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Cloudwarrior

Replacing substrate

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Cloudwarrior

I'm planning to replace my current substrate. It's starting to break down and get very dusty whenever it's disturbed.

My ph is currently at 8.1 so it looks like the current stuff is no longer buffering my ph down.

What's the best way to do this. Without disrupting the tank and parameters too much?

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jayc

Unfortunately there is no easy way.

You can either add the new substrate over the top of the old one.

Or remove all your shrimp and siphon out the old substrate.

 

What substrate were you using?

I suggest CAL Black Earth Premium for your next substrate. They seem to last longer than the cheaper brands.

 

 

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Kaylenna
29 minutes ago, jayc said:

You can either add the new substrate over the top of the old one.

Would that cause a mini-cycle when using one of the substrates that release lots of ammonia at first?

How long does CAL Black Earth last, roughly?

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Cloudwarrior

Currently using UpAqua substrate. It's already a few inches deep. And tank volume isn't huge.

Sent from my SM-G920I using Tapatalk

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jayc
47 minutes ago, Kaylenna said:

Would that cause a mini-cycle when using one of the substrates that release lots of ammonia at first?

Yes, but the bacteria should be able to handle it, IF you use CAL BEP as I recommended. Don't try it with ADA Amazonia, or any of the other ADA substrates.

Someone here on SKF has done it before despite my precautions to go slowly. Can't remember who it was. Replaced a whole bag of CAL BEP into the tank with no deaths to shrimps.

 

47 minutes ago, Kaylenna said:

How long does CAL Black Earth last, roughly?

Well I don't know ... I currently have CAL BEP in a fish tank that has been going for 3 years. It still holds it's shape and has not gone to moosh (is that a word??) like some substrates do. 

So it is lasting long enough.

ADA Amazonia is also another substrate that will last a long time. I have a tank that is about 5 years old and it's only just starting to loose buffering. 

But ADA, as mentioned releases too much ammonia to just add into an existing tank. You really need to cycle this properly.

34 minutes ago, Cloudwarrior said:

Currently using UpAqua substrate. It's already a few inches deep. And tank volume isn't huge.

Looks like you will have to do it the hard way then.

Catch shrimp, remove substrate (most of it), replace with CAL BEP substrate, let the filter run for a few hours, then drip acclimatise the shrimp back into the tank with the new substrate.

Edited by jayc

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revolutionhope

That was me that put the BEP in the tank. When you said slowly add it I did add it slowly. Took at least 5 minutes hehe.

There was no ammonia or nitrite spike whatsoever and there were berried shrimps all of which held onto their berries! Can't recommend BEP highly enough.

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Kaylenna
2 hours ago, revolutionhope said:

That was me that put the BEP in the tank. When you said slowly add it I did add it slowly. Took at least 5 minutes hehe.

You did it for the sake of knowledge!!!

 

4 hours ago, jayc said:

I currently have CAL BEP in a fish tank that has been going for 3 years. It still holds it's shape and has not gone to moosh (is that a word??) like some substrates do. 

Aah, that's decent.  I was afraid it was something like a few months to 1 year.  My Ista shrimp deteriorated madly when I tried to do a complete overhaul on a tank and put in a new divider... it was all of 4 months old. 

4 hours ago, jayc said:

Looks like you will have to do it the hard way then.

Before the hard way, you could try siphoning a small area and see if that works.  Mind you, siphoning will only get most of it, not all.  I use the hose part from a gravel vac (minus the big end that is normally used to vacuum substrate).  It will usually give you high enough suction to suck up small substrate.  Stick the end below the surface of the substrate and start it up (lacking most of the do-das that help start the vac up, you'll have to umm... suck it up!).  It may not get you where you want.  But it was what I did to reduce most of the muddy crud that my substrate had turned into before I added new stuff on top (inert).  Be careful on start up, lest you get a mouthful of mud.

