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Question about changing out a tank and getting new inhabitants (or at least changing the substrate)


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Hello everyone!

I want to note quickly that I'm *not* trying to sell fish on this forum.  Just asking about general avenues I could pursue should I wish to sell the fish at a reasonable price so I could populate the tank with other inhabitants.  Barring that, I'd like some general advice on how to swap out an unsatisfactory substrate for something better for my water.

I have a 40 gallon breeder with 42 white cloud fish, a number of Malaysian trumpet snails, and 4 Amano shrimp. I have 14 Tanichthys albonubes (mostly gold white clouds, but a few wild type), 14 Tanichthys micagemmae (Vietnamese white clouds), and 14 Tanichthys kuehnei (yellow or lemon white clouds).

The fish are maintained in a heavily planted tank at a pH of 6.4 to 6.6 using a UNS Controsoil substrate.  I've been dissatisfied with the Controsoil substrate. My water comes out of the tap naturally soft and slightly acidic, so frankly it's not the best setup for where I live.  I was thinking about changing out the substrate for gravel with some crushed coral. I have a 20 gallon aquarium with some orange hatchet danios, and I like the setup much better.

However, I've been feeling lately that it's likely a waste for me to keep the tank as it's set up.  The T. micagemmae and T. kuehnei fish in particular aren't that common, and really would be best maintained in separate species tanks by a hobbyist who is capable of maintaining these populations indefinitely, and my apartment just doesn't have room for that.  I was thinking about instead getting a decent size school of pearl danios (Danio albolineatus).

I feel terrible contemplating giving up the fish, but I was wondering if any fish keepers here could let me know if there's any options for me selling fish locally at a price that could cover at least the cost of a school of danios.  A swap would be even better.  I don't know how often fish keepers move fish around. 

Of course, I may ultimately just keep the fish and change the substrate out, because I frankly feel guilty even contemplating giving the fish up. I don't know if the fish recognize their owners or if they are distressed when they get moved somewhere.  Is it possible to change the substrate to gravel and crushed coral with the fish I already have?  I have concerns with having the pH rising gradually with the crushed coral might not be good for them. 

Any general advice on any of these avenues would be greatly appreciated!

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Were I in your situation, I would reach out to several LFS who I have cultivated god relationships with, and explain what I had in mind with the fish. I'd inquire if they'd be willing to allow me to trade in fish and plants I'm done with. Maybe your LFS cannot get you the Danios you're wanting, the substrate you're planning on, or the new plants you'd like; but maybe they would give you store credit for items they do carry. In that case, just think to yourself that the savings may apply to costs on food, water treatment, and recurring cost items instead of the new tank items.

I'd try to find one place who will take all of the fish and plants that I'm done with. Shipping fish and distributing to multiple buyers is a lot of work. If you've never shipped before . . . it's possible . . . but you'll be happier to move things along to a store or single buyer, IMHO.

After fish and plants re out, you can drain 90% of the water and remove the current substrate with a small plastic food storage container with gentle curved edges to keep you from scraping your silicone or glass. You can wipe out most of the substrate and misc granules with a few rolls of paper towel.

Then reset your tank. But be sure that you either locking and preserve your cycle, or are patient for your tank to cycle again.

Sadly . . . I will wager that you'll NEVER get rid of all the Malaysian Trumpet Snails. They'll just return after a long while.  I'd love to be wrong on that, but . . . I'm going to guess FOREVER on them.

Some things are inevitable:

Death, Taxes, eternal Duckweed, and the forever indefatigueable Malaysian Trumpet Snails

Edited by Fish Folk
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You can actually sell fish on this forum. There is a hidden board that can be accessed once you hit 50 posts, and your only 3 away. If you ask the potential buyers to try to breed the fish as a condition of selling, they'll likely comply. 

For changing the substrate, heres how I go about it:

1) get a 5 gallon bucket and fill it with tank water. Put and airstone in it. Place all the fish into the tank. It'll be best not to feed the fish the day before this, that way the fish won't foul up the water while in the bucket. It will also be good to place the decor in the bucket, since the decor will harbor beneficial bacteria.

2) drain the rest of the tank water and use a pink plastic toy shovel (it has to be pink, else it won't work) with a flat blade to remove the unwanted substrate.

3) from there it will be straight forward.

While i am confident the fish will survive the change in pH, I can't guarantee it.


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