Changing Substrate in Established Aquarium

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enrique4jc

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Oct 17, 2006
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I'm considering changing my 55g community tank over from that naturalish looking brown gravel to black sand. I think the colors of my fish will "pop" much better with that black substrate and fish seem to like sand in general from previous experiences. I know there is BB in the gravel so I'd try to keep as much as possible in mesh in the tank for a while. Beyond that, what else should I be concerned about?

Is there a problem having loose bits of sand suspended in the substrate for a while?

Any particular black sand you'd recommend over another?

Thanks!
 

fishorama

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Jun 28, 2006
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Well, an easier option might be to add a black background & see how that looks with your "natural" substrate.

Can you post a pic? I need visuals to get the whole tank picture...Black is nice but so are dark browns, greens, etc. Show & tell!
 

enrique4jc

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Bad picture with lots of glare with windows open and lamps going and all that, but you can see enough I guess.

Background is already black.

IMG_20181006_110553113.jpg
 

the loach

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Aug 6, 2018
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I would siphon the gravel out part by part spread over a couple of days. I don't recommend actual sand but very fine 2mm to 3mm gravel. They have that in black as well. Still looks like sand, small enough for bottom dwellers to dig in to but it doesn't pack like real sand (creating anaerobic areas) and much, much easier to clean as well.
 

authmal

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Aug 4, 2011
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I probably don't need to add this, but be sure to turn off filtration when adding the new sand or fine gravel. You don't need that getting into filters and such and causing damage. I had one of those Fluval C2 filters, which was great, but *man* it got messed up by sand easily if it got churned up. After the second time I heard it lock up, I made a point of unplugging it before doing anything else, and hoping none of the fish got feisty and kicked up the sand.
 

the loach

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And then to put the new gravel in: rinse thoroughly first. Don't just scoop it in the tank. Put it in a cup, jar, container whatever, lower down gently and let it out on the bottom.
 
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tanker

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IMO, your tank looks fine as is. I have black gravel in my 120. It looks nice initially, and in a way it still does, but the tanks looks too dark. I have natural gravel in my 100, and the fish look nice too. Keep the natural look, I would not change it.
 

the loach

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Fair point by Tanker, your issue might actually be your lighting. I see you have the apple juice thing going on. Either you have lots of tannins in the water or your lighting doesn't have the proper color temperature and CRI. Unfortunately few people have, as there aren't that many choices with leds and fluorescents. But anything under 6500K and 88CRI will make a tank look like this. If you have lots of tannins as well... you need a CRI over 95 with leds or fluorescents over 8000K to counter this.
And remember... no specification by the manufacturer = poor specification.
 

enrique4jc

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your issue might actually be your lighting.
This is very possible. I thought about that more after posting last night. I put some turquoise rainbows into quarantine in a 10 gallon with black "moon sand" and a Beamswork LED. Fresh from about an hour in the bag, I thought their colors looked better than the two currently in my tank. My mind went to substrate, but the lighting could be it. Or they could just be better fish. I want to see how they look in comparison when moved into the main tank.
 
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