Pros And Cons On Sand Vs. Gravel??

aBathingRay

Well now that I am starting to get a handle on this fish keeping thing I want to upgrade from my 20 gal starter kit to a rimless 60 gal tank. I kinda like the look of the sand but what I want to know is what are the downsides if any to having sand over gravel. Or just in general what are the pros and cons of having sand from gravel?

Ps. This site is awesome I'm glad I found it. All of u guys have helped me a lot so far. So thanks in advance!!
 

Z123abc

Well now that I am starting to get a handle on this fish keeping thing I want to upgrade from my 20 gal starter kit to a rimless 60 gal tank. I kinda like the look of the sand but what I want to know is what are the downsides if any to having sand over gravel. Or just in general what are the pros and cons of having sand from gravel?

Ps. This site is awesome I'm glad I found it. All of u guys have helped me a lot so far. So thanks in advance!!


I was thinking of switching from gravel to sand also in my 55 gallon I don't want to start a new thread so I want to ask this question if your fish poop would you see it on the sand more visiably than gravel also do plants do better in gravel or sand
 

ryanr

Plants will grow in both gravel and sand.

The downsides of sand (IMO) are:
- you have to regularly stir it to release nitrogenous gasses
- it's difficult to vacuum without sucking up the sand
- depending on colour (you can get black), detritus shows more
- you need to be more careful on where you place the filter intake so as not to suck sand into the filter

It also depends on what you want to stock. Some fish don't do well with sand, especially some bottom feeders.
 

aBathingRay

At least for me I want to do mostly community fish. No chiclids this time around. But what about your common pleco will they do fine with sand? I want to do black sand or black gravel. I think it has a classy look to it. But I think with black it'll hide a lot of the poppie matter..

As for stiring wouldn't that be about the same as doing a vacuum. Just sorts manually. To get the matter to rise up and filter into the filter
 

mmolitor87

You turn off the filter when you clean sand or you'll have a big problem. Sand will damage hob filters, but canisters are usually fine. You still don't want to clog your media with it though.

When I clean my sand I just am careful to keep close enough to suck up the poop and as little sand as possible. You will lose sand. That's the bottom line. I recommend a python for higher suction or you'll have a hard time lifting the poop without globs of sand too lol. After I siphon the surface I stir it up to release any gasses (mts help with that too!) And wait for it to settle. Anything burried in the sand will usually settle on top. Siphon again to remove the newfound stuff and then refill the tank.

I've heard of people putting a nylon stocking over the end of the tube of a normal siphon to let the water and sand drain into a bucket and catch most of the waste. That might be something to look into if you find yourself losing a lot of sand.

I love the sand. Such a nice look to it...it really makes the fish and plants stand out. Sometimes I think gravel would have been easier, then I see my cichlids playing in the sand lol.
 

Alasse

I have playsand, river sand and pool filter sand.

Playsand - vivid white colouration but shows up all detrius big time. Vaccuming requires care as it is very light and easily sucked up
River sand - A nice cream natural colouration, not uniform sized grains. Heavier than playsand but will suck up the syphon if you get too close
Pool Filter sand - a cream natural colouration , uniform sized grains. Can be vaccumed the same way as gravel. Highly recommended
 

Jaysee

ryan, which fish don't do well with sand? And what bottom dweller doesn't like sand?



I never stir the sand - I have snails to do that. Everyone always says to watch out for gas bubbles, but there are never ever and threads started about it. If it was such a problem, for sure we'd see "gas bubbles killed my fish" threads. At least one.

There is a different technique for vacuuming sand versus gravel. It's really no more difficult. I actually found it easier, when I used to vac the sand.

With good filtration and circulation, waste is not a problem with sand. I never see waste and I have some very heavily stocked tanks.

I keep my filter intakes within 2 inches of the sand.
 

ryanr

Jaysee - Goldfish don't do well with sand, their habitual substrate sifting for food stirs up the sand and irritates their gills.

And bottom dwellers, well I believe cories can 'choke' on larger grain sizes.
 

