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Re: Aquatic Plants Digest V2 #691

In a message dated 97-05-06 12:10:39 EDT, you write:

<< In the process of moving my 11o gal. tank next month I would like to
 convert from a undergravel filter to an external filter and use a proper
 substrate. Any suggustions on filters and substrate for a beginner? Also
 I am concerned about existing plants and fish after the conversion. What
 is the best way to ensure the health of plants and fish after the
 conversion until the tank cycles? Would starting an external filter now
 to build up the Bio. filtration in it now be helpfull. Hopefully the
 tank will be down for less then 24 hours. Any help with this will be
 greatly appreciated.

I just converted a 30 gal from UGF/gravel to a better substrate and filter (I
hope it's better!).  I used 3-0 sandblast media.  It is quartz silica, nice
tan color, 2-3 mm size.  It's very nice!  It is available from companies that
sell or rent sandblasting supplies and costs $4 for 100lbs.  Rinse it well
before use.  In the bottom inch I added "Substrate Gold" which is a domestic
laterite type clay ($8).  I broke up 5 planttabbs and placed that in there
too for some fertilizer.  2 inches of sand on top of that.  I had run a test
of this mix in a five gallon bucket for a few weeks and the plants had great
root growth and did well despite lower light in the bucket.

For the filter I used a submerged filter (Duetto 100).  It is silent and has
good circulation without too much surface disturbance (to keep it the CO2).
 It also has an intake for air (I plan to hook it up to CO2).  I stirred up
the gravel and ran it in the tank before tear down (a few weeks) to establish
the biological filter.  I decreased the air to the UGF over those weeks to a
very low flow.

I saved approximately 1/2 the water when I tore down and did the change (easy
with only 15 gal.).  I kept the fish and the plants in the buckets with the
old water.  The fish were fine and the plants lost a few leaves but are
coming back.

I like the look of the sand substrate and really like the silent filter.  I
stopped CO2 and cut back fertilization the week before transfer to "toughen
up" the plants for the transfer.  I have no idea if this helped but at least
it didn't seem to hurt.  I am slowly ramping up fertilizer and will probably
add CO2 this week.

As a precaution, I started measuring ammonia again daily for the last week
and so far so good.  I have a low fish load however, and so I am not
surprised things are OK.  An ounce of prevention.................

Good luck
Patrick Mullen