Sand Vs Gravel Substrate Question 

Caroline J

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Hello! So there is a large chance I could be getting a new, most likely larger fish tank for Christmas. I’ve been keeping guppies, guppy fry, and ghost shrimp in a 20 gallon tank for the past year almost. I used white gravel since I was a beginner and absolutely loved it, but the look of sand appealed to me so much more. Plus, algae grew over a lot of the rocks gradually and it’s always been difficult for me to clean them, so recently the rocks have been looking quite filthy. Would sand be better for me with that situation? Anyway, my main goal was to decide which I wanted to go for this time since I’m more experienced. I’d love to have (depending on the size of my possible new tank) a centerpiece dwarf gourami with a school of neon tetras and anything else that could work with those but wouldn’t overpopulate my tank. Oh another reason I’d love sand is because I’ve wanted Khuli Loaches ever since I started this hobby. Should I go for sand or stay with gravel? Anybody have any experience with that? Thank you very much in advance! -Caroline (side note: of course my dwarf gourami with neon tetras plan could very well change depending on the size of the tank, I have absolutely no idea. I’m not even sure if Khuli loaches get along with those kinds of fish, but I will do more research on it if I actually get the tank.)
 

Platylover

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It does sound like sand would be best for you. Kuhlis do best on sand so they can sift through it and not get scratched by the gravel. Sand is also less likely to grow algae IME.
 
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Caroline J

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Platylover said:
It does sound like sand would be best for you. Kuhlis do best on sand so they can sift through it and not get scratched by the gravel. Sand is also less likely to grow algae IME.
Thank you very much for the response! I’m leaning more towards it, so it’s great to hear other’s opiniona. I appreciate it!
 

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If you want sand go for it. Typically most people here prefer either the black diamond sand or pool filter sand. They usually run like $10 for a bag of 50lbs.

The pros of sand is usually that they are much easier to clean. The poo stays on top of the sand. Where gravel the poo sinks in.

The cons is that it’s a lot to work to clean but in my opinion it’s worth it at the end.
 
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Caroline J

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Fashooga said:
If you want sand go for it. Typically most people here prefer either the black diamond sand or pool filter sand. They usually run like $10 for a bag of 50lbs.

The pros of sand is usually that they are much easier to clean. The poo stays on top of the sand. Where gravel the poo sinks in.

The cons is that it’s a lot to work to clean but in my opinion it’s worth it at the end.
Thank you very much for the pros and cons! I was thinking pool filter sand, but I suppose I’ll do more research on that. 10$ isn’t too bad. Right, that’s bother main trait I was thinking of. I’d love to try sand, so I appreciate your opinion!
 
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Caroline J

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Oh, one more question: if I did get sand, how often would you recommend to stir up the sand? With the help of loaches, snails, etc too.
 
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Caroline J

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Oh, one more question: if I did get sand, how often would you recommend to stir up the sand? With the help of loaches, snails, etc too.
 
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Caroline J

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Thunder_o_b said:
@Caroline J I generally do not mess with the sand at all. But I run 10x the water column in filter flow and use Pristine.

I have a lot of mystery snails, shrimp and plants.

Would you like to see what the BDBS looks like?
Ah ok interesting. I suppose with the snails and shrimp you have, it’s not too much of a problem. I would love to, thank you very much!
 

Islandvic

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CarolineJ, I use gravel in my 20g and sand in my 10g and 75g.

As others posted, fish waste, muck and uneaten food generally lays on the top of my sand. It is easy to clean with a siphon vac.

My 20g has gravel and is a pain to vac. It seems everything goes into and toward the bottom of the gravel, even with some Corydoras eating off the substrate.

I use Quikcrete brand of pool filter sand. It is $5-6/ 50lb bag from Home Depot.

You will need a 5 gallon bucket and access to a garden hose to wash it.

