Hobbit Posted September 7, 2021 Share Posted September 7, 2021 (edited) Okay. So. My 55 gallon was originally supposed to be a Walstad setup. I got impatient when the pet store didn’t have the sand I wanted, so I capped the soil with a layer of imagitarium gravel. Fast forward a year and a half. The pH of my heavily planted, full-of-driftwood, barely-water-changed tank is 8.4, with 300ppm hardness and 300ppm buffer. (Max level on the aquarium coop test strips.) The water out of my tap is almost RO, it has so little in it. The black coating on the gravel is wearing off. So given that plants and driftwood are supposed to lower your pH over time, and the fact that I don’t have this problem in any of my other tanks, I’m 99.9% sure the gravel is sending my pH through the roof. The fish are doing fine—they’ve adjusted to this over a long period of time. I think they’d be happier in a lower pH environment but they’re doing okay. But I know if I ever want to add new fish, they’ll have a rough go of it in this very very hard, alkaline water. I’d also like to be able to grow stem plants in here. At the very beginning of this tank I had beautiful stem plants! But based on the fact that they all died and I’ve never gotten them to grow again, I don’t think they can handle the high pH. (The swords are also nitrate hogs. I fertilized yesterday and today the nitrate is 0.) Plus, the gravel does a terrible job keeping the dirt where it’s supposed to be. There’s always particulates floating everywhere, which I think contributes to my small-leafed plants growing tons of algae. The mulm collects in those plants and the algae love it. So the question is… do I dare change my substrate? I think I’d replace everything with a fine gravel, something on the darker side that still looks natural. Forget the Walstad. I love that method, but the Walstad ship sailed for this tank long ago. I really want to, but I have no idea how, given that this is a dirted tank. I could empty the whole thing and try to scoop the substrate out, but that seems really hard. Even if I get the tetras and gouramis out of there, I’ve got two plecos, two yo-yo loaches, and two otos that I highly doubt I could catch without tearing out the entire scape. And I know my sword plants will not be happy if I uproot them. I could try to replace the substrate one bit at a time, vacuuming out another section each time I do a water change. I had to do that when I replaced the rock in the front right corner. It kicked up a toooon of dirt but that cleared in time. Does that make the most sense, so I don’t have to move anyone? I’d never get all the gravel out, but maybe I could remove enough that the pH goes down. I’m just imagining that between the loaches and the Malaysian trumpet snails, the old and new gravel will get mixed together and then I’ll end up throwing out a lot of new gravel every time I try the next section. That or I’m stuck sorting gravel. 😛 Help!! Edited September 7, 2021 by Hobbit Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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