Welcome to Our Community

Wanting to join the rest of our members? Feel free to sign up today.

Sand In Your Tropical Fish Aquarium

Discussion in 'Tropical Discussion' started by The-Wolf, Jan 7, 2005.

  1. The-Wolf

    The-Wolf Ex-LFS manager/ keeper of over 30 danio species

    Joined:
    May 26, 2004
    Messages:
    11,143
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Kent UK
    Sand and the aquarium
    © By P.Roots


    There are many questions involving sand for the aquarium
    I will try and cover all eventualities here.

    What kind of sand should I use?

    There are many types of sand available, when deciding what type to go for you should consider; aesthetics, consistency and suitability and of course budget.

    Silver Sand.
    The most common sand used seems to be play sand AKA silver sand. Silver sand is relatively cheap but has the tendency to compact more than, say, pool filter sand.
    Pool filter sand.
    Pool filter sand is some times referred to as silica sand.
    Aquarium sand
    This would typically be silica sand that may or may not be artificially coloured. Most of the bags of aquarium sand I've seen seem to be a slightly larger grain than silver sand but they are 10 times the price.
    Marine sand
    This tends to made from crushed corals and or crushed seashells, the effect of this type of substrate would alter the pH of you aquarium, not what is required for most tropical fish. However marine sand is a suitable substrate for fish that require high pH such as African cichlids.
    Sand blasting sand
    Again another large grained silica sand. I have found the prices to be comparable with pool filter sand. This type tends to be of a darker colour.
    Builder�s sand
    This has the likelihood to have chemicals, such as bonding agents, added to it to help with creating mortars and the like. I would not use building sand in any aquarium.
    Tahitian moon
    This is a relatively new product and has been over hyped, IMHO. Having said that if you are looking for something different then try it. Available in black.
    Beach sand
    Sand found on most public beaches will have a great amount of salt in it, this is nearly impossible to totally eradicate. You could use beach sand for marine or brackish set ups. However bear this in mind. It is a sad fact that many beaches are polluted in some way; this could have deadly consequences in your aquarium. Many local authorities consider the taking of sand, gravel etc from public beaches to be theft, always ask before you take sand from public places.

    How do I change from gravel to sand?

    For an existing set up this is the way I have done it.

    1; Take out all decorations, plants etc.

    2; Using a siphon slowly empty the tank, siphoning the water in to container that held approx half the tanks volume (a large waste bin, brand-new and not been used at all is ideal for this.)

    3; When the tank is half full of water and empty of decorations, catch the fish putting them into a suitable container of tank water.

    4; Add a heater to keep the temp up to the same as it was in tank, you may or may not add a filter, this is up to you.

    5; This is an ideal time to scrub all the sides of the tank and give everything a good clean in the tank water so as not to kill the bacteria.

    6; Remove the gravel to a bucket big enough to hold half of it and fill with the dirty tank water (containing the bacteria).

    7; Dispose of the rest of the tank water. Ideal for gardens or house plants.

    8; Make sure all sides and bottom of the tank are free from slime, algae etc.

    9; Added your chose type of sand(pre-washed before hand), re-decorate and landscape as required.

    10; With the help of another person, carefully, raised the bin with the fish and water up higher than the tank. This is so you can siphon the water back into the tank, slowly. In doing this it should not disturb the sand too much.

    11; When the bin is 3/4 empty, catch the fish and reintroduce them back to the tank. Then continue to siphon the water into the tank. Top up with clean water that has been conditioned as required.

    12; Put the saved gravel in a stocking and lay this on the sand for two days. After which you can remove the gravel without any mess or fuss. Doing this the bacteria will migrate into the sand.

    13; Job done!

    I'm not saying this is the way you must do it! It is just the way I did it.

    Can I keep my fish in the tank whilst I'm changing substrate?
    IMHO it is best to remove the fish during this process. This keeps the stress to a minimum.

    What can I do with the gravel now I've changed?

    You could keep it for your next tank or do what I did, sell it on ebay.

    Ok I've changed now how do I keep the sand clean? There is lots of fish poo on top of the sand!

    You can use your gravel siphon to clean the sand; the technique is a little different and takes a bit of practice to get it right.
    Holding the siphon tube approx 1" from the surface of the sand move it in, small, circular motions. This creates a small eddy and pick ups the waste matter which is then sucked into the siphon and into your bucket.

    You have mentioned pre-washing the sand, how do I do that?

    To pre-wash your sand you can fill a bucket half full and add a hose, then run the water until it becomes clear. Be aware that this can take hours to do each bucket load.

    How deep should my sand be?

    This all depends on whether or not you have live plants. If you do then a minimum depth of 1" and a maximum depth of 1.5" is recommended.
    If you don't have live plants 1" or less will be ok.
    Depths of over 2" could cause anaerobic bacteria to build up in pockets and create toxic gasses to from, like methane and high levels of CO2. these would be devastating to aquatic life.

    How do I keep this from happening?

    As stated above do not go over 2" in depth, additionally bi-weekly stirring of the sand would release any gases before they reach toxic levels. To do this fingers are best but you could use any safe thin implement. Use caution around plant roots when stirring the sand.

