White sand

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MojoFish

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White sand has one drawback...it can affect the fish. This is why I use Quikrete Play Sand, it comes in two shades, a "natural" tan colour, and a dark grey. I have the latter because that is what Home Depot here carries. The grey is a mix of black, white, grey, beige...and I have never had it "look" dirty even in my cory tank of 40 cories poking into it continually, and I never "clean" the substrate in their tank, they keep house very well!

There are ways to lessen the detrimental effect of white sand on fish, such as using a lot of hardscape and dried leaves to cover it, and reduced overhead light (this reflects off white sand) with floating plants.
Do you mean the white sand is too bright and stressed the fish? If so I’m out as I don’t want that
 

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I have lots of plants and large driftwood in my white sanded 29 gallon tank to help alleviate the "brightness" of my pool filter sand substrate.
 

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I love the look of white, pool filter, sand in the tank, but when I had it in my 60 gallon tank I found my fish never seemed to develop any color. On the other hand I had the best success with Corys using the pool filter sand, the grains were nice and smooth and the corys seemed to love that substrate. I switched to Black Florite Sand, I found it showed as much dirt as the white sand and seemed to discolor the water, additionally the bottom dwellers seemed to really dislike the florite, and I had to move the corys to another tank because the florite seemed to erode their barbels. I am now using Tropica aquarium soil it seems pretty good overall but I believe it adds a lot of organics into the system so I am on the fence with it now as well.

If I was to do it again, which I likely will, I would go with a mixed color sand similar to what @PheonixKingZ shows in the picture above, though I would try to get something with rounder grains. Either locally collected or playground sand.

I do agree with @Byron states about the white sands affect on the fish. I haven't seen a natural freshwater fish environment that has such a light substrate. Most fish receive comfort from dark areas, if the substrate is darker it seems to me that the fish hide less frequently.
 

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Fish feel insecure when swimming over,not just white sand,but any light coloured substrate as they become an easy target for predation from above.Your fish might never have seen a bird,but it’s instinctive.
 
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MojoFish

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I love the look of white, pool filter, sand in the tank, but when I had it in my 60 gallon tank I found my fish never seemed to develop any color. On the other hand I had the best success with Corys using the pool filter sand, the grains were nice and smooth and the corys seemed to love that substrate. I switched to Black Florite Sand, I found it showed as much dirt as the white sand and seemed to discolor the water, additionally the bottom dwellers seemed to really dislike the florite, and I had to move the corys to another tank because the florite seemed to erode their barbels. I am now using Tropica aquarium soil it seems pretty good overall but I believe it adds a lot of organics into the system so I am on the fence with it now as well.

If I was to do it again, which I likely will, I would go with a mixed color sand similar to what @PheonixKingZ shows in the picture above, though I would try to get something with rounder grains. Either locally collected or playground sand.

I do agree with @Byron states about the white sands affect on the fish. I haven't seen a natural freshwater fish environment that has such a light substrate. Most fish receive comfort from dark areas, if the substrate is darker it seems to me that the fish hide less frequently.
That’s true outside of a topical marine beach you don’t get it so you are right it’s probably a bad idea
 
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Fish feel insecure when swimming over,not just white sand,but any light coloured substrate as they become an easy target for predation from above.Your fish might never have seen a bird,but it’s instinctive.
Very good point
 

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Hi! I have pale pool filter sand in my 55 gallon tank and Caribsea super naturals crystal river in my 10 gallon tank. Here are photos for reference. I personally feel like the caribsea sand is a little bright but not too bad. I love the pool filter sand, but it does come with some random color little flecks mixed in
CC281010-768E-4FE2-B8CE-47512E0CEDC3.jpeg
053B77C3-A761-4C18-8422-6F1101BAD1EE.jpeg
 
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MojoFish

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Hi! I have pale pool filter sand in my 55 gallon tank and Caribsea super naturals crystal river in my 10 gallon tank. Here are photos for reference. I personally feel like the caribsea sand is a little bright but not too bad. I love the pool filter sand, but it does come with some random color little flecks mixed inView attachment 136221View attachment 136222
Amazing photos thanks!

