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adverbemonade

Replacing gravel

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Today, while eating part of a pea, Bernadette, in her excitement, apparently grabbed a piece of gravel. She couldn't get it out of her mouth, so I reached to get her, which luckily scared her into spitting out the gravel piece and some pea she had shoved in after that.

Whew. That made me rethink having medium sized gravel. The fish really enjoy playing with it, but it's not worth it if one is going to choke on a piece when I'm not there to help.

I want to replace the gravel and add a bunch of 1" river rocks, but don't want to slow down my cycling too much. What's the best way to go about this? Taking out a handful of gravel a day?

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your tank is still cycling? If it is, I would do a handful a week. Taking out the gravel too quickly will set back your cylce process.

If your tank is cycled, you should be fine to do a handful a day.

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Thanks!

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I wouldn't think your gravel content would affect your cycle. You vacuum the gravel each week, and the fish are rooting through the top 1/2" of it, so it's probably not housing a permanent supply of beneficial bacteria. Plus, people with bare bottom tanks aren't relying on gravel as part of their media, and they use the same HOB filters or canister filters that we gravel lovers do.

If you're going to take it out, I'd just take it all out.

My 3 love the gravel and plow through it like there's no tomorrow. They take huge mouthfuls, move their heads to the side, spit it all out in a different location, and go back to their dig.......and repeat. They'll re-landscape the entire 70G tank in about 24hrs.

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I took my gravel out entirely in one go and nothing happened, but I had an established tank and also some ornaments that would've had some bacteria living on it already that I put back in. have you got anything else in there except the gravel? if so, it might not be too bad if you take all the gravel out at once, but idk, this was just from personal experience, it might be different if your tank's not properly cycled yet!

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i would rather be safe than sorry as I had a cycle crash by removing my tms to hastily :( I would do a little with each w/c :)

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I replaced my gavel this last week. My tank had already had a bump in the cycle so I decided just to do it all at once since it was already all messed up. I don't know if this is a good idea or not, but I took some panty hose and put a bunch of gravel in several and tied knots so I've got some of the old gravel in there without it mixing with the new. Hopefully it will help establish some good bacteria for a few days and then I can pull it out and throw it away. I guess we'll see.

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When fully cycled, your filter and tank and their contents will support as many nitrifying bacteria as there is ammonia to them alive. You can remove a small fraction of the nitrifying bacteria with no problem whatsoever, since the remaining bugs have the capacity to "eat" more ammonia if the other guys aren't getting it. If you remove too many of them, you get a cycle bump. Fortunately, the remaining overfed bacteria will grow faster in response to all the food. Unfortunately, these are slow growing bacteria, so the "bump" may last several days.

If you have gravel on the bottom of your tank, you have a greatly increased surface area in the tank as compared a bare bottom tank, so a larger fraction of your total population of nitrifiers is in the tank rather than in the filter. These bacteria are not loosely attached to the substrate, but rather live in a biofilm, which is not going to come off with vigorous rinsing or with vacuuming the gravel. Vacuuming can mix up the top layer of gravel so that particles at the surface which have the most bacteria are buried under particles with fewer. This should not lower the population enough to produce a bump. Removing all of the gravel at once may or may not produce a bump, but the potential is there. Whether or not you want to risk it depends on how much you enjoy a period of large daily water changes.

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Thanks, guys. I love Koko's.

The gravel I have is about 1/4 deep, and I have vacuumed half of it with every water change, so I'm not sure how much bacteria has had a chance to become established there.

Just to be safe, I'm taking a handful out a day. I'm picking out the narrow-edged, oddly shaped, and very small pieces (which I really should've done before I put it in the tank), and keeping the round ones (which seem to be the easiest for them to dislodge) to eventually put back in with more river rocks. I really like this color gravel, and my fish really like stuff they can put in their mouths.

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