    I have an UGF can I use sand and still use my UGF?
    To put it bluntly no. The gap under the UGF will soon fill up and small holes of the UGF will become blocked. This would render the UGF useless.

    Ok then, is a canister filter safe to use with sand?

    Yes, providing the filter intake is at least 1" above the sand.
     
  2. Ben

    Ben Member

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2004
    Messages:
    4,766
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    AU
    very very good work :nod:

    PIN IT!!!!!

    DD
     
  3. phillippa42

    phillippa42 Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2005
    Messages:
    62
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Lincoln, UK
    What would you do if you have gravel in your aquariam which you want to keep and you just want to add a sand corner?

    Would you need to empty all the water from your tank to put the sand in -_-

    thanks
    pippa
     
  4. The-Wolf

    The-Wolf Ex-LFS manager/ keeper of over 30 danio species

    Joined:
    May 26, 2004
    Messages:
    11,143
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Kent UK
    I would pre-wash the sand move the gravel with my hand, creating the sapce for the sand.
    put the sand in a plastic bag, such as you get at the lfs when you buy fish. lower it gently to the area prepared and slowly pour it out. hopefully this would work, but as it has not been asked before and i have not done it myself i really don't know.
     
  5. Phantom Thief

    Phantom Thief Population Control Volunteer

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2003
    Messages:
    2,337
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    A world of my own
    Phillip, it would not be a practical thing to do. Gradually, the sand and gravel would mix together and produce a horrible looking mixture. You could, of course, make a type of barrier, but really, hardly worth the effort.

    Paul, excellent article :thumbs: . However, you should add that instead of manually stirring the sand, another way to do it is to use malaysian trumpet snails, since they are inobtrusive (nocturnal) and spend most of their time burrowing.

    P.T.
     
  6. rich

    rich Member

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2004
    Messages:
    135
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Sheffield, England
    When I clean my sand with a syphon, I find that some sand is left in the bottom of the bucket. Can I get the poo and not the sand if I continue to practice my technique?
     
  7. pnyklr3

    pnyklr3 Member

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2004
    Messages:
    921
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Rockford, Illinois
    One thing I've always wondered about having sand: Is it best to put any heavy dcorations down first, and then the sand? I was curious if putting heavy stuff on the sand would compact it (causing the anerobic stuff) and then harm the fish if one were to move the decoration.
     
  8. BobK

    BobK Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2004
    Messages:
    444
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Glenview (Chicago), IL
    Wolf, this is great! I've been looking for this type of detailed information as I want to do this in my 10 gallon. Thanks for the great article. Hey mods, can you pin this?????
     
  9. Barday

    Barday Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2004
    Messages:
    506
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    London, UK
    V.Good article wolf, looks like you put a lot of time and effort into it. :clap:

    Thanks!
     
  10. OohFeeshy

    OohFeeshy It's only forever; not long at all...

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2004
    Messages:
    8,207
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Raxacoricofallapatorius
    V. good, I was wondering how you change from gravel to sand. Harkee, thou mods, pin this topic.
     
  11. SirMinion

    SirMinion Sexy Martha Fahaka
    Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2004
    Messages:
    4,039
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    East coast of England.
    Excellent post Wolf!

    One thing though. Very important thing to do before syphoning out the water.

    Turn off the heater!
     
  12. Dubby

    Dubby His legend will never die

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2003
    Messages:
    1,430
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Hampshire, UK
    Thats great stuff, Wolf. Now the next thing that needs to be written is 'Sand vs Gravel' :)
     
  13. Discomafia

    Discomafia mmm...

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2004
    Messages:
    1,542
    Likes Received:
    0
    Great article! :D

    The gravel to sand part should have been made long time ago though... -_- And since you said that's the way YOU did it Wolf, you can also add that they're a lot of threads covering how to change gravel to sand, you just have to do a forum search. That way people can read up a bit and decide what's best for them. :)
     
  14. Sky042

    Sky042 Member

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2004
    Messages:
    1,517
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    PA
    For washing the sand I had the best luck doing very small amounts like taking a gallon just(think like rubbermaid gallon pitcher) and then taking a large drinking glass like maybe 24 ounces or so and getting one or two scoops putting that in the gallon pitcher and washing that way. Running your hands through speeds up the process of getting the clay and fine particles out. took me only about an hour to get enough sand done for my 54G and when I filled it there was hardly any noticable cloudiness.
     
  15. Griz

    Griz Member

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2004
    Messages:
    1,103
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Niagara, Canada
    This may not be practical for everyone, but I cleaned my sand outside with a garden hose and a 5 gal pail. I filled the pail about 1/3 full of sand and I stirred it with my hand while running water into it and dumping it every so often, until the water ran clear. Doing smaller batches seemed to work better. I was able to clean enough for a 33 gal tank in no time at all.
     

Share This Page

Search tags for this page
best sand for tropical aquarium
,
can i put sand in my tropical fish tank
,
can silver sand be used in aquaria
,
can you put any kind of sand in a fish tank
,
preparing beach sand for aquarium
,
sand for aquarium
,
should i put sand in my tropical aquarium
,
tropical fish tank sand
,

tropical fish with sand substrate

,
what sand do you use for tropical fish tanks