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Old 04-10-2013, 01:47 AM   #1 
aemaki09
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28 gallon sorority - Gravel to NPT conversion :)

So, as some of you all know, I've been dreaming of making my 28 bowfront sorority tank into a naturally planted tank for quite a few months now.
Today I made it happen.
I've had the supplies lying around for a couple of weeks now but haven't had much energy to get it done after having to deal with another bout of bronchitis, but after having reserved a couple kuhli loaches and making plans to meet the seller to get them tomorrow, I figured it was probably in my best interest to get it changed before they came. FINALLY, a good amount of motivation!!

--this is how I did it for anyone interested, if not skip everything between yhwre dashes--
I started rinsing the sand this afternoon. I poured 3/4 of my 50lb bag of "Black diamond sand blasting sand" of medium grit into a 5 gallon bucket and put a hose in. I let the hose run for about 1/2 an hour inside of the bucket, moving the head around to different locations within the sand to try and get as much of the dust off as I could and then let it sit inside to get to room temperature for a few hours.
Once I was satisfied the sand was warmed up enough I grabbed it and my 1 cubic foot bag of "garden state 100% organic potting mix" and started emptying the water in the tank.
Once the tank was about 1/3 empty I started removing the plants and hardscape elements and put them into another bucket along with and ran my filter inside it to hopefully keep my BB from dying on the filters media through the change. Then at 2/3 empty I filled up another bucket with the old tan water and started netting my fish.
Once empty I removed as much of the old clown puke colored gravel and threw it out and then tore open my bag of organic potting mix. I didn't notice many large pieces of anything as I was sifting through with my fingers so instead of sifting through it all I just grabbed one of my old petco betta cups and started scooping the soil in. I started molding as I was adding the soil to try an figure out how I wanted to contour it all, and once I had it his I liked it I started adding my sand for the cap.
I was a bit worried about getting enough sand everywhere and it was hard to determine how much was where since I was using black sand so I thin I made it a bit too light in spots but heavy in others, not sure how much that would have effected anything.
When I started adding water, I encountered a problem. I let it pour too fast and hard and stirred up the sand/soil and made a HUGE mess! It was rediculously muddy!! I fixed it by adding a bit more sand everywhere and grabbing a plate and using the underside of it for the flow from the bucket to hit. This helped ALOT and I will continue to use this method for future w/c's.
Anyways, once I finally got the tank completely filled I grabbed a coffee filter to get all the floating pieces off of the surface and then grabbed my hardscape elements to add. I have heard of people putting hardscapes in before the sand, but I decided on after because I didn't know how it would work without having the cap under it if I removed it.
Once the hardscape was in, I started my planting. I kept everything pretty much how it was before the change, just a few very minor changes in the background and different placement of hardscape.
Anyways, after that I added my filter and then added my fishy friends back UTI the tank! If I had a larger area to keep them in overnight I would have waited until the water cleared up a bit, but I had a 2 jumpers in the time it took to change this and didn't want anymore!
---

Overall, this project took me 4 hours from sand rinsing to re-adding fish.
If I were to do it again, I would have Tried it on a smaller tank, used a plate on my first pour so the substrate didn't come up so high, and would have made sure I had somewhere else to put the fish for a longer period of time.
Actually, in all honesty, I probably would have jus used Eco complete or something of that nature instead since it'd be much less time consuming.

I will keep everyone updated on the progress of this! I'm sorry for such a long post, I just wanted people thinking about doing it to know how I did it and my mistakes.

Here are some pictures of the change-over!

Before::


Cleaned out, almost:


Soil, no sand yet, how I originally wanted the sloping to look:


My mistake::


Right after it was finished


Now::



Any thoughts/suggestions?

I'm thinking I probably need more stems, so I will be transferring more over tomorrow once I figure out what and where I want them.


I will post a complete plant species list later.

Thanks for looking :)
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Old 04-10-2013, 04:19 AM   #2 
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more stems as you say and have your ammonia test kit on hand and check it daily you will have some ammonia spikes for a few days
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Old 04-10-2013, 08:44 AM   #3 
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I think once everything grows out it would look great!
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Old 04-25-2013, 11:40 AM   #4 
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This post is awesome. I have eco-complete in my 29g tank right now but REALLY want to change it to a NPT or at least sand at some point. My plants love the eco-complete, but I think my corys would love sand better and I'm just really in love with my 5.5g NPT. I'm so scared of trying to remove all my fish/shrimp/snails and stuff though, so it might be a while before I take the plunge. Still nice to see someone else's process though :D
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Old 04-25-2013, 11:52 AM   #5 
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It was a pain, but I think worth it...
I haven't have any issues with ammonia spikes at all in any tank that I did this to. They all stayed cycled and run like normal.
I ordered some more stems last week but they haven't got in yet but once they get in I think that'll help.
I also upgraded my lighting. Went with a Finnex Ray2 LED's, they came very highly recommended. Thanking god that the old Aqueon single tube t-8 is out of there!

Anyways, here is a pic of it since the water has clearered.
I had to take a few stem trimmings already too.
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Old 04-25-2013, 11:55 AM   #6 
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It looks great! If all I had in my tank was bettas I'd change it over ASAP, but the platys, corys, amano shrimp, and otos make things a bit more complicated, especially since some of them can be pretty sensitive. Maybe I'll just add a sandy area somewhere (like in front) and that will satisfy my need for sand...haha.
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Old 04-25-2013, 04:06 PM   #7 
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Oh yeah, it was a pain in the butt to try and catch everyone I had in my tank before the change so I know where you're coming from.

I have (temporarily for some) in there:: female bettas, tiger Endlers, peppered cories, 1 oto (getting new friends after I transfer him), bristlenoses, and kuhli loaches. I know it's overstocked but the parameters stay good.
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Old 04-25-2013, 04:50 PM   #8 
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The live plants help a lot. I hate to say it but I think tanks look empty unless they are close to being overstocked or are overstocked...I think I'm at 90% capacity or something with my sorority and it still seems empty to me. My filter is good and I do a water change every Thursday plus have all the plants so not worried. I will say that I probably would have gone with a different type of fish when I got my platys had I known they poop constantly...
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Old 04-25-2013, 07:45 PM   #9 
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I agree with you on that. As long as the parameters stay good, your fish have room to swim, and they aren't stressed, I think it should be okay
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