I would fill the bucket 1/3 up with sand and throughly wash it. As the particulates and smaller sand grains float in the water, tilt the bucket to let the water out and continue rinsing. You must thoroughly agitate the sand with the water stream.

It takes a long time me bucket, but eventually you will be left with sand that does not stay suspended in the water and sinks immediately down. When you get to this point ot's ready to be dumped into the tank and then on to the next bucket of sand to rinse.

I can literally scoop up a cup of sand from the tank and dump it back into the water and it sinks straight down without it turning the water cloudy.

As for your kuhli loaches, I own java kuhli loaches and they do indeed prefer the sand. I dont have dwarf gourami but I do have 3 sunset thick lipped gourami and they get along with their tank mates.

Good luck with your new tank!
 

Thunder_o_b

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Caroline J said:
Ah ok interesting. I suppose with the snails and shrimp you have, it’s not too much of a problem. I would love to, thank you very much!
1. 37 guppy.
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2. A 44 pent.
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3. 46 bow.
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4. The 150 before it failed.
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6. 44 pent.
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7.
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8. Pool filter sand.
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9. Pool filter sand.
_MG_8330-Edit copy.0.jpg
 

Thunder_o_b

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Gourami36 said:
Corydoras can’t be on gravel. It can hurt their barbells
If the gravel is smooth corys are fine.

The biggest issue with corys barbs is an unclean environment. Far too many people do not practice proper maintenance.
_MG_4748 copy.0.jpg
 

Gourami36

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Thunder_o_b said:
If the gravel is smooth corys are fine.

The biggest issue with corys barbs is an unclean environment. Far too many people do not practice proper maintenance.
View attachment 512661
How does dirty water affect their barbels? Does it make them fall off?
 

Thunder_o_b

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Gourami36 said:
How does dirty water affect their barbels? Does it make them fall off?
It is not so much unclean water (though that is part of it) It is more rotting food and the resulting microbes, and fungus in the spaces between the gravel that the poor corys have in their face all day.
 

Gourami36

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Thunder_o_b said:
It is not so much unclean water (though that is part of it) It is more rotting food and the resulting microbes, and fungus in the spaces between the gravel that the poor corys have in their face all day.
Ok
 
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Caroline J

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Islandvic said:
CarolineJ, I use gravel in my 20g and sand in my 10g and 75g.

As others posted, fish waste, muck and uneaten food generally lays on the top of my sand. It is easy to clean with a siphon vac.

My 20g has gravel and is a pain to vac. It seems everything goes into and toward the bottom of the gravel, even with some Corydoras eating off the substrate.

I use Quikcrete brand of pool filter sand. It is $5-6/ 50lb bag from Home Depot.

You will need a 5 gallon bucket and access to a garden hose to wash it.

I would fill the bucket 1/3 up with sand and throughly wash it. As the particulates and smaller sand grains float in the water, tilt the bucket to let the water out and continue rinsing. You must thoroughly agitate the sand with the water stream.

It takes a long time me bucket, but eventually you will be left with sand that does not stay suspended in the water and sinks immediately down. When you get to this point ot's ready to be dumped into the tank and then on to the next bucket of sand to rinse.

I can literally scoop up a cup of sand from the tank and dump it back into the water and it sinks straight down without it turning the water cloudy.

As for your kuhli loaches, I own java kuhli loaches and they do indeed prefer the sand. I dont have dwarf gourami but I do have 3 sunset thick lipped gourami and they get along with their tank mates.

Good luck with your new tank!
Thank you very much for being so descriptive! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that. I screenshoted this so I could remember it, so I’ll definitely follow your plan. Two questions: about how long did it take you to completely cleanse the sand? And would you recommend adding the sand into the take before or after adding the water? Again, thank you so much for the help! EDIT: I forgot to mention, I wanted to say that I completely understand that issue with gravel! I could watch a piece of food sink to the bottom and immediately disappear under the rocks, it’s so frustrating.
 
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Caroline J

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