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Swapping from gravel to sand

Discussion in 'Beginner Questions' started by TO KYO, Mar 12, 2019.

  1. TO KYO

    TO KYO New Member

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    Hello, I have a group of mollies in a 20g tank with a silencer filter, although they’re pretty good bottom cleaners plenty of the food gets lost in the gravel so I would like to switch to sand, but I heard sand is way different than gravel so my ammonia goes crazy high 0.25->0.50 within hours. I know how to clean and I also heard about the gases. But does it affects my ph(does it goes up or down) and or my water hardness (keep in mind I have to use Cichlid Lake Salt to boost it up), or not at all? If you guys have any sand recommendations for mollies let me know ty.

     
  2. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

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    Clean sand will not make any difference to ammonia levels in the tank. The reason some sand can cause ammonia spikes is because it is dirty and contaminated with organic matter that breaks down in the water and produces ammonia. If you wash the sand before using it, there shouldn't be any ammonia problems.

    The easiest way to wash the sand is to put a couple of inches of sand in a bucket and squirt it with a hose. Let the hose water stir the sand up until the bucket is nearly full of water and then remove the hose. Wait a few seconds for the sand to sink back to the bottom of the bucket and then tip the dirty water out. Stick the hose back in the bucket and stir the sand up again, tip the dirty water out and repeat the process until the sand looks clean and no more foreign material comes out of it. Then add the clean sand to the tank and wash some more.

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    Anaerobic gasses that build up in sand only occurs when there is lots of rotting organic matter in the sand. The sand normally needs to be a couple of inches thick for this to happen but can happen in a thin layer of sand if food, fish poop or something else rots under the sand. If you use a gravel cleaner on the sand once a week you should never get gasses building up underneath it.

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    Some sand like beach sand is calcium based and will raise the pH and GH a bit. Some sand will drop the pH, but most sand will not affect the pH or GH.

    I think Byron uses play sand from the local hardware store. I use course river sand or beach sand. Course river sand is usually available from nurseries/ garden centres and is used to make potting/ propagating mix for seedlings. If you live near a clean beach you can collect some beach sand, and some pet shops sell different types of sand too. If you buy sand from a nursery or hardware store it will be a lot cheaper than the pet shop.
     
  3. Byron

    Byron Member

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    As you have mollies, and assuming you stay with only mollies (a 20g is not sufficient space for more fish anyway), this is where an aragonite sand is best. You will be able to forget those salts, as aragonite sand will dissolve calcium and magnesium very slowly, raising the GH and pH. I had a molly tank years ago, it worked very well, and my source water is basically zero GH/KH with a pH of 5 back then.
     
  4. TO KYO

    TO KYO New Member

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    Thank very much, any other recommendations just in case I can’t find that one?
     
  5. Byron

    Byron Member

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    Aragonite is a carbonate mineral, being calcium and magnesium. I know CaribSea produce an aragonite sand as I have used it. They also have an "African Cichlid Mix" sand. There seem to be various types for both of these. Avoid white, it is hard on fish.

    https://caribsea.com/aquarium/#freshwater-substrates
     
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  6. TO KYO

    TO KYO New Member

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    You’re the best man, god bless you. I added the sand with a bunch of new plants and all my mollies finally since to be healthy. I no longer have to do water changes daily, no longer attacking each other, or add salt. Although shouldn’t I add some Cichlid Lake Salt to prevent diseases? Anyways I’m so happy right now!!!
     
    #6 TO KYO, Mar 16, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2019
  7. TO KYO

    TO KYO New Member

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  8. TO KYO

    TO KYO New Member

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    They not longer fighting each other( I guess because of the plants) and no more head shaking. Also ammonia is down to .25 so I guess my filter is some why starting to cycle(My tank is about a month old). Sadly I had to take one of my F mollies out because she seems to have internal parasites. She is thick, with thick white strings coming out of her butt hole. Also, won’t eat anything anymore. She’s been like that for over two weeks now
     
  9. TO KYO

    TO KYO New Member

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  10. Byron

    Byron Member

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    The substrate should raise and maintain the GH and pH suitable for mollies. There is no need to add rift lake salts if this is the case, so test your GH and pH. The increased GH/pH will allow the mollies to function more normally, so it is a preventive in that sense but the substrate should now do this.

    Other issues such as mentioned in subsequent posts are a different matter. As is ammonia, nitrite, nitrate.

    On the new plants, those are mainly Java Fern. The rhizome should not be buried in the substrate or it may rot and kill the plant. The rhizome is the thick "branch" like structure from which arise the leaves and the true roots which are like threads. The rhizome must be above the substrate. This plant is usually attached to wood or rock. The true fine hair roots may grow down into the substrate or just float in the water, that doesn't matter, provided the rhizome itself is not buried.
     
  11. TO KYO

    TO KYO New Member

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    I don’t have anything to attach it to, so should I leave 1/3 of the seed out of the substrate?
     
  12. Byron

    Byron Member

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    I see a chunk of rock (or wood?) in the photos, you can attach one or two of the Java Fern plants to this. I like to find a crevice in wood and gently push the rhizome in so it is fairly secure (being careful not to force it as it will break). You can also use fishing line or black cotton thread. Once it is attached, in future roots will grow to keep it attached though it can be pulled off so leave it alone. Just make sure the rhizome is not buried--I assume by "seed" you mean rhizome.
     
  13. TO KYO

    TO KYO New Member

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    D7C028BE-4FA8-40ED-BF5C-CD7944BC1363.jpeg
    If you’re talking about these two, they are rocks and yes I mean to say rhizome not seed
     
  14. TO KYO

    TO KYO New Member

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    AFB7F094-6006-4037-95C0-43AF9B62643F.jpeg
    Better? Or rocks are to small?
     
  15. Byron

    Byron Member

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    That's fine. The aim is to not bury the rhizome, and this way the rock holds the plant where you want it. In fact, one of the nice things about Java Fern is that you can move the rock/wood to a different location with the plant attached and unlike moving plants rooted in the substrate it does not normally affect the plant. Though the true hair-like roots may burrow into the substrate, that's OK.
     
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