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Dry start method after rescaping aquarium ?


Thread starter
19 Mar 2021
Aalborg, Denmark
Hi Folks,

I had to rescape my aquarium as the plant mass had reduced quite a bit due to neglect and algae recently. The tank has been running as a high tech since a year now so has established filter media and inhabitants.
I moved the fish to another tank with the existing filter media running. I wan't able to catch all the shrimp (probably 50+ cherry shrimps), so they are still in the rescaped tank.

The rescaping involved:
  • Uprooting some dead/unwanted stem plants and planting some new ones
  • Addition of nutrition capsules to the substrate
  • New plants that were planted :
    • Limnophila aromatica/hippuridoides - tissue culture
    • Ludwigia Palustris red - in pot
    • Rotala rotundifolia Colorata - tissue culture
    • Blyxa japonica - tissue culture
    • Marsilea crenata - tissue culture
    • Marsilea hirsuta - tissue culture
    • Micranthemum Monte Carlo (existing in the tank - submerged)
    • Anubias and a couple of buce (existing in the tank - submerged)
  • No addition of hardscape
  • No change to the existing Tropica Soil substate
I had initially thought to just flood the tank and continue with the traditional way (using the same filter, lights, co2, etc.) and move the fish back in, but then since I uprooted a lot of stem plants maybe this may lead to ammonia spikes which may kill my fish ?

Here is a pic of the tank. Right now I have just misted it and wrapped the top with cling foil.

I could not completely drain the tank as there are still many shrimp in it so there is a level of water above the substrate. Also the substrate is sloped to the back so there is more water towards the front glass.

I was wondering whether I should do a dry start and let all the new plants grow or should I just continue with filling the tank with water and going the traditional way and will dry start help in my case since I have added quite a few stem plants as well?
If going the dry start route makes sense then how do i get the water level just at/below the substrate level while also keeping my shrimp alive ? I can't find a way out to catch all my shrimp atleast 😕

This isn't going to be possible, if you remove the water the shrimp will die, and if you don't flood and add the filter back soon, the shrimp will probably die as well.
If I manage to catch all/most of the shrimp and move them and then do the dry start method is it still worth it based on my setup and plants above or it won't add much value?
If i manage to catch all/most of the shrimp and move them and then do the dry start method is it still worth it based on my setup and plants

Blyxa japonica - tissue culture

Blyxa japonica is a true aquatic plant and needs to be submerged, it's unlikely to survive a dsm. Can't comment on the benefits regards the other plants.
I would go for filling it straight away and getting the filter back on asap, but I am old school and have always done it that way🥱
The only reason I didn't flood it asap after the rescape is for the fear of ammonia spikes that might harm the fish since I uprooted a lot of stem plants. If the DSM is not going to serve the purpose then I guess I'll just test for ammonia and flood the tank accordingly.
I just tested the rescaped tank for ammona and nitrite and although ammonia shows as 0 ppm on the test kit, the nitrites show around 0.50 ppm

Now if I flood the rescaped tank and move the filter over from the temporary tank, I am guessing this will take a few days till the nitrites show 0. Until then I cannot move the fish to the rescaped tank.
If I throw in an additional new in-tank filter to the temporary tank that contains the fish while keeping the main canister filter running, how many days would it take to get some bacteria going in the in-tank filter ?

What can I do in the rescaped tank meanwhile to reduce the nitrites ?
Filter, filter, filter....
Don't you realize that the nitrites are the result of nitrification running within your substrate?
Two to three weeks until nitrites are gone.

In the case of the empty tank yes (but not just the substrate), and with a standard cycle, yes, but adding a matured filter will speed up the process hugely.

I'm not going to tell you to flood and move the fish and filter back over and you will have no problems, but plenty of people do this after a rescape without issue.

The saftest option is going to be catch as many shrimp as you can, put them in the temp setup and flood the main tank and leave for a few weeks to settle down, if you can add some old filter media from your canister to the new filter and run that in the main tank even better.
So basically you've kept the same 12 month old mature substrate, added some root tabs and done a rescape.
Personally I'd flood the tank, then do a 90% water change. Re fill the tank, put the old filter back on it, add the fish and do large daily water changes for the next week.

Between the mature filter, mature substrate and large regular water changes I'd imagine it should keep ammonia and nitrites in check.

Feel free to test the water daily, any issues simply do more water changes.
So basically you've kept the same 12 month old mature substrate, added some root tabs and done a rescape
Yes this is what I did.

I'll flood the main tank and do a large water change. I won't add the fish to the main tank for now but keep them in the temporary tank (I managed to find an old in-tank filter and heater although the in-tank filter doesn't have bacteria yet).
I'll just do some large water changes on both tanks for now.
I realise that by now you've probably already done everything.... but I remember hours spent with a magnifying glass and a white bowl - making sure I'd rescued every single one of the minutest of baby cherry shrimp after tank maintenance! I found this on YouTube, where he was removing his cherry shrimp from the tank - still not sure I'd suck up the adults this way, but for the teeniest of them I reckon it was a fine idea!! At about 4'10", the video here,
I only have Amano shrimps at the moment, but at one stage I had thousands of yellow cherries - definitely something to remember for the future to get the wee ones. 😀