Opinions about using sand rather than using gravel for a freshwater tank

bookpage
  • #1
I would like to get some opinions about using sand rather than using gravel for a freshwater tank. I plan to keep mostly botias. The tank will be a planted 55 gallon.

Thank you for any help or suggestions.

Rayburn
 
mlinden84
  • #2
I absolutely love the look of sand. But I didn't like how hard it was to vacuum during water changes. The sand I had was very fine and it was difficult to vacuum without sucking a bunch of sand up too. I ended up switching back to natural colored gravel.
 
Isabella
  • #3
I don't see why you can't have sand if that's the type of substrate that you want. But just as has been mentioned above, it's harder to "deep vacuum" the sand than normal gravel. Also, you'll need to "deep poke" the sand at least once a week (I'd recommend poking it 2-3 times a week) in order to prevent compaction. Substrate that is not stirred for a long time can develop toxic gas pockets that, when released, can quickly poison all the fish. Not kidding! If not stirred, sand is much more prone to compaction than gravel. Also, make sure the sand won't be able to get into your filter easily. If you're planning to have live rooting plants, sand alone is not a good medium for them (though I guess it could be mixed with other substrates). Plus, it is an inert substrate so it wouldn't provide any nutrients to plant roots.
 
_Fried_Bettas_
  • #4
I have found Fluorite to be a great substrate for planted tanks. Mine is mixed with black gravel and gives a nice natural look. One warning though, regardless of any rinsing it will turn your aquarium water unto mud for several hours when first introduced.
 
bbfeckawitts
  • #5
I think sand is really good, espicially for the type of fish you have in mind. I have heard that malaysian trumpet snails are good non-invasive snails that will stir your sand. When vacuuming, I would just vacuum the top, enough to suck the top debris but not the sand up. Since there is little area between the grains, not much debris should go down beneath. As said before, it is not the prime choice for planted tanks, which is what you said it is going to be in your aquarium info.
Brianna
 
Isabella
  • #6
One warning though, regardless of any rinsing it will turn your aquarium water unto mud for several hours when first introduced.

Oh yes ... lol. If I were to use Fluorite, I'd personally get 2 activated carbon bags: One for the time when the muddy water is clearing up, and the other one to use when the water is cleared up. That is, if I were planning to use activated carbon. If not, then I'd just use one bag to help clear the cloudiness, and then I'd throw it away and use another filter medium (i.e. one more sponge or more bio-media) in the empty filter compartment.
 
frogster221
  • #7
malaysian trumpet snails eat plants and also how do you clean flourite without it making the tank muddy?
 
Isabella
  • #8
malaysian trumpet snails eat plants and also how do you clean flourite without it making the tank muddy?

I've never heard that malaysian trumpet snails will eat plants. I've only heard good things about them. Mainly that (1) they will stir the substrate (thereby also aerating it) and (2) they do not reproduce/multiply as tediously fast as for example pond snails do (which is a big plus since most people don't want huge snail colonies in their tanks). You can read this article on snails: - very informative.

As for cleaning Fluorite ... well, cleaning nutrient-rich substrates in planted tanks is different from cleaning regular inert gravels in non-planted tanks. Suppose your nutrient-rich substarte is filled with plant roots all over the tank floor. Do you still "deep-poke" the gravel thereby destroying plant roots? You have to be careful here. From what I've gathered so far, most people with such tanks (including myself) never deep-vaccum such a tank floor. Firstly, if you deep vacuum it, you'll remove a lot of nutrients from the substrate that are necessary to feed plant roots. And secondly, as mentioned above, you'll destroy plant roots. So what I do, is I gently poke the tank floor with my plant-trimming tools (you can use any long and thin stick to do this). Then, when performing my water changes, I hover the siphon tube over the plants taking care not to break them. The reason you still need to poke the gravel/substrate is to aerate it and prevent dangerous gas pockets from forming. These gas pockets, once released, will poison all your fish.
 
frogster221
  • #9
o but with mts I don't need to do that and do I really need flourite with anubias and hairgrass. I was told that the mts ate plants at the lfs the guy there he has always told me the best info and never sell me anything if I shoudlnt have it in my tank but he might have thought bout a different snail imnot sure ill have to go look for it
 
Isabella
  • #10
Well, I don't want to say the guy at the fish store gave you wrong info regarding the MTS. In my experience, the vast majority of fish store personnel have no idea what they're talking about and give out unimaginable amounts of misleading info. Now, I said "vast majority", which doesn't mean "all". I'm sure there are also many fish store people who know their stuff well. Now, regarding the MTS, I've never had any personally, but from my readings and from other people's opinions, I've never heard them to eat plants. If they do, I simply haven't heard about it. Maybe you could ask about that on - a lot of people there have these snails so they'd be able to help you better.

