Replacing Aquarium Gravel
By Ken Wilssens
Some people wonder if they can replace aquarium gravel. This is debatable for many reasons, such as the fact that bacteria live on surfaces in the tank and anything will have an impact on the life in your tank especially on the bacteria colonies. If you have your water testing kit and know what to look for, you certainly can change your gravel, but keep in mind that your fish would probably be happy with natural colors such as those found in nature. Try to stay away from the bright blues and greens that are on the market.
The most important aspect of changing your gravel is planning ahead. Make a checklist and get everything ready before you start. This can prove to be less stressful for you and your fish. The main idea of changing this is to cause as little stress on your fish as possible. Changing gravel is a big job and it means upsetting what they are used to in their tank. You have to find an alternative holding tank, which can be a 10 gallon bucket. If you use a bucket from home, make sure that no chemicals or detergents wherever used in it.
A few days before you want to clean top of your tank with water, you have to test your water to make sure the ammonia and nitrite levers are zero. If they are not then you have to fix this problem first before you attempt to change your gravel. Do not feed your fish the day of the change. This will cut down on the waste in the bucket. It is very important now that you have everything on your checklist in place.
Rinse the new gravel until you have clear water. Place your holding tank as close to the main tank as possible. Turn off the filter to your main tank. This is temporary and you have to siphon off the water from the main tank to the bucket very quickly. Place any decorations you may have in the main tank in the holding tank. Quickly net the fish and transfer them to the holding tank. Add enough aged water to the main tank to allow the filter to run. Then turn the filter back on. Scoop out the old gravel and discard it. Vacuum the bottom of the tank and put in the new gravel. Move your decorations back in and then move your fish back to the main tank. You will need to feed them less than regularly on the day you change the gravel, but can continue on a regular routine the next day.
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