sand vs gravel substrate Question

Discussion in 'Freshwater Substrates - Gravel, Sand' started by aquarium dunce, Dec 9, 2009.

  1. aquarium dunceValued MemberMember

    Ok so because of my snail problem (we will just blame that lol) I am thinking about getting another tank and starting over. Right now I have gravel but I am thinking about using sand in new tank. What are the pro's and cons of sand vs gravel?? Can you clean the sand with a siphon pump like the gravel?? Any advice would be appreciated!!
  2. eiginh

    eiginhWell Known MemberMember

    I like fine gravel such as sand but I heard that it's easier to spot dirt on brighter sand. Gas bubbles tend to get trapped in sand so you need to stir it up ever once in awhile but that's not a biggie. It also depends on what kind of fish you are getting. Heavy bio-load fish such as oscars wouldn't do well with sand b/c you will see their droppings more. One thing I also like about sand is everything will usually stay on top not like gravel where you have to dig through it to clean it thoroughly. Hopefully someone will give you more advice.

    Here's a forum with many opinions about sand vs gravel.

  3. iloveengl

    iloveenglWell Known MemberMember

    After a few months of gravel in my tanks, I bought a new tank and tried sand. It wasn't very long before I switched all my tanks to sand - I love it!

    ~It's great (and sometimes necessary) for bottom dwelling fish to play, feed, and burrow in.

    ~It's easier to keep clean than gravel because poo and food doesn't get trapped or wedged under it like gravel. I hover my gravel vacuum just over the sand to pick up the debris that lays on top. If you suck up any sand, it just sinks back down, so that's no worry.

    ~I like the natural look and ridiculously cheap cost of play sand, but it takes a bit of prepping to rinse it first. Pool sand doesn't take so much of the rinsing and it's a nice white color. They sell colored sand too, but that gets pricey, especially as you get larger tanks.

    ~Sand is better than gravel when you have fake plants because it fills those little cups better, so the plant bottom is more hidden and the plant in general is more stable. For real plants, depending on the plant, you may want gravel so the plant roots have something to grasp.

    ~Sand has to be poked/stirred about once a week to release gas bubbles that build under it; if bottom dwellers released the gas, they could become ill. But that's easy to do during routine water changes. Doesn't even phase me.

    Honestly, I like sand so much better now than I do gravel, that I can't think of much in the way of cons. I'd definitely recommend it!


  4. Elvishswimmer

    ElvishswimmerValued MemberMember

    If a fish likes picking through the bottom for food and stuff, would sucking up the sand hurt it?

    **Is considering sand too**

  5. btate617

    btate617Well Known MemberMember

    With stirring the sand up like mentioned here it is not a big deal.

    After you do your water change an easy way to do it is take your siphon out of the water so it stops sucking up water. Now put it back in and use that to stir up the sand. Takes less than 30 seconds.

    If you use HOB filters and have fish who enjoy moving the sand a lot be prepared you may have to replace impellors from time to time. But they are cheap.

    I use sand in all my tanks also and wouldn't have gravel.


    If a fish likes picking through the bottom for food and stuff, would sucking up the sand hurt it?

    **Is considering sand too**

    No it is fine.
  6. lorabellWell Known MemberMember

    I just love sand....(even use pool filter sand now).....I have changed over to it in most of my tanks....
  7. iloveengl

    iloveenglWell Known MemberMember

    For most fish that pic at the substrate, sand is actually best (or go the opposite direction and use really big river rock) because gravel can get stuck in a fish's throat.

    For filter feeders, sand is vital.

    I have mollies that love sucking up and spitting out the sand (with no ill effects or concerns), corydoras that love sifting through the sand to find yummy microorganisms, and a dragon goby that must have sand in order to feed properly. My other fish seem indifferent to the substrate. :happy0034:
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2009
  8. MizRamzi

    MizRamziWell Known MemberMember

    I have white sand in my brackish~love it~I also have white sand mixed with a dark very small gravel in my planted~looks great~plants love it!!!
  9. gunner13Well Known MemberMember

    I have black sand in my 240ltr and the fish love it, the fire eel buries itself, the synos and the pakistani loach sift through it and in general the wasted food(not that there is any in my tank) sits on the top along with any waste and plant debris(hence easy to clean). My amazon swords have taken very well and have my other plants.
    I'm with ilovee on this and would never use gravel again.
    I hope we have helped.
  10. OP

    aquarium dunceValued MemberMember

    You have a lot thanks for all the advice. Is there a special aquarium sand??
  11. gunner13Well Known MemberMember

    I use unipac aquarium sand,here is a link to their site,when you get on it click on aquatic decor. Let me know what you think.


  12. crazedACD

    crazedACDValued MemberMember

    I will NEVER go back to gravel! Sand is so much nicer.

    I'm using regular inert aquarium sand in my two small tanks, and pool filter sand in my 55g. I love the pool filter's great. It does not cloud as easily as the aquarium sand..the grains are just large enough to settle right back down. I used Tahitian Moon Sand when I had my 45g and although it was fine, it did seem to cloud like crazy if disturbed, rinsing took forever (grains too small).

    All you have to do is stir it once in a while and when you gravel vac, put the hose about 1/2 inch above the sand and go around in circular motions to pick up the detritus.
  13. Jaysee

    JayseeFishlore LegendMember

    Exactly! I still have a couple tanks with gravel though.

    I have black, white, and pool filter sand. You might think I'm crazy, but if you switch to sand, I'd put the malaysian trumpet snails BACK in. They do a great job keping the sand stirred up, as well as cleaning up. One big difference between gravel and sand wth snails is that the sand won't move like it's alive. Also, if you get too many snails, you can use your net to sift through the sand and scoop most of them out. The babies will fall through, but you can remove a significant amount of snails that way.
  14. Slug

    SlugWell Known MemberMember

    Same for me. Never again will gravel grace the bottom of any of my tanks. Ever. Even if there was a fire.

    Sand is so much easier to maintain, and looks 10 times nicer. Very easy to see wastes and get them up.
  15. iloveengl

    iloveenglWell Known MemberMember

    It depends on your budget and what you like the look of.

    You can use sand made for aquariums, which can come in all different colors (but that gets expensive).

    Pool sand works really well and is a nice creamy white color - sold at hardware type stores.

    Play sand is a great option for those of us who are totally broke (like me lol) and who prefer the more natural darker brown and black look like you see in river beds. Just about any hardware or home improvement store sells play sand for about $4 for 50lbs - it's a great deal! Just rinse it really well first. :)
  16. Jaysee

    JayseeFishlore LegendMember

    Rinse it really, REALLY well. Once you think it's clean, wash it again!
  17. phil saint

    phil saintValued MemberMember

    is there any bad points to having both gravel and sand ? i have gravel but i also love the look of sand and am thinking of having both.
  18. kacieValued MemberMember

    The gravel will rise to the top.
  19. rae64

    rae64Well Known MemberMember

    i bought a 50 lb bag of pool filter sand for about 10 dollars. very cheap stuff, just be sure to rinse rinse rinse! looks great too!
  20. kacieValued MemberMember

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