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How to change buffering substrate

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My substrate has stopped buffering in my blue bolt tank .... not checked ph in about 2 weeks ... always been great .... it is now reading about 7 instead of the normal 6 to 6.5.

This is my 10gal blue bolt planted tank .... had good breeding. Likely will need also to be changing the 30gal cbs before much longer as well. Need to know the safe way to do it. Have heard that a big substrate change can cause quick ammonia and nitrite spikes from loss of the beneficial bacteria. Also thinking i do not want the new substrate to do a real fast ph change and loose any of  my shrimp or the week olds. In case someone knows about the substrate types i replacing the old shrimp stratum with Brightwell Aquatics FlorinVolcanit Rio Escuro-F. Seen reviews of this one working better and lasting longer, plus does real well with plants.
kh 0
gh 4
tds 130
Thinking i need to change only a small part at a time perhaps over a few days .... but how much should i siphon out and replace at a time. 1/4 or less. Once a day, every other day. Once a week?
No clue how fast substrate buffers.
I know long term shrimp keepers have to change out substrate to keep active buffering. I can find no info about how to change it out. Only people saying it will need replaced when it quits buffering.

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The safest way would be setting new tank, with some hardscaping, plants and maybe filter media from main tank. This was advised to me when I asked.


If use ADA Amazonia Light, it should be ready for immediate use. This is how I expand, when new housing for Taiwan bees is needed. Only acclimate if pH is different. Old tank could be stored as a spare container for emergencies, quarantine or a new kind of shrimp. With Volcanit, find reviews (on Amazon, for example) if it leaches ammonia or could be used immediately.


An alternative is to add some new substrate in a mesh, bag or plastic container, as you would be adding activated carbon or purigen, in the tank somewhere behind plants. It will change water parameters for a better, how soon this happens you could test. Later you can start siphoning out old substrate, not all at once, at the time of regular water changes. If layer was thick, watch for ammonia spike each time and have Seachem Prime at hand for temporarily binding it in the safe form.


Aqueon shrimp and plants substrate (for pH ~6.5 with RO water) should keep shape the longest, they are hard round granules, but it will be difficult to keep rooted plants in it, and not experience with keeping shrimp there, using it for betta. ADA Amazonia Light is harder (but lighter) than regular dark Amazonia, also keeps shape longer, for pH ~6.0 with RO water.


If you are using it substrate with tap water that has KH more than 1 dKH, consider using RO water with Salty Shrimp Bee Mineral GH+, substrate lasts much longer.

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thanks for the great info ... 2 weeks ago it was staying at a ph of around 6.5 according to the api drops

i use ro with a tds normally 10 or less and saltygh+ in my crystal and bee tanks, mineralized to 100- 110

shrimp are not eating and looking very unhappy...api drop test showed over 7.2 ph

this morning for a more accuracy tested with the ph probe from the community tank co2 controller,checked accuracy in fresh ph solutions ... spot on ... cup of water from the shrimp tank showed 6.4 .... after work 9 hrs later with lights on for the plants i getting a reading 7.6

Big ph swing i think is what is stressing my shrimp, they serious active swimming around the tank often near the surface

two different tests sets api, and hagan both show 0 ammonia, both show 0 nitrates and 0 nitrites

The ph swing i all i can think is causing them the stress ... no other changes have been made to the tank other then a 1 gal water change once a day the last 2 days as a just in case.

currently tonight tds after checking calibration on the meter is now showing 120tds which is about it normally is after a water change

nothing has been sprayed or any type air borne poison that could have gotten in the tank

not noticed any deaths so far, but is scary

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