Jaysee

My goldfish love the sand, as do the corys. And every other fish I've kept with sand
 

mmolitor87

In my 60 gallon I have my canister filter intake 4-5 inches above the sand. Maybe I should get a little extension. Do you use a powerhead for extra circulation to get waste to the intake? I have a pretty strong current - so strong if my juvie convict isn't careful he gets a free ride across the tank, looking quite shocked and terrified the whole trip. I'd be very interested to see pictures of your setup so I can try to replicate it.
 

soltarianknight

Id say both have their cons and pros.

Sand cons
It is not compatable with all filtration methods
all the waste sits right on top of it(obviously this may also be a pro)
harder to vac without sucking it up
needs to be stirred

Gravel cons
Makes getting rid of cyno a pain
may wear down on bottom feeders fins/barbels


But in all honesty, either or is nice. There is nothing that would make me say DONT GET THAT. Unless you have amphibians, then stay away from the sand imo.

If you do get sand though, MTS and Assassin snails will be your best friend.
 

aBathingRay

Id say both have their cons and pros.
Unless you have amphibians, then stay away from the sand imo.

If you do get sand though, MTS and Assassin snails will be your best friend.
I have a little frog. Would I have to re home him or leave him in the gravel tank?
 

Disc61

there are pros and cons to just about every substrate. gas bubbles do exist, I have found them myself. the biggest con would be they show debris and dirt more than gravel does unless you get a dark sand. but myself, I changed all my tanks over about a year or so ago and would never go back to gravel.
cleaning is easier in my opinion as all the debris sits on top of the sand. just turn you filter off and your done in minutes.
Tom
 

soltarianknight

The only problem with frogs is that they may make habit of swallowing sand while eating, unlike fish, who pass sand through their gills, the frogs can't exactly do that.
 

aBathingRay

Oh ok. That makes a bit of a difference. Hmm guess he will be apart of the 20 gallon gravel tank then
 

Jaysee

I've kept my dwarf frogs with sand for a while. They are fully capable of differentiating between sand and food, as well as spitting any sand out.

I didn't say the gas bubbles don't exist, I was suggesting that they aren't as dangerous as people say, based on the lack of threads supporting the notion. It's just like the myth about carbon spontaneously releasing everything and killing the fish, except it's something that actually could happen... Even though there are never any threads about it....
 

soltarianknight

Gas bubbles can contain high amounts of nitrates and even ammonia. When they are released they hit the surface and diffuse with the water. Theres your proof.
 

Jaysee

Gas bubbles can contain high amounts of nitrates and even ammonia. When they are released they hit the surface and diffuse with the water. Theres your proof.

The gas bubbles do not contain any ammonia or nitrates. The last step of the denitrification process is the formation of gas, which is what happens in sand beds that are sufficiently deep.
 

JoannaB

If you do get sand though, MTS and Assassin snails will be your best friend.

Please explain about why assassin snails. Wouldn't the assassin snails kill the MTS? Or would they not kill all of them just keep the numbers at bay. if so, then what is the recommended number of assassin snails in proportion to MTS, and I assume one gets assassin snails only if one already has too many MTS?
 

tankaddict

Don't put both in your tank, either assassins or MTS. assassin snails will eat your MTS. MTS are cheaper, but also can be good breeders if you have excess food, etc. And the numbers can get way out of hand. Assassin snails don't produce near as much or as quickly. They both have the same purpose and will do the same job though.

I have both substrates. And I love my sand more than my gravel. It is so much easier to keep clean.
 

Jaysee

Please explain about why assassin snails. Wouldn't the assassin snails kill the MTS? Or would they not kill all of them just keep the numbers at bay. if so, then what is the recommended number of assassin snails in proportion to MTS, and I assume one gets assassin snails only if one already has too many MTS?

Their numbers can be easily controlled by adjusting your feeding regimen. It takes months to see a change, but in the end you will have fine tuned your feeding to what the fish actually need.

It's also very easy to remove them from the sand. Since they live in it, all you need to do is sift through it with a net. The holes should be large enough to let the sand through, while trapping all but the smallest of snails. You can thin out their numbers REAL quick that way.