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revolutionhope
Stick the end below the surface of the substrate and start it up (lacking most of the do-das that help start the vac up, you'll have to umm... suck it up!).  It may not get you where you want.  But it was what I did to reduce most of the muddy crud that my substrate had turned into before I added new stuff on top (inert).  Be careful on start up, lest you get a mouthful of mud.


I can offer a top tip to start a syphon. All you need do is submerge the entire tube you are using to syphon. Then once it is entirely full of water .. just cover one end carefully remove it from the tank and place the end of it lower than where the water level is in the tank. Uncover and voila you have a syphon :-)


Will
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Kaylenna

(Party pooper!)

I mean - I usually use a fairly long hose and have small tanks - it's a tough fit to put the whole tubing in the water.  Heavily planted and divided 2footers don't have much wiggle room.  I forgot that most people probably have more space :P

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bluestarfish

I usually fill the vacuum end with water then pull it out of the water just long enough for water to start flowing down the tube, then submerge the vacuum again tip up so it can fill. You have to be real quick though, or else the siphon will break.

If OP really wants to use an ADA substrate, couldn't they just pre-soak it in a bucket with tank water and an old filter pad or something?

Edited by bluestarfish

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phopf
On 2016-10-19 at 9:51 AM, bluestarfish said:

If OP really wants to use an ADA substrate, couldn't they just pre-soak it in a bucket with tank water and an old filter pad or something?

I agree, you just need to have the substrate offload its ammonia. Let it soak O/N, pour off the water, add new water and check the water for ammonia. If the levels are still detectable, repeat, if not it should be good to add.

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viridisornatus

I've read Tom Barr suggest that cycling ADA is no problem if you dry start. Could you not keep the new soil damp and shallow for a while and expect it to cycle until you need it?

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Cloudwarrior

well, i finally got around to replacing to substrate. got a bag of Benibachi black soil. 

because I've heard good things and it was local, but mainly because it wouldn't give me an ammonia spike.

but it did! came into work this morning after doing it Friday afternoon and water was dirty and slightly green and ammonia through the roof

did an instant 60% WC and looks like I've only lost the smallest fry. or they may still be there. water is too murky to see

will keep doing the WC all week and hopefully it's under control by end of week.

on the plus side, the pH has come down

 

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ineke

The old benibachi didn't give an ammonia spike but the new one with added mineral powder gives an almighty spike. Even when I use my aged canisters, sponges , plants and original water the green goes off the scale. I used to do a 3 day mini cycle and put the shrimp back in but now it takes a good while to cycle. Having said that it's still my favourite substrate. I've used several others and always come back to benibachi. It's unfortunate that the new formula takes such a long time to cycle compared to the old one but the shrimp do well in it.

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revolutionhope

@ineke how long have you had the new formula benibachi running for in a tank?


will

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ineke

I have been using the new formula since late last year in my room.  Once it's cycled it's great. It does have a very strong smell I must say. I used it in 2 tanks in my lounge room and hubby kept asking what the strong smell was  - it didn't matter when I only used it in the shrimp room because the door was kept closed so he didn't notice it! 

I take my first reading on day 3 now. The new benibachi can take a long time to cycle compared to the old one. This wasn't just 1 tank I have put the new one into 13 tanks - they were all mature tanks , I basically just replaced the substrate and put everything except the shrimp straight back into the tanks. The canisters and sponges were mature and I use about half of my old water. It's not a management issue it's definitely the new formula. I used to love the fact that with the old formula it took no longer than 3 days before I could put the shrimp back in, especially when you consider the number of shrimp I keep/ kept . I could change my whole room in a matter of 2 weeks but now I have to do a couple of tanks at a time . I don't use the bacteria products so much just Dr Tim's Pro biotics and Seachem stability  - I didn't even use them before when it only took such a short time  but now I like to use these 2 to help it along. I still prefer the benibachi despite the longer cycle. I have used ADA Malaysia, Elos and Fluval Stratum - they all have a long cycle time too. 

Edited by ineke
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sdlTBfanUK

I know this is a bit out of date as a topic, but I have been wondering for some time about this.

