Changing Aquarium Substrate- Part 1

My project of this weekend is to change my 40G aquarium substrate from this painted white rocks I got from Petco to another medium size regular aquarium substrate. I love the white substrate with the strong light and black background because it helps to reflect the vibrancy of the fish color. However, I  am suspicious that this white substrate I got from Petco is contaminated. All of my fish that have been inhabited in this tank have died or have suffered severe swim bladder issues, including all of my beloved goldfish.


Original white painted substrate from petco.

Before drawing any conclusions, I have investigated other factors including water parameters, contaminants from other sources, bright LED lights, and malfunction filter. Considering my other fish tanks are using the same water source, it is very unlikely that my water source is contaminated. Indeed, when I checked my tap water, it has no ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and it has a pH of 7.8, which is perfect for growing African cichlids and is reasonable for goldfish. Secondly, I have rechecked my water parameter inside the aquarium and it has the same values.

Next, I removed my filter and cleaned it and added new filter media from my established tank. My initial thought was that my filter is broken and it is not removing fish waste properly. However, I have  1 aquaclear 70 on this tank and the water was crystal clear. I immediately checked the aquarium water parameter. Again. No ammonia. No nitrite. and No nitrate. Temp was 78F. Everything seems to be okay.

I also made sure there were no other contaminants around this tank, including windex, spray products, fertilizers, etc. The interesting thing is that my 75G, 20G and 5G are also around this tank. None of them are affected and none of them have any top cover.

2016-10-15-11-15-28As you can see, the fish are very sluggish, hiding in the corner, and behind the decoration.

My next theory is that my decorations are poisonous. I have reused the center bridge piece in my 75G over a week and all my african cichlids appears to be loving all the extra hiding place.  This rules out my theory on bad decorations.

Whats next? I believe it is time to change the substrate.

This is the final product. In short, my fish have been doing so much better. Improved appetite, more energy, and are thriving in this new tank setup. In part 2, we will discuss how I changed my substrate and maintained my water parameter while changing substrates. Please follow, comment, and subscribe for more 🙂


2016-10-21 23.45.49.jpg2016-10-21-23-48-56

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