Gravel on Sand?

LuckyGourami

I have a little 8-gallon tank with two gold twinbar platies. This tank has been running for well over two years. Lots of plants, mostly Anubias and Crypts. Sand substrate, so I supplement with root tabs and liquid fertilizer. The crypts are doing really well.

The trouble is that these platies LOVE to eat sand. They eat sand and POOP sand all day long. I alternate between two different flake foods and blood worms, so they eat well. I believe they are eating grains of sand with algae on them as a "snack." They have been doing this for almost a year, so it definitely isn't harming them. However, it makes a mess. Every day, I come home to find the plants and seiryo stones speckled with grains of sand, and it's getting annoying.

So... my question is this. Can I add larger gravel on top of the sand without wrecking my nitrogen cycle? I plan to rinse the gravel really well in dechlorinated water and then rinse it with old tank water before adding it. I don't SEE how this could cause any issues. If anything, the gravel should provide more surface area for beneficial bacteria. Just wonder if anyone here has done something similar.
 

Fishstery

I have a little 8-gallon tank with two gold twinbar platies. This tank has been running for well over two years. Lots of plants, mostly Anubias and Crypts. Sand substrate, so I supplement with root tabs and liquid fertilizer. The crypts are doing really well.

The trouble is that these platies LOVE to eat sand. They eat sand and POOP sand all day long. I alternate between two different flake foods and blood worms, so they eat well. I believe they are eating grains of sand with algae on them as a "snack." They have been doing this for almost a year, so it definitely isn't harming them. However, it makes a mess. Every day, I come home to find the plants and seiryo stones speckled with grains of sand, and it's getting annoying.

So... my question is this. Can I add larger gravel on top of the sand without wrecking my nitrogen cycle? I plan to rinse the gravel really well in dechlorinated water and then rinse it with old tank water before adding it. I don't SEE how this could cause any issues. If anything, the gravel should provide more surface area for beneficial bacteria. Just wonder if anyone here has done something similar.
It could possibly pose an issue later down the road, packing gravel on top of sand won't let the sand breathe depending on how deep each bed is, causing pockets of gas to buildup and then if you disturb the sand during a gravel vac it *could* release built up toxins into the water however some people don't believe this and say it's a myth. I never keep my sand beds deep so I can't speak a truth to it. However, you could always use your gravel vac to just siphon all the sand and 75% of the water out and then add your gravel. Most of your beneficial bacteria is in your filter, not the substrate.
 
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LuckyGourami

It could possibly pose an issue later down the road, packing gravel on top of sand won't let the sand breathe depending on how deep each bed is, causing pockets of gas to buildup and then if you disturb the sand during a gravel vac it *could* release built up toxins into the water however some people don't believe this and say it's a myth. I never keep my sand beds deep so I can't speak a truth to it. However, you could always use your gravel vac to just siphon all the sand and 75% of the water out and then add your gravel. Most of your beneficial bacteria is in your filter, not the substrate.

See, I have heard that, but I have heard just as many people say that more bacteria lives in the substrate than in the filter. I feel like the truth is somewhere in the middle, so I want to leave most of the sand in there, just to be on the safe side.

Right now, the bed is only 1" deep, and I was thinking of adding 1/2" of gravel on top of that - just enough so that the platies can't get to the sand.

Alternatively, I could remove 1/4" of sand, lay down 1/4" of gravel, wait a few days, and lay down another 1/4" of gravel. The crypts are doing REALLY well in the sand, so I plan to leave a "pocket" of undisturbed sand around them. Thoughts?
 
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Fishstery

See, I have heard that, but I have heard just as many people say that more bacteria lives in the substrate than in the filter. I feel like the truth is somewhere in the middle, so I want to leave most of the sand in there, just to be on the safe side.

Right now, the bed is only 1" deep, and I was thinking of adding 1/2" of gravel on top of that - just enough so that the platies can't get to the sand.

Alternatively, I could remove 1/4" of sand, lay down 1/4" of gravel, wait a few days, and lay down another 1/4" of gravel. The crypts are doing REALLY well in the sand, so I plan to leave a "pocket" of undisturbed sand around them. Thoughts?
Yeah I didn't account for the plants. In my experience rooted plants don't do so well in gravel, even fine gravel. They root down much better in sand. Your sand bed isn't very deep so capping it with gravel should be fine.
 
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Broggy

isn't it that rooted plants roots get suffocated in sand? at least very fine sand that is. I wouldn't know, that's just what I have heard.
 
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Fishstery

isn't it that rooted plants roots get suffocated in sand? at least very fine sand that is. I wouldn't know, that's just what I have heard.
Not at all lol. I'd imagine if you made a point to "pack" the sand down it might, but other than aquasoil I've had the best luck with sand+ferts as far as planting substrate goes. Unlike terrestrial plants aquatic plants don't need their roots to breathe with the exception of rhizome plants which cannot be buried at all.
 
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