New to sand substrate

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by emilymay, Jun 5, 2016.

  1. emilymayNew MemberMember

    I've just recently changed my substrate from small stones to sand and I'm unsure on how to keep it looking clean (There are some very dark patches of sand/dirt visible through the sides.)

    Advice and tips would be much appreciated! Thankyou!

    1x Bristlenose plec, 1x Dragon goby, 1x clown loach, 1x bleeding heart tetra, 1x cardinal tetra, 1x platinum tetra, 2x khuli, 2x ottos, 2x platys, 2x male guppy, 2x bamboo shrimp, 1x blue vampire shrimp, 4x corydoras, 3x betta, 2x orange tetra, 4x rummy nose tetra, 5x glowlight tetra, 1x Hong Kong plec, 3x swordtails.
  2. angelfishguppieValued MemberMember

    what kind of sand? Light colored or black? Do you have plants in it? How deep is your sand bed?

    When I was researching my own switch to sand there were differing opinions on the depth of the sand. Without extensive root systems or a fondness for Malaysian trumpet snails you should keep the depth of the sand bed pretty low.

    The dark patches may be areas with little to no oxygen setting up anaerobic bacterial conditions, in the right (or rather wrong) circumstances this could lead to pockets of toxic gas forming. Critical mass of this gas forming and then releasing in the tank is reportedly toxic.

    Stirring the sand - with roots, Malaysian trumpet snails, or manually by the aquarist can prevent this problem.

    I found a you tube video of a fellow who mounted a hair pic on the end of some sort of handle - forms a nice rake. Another video showed a "dedicated to the aquarium" artist paint brush used to dust/clean plant leaves then the handle end used to stir around the sand.

    I do both and after 5 months I am amazed at how far my plant roots extend when I do this! I happen to like a bit of undulation in my sand bed so it is okay when I uncover roots I just scoop up a little handful from somewhere else to cover them up.

    Research Malaysian trumpet snails before you go that route, make your own decisions....
  3. OP

    emilymayNew MemberMember

    It's a light coloured sand, only about an inch or so deep with a small scattering of stones underneath. I don't have rooted plants, but I do have some potted and some bunched plants (I'm pretty novice when it comes to plants)

    I actually have a huge amount of those particular snails, the sand is covered with empty shells from where my fish have eaten them. So these snails are beneficial to the sand? I thought they were a pest! They've been multiplying like mad since they arrived. (An accidental pick up from the aquatics dept.)

    Well I certainly don't want that happen! So stirring the sand often will help aerate it and prevent these pockets of toxic gas?

  4. AtomicMudkip

    AtomicMudkipValued MemberMember

    By Hong Kong loach I am guessing you mean hillstream?
    They need cold water with high flow. As for the kuhlis, they should be in a group of 4 minimum. As do the tetras and ottos.

  5. OP

    emilymayNew MemberMember

    That's the one! I've heard it called so many different things so I just named it according to the tag where I bought it, thankyou for clearing that up. The water is on the cooler side, 21-25c and as for the flow, the current seems sufficient enough- there's good movement in the plants and the shrimp can be seen feeding in the current. I've had the tetras and khulis for a number of years and they were once in larger groups. But some have passed and pet shops stock such small fish that I feared they would just be food not friends. Surprisingly a number of the tetras school together, the rummy nose, orange and glow lights are never apart. I've always had just two otto's, is there a benefit to having more?
  6. AtomicMudkip

    AtomicMudkipValued MemberMember

    Ok sounds like you have a decent setup! Sorry, I didn't meant to have a dig just didn't know your tank specs and set up

    Yes there is a benefit, they tend to be less shy and 'school' lightly together but no worries about having more as there isn't much difference to having more/less
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 5, 2016
  7. OP

    emilymayNew MemberMember

    It's alright! I'm new to the site so probably looking at my lack of comments it had you questioning my level! Thanks for the info~
  8. Grimund

    GrimundWell Known MemberMember

    98% of the time, people say to keep schooling fish in groups of six or more. I'm just happy with what works for the individual keeping the fish, but that's lead to heated debates in the past ;)

    Normally, smaller fish aren't an issue with peaceable fish.