Can you just put new substrate in a large bucket with dechlorinated water (no heater or filter or anything else) and let it do its thing, cycle, ammonia spike etc, change the water weekly (or when an ammonia spike happens). Then put it in the shrimp tank setup afterwards so as not to 'risk' the shrimp or have to set up another tank to transfer the shrimp too etc.

I'm sure there must be a reason why you can't just do this as it sounds way too simple, so wouldn't everyone do it??

 

Simon

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jayc

No ammonia source to keep the bacteria alive.

You could put fish in it, but then that's just another tank!

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sdlTBfanUK

The filters (with the bacteria) etc would still be running in the old tank happily with the shrimp and the old substrate as it had been? Could some dirty water (with sponge squeezed in to it) be used in the bucket?

The instructions for the JBL soil I am using is:

Use: 
Rinse the substrate briefly under tap water to wash away any abrasion caused in transport. To avoid accumulation of minerals in the water, carry out a 50 % water change every 2 to 3 days in the first two weeks after filling.

It isn't actually anything I need to do soon so don't want to waste too much of your time, but it would be much easier to have a bucket in the bathroom with the soil for a couple of weeks etc if you need to keep doing water changes every few days until the soil has settled down, ie the (above mentioned) mineral build up cleared and/or some soils I believe have an ammonia spike (doesn't this mean the soil must contain ammonia) etc early on so would that still happen in the bucket without filters and heater etc?

JayC don't waste too much time on this (I appreciate your time) as I expect I am just not experienced enough to understand!

Simon

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jayc
14 hours ago, sdlTBfanUK said:

JayC don't waste too much time on this

Don't think like that. It's never a bother.

If you add tank water or squeeze the filter media/sponge into the bucket of new substrate, it will seed the new substrate with bacteria. But the bacteria won't last long with, unless there is a source of ammonia (ammonia is the bacteria's food source), as well as warmth and oxygen.

This tread was started because some planted substrates (eg ADA Amazonia, etc) have ammonia. And you don't want to add it directly into the tank. So treating it in a bucket to remove ammonia by multiple rinsing cycles was the idea. 

So the bacteria, could survive and multiply in a bucket with dirty tank water and some warmth (Summer seasons would be ok). So that is a possible way of treating new substrate outside the tank. Do this for a couple of weeks, and you should be able to add it slowly into an existing tank.

JBL soils, however do not have ammonia in it, so rinsing then adding it straight into the tank is fine.

Of course there are some planted substrates that release it's ammonia much slower than ADA Amazonia, so those can be added straight into the tank at reduced amounts over a span of time. Cal Labs Black Earth Premium (CAL BEP) is one such substrate. 

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sdlTBfanUK

Thanks again JayC for your time. I think I understand it a bit better.

My tank was only set up about 6 months ago so hopefully it will be a while yet before I need to do a substrate change!

If I have understood, with the JBL (I have a spare bag anyway) I would do the first 2 weeks in a bucket in the bathroom or kitchen to save lugging buckets of water around the house with changing the water every third day (as per manufacturer instructions) to clear the mineral build up they mention. Then I can change it in the actual shrimp tank and cross my fingers.............. I do have a spare heater and pump (unless I get a Betta for the spare small tank) which I could put in the bucket (and use dirty fish tank water) if it were in the kitchen so guess that would be the way to go (no plugs in bathrooms in uk) but as you said that is basically the same as setting up a tank I guess. That should then clear the mineral build up (per manufacturer instructions) and seed the substrate with some bacteria ready to go.

Thanks again JayC I feel much clearer/confident about it now, though I would appreciate you letting me know if you think I haven't grasped it correctly.

Simon 

 

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      Thanks for that. I put the substrate in the tank and I think that is exactly the depth. I need to add more water as only 6L in there at the moment but it does look too much soil to my eyes at the moment but that's probably just because I only had half that before and I just need to get used to it like that. I will half fill the tank (hopefully get that done today) ready to start putting the plants and decorations back in and then decide, but it is a great help to know that that is the depth others use and works ok! Thanks again shrimp the world. Simon 
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