I am definitely going to go more natural and a bit darker which sounds better than unatural pure white sand for the fish’s well-being .
 

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Do you mean the white sand is too bright and stressed the fish? If so I’m out as I don’t want that
White or light coloured substrates reflect light back up at the fish and this stresses them out. A brown, grey or black substrate is better for most fish because it doesn't reflect light.

You can reduce the problem by having floating plants or lots of plants, wood and rock in the tank to minimise the reflective area of sand. You can also put leaves on the bottom (depending on what fish you are keeping).
 

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White or light coloured substrates reflect light back up at the fish and this stresses them out. A brown, grey or black substrate is better for most fish because it doesn't reflect light.
Then why do most saltwater tanks have white sand? Is it different for saltwater fish?
 
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MojoFish

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Then why do most saltwater tanks have white sand? Is it different for saltwater fish?
I guess they are most used to it being in shallow bays with sun and sand? I guess most tropical fish maybe like the plants and muddy sub strait and waters?
 

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Do you mean the white sand is too bright and stressed the fish? If so I’m out as I don’t want that

Yes, there is evidence that fish are "bothered" by a white substrate. As an aquarist, I am too for that matter...whenever I see a tank in the store with white sand, the glare of the tank light bothers me as it distracts the eye. I can only imagine what the fish feel since their light sensitivity occurs not just through the eyes but every cell on their body externally is light sensitive. And we know that they will "lighten" in an attempt to better blend in, or darken in reverse, so no one can seriously doubt that the substrate white does have an impact. How far this goes with respect to stress I cannot say, but eliminating/reducing any probable stress is or should be our goal. And the natural habitat should be our guide to the aquascaping as much as possible to achieve this goal.
 

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I love the look of white, pool filter, sand in the tank, but when I had it in my 60 gallon tank I found my fish never seemed to develop any color. On the other hand I had the best success with Corys using the pool filter sand, the grains were nice and smooth and the corys seemed to love that substrate. I switched to Black Florite Sand, I found it showed as much dirt as the white sand and seemed to discolor the water, additionally the bottom dwellers seemed to really dislike the florite, and I had to move the corys to another tank because the florite seemed to erode their barbels. I am now using Tropica aquarium soil it seems pretty good overall but I believe it adds a lot of organics into the system so I am on the fence with it now as well.

If I was to do it again, which I likely will, I would go with a mixed color sand similar to what @PheonixKingZ shows in the picture above, though I would try to get something with rounder grains. Either locally collected or playground sand.

I do agree with @Byron states about the white sands affect on the fish. I haven't seen a natural freshwater fish environment that has such a light substrate. Most fish receive comfort from dark areas, if the substrate is darker it seems to me that the fish hide less frequently.

Several good pints in this post. Re the sand, have a look in Home Depot or Lowe's locally (we are both in BC); I use Quikrete Play Sand which both carry, and in our part of the continent they seem to carry the dark grey. I changed all my tanks over to this some 8 or 9 years ago on the advice of Heiko Bleher, and have never regretted it. I contacted Quikrete and discussed their processing--play sand is, because of its intended use by kids, processed the longest of all their industrial sands (all the others are rougher and coarser) and after they have thoroughly rinsed out the machine. Play sand can get in the eyes, ears and mouth, and even swallowed by kids, hence the care they use. No additives, and smooth, so ideal for aquaria with substrate fish like the cories.

Flourite is dangerous for substrate fish, as is Eco-Complete; I used Flourite some 10 years ago in one tank, before I knew about the cory issues with this stuff, and within a week my group of panda and similis cories had short barbels, and one panda even had about 1/4 of its lower jaw missing and bloody. I moved them to the tank with play sand and all recovered and are still with me; the "lopsided" panda is comical, but seems to have managed once he healed up. Catfish importers and breeders have since told me never to put catifsh over these or any so-called "plant" substrates, and Ian Fuller has repeated that warning, adding that there is also the bacteria problems you allude to with the organics comment. I listen and learn from such individuals.

Lastly, I have clearly observed the fish colour response to the substrate and overhead cover...one reason all my tanks have good floating plants as well as moderate (some would say low) lighting, sufficient for the plant species that work in this.
 

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