Having issues...should I ditch my sand substrate for gravel?

JoeNate

So in my current tank (40 gal hegaxon with RenaFilstar XP2 canister filter) I set it up with sand, however the sand keeps eroding into a mound from the flow, and I assume it's burying debris under it because when I move it back, or even add water during a water change, a large cloud comes up from the sand. I have even lost some fish in the days following when I move it back at times. So I'm really debating getting rid of the sand. I have seen some threads where people claim that a gravel / heavily planted tank just requires water changes and surface vacuuming, since the debris is used by the plant roots, as opposed to plunging the vac into the gravel to get the debris. My tank is a tall 40 gal, so it's kind of difficult to clean the bottom as is, and this would be desirable. Any suggestions as far as a new gravel set up or references I have missed during my research? I.e. type/size of gravel and plant types, and what bottom level fish would do well with gravel, so that I can keep my water clean and safe with normal water changes, yet not have to mess with the bottom cleaning so much? I no longer have cories, but they were another reason I went with sand. Right now I have 6 danios and one small anubias plant, and that's it. Thank you!
 

RonP

I used pool sand in my 32g Multi tank. Multies are constantly restructuring all the sand. No problem with cloudiness tho.
I did rinse it a lot before using. I think because it's coarse sand, it doesn't cloud.
 

OutsideFoodBlob

Do you happen to know what type of sand? I thought I was being clever buying a finer sand but it gave me similar problems so have gone back to a coarser grain.
How is water going back into tank? If it’s a concentrated stream/pour it can disturb the substrate. A colander, watering can, or some other creative use of non fish things breaks the flow up.
 

JoeNate

Do you happen to know what type of sand? I thought I was being clever buying a finer sand but it gave me similar problems so have gone back to a coarser grain.
How is water going back into tank? If it’s a concentrated stream/pour it can disturb the substrate. A colander, watering can, or some other creative use of non fish things breaks the flow up.
I used Estes marine sand. They claim their grains are larger and allow water to flow through. Seems that’s not the case for me. I use a python for water changes so it just comes out of that. Even when I don’t have the faucet on very high it causes a dirt cloud.
 

Wayne73

I use to have aquarium sand, I use to have problems getting plants to grow an the root tabs always seemed to find they're way out the sand due to the corydoras rooting them out even though the substrate was 3-4"deep. So I eventually switched to 3-4mm gravel,first off it gave me more choices in what I could plant, more stem plants etc. I still use root tabs but I tend not to vac the gravel, except for the front where theirs no plants. Hopefully the fish poo can help the plants to feed with the odd root tab to help out. I do still have the corydoras cats they're barbs look intact. My gravel substrate is now 5-6" deep. Hope this gives you some idea on which way suites you.
 

JoeNate

I use to have aquarium sand, I use to have problems getting plants to grow an the root tabs always seemed to find they're way out the sand due to the corydoras rooting them out even though the substrate was 3-4"deep. So I eventually switched to 3-4mm gravel,first off it gave me more choices in what I could plant, more stem plants etc. I still use root tabs but I tend not to vac the gravel, except for the front where theirs no plants. Hopefully the fish poo can help the plants to feed with the odd root tab to help out. I do still have the corydoras cats they're barbs look intact. My gravel substrate is now 5-6" deep. Hope this gives you some idea on which way suites you.
Thank you for the tip on gravel size! I hate to go though all the work, but I think going back to gravel might be necessary. I’ve read about a thick bed of gravel being better, so maybe I’ll just start that way and add several plants. I know many people use sand, but I just can’t seem to get it to cooperate.
 

OutsideFoodBlob

I used Estes marine sand. They claim their grains are larger and allow water to flow through. Seems that’s not the case for me. I use a python for water changes so it just comes out of that. Even when I don’t have the faucet on very high it causes a dirt cloud.
Oh wow! That would be frustrating having it kick up so much even with low flow return. Sounds like a return to gravel might be best course of action. I would consider gravel but the sand is safer for goldfish since it’s a choke hazard.
Even if it’s a bit of work to switch substrate, sounds like it will be worth it long term.
 

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