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Anyone done an active tank rebuild?

Mark_C

Staff member
NJRC Member
Moderator
So I ordered some flat rock from a guy in Fla and I love the stuff.
Love it so much so that I'd like to remove my current scape and replace it with a new build consisting 80% or better of this new rock.
The fish will be temp moved to a holding tank on the day of action.

If anyone has done this and can give me some clues on what to expect...

Plan:
Cure the new rock for 2 months or so.
A couple of weeks in I'll add a larger piece of rock from my tank to assist cycle.
I'll continue to add larger pieces of my tank rocks (which I'm planing to remove anyway) to the curing tank.
On the day, all fish removed to holding bucket.
Good sand cleaning (considering bare bottom), place new rock, top up water, filter few hours till clear, add fish back.
(I also have a load of MarinePure in the tank, which will remain in tank at all times).

Then I'll sit back and wait for inevitable algae bloom and diatoms, b*&^h and moan as usual.

Advice and warnings accepted and appreciated.
 

thirty6

NJRC Member
Haven't done this, but I prefer barebottom. I like the natural look of the sand, but cleaning and maintenance I feel is touch easier. since time always seems to be an issue when I have something running, this helps
 

erics210

NJRC Member
Hi Mark,
I did exactly what you are suggesting on a Red Sea Mac250 prior to the meeting I hosted back in July (2018?)
I was NOT happy with the layout, the look of the rock, but liked the corals I had and no real place to house them.
So I designed my layout, made a super cool arch piece with only a few points touching on the glass bottom. Got it all cleaned up and did the curing process as you are suggesting.
Brute, no lights with heat and flow. Added Tim's to start the process.
Did water changes as you would on a cycling tank. and just about month and a half or so later, I did my swap.
First thing I did was get 30 gallons of new salt mix water ready.
The Red Sea Max 250 is 65ish gallons, so I drained clean existing water into my extra large boat cooler that is now my designated tank transfer cooler.
Once drained about 1/2 the tank, I pulled existing rock and placed in cooler.
Next I caught any fish and also netted them into the cooler. at this point the tank is a bit stirred up.
But I knew the layout I was shooting for, so was just a matter of placing the large arch and other 4 or 5 cured pieces were I wanted them and fill the tank with fresh water like a water change.

Since I didnt have a sump, I just kept putting filter socks in front of the return line to catch alot of the suspended material. If you have filter socks, and a sump, by all means, go crazy with them to clear the water column quicker.

So with the bioload in the sand and the cured rock I wasnt expecting much of a cycle.
I then caught the fish and placed the corals and whola!
Swapped rock. I kept that cooler with heater and flow overnight in case any of the fish werent doing well. But everything went smoothly.

Recommendation, do a thorough cleaning of the glass panels before installing any rock that will limit access.

And if in a less rush, you could add the new rock to your sump slowly and just swap out sections at a time.

Didnt lose any fish/corals and tank was awesome till I parted with it...
 

erics210

NJRC Member
Haven't done this, but I prefer barebottom. I like the natural look of the sand, but cleaning and maintenance I feel is touch easier. since time always seems to be an issue when I have something running, this helps
I feel that having and leaving the existing sand made the entire process more possible because of the Bio Load housed by the sand in my case.
 

NikkiT

NJRC Member
I've done this several times with nano's. When I did this, I would add some biosphera or similar bacteria, and I used to replace the sand bed simultaneously with live sand, rather than cleaning the old sand bed.

I've also replaced something like 90% of the rock in our 205, after cycling new rock. I've done that once, and once we pulled all the rock (yes, all of it), etched it, re-cured it, and redid our aquascape.
 

Mark_C

Staff member
NJRC Member
Moderator
Thanks all for the great advice.
I'll stock up on filter socks to swap during changeover and pick up a bottle of bacteria as well.
Agree on the sand and that was my worry. Wondering if I put snad in a container inside the larger cycling tank, if I could cycle sand at the same time?
 

erics210

NJRC Member
Whats funny is I moved the cool arch into the Red Sea s500.
Which creates an awesome pass through underneath.
Was thinking of doing a partial swap, make some cool rock scape and swap out instead of this clusterDuck I have here...on the left side
1610577874960.png

1610577977585.png
 

DangerDave

NJRC Member
You got this. I’m doing it now. There is one big rock that I’m not putting in the sump, so I’ve been looking for days for my sea cucumber to make sure it’s not in the rock. I don’t want to kill it, it’s been in there since my cycle completed. I finally saw it yesterday, going into that damn rock.
 

Goodair

NJRC Member
When I added pvc tunnles to the tank, it was basically a whole rescape. Added some extra dry rock a couple weeks ahead of time in the sump, since some large pieces werent going to fit anymore.
Moved some of the rock and corals to a big cooler as a wall divider, and put some fish there, rest of rock went to a brute can, urchin and comet in a 5g bucket and rocks with feather dusters, that way I didnt prick myself or crush them later. No heater in the brute, but heater and airstone in the 5g and cooler.
Complete drain of tank and the water went into the same storage as the rocks and livestock amd reused. Last 20% was disposed of after a deep cleaning.
In the end, softies all fine, torch fine, duncans were never happy after it all and some heads died ( could of been other reasons maybe?) Urchin lost a few spines but is ok, fish were fine.
Did not feed them the morning of the change. Filter socks caught sand so expect to change them after your done with the rescape.
 

ole farny

NJRC Member
Thanks all for the great advice.
I'll stock up on filter socks to swap during changeover and pick up a bottle of bacteria as well.
Agree on the sand and that was my worry. Wondering if I put snad in a container inside the larger cycling tank, if I could cycle sand at the same time?

i have no idea if its the right call or not, but nows the time to change the sand if you were considering it.

my only experience along these lines is buying a whole tank and contents, so i wasn't swapping out any rock or anything at all, but it was a big move of an established tank. it will probably take twice as long as you might estimate and you'll appreciate having extra buckets and roughtneck storage bins on hand. fwiw, this was a softie tank.

i did not change out the sand and it turned out okay. i do think a sandbed is a detritus trap, but if you don't disturb it, i do think an undisturbed bed is worth having and helps with denitrification overall. disturbing it though is likely to unleash a slew of problems. adding new sand probably only takes a few weeks to get up to speed, so i think if i had this to do again, i'd probably try changing out the sand if for not other reason than to see what happens LOL.
 

MadReefer

Staff member
NJRC Member
Moderator
After this post thinking of rearranging rocks. Want to give more depth. Planning on removing back rocks and sliding scape back a bit more.
 
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