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Changing substrate

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Has anyone attempted to change substrate in an active aquarium? I have live plants but only one Chinese algae eater in this tank. Sounds crazy but I want to try a more productive substrate. In a 10 gallon I used white sand which I'm really  unhappy with. If it's possible to preserve and replant the plants that I have I would be willing to try it. 

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in a 10 with just 1 chinese algae eater, id scoop the fish out and stick it in a bucket for a few hours then suck down a bunch of water scoop out the sand, and suction out all you can get. when youre happy stick in your new substrate, let it get up to normal temp, put the fish back.

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I have changed substrates before. A lot of the beneficial bacteria in your tank live in the substrate, and it ended up crashing my cycle. I thought the cycled filter would be enough but it sadly was not. Had to reestablish the cycle with fish in, it was not fun.

If you just have 1 fish might not be much of an issue since bioload is so low. Depending on what you're doing, mixing some of the old substrate in with the new helps preserve the beneficial bacteria. But if you want to ditch the sand completely then go for it just keep an eye on water parameters. 

Thankfully when I did my substrate swap all my plants did just fine. 

Good luck!

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