Sand vs gravel

Discussion in 'Freshwater Aquarium Builds' started by Christopher shoemaker, Jul 20, 2014.

  1. Christopher shoemakerValued MemberMember

    Pros and cons for each, and personal preferences.

    Sent from my SM-G900V using Fish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum mobile app

  2. smee82Fishlore VIPMember

    personally since I got ADA aquasoil I will never use another inert substrate. I might do a dirted substrate in the future and cap it with something but it would depend on the fish on what I used.
  3. hollie1505Well Known MemberMember

    My experience says....

    Sand - pros; easier to clean, easier to plant in, better for corydoras, dirt stays on the top of the sand.
    Sand - cons; takes a lot of washing prior to adding, plants can't root as well in sand as they can in gravel, needs stirring occasionally to stop it compacting or forming anaerobic bacteria, dirt stays on top so it looks messy quickly, fish have been known to eat it and suffer.

    Gravel - pros; Easy to clean, requires little washing prior to adding, doesn't compact, plants can root easier, easier to scape
    Gravel - cons; Dirt builds up beneath the surface making it a little harder than sand to clean, can be tricky to plant in depending on the size of the gravel (large gravel struggles to 'grip' the plants), fish can attempt to eat it getting gravel lodged in their mouths.

    I'm sure there are plenty of other pros and cons, these are things from my personal experience with both substrates. Personally, I prefer sand. I like the crisp white took of plain play sand :) x
  4. natpodu77New MemberMember

    I have had fish for over 20 years and thought gravel was what one should use, but I always had food stuck in it and it was very hard on my bottom feeders.

    About 12 years ago I moved and decided to try a mixture of sand and Eco-Complete. No food stuck in between which meant all the bottom feeders could actually clean up the bottom. It was much easier to put plants into as well. You could almost see how much happier the corys were in my tank, they could now sift through something instead of big (well big to them) rocks in the way of food. I also noticed my plants took off, think from the 1/2 Eco-Complete.

    About 8 months ago I upgraded to a 55 gallon and decided that since I liked the sand, and wanted a heavier planted tank I would stick with the fine black Eco-Complete, I won't go back to gravel. I love watching my Dojo loaches digging through the sand for a snail buried somewhere underneath. They are their own aquascapers!

    I have never had an issue with washing the sand, nor have I had cloudy water although I know of a couple other products that are NOT sand that have been problematic, a lava peat ball from Fluval that I used in my 4 gallon Fluval tanks made the water charcoal, even after a half hour rinse (because it was still rinsing black). I just removed the water and then very carefully poured water into a large dish to re-fill the tank, then let the tank cycle for a day and the cloudiness was gone. It is impossible to put a plant in without an anchor though. It is supposedly very good for plants and shrimp.
    Besides sand is a silicate and as such is not cloudy, it is the dust that comes with that may or may not be an issue, but the sand I used as well as the Eco-Complete never clouded my water, ever.

    As with anything you need to review what you are going to buy.
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2014
  5. hollie1505Well Known MemberMember

    I have always used play sand and this may require more washing than other sands. I have since found that a good rinse, allowing it to dry and then putting the sand in using a two litre bottle like this, works really well :)
  6. Marie1Well Known MemberMember

    What are you keeping, and is it planted? Some fish do better if kept in sand, or bare bottom. Corydora, and kuhli loach comes to mind. Sand is not always the best for some plants. It's not because of nutrients, it because heavily rooted plants need something more to hang onto.

    If you are not planting it with things like sword plants, and do not keep fish with sensitive barbells, it is up to what you think looks better.

    I have tanks with both. I personally like both. But if I had to choose one or the other, I would go with gravel. It is easier to clean in my opinion.
  7. CoradeeModeratorModerator Member

    I've used both in the past & my preference now is sand especially for bottom dwellers.
    I find it easier to keep clean as food doesn't get trapped & my corys help keep any detritus moving so the filter can deal with it, I very rarely have to syphon dirt out.
    I have easy care plants like vallis, swords, crypts & they all do just fine in sand, however more delicate nutrient hungry plants would need something more substantial.
  8. JunneFishlore LegendMember

    I have used both and prefer sand mostly for the reasons listed above ( for the cory's etc )

    And I have to say, I have had one tank with regular Petsmart generic sand and it WAS A NIGHTMARE to rinse sand for a 6.6 gallon tank! :mad: Took literally days to clear up and after rinsing for hours.
    I switched it over to Tahitian moon sand a few months afterwards and there was very little rinsing involved.

    So based on that, my previous experience with sand, I decided on my latest tank ( 72 gallon bowfront ) to do something different.
    I bought 80 lbs of Tahitian moon sand and RINSED it IN THE TANK ONCE! Just filled it once about half way and rinsed and drained! The tank was barely cloudy and by the next day, it was almost clear. I know I was told NOT to do this but I did anyway because of how it was with my 6.6 gallon ( 2nd time with TMS )

    This is what my tank looked like 2 hours after I filled it up. I was shocked how clear it was.

    DSC_0885 - Copy.jpg
  9. Falcon JJValued MemberMember

    I use sand in all my tanks. I agree with the pros and cons that have been mentioned already, but for me personally, I love the look of sand and will never use anything else.

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