Switching Substrate To Sand In Planted Tank? Worth It?

Discussion in 'Aquarium Aquascaping' started by Kesh88, May 20, 2018.

  1. Kesh88

    Kesh88Valued MemberMember

    I have a 68 litre tank that I've been considering switching out the natural gravel substrate to sand.

    At the moment I have a large-ish Amazon Sword, Java Fern, Elodea (floating) and some stem plants that I forget the name of (maybe red lud?) planted in straight into the gravel. I use osmocote root tabs to provide fertilisation, otherwise I don't do anything special for my plants. The tank is currently home to some white cloud mountain minnows but I'd quite like the option of making this a community tank, maybe with some pygmy corydoras or even using the tank for an axolotl one day.

    I'm not really sure how to do this with live plants? Or if the plants will even grow in sand? Would I need some soil underneath the sand? Or should I just leave it as is? I do really like the gravel but feel it limits future stocking options. I'm also not sure what the best and sand to use or where to get it in Australia? I'd like something natural looking. Maybe pool filter sand? 20180520_154924.jpg20180520_155011.jpg20180520_155016.jpg
  2. Gypsy13

    Gypsy13Fishlore VIPMember

    I’m so back and forth on sand vs gravel. Then pool filter sand vs black diamond blasting sand. So, I’ve got enough of each to start my 40 gallon long. The best advice I’ve gotten so far is using the bdbs to show off my light colored fish and plants I want to get. That’s what I’m leaning towards today. I’ve talked with dozens of people on this forum with beautiful plants in sand substrate. They use liquid ferts like excel and flourish. Also root tabs. I’m going to try it. But I’m going to watch to see what advice you get too.
    Good luck:)
  3. Duardo

    DuardoValued MemberMember

    The plants grow find in sand, just do the same thing you're doing now and use root tabs. It'll be a little harder to anchor the plants but you just gotta pile enough sand onto them.

    youd also want to only change out the gravel a little bit at a time as a lot of BB lives in it. I would do it in thirds maybe even fourths. So youd just remove part of the gravel and make it bare b0ttom, or close to it, and then get your sand in a cup or a seperate container and lower it into the water and pour the sand close to the bottom of the tank to not kick up a lot of it and make a mess. Do this over a series of days. Also when doing water changes youll have to be more gentle or else the sand can be blown away.

    Pool filter sand works great, I forgot what I used, but regardless just place some in a bucket, maybe 5 lbs at a time rinse it a bit until the water is clear and you're good to go. But I am sure pfs doesn't need rinsing but I'd do it anyways just in case.
  4. OP

    Kesh88Valued MemberMember

    Thanks. I'd rinse anything going into my tank as well. Maybe I'll try doing thirds of pool filter sand and see how I go
  5. Duardo

    DuardoValued MemberMember

    its much easier than the blasting sand since appernlty you need to wash that a lot. But yeah excel and other plant suppliments are great. Good luck!
  6. sleow

    sleowValued MemberMember

    I switched from gravel to sand specifically for my panda corys, who much prefer sand substrate. I did the switch all in one go and had no issues with my BB keeping up with the switch. I do have extra filter material in my HOB and a sponge filter as well though, so there is plenty of places for the BB to live.

    My plants didn't seem to mind the switch. They are all low light, low maintenance plants but I do put in root tabs, flourish, and excel to help them out. The swords definitely need the root tabs. I actually like planting in sand more than gravel, because I find it easier to wiggle them into the sand and get all of the roots covered.

    I used pool filter sand and definitely needed to rinse it before going into the tank. The water was super cloudy in the bucket and I can only imagine what it would have looked like straight into the tank. I like the light color of it, but I have seen pictures of tanks with BDBS that look stunning. Might have to go that route with the next tank!
  7. bgclarke

    bgclarkeWell Known MemberMember

    I've done gravel to sand swaps all at once with no ill effects on the tanks.
    I've used both CaribSea Tahitian Moon and National Geographic sand.
    My swords had no problems with the switch. I use osmocote plus root tabs plus a liquid fertilizer.

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