I too would like to know if there is a MTS:assassin ratio.
 

Jaysee

In my 60 gallon I have my canister filter intake 4-5 inches above the sand. Maybe I should get a little extension. Do you use a powerhead for extra circulation to get waste to the intake? I have a pretty strong current - so strong if my juvie convict isn't careful he gets a free ride across the tank, looking quite shocked and terrified the whole trip. I'd be very interested to see pictures of your setup so I can try to replicate it.

I have found canisters to be impervious to sand, so if some gets sucked up somehow, I'm not concerned. HOBs are another matter.

I started with using powerheads but switched to using a second canister filter. I tried one of the sunsuns on ebay - figured it wasn't much more expensive than a powerhead and it would certainly be more beneficial. I'm a big fan of the sunsuns and have added them as second filters on all of my larger tanks. I use the two canisters to make a circular flow within the tank, with intakes on each side of the tank. So, the waste is always moving towards an intake. Even when waste doesn't make it, when a bottom dweller swims by it's kicked back up into the water where it continues on it's way to the intake.

Here's the 75. The filter on the left pushes the water to the right across the back of the tank, towards the intake of the filter on the right. The spraybar on the right, mounted on the side glass, pushes the water back across the front of the tank. IME this is the most effective and efficient method of filtration.
 

soltarianknight

Get a large enough batch of MTS and the Assassins won't be able to take them all out. MTS breed fast enough and assassins have a size preference, they like their snails to be atleast half their size or twice their size(their a little cocky). Young MTS would be fine until they grow up. Assassins would probably only eat 2-4 a day MAX. So get 2-3 assassins AFTER you established MTS. And assassins don't breed fast by any means. They lay 1 egg every now and then, it hatches and it can take up to a month or more for the baby to grow up to the point you can see it. The eggs are pinkish. Assassins are easy to remove too.
 

mmolitor87

I have found canisters to be impervious to sand, so if some gets sucked up somehow, I'm not concerned. HOBs are another matter.

I started with using powerheads but switched to using a second canister filter. I tried one of the sunsuns on ebay - figured it wasn't much more expensive than a powerhead and it would certainly be more beneficial. I'm a big fan of the sunsuns and have added them as second filters on all of my larger tanks. I use the two canisters to make a circular flow within the tank, with intakes on each side of the tank. So, the waste is always moving towards an intake. Even when waste doesn't make it, when a bottom dweller swims by it's kicked back up into the water where it continues on it's way to the intake.

Here's the 75. The filter on the left pushes the water to the right across the back of the tank, towards the intake of the filter on the right. The spraybar on the right, mounted on the side glass, pushes the water back across the front of the tank. IME this is the most effective and efficient method of filtration.

Thanks for the video! I will likely have to get another canister once my JD and Convict reach adulthood anyhow, so I'll be sure to check out the sunsuns. You're not the first person on here to say good things about them.

they like their snails to be atleast half their size or twice their size(their a little cocky).

lol! From what I've read they just latch on and start munching away...
 

soltarianknight

Yeah, ive noticed the size preference when all the empty shells in my tank were the same size. Mean while a smaller snail goes past the guys unharmed. But they will chase down one of the larger ones from across the tank, they are one of the fastest snails I swear.
 

Jaysee

You're not the first person on here to say good things about them.

Yes, I think I was.....
 

mmolitor87

Let me clarify - not the only one I've seen.
 

Jaysee

I know I wasn't the first to suggest them, but I think I was the first to buy them and I know I was the first to campaign for them
 

aquatic

If you do get sand though, MTS and Assassin snails will be your best friend.

I just set up mine with sand, where is a good place to get MTS snails?
 

mmolitor87

You can find them at your LFS usually just by asking. I got mine for free, even. xD They hitchhike in on most plants as well. Once you reach 50 posts you can get some from members here.
 

aquatic

I asked at my local petco and the employee (who admittedly doesn't normally do the fish dept) had no idea what I was talking about.

I did see the for sale section and did notice I'm still too new to use it.

I'll try a few more spots that aren't too local.
 

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