienced this loss of beneficial bacteria in a tank when switching out substrate, I've heard it referred to as a "mini-cycle". It can mean ammonia/nitrite spikes for a few days - a week after the switch, but it's easy to manage and ride it out if you're prepared in advance for it! It's not like starting a cycle from scratch, since you'll have the beneficial bacteria (BB) that you need in the tank already, they just need time to regrow the colony size.

My (well planted) tank had nitrite spikes for about four days. Meant large daily water changes, and using Seachem Prime, which binds ammonia and nitrite for 24-48 hrs to keep the fish safe between those daily changes. But because I was expecting it, meant I was prepared for it, so expected to have to do large changes for a few days and kept on top of testing the water.

That's a bit of a hassle, but it's only temporary! And easy to ride it out when you know it could happen. The cories will definitely appreciate a fine sand they can root about in - mine sometimes bury their heads right in there :lol:
 
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FrezhFinz

FrezhFinz

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You definitely should change to sand since you have cories. No, a total change won't hurt the fish, again, just be sure to use aquarium-safe sand. I was in the same exact situation when I started my tank. I see you're in Florida, go to home depot and get quikrete play sand, a 50 lb bag will be more than enough and it's gonna be cheaper than whatever you'll ever find at any pet store.

You'll need buckets to get the fish, plants and decorations out, put an air stone and heater (if needed). Remove the gravel and set aside. Remove the water (or the other way around, lol).

Get another big bucket, like the home depot orange 5 gallon ones, put some sand, maybe about a quarter of the bucket, add water and swish it a few moments, let the water go, repeat two or 3 times, then put that sand in your tank, and keep going until you reach the desired depth. 2 inches will do unless you have other plans.

If you want mixed media, as @Byron said; you'll need permanent dividers to prevent mixing, the aesthetics are up to you.

Once you've got enough sand, put the plants back, decorations, fill with enough clean, treated water to bring the fish back in, then continue filling.

When I did it it was the first time I had done it, and the whole process took me less than 2 hours, all rookie mistakes included. Had I read about it before jumping in it probably would've taken much less, then again I tend to learn better by doing anyway.
I've experienced this loss of beneficial bacteria in a tank when switching out substrate, I've heard it referred to as a "mini-cycle". It can mean ammonia/nitrite spikes for a few days - a week after the switch, but it's easy to manage and ride it out if you're prepared in advance for it! It's not like starting a cycle from scratch, since you'll have the beneficial bacteria (BB) that you need in the tank already, they just need time to regrow the colony size.

My (well planted) tank had nitrite spikes for about four days. Meant large daily water changes, and using Seachem Prime, which binds ammonia and nitrite for 24-48 hrs to keep the fish safe between those daily changes. But because I was expecting it, meant I was prepared for it, so expected to have to do large changes for a few days and kept on top of testing the water.

That's a bit of a hassle, but it's only temporary! And easy to ride it out when you know it could happen. The cories will definitely appreciate a fine sand they can root about in - mine sometimes bury their heads right in there :lol:
Thank you guys so much for your input and all the great information you have provided me I will keep improving my knowledge everyday I am kinda extremely obsessed and want learn every single aspect of this hobby I can 🙏🏽🙏🏽 @outofwater @Byron @AdoraBelle Dearheart
 

outofwater

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Glad to help🙂

The cories will definitely appreciate a fine sand they can root about in - mine sometimes bury their heads right in there :lol:
I know they do it because that's how they eat (sifting the sand) but I do believe they genuinely just love digging the sand for the heck of it. Mine sometimes literally dig small "holes" just because. Cories are something else... the random darting up to the surface foe a gulp of air only to only to come down and lay down like statues cracks me up every time.
 

AdoraBelle Dearheart

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Glad to help🙂


I know they do it because that's how they eat (sifting the sand) but I do believe they genuinely just love digging the sand for the heck of it. Mine sometimes literally dig small "holes" just because. Cories are something else... the random darting up to the surface foe a gulp of air only to only to come down and lay down like statues cracks me up every time.
I totally agree! I'm positive that there's a play aspect to it as well. I've just done a water change on my tank with 18 cories, and had to trim and tidy plants, re-plant some uprooted one, move some of the dragonstone to clean around it etc, and the cories are zooming about rooting in the sand, looking delighted, lol. I'm sure it's partly that it kicks up some mulm/tiny creatures to eat, and they're looking for morsels. But it's hard to watch them and not be convinced that they're having fun!
 

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