Which substrate and how much!

Laurabhspt

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Hi! I have yo-yo loaches, bristlenose plecs and swordtails. I’m now (finally) able to set up and start cycling my 400lt tank to give them more room (120cmx50cm base area). My question is which substrate is best for these fish and how much of it do i need? I like the idea of sand, and I currently have small gravel… I’ve seen the loaches eat any of the food that sinks, out of the gravel, so does this mean they couldn’t eat off of sand?

I also have no idea how deep it should be and roughly how much I should buy of any substrate. Any help most welcome :). Thankyou!
 
Argos play sand is not only cheap, it is used by several fishkeepers on here. Just make sure to wash it before putting it in the tank as it can be dusty.
 
Hi! I have yo-yo loaches, bristlenose plecs and swordtails. I’m now (finally) able to set up and start cycling my 400lt tank to give them more room (120cmx50cm base area). My question is which substrate is best for these fish and how much of it do i need? I like the idea of sand, and I currently have small gravel… I’ve seen the loaches eat any of the food that sinks, out of the gravel, so does this mean they couldn’t eat off of sand?

I also have no idea how deep it should be and roughly how much I should buy of any substrate. Any help most welcome :). Thankyou!
With loaches, you definitely want a soft sand like play sand.
Do you have plants? The depth also depends on that.
 
With loaches, you definitely want a soft sand like play sand.
Do you have plants? The depth also depends on that.
I did have plants…. I would like plants again… but the loaches ate every. Single. Plant. So don’t know if worth trying that again lol
 
As far as sand go I am not a fan of play sand. Play sand doesn't have any constraints on dust dirt or even particle size and whatever play sand I used has required major cleaning before use to remove the silt and dust, and in some cases dirt from the sand. The best I have found for "Soft" sand is Target Silica Sand 20 to 40 mesh. It is about 2 to 3 times more expensive than but it is still very affordable, but the sand is cleaned much better. This sand is similar to pool filter sand but there are more darker colored pieces that prevent the stark white appearance of pool filter sand. Just my opinion.
 
The OP is in England so that sand is not available here :(
 
Might want to research "infill sand for artificial turf" I see some available but I cannot find the mesh size. There is a large use of silica sand in the UK with sub rounded particles for sports, equestrian, and artificial turf use.
 
Argos play sand is not only cheap, it is used by several fishkeepers on here. Just make sure to wash it before putting it in the tank as it can be dusty.
This may sound like an extremely stupid question….

How do I wash sand? 🤭 the tank I already have was given to me already set up as father in law didn’t want them anymore and had gravel. So this is the first time I’ve set a tank up from scratch
 
If you have an established aquarium with an established biological filter, you don't need to cycle the new tank. Just move the filter from the old tank and put it on/ in the new tank. Then add fish.

If you want to keep both tanks running, take half the filter media from the old filter and put it in the new filter on the new tank. Add fish and monitor ammonia ad nitrite levels for a couple of weeks. No need to cycle tanks if you already have an established one.
 
How do I wash sand?
Put some in a bucket, a couple of inches deep. Run water into the bucket, swooshing the sand round, then empty off the dusty water. Repeat till just about clean, it doesn't need to be perfect. Put that batch of sand to one side then do another and so on.
The gravel I have used in the past was also dusty and needed washing the same way.
 
Ive tried multiple sands from different brands and they all need washing through as do gravels.

Play sand is by far the best sand ive used. Really natural looking and you get alot more for your money.
 
Put some in a bucket, a couple of inches deep. Run water into the bucket, swooshing the sand round, then empty off the dusty water. Repeat till just about clean, it doesn't need to be perfect. Put that batch of sand to one side then do another and so on.
The gravel I have used in the past was also dusty and needed washing the same way.
That's one of those jobs that I figure the more work you put in upfront, then the less you have to do later on. I put a lot of time into washing the sand in my tank. But it pays off when the sand in my tank gets disturbed for some reason. It settles immediately with no lingering cloudiness.
 
I concur with others that soft sand is your only real option here. Some loaches like to burrow to some extent, and if they previously ate plants I will assume they are one of the botine loaches [this means loaches in the genus Botia and related species] and these definitely like burrowing as they play. You also need lots of chunks of wood, and here your best bet is Malaysian Driftwood which is very dark brown and has tunnels and crevices in many of the pieces. I've no idea if it is available in England, but there is probably something similar.

If you could give us the species name we can suggest plant options that are better suited.
 
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I concur with others that soft sand is your only real option here. Some loaches like to burrow to some extent, and if they previously ate plants I will assume they are one of the botine loaches [this means loaches in the genus Botia and related species] and these definitely like burrowing as they play. You also need lots of chunks of wood, and here your best bet is Malaysian Driftwood which is very dark brown and has tunnels and crevices in many of the pieces. I've no idea if it is available in England, but there is probably something similar.

If you could give us the species name we can suggest plant options that are better suited.
I currently have chunks of wood in there, they were very dark when I first put them in and gave off a lot of tannins but that’s now settled with the water changes, and they love to sleep on it, in it, under it, also a couple of ornaments that double up as caves with lots of holes and spaces to hide. They are yo-yo loaches, and I built the wood up in such a way that the plecos would have a cave, but the loaches do love it just as much.

So yeah, any plants which look nice and also are less likely to be eaten by my yo-yo loaches that would also grow well in sand would be ideal. Thankyou so much!
 

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