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I have a few pond rocks in my 5.5 gallon tank right now. They're about medium sized but my betta still finds ways to get in between the cracks and it angers me! Then again, there arent that many rocks; they just barely cover the bottom of the tank. Im getting gravel or sand tomorrow (Whats better for a betta, sand or gravel? Id perfer sand but I heard it messes up filters and such) My tank has been cycling for about 5/6 weeks and i dont want to mess up the bacteria on the surfaces. How can I safely switch my rocks to gravel without messing up the cycle?
My betta is in a temporary bowl right now due to fin rot, so I thought now would be the perfect time to change his tank a bit :)
 

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you can use either sand or gravel. Sand does not mess up the filter. Also most of the beneficial bacteria is in your filter and not the gravel so you won't mess up the cycle. if you do go with sand make sure you wash it REALLY well and rinse it a lot. Then make sure it settles before you add your fish back in.
 

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Sand can mess up any filter that has mechanical parts, but it's pretty easy to avoid. As mentioned, rinse it half to death then rinse it more, and let it settle. If you have a power filter, canister filter, anything mechanical make sure the intake is well off the bottom, and pop on a sponge pre-filter.

Most issues arise when the filter sucks in sand, and grinds down the impeller. Avoid this & you won't have a problem.
 

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Yes, you can still clean it with a gravel vac. Just be sure to not knock it around too much :)

Ummmm, a general rule of thumb I go buy is about 3/4 inch to an inch of substrate. I'm not sure how many pounds that is...
 

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+1 Tolak
Make sure you turn off your filter when cleaning or the sand will harm your impeller.

Sand needs so be agitated frequently to avoid pockets of heterotrophic bacteria that will harm your fish and cause an odor in your tank.

The good thing about sand is that the waste lays right on top. As far as using a gravel vacuum, hover it over the sand to pick up waste & debris. Never plunge the vacuum in as you would with gravel or you will suck it up.
 

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Sand can mess up any filter that has mechanical parts, but it's pretty easy to avoid. As mentioned, rinse it half to death then rinse it more, and let it settle. If you have a power filter, canister filter, anything mechanical make sure the intake is well off the bottom, and pop on a sponge pre-filter.

Most issues arise when the filter sucks in sand, and grinds down the impeller. Avoid this & you won't have a problem.
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Definitely agreed! Good advice from Tolak. I have unfortunately experienced a couple of ruined filters from sand.

If you want to use sand in your tank I would go with a sponge filter rather than a HOB filter (or any that uses an impeller).
 

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like I said, just turn it off before you add it, I've made the mistake of doing that with two of my HOB filters. But I don't even shut mine off to clean, and the only time I had an issue was when I was adding the sand. and if your impeller sounds weird stop it and rise it out. But I have sand in all of my tanks, and I really like it. And its not like it will shred your filter or anything lol, it doesn't even get stirred up unless you dump water in, so you just have to use a cup to put it in:).
 

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Problem is, in my tanks turning the filter off did not solve the problem. If you have fish that insist on digging in the substrate, it can ruin filters in no time at all. So it all depends on your aquarium and what you have in it.
 

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FWIW, I just (like, a few minutes ago) switched from bare-bottom to sand to try to help the health of my corys barbels and to raise the maddeningly low pH of my tank. I use National Geographic aquarium sand in white, rinsed it in a bowl for a while, and then just plopped it in by handfuls. My corys and my betta sure are confused! It looks a bit like it snowed in my tank. It was super easy, and the National Geo sand is very heavy stuff, so it settles almost instantly.
 

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I am using small rock that has been rounded and polished for my babies in the big tank. They (cories, pleco and tetras) seem to like it and IMO looks more like a riverbed. I use both the tabs for my swords and the flourish liquid for the other plants and I think it's working fine.

On another note...may I ask how often you change out your perspective substrate?
 

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I don't every change my substrate but I clean it with a gravel vac once a week at least. Sometimes twice a week if there is a lot of waste in the tank.
 

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So unless you decide one day that you want sand instead of gravel..you shouldn't change?
 

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So unless you decide one day that you want sand instead of gravel..you shouldn't change?
There is no need to change your substrate, unless you want a different look, but when you do change it you are going to lose quite a bit of your good bacteria that way. Also, if you have established plants in the substrate currently in use, you run the risk of damaging root systems and possibly having your plants die back or die entirely. I never change my substrate unless the tank has no fish or other occupants in it. then I might possibly change it and set it up fresh if needed.
 

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10 pounds of sand for a 5 gallon. 2 pounds per gallon. Get it at Petco in 2 5 pound bags. They have a nice selection. I have the black in my 5 gallon. Love it.

Hover over the sand while vacuuming. I crimp the hose to release the sand just above the substrate. I don't turn off my filter. I do have a pre-filter on the intake.
 

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Unless my entire tank crashes, I don't change my substrate. I just vacuum it. Changing substrate will not ruin your cycle. I did a 10 gallon about 2 months ago from really crappy gravel to a better gravel by removing 2/3 of the water then pulling out the old with the fish in the tank (no bettas). Cleaned up the water and let it settle then added new cleaned gravel, fresh water, let settle, finished filling, rearranged, cleaned cartridge and added Prime. My numbers never changed and all has been well. Other than a nitrate problem I have now. Time for a deep clean and 60% water change today.
 
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