For Anubias you don't need any substrate at all if you don't want, lol, as they grow tied to aquarium decor (preferably driftwod). They're low light plants that are pretty undemanding. Hairgrass, on the other hand, is a rooting plant so it does need a substrate. I also think it's a medium-light plant that would do better under at least upper low-light and medium-light preferably. I'm not 100% sure on this one but I believe it would also do better with CO2. But nevertheless, you can always try it in your current setup and see how it does. I guess you have nothing to lose by just trying it.
 
Barbrella
  • #11
I used sand for many years and for bottom dwelling fish, it's great! To clean it, I would stir up a little area, then put the vacuum at a 45 degree angle to suck up debris, but not sand.

Do not use Flourite with botias. It has sharp edges and can harm the mouthparts/barbels of bottom feeding fish. I have flourite too, but no fish in that tank who spend any time on it.

If you want a planted tank, you can use regular smooth gravel as substrate. Make sure it's about 2" deep.
 
sirdarksol
  • #12
I have malaysian trumpet snails and have never seen one of them eating the plants. For that matter, I almost never see them on the plants. They're almost always in the substrate (they stir the sand/fluorite up for me. Still a good idea to poke the substrate periodically, though) or on the walls of the tank.
Fluorite would be good for any rooted plant, as they need a source of iron. I do a fluorite/sand mix of 50/50 (or a fluorite/gravel mix of the same) and my plants seem happy.

Another good planted substrate is EcoComplete. It's far easier to use than fluorite. In fact, if you're setting the tank up new, you don't have to do anything other than dump it into the tank.
 
Barbrella
  • #13
Another good planted substrate is EcoComplete.

EcoComplete is a great substrate, for both plants and bottom dwellers!
 
griffin
  • #14
just to chime in - I have sand as a substrate in a planted tank with mts.

the mts will eat the plants, but only the dead ones. so I see it as more of a clean up than plant destruction. less work for me too since I don't have to get to every dead leaf.

I haven't really had any problems with plants in sand. most plants get their nutrients from the water column anyway, so unlike terrestrial plants, they don't need as many root nutrients.

cleaning sand is also super easy, many many many times easier than cleaning gravel. all you have to do is hover the vac slightly above the sand. the debris will be taken up by the vac, but you should stay far enough away to not suck up much sand, if any at all. between the plant roots and mts, there's really not a huge need to stir up the sand either.

hope that helped
 
bookpage
  • Thread Starter
  • #15
I want to thank everyone for their suggestions and information. I think I will try a combination of black sand and Eco-Complete Planted Aquarium Substrate. I'll let you know how it turns out. I hope to pickup my tank tomorrow (Tuesday) and start setting it up. My plants should arrived later on in the week.

Rayburn
 
sirdarksol
  • #16
I want to thank everyone for their suggestions and information. I think I will try a combination of black sand and Eco-Complete Planted Aquarium Substrate. I'll let you know how it turns out. I hope to pickup my tank tomorrow (Tuesday) and start setting it up. My plants should arrived later on in the week.

Rayburn

Please do let us know. It's a combination I've been tempted to try, since fluorite is such a pain to work with.
 
Isabella
  • #17
Do not use Flourite with botias. It has sharp edges and can harm the mouthparts/barbels of bottom feeding fish.
Very good point. I think any sharp-edged grains of substrate pose potential hazards for any - especially scale-less - bottom dwelling fish.

the mts will eat the plants, but only the dead ones. so I see it as more of a clean up than plant destruction. less work for me too since I don't have to get to every dead leaf.
That's also why I like my pond snails . I never see them feed on healthy plant matter, but only on the decaying leaves. I think snails are very beneficial in a planted tank, and the MTS not only will eat dead plant matter but it wil also stir the substrate for you .
 

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