    What size tank is this?
  9. tokiodreamy

    tokiodreamyWell Known MemberMember

    There are some serious issues with your tankmates with numbers and temperature compatibility issues. But that's not what this thread is about. You can post another one if you want.

    With sand, use a gravel vacuum or water changer siphon to clean the gunk. All you do is make small circular motions right above the sand to kick up the debris and then siphon it up!
  10. OP

    emilymayNew MemberMember

    Exactly! This was my first post here and might be my last because everyone has so far been unsavoury.

    It's a 4ft bow front tank, 300L/80G. It's a big tank but heavily overstocked I know.
  11. Grimund

    GrimundWell Known MemberMember

    It happens, no matter the forum. Fish keeping has a learning curve that may need to be more gentle than others. I also forgot to welcome you here, so, Welcome to Fishlore!

    I'm not a master at stocking, let alone an adept, so I can't truly comment on how much is in the tank. I do know that most of those species are schooling fish, and like I said, others will comment about it. We can certainly help you with your stocking if you so choose to let us, no one can force you to do anything.

    As far as the sand is concerned, swirling the syphon about 2"/5 cm above the surface of the substrate will pull up the debris to let it get sucked up.

    What sand did you change to? There's a difference in grain sizes and finer sand can be a little trickier to deal with without clouding the tank, which could jam the filter impeller.

    Could you also describe what you mean by, "seen through the side?"
  12. OP

    emilymayNew MemberMember

    I know there are behavioural benefits to keeping schooling fish together, but that's all I know. (So any other information would be great) I had an albino cory that suffered depression(He lost his companion of 4 years), he wouldn't school with the others and often laid on his side, that is until I found him a new companion of similar age/size.

    I've (touch wood) never had an outbreak of disease and have only lost fish to age or the stress of a new environment (I had 3 guppies, but one died after a week. The others are over a year old now). So overstocked as it is, I think I'm doing a good job and they're content.

    Ah, you say that.. I only a few days ago had to clean out the impeller as it had suddenly stopped! I think the intake pipe is too close to the sand/the goby kicks up a lot of sand when it buries itself. I couldn't tell you what type of sand I bought.. but it is definitely very fine, not so fine it clouds the water though, it sinks as quickly as it's stirred up.

    "Seen through the side" wasn't the best way to describe it, sorry! The tank doesn't have any kind of rim round the bottom, it's just glass so you can see the height of the substrate. You can see the grime sandwiched between the sand, kinda like a layer cake if you liked fish grime as a filling.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 5, 2016
  13. Grimund

    GrimundWell Known MemberMember

    I would move the intake higher, if possible, and put a nylon stocking over the intake. You just have to be sure to clean it when you do your water changes.

    Schooling fish are in larger numbers in the wild as an instinct, larger numbers means safety. In the aquaria setting, it can be very stressful for the fish in small or solitary numbers. More fish, of the same species, relieves the stress and the "natural" behaviors come out in the fish, like swimming together. This also has a benefit of dithering, white noise for fish.

    Some schooling species get quite large and need a far greater sized tank to keep a school, like your clown loach. Others are just needing more friends, like most of the other species in your tank.

    Temperature in the tank will also effect the fish, too. Each species has their own comfort levels, and keeping them at the extremes lead to a multitude of different issues. Lethargy at lower temps, increased metabolism and shorter life span at higher temps.

    It's quite a good bit of research that goes into which fish can go within a community.

    Like I said, we'd be quite happy to help if you choose to pursue your tank differently

    I'm not sure it's anything to worry about. Raking the outside may rid you of the aestetic, until the goby decides to burrow through again.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 5, 2016

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