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Switching to sand?

Discussion in 'Tropical Discussion' started by FroFro, Mar 8, 2017.

  1. FroFro

    FroFro Mostly New Member

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    I've finally decided I want to switch to sand for my main tank and whole my corydora don't seem to mind my fine gravel, I'm sure they'd like the change.

    Now onto my question. What sand to get? I've read that people use play sand but that it is bad for clumping and dirty. I've read that pool filter sand settles quickly and is safe for aquariums but can be sharp on bottom dwelling fish and I'm hesitant to put anything that belongs in a pool into my aquarium. Aquarium sand costs a small fortune.

    Secondly, what is the most efficient way to switch from gravel to sand? I want to provide the least amount of stress in this transition for my fish as possible.

     
  2. Byron

    Byron Member

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    When I was convinced (on another forum) to try sand, I went with play sand, and liked it so much I now have it in all 8 tanks. It is realistic in appearance to many tropical stream sands, it is inexpensive, and it is absolutely safe with respect to sharpness as it is the most-processed commercial sand.

    There is more dirt in a bag of play sand than you will find in a bag of aquarium sand or (supposedly) pool filter sand. But you can rinse some of this out; for my last two tank rebuilds I actually rinsed it much less, and when the "dirt" settled it disappeared. May have helped the plants anyway.

    You are in the US, so have a look at the Quikrete Play Sand at Lowe's or Home Depot. My local stores get the dark grey sand, but others apparently get more buff-toned. Either will work. We don't want white sand, that is not good for fish (or my eyes :hey:).

    I guess the longest sand substrate I have is now five or six years since I set up the tank. One of these I did re-aquascape last year, and I just used the water changer to clean the sand; I didn't see any issues with clumping, stagnation, etc. Just don't have it too deep.

    Byron.
     
  3. FroFro

    FroFro Mostly New Member

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    How do you rinse sand? How deep is too deep? How much would I need to buy for a 38 gallon?
     
  4. Byron

    Byron Member

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    I use a 2.5 gallon pail (I have several for fish work). I put maybe 1-2 inches of sand in the pail, sitting under the tap on the laundry sink. Swish the sand around with one hand, let it settle some, pout out most of the dirty water, repeat. I do this 5-6 times per load. I do gravel the same way. You can also do this outside with the hose, in summer anyway, where there is less risk of too much sand going down the drain to clog. I use the laundry sink because it is larger (the sink and drain) and easy to flush out after. In 16 years never had it block.
     
  5. Toney

    Toney Mostly New Member

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    20170308_190038.jpg I put black Diamond blasting media in my 29
     
  6. Byron

    Byron Member

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    I cannot see substrate fish, so you may be OK, but I should point out that any form of construction or "blasting" sand is not refined so it can be sharp. Substrate fish like cories, loaches, cichlids, etc might have problems, depending upon the state of the sand particules.
     
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  7. Toney

    Toney Mostly New Member

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    May be...... you just have to..

    I have still yet to see barbs wore off on gravel, ive only been in the hobby 40 years or so....

    I still remember when sand was a no no, to fine.
     
  8. FroFro

    FroFro Mostly New Member

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    Well I currently have small gravel bottom in my main tank and about 9 corydora. None of them have damaged/short whiskers or scratched up undersides. I'm just wanting to go for a more natural environment as well as the look.
     
  9. Byron

    Byron Member

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    There's more to this sand/gravel cory issue than just roughness. I had cories over fine gravel for some 15 years before I changed to sand. There is no doubt at all that the cories are better. Difficult to put into words how I see this, but it is not so difficult to understand why it would be so.

    First, an obvious example. I had cories with severe barbel degeneration because of sharp gravel, and one of them actually lost about 1/3 of its external mouth area; several quidkly developed red bloody areas. This was due to the sharpness of the substrate, which happened to be Seachem's Flourite black gravel (not the sand). When I saw what was happening (and it didn't take long for it to occur) I removed the cories to a tank with play sand. That was five years ago this month, and I am happy to say that all recovered, and some re-grew the barbels; the one with 2/3 of a mouth still has 2/3 of the mouth, and looks rather comical, but it healed and the cory is doing well in with the others, five years afterwards.

    I had chosen the Flourite over Eco-Complete because in my hand the EC did feel slightly rougher, but the Flourite felt smooth. Obviously my hand is not a good judge. Sand could do this if it is not well processed. This is not saying that all gravel, or all rough-natured sand, will damage substrate fish. But it is a risk, and there is no point in pretending otherwise and mis-leading those asking the question.

    Continuing on with the benefit of sand over any gravel. Cories like to root in the substrate. Their barbels are sensitive detectors of food. They will pick up a mouthful of substrate, rinse it around in their mouth to extract any tidbits of food, and expel the substrate out through the gill slits. They cannot do this with gravel. If the sand is rough, it can damage the delicate gills. You wouldn't likely even see this, unless it became severe, by which time the fish would likely be dead.

    All cories in the wild live over a substrate either of mud or sand, or a mix of both. It often has a covering of dead leaves. During the rainy/wet season they move into the flooded forest where the forest floor (now the substrate) is soil/mud and leaves. None that I have ever come across occur over gravel. The habitat of any species is an important guide to the requirements of that species, if we want healthy fish. It really cannot get any simpler or plainer.

    Byron.
     
  10. FroFro

    FroFro Mostly New Member

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    I wasn't saying that fine gravel is great for corydora, I was just pointing out that its not always dangerous for them. All cases are different, but I do know it's not in their best interest. I think the reason my gravel doesn't hurt them is because it's not sharp and doesn't cut their undersides. However, as you stated, it does not allow them to forage naturally which is why I want to switch to sand. Oh and another question, can kuhli loaches live in a tank with sand? I think I read about them burrowing into the substrate to hide until they come out to feed? I don't have any kuhli because I wasn't sure of their substrate needs.
     
  11. TekFish

    TekFish Member

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    AFAIK, Kuhlis love some good ol' sand. They burrow and hide and wiggle around in it like little sand-eel fish-worms.
     
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  12. cowgirluntamed

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    Playsand is amazing. Mostly to switch is catch your fish and put them in a bucket. Then switch the gravel over to sand. Now...When I did this in my 20 I did have a small minicycle. But I also broke the tank down to completely clean it and get rid of my pond snail infestation. But I would test it at least everyday after the switch or do some water changes for a few days. Just something to keep in mind! You'll love it!
     
  13. pcmthmes19

    pcmthmes19 Member

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    I've had Kuhli's in sand substrate for about 6 yrs now, and they're totally fine. My Cory's and Botia's love the sand better too.
     
  14. FroFro

    FroFro Mostly New Member

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    How many pounds of sand do I need and how deep should the sand be :|?
     
  15. Byron

    Byron Member

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    It rather depends upon the plants. In most of my tanks I start with around 2 inches of rinsed sand level, then when I aquascape the sand will get pushed more to the back and sides. A depth of 1 inch is fine along the front. If you intend larger sword plants, which have very extensive root systems, you might want a bit more, at least where they will be.

    The tank size isn't mentioned in this thread, so difficult to say how many bags. Play Sand comes in 25kg (= 50 lbs) bags for a few dollars. One of these will do a tank up to approximately 30 by 12 inches surface area. It never hurts to have "extra" though, as you may find a need for a bit more here or there.

    Byron.
     

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