I used to hate sand. I hated it because I was scared to use it. I was like those rambling idiots on cable news who use fake outrage in order to cover up their ignorance. Unlike those like Bill O'Reilly and Keith Olbermann, I can now admit my insecurities and ignorance.
My wife talked me into finally trying sand. We researched and priced all sorts of sand. Again, I was scared and ignorant. We decided on pool filter sand. One problem, our local stores were either sold out (summer time in Florida), or the sand was some weird orange color. We bought play sand (silica sand) instead.
I know some have a problem with play sand, but the majority I've talked to and read about love it. Let me tell you, I went overboard on cleaning the sand. I rinsed it for 12 hours. No joke, 12 hours. I filled up a bucket with sand and water, swirled the sand around, let it sit, poured the water out and did that more times that I can remember. I the left he hose in the tank for 30 minutes while the water poured over the top of the bucket. I used a sifter and combed that sand. I picked out the undesirable bits with my fingers. I put it in a pillowcase with a water hose tied to it and treated it like a filter. I rinsed in the buckets again. I finally drained all the water again and added treated water and let it sit for an hour. I drained it again and was ready to add it to my tank.
Yep, I was insane. I went overboard. That being said, I have the worlds cleanest sand. I had a large bucket ready for my fish to go in while I switched the substrate and cleaned the tank. I put one of my two filters from my 29 gallon on the bucket along with a heater. I put the fish in there and was off the the races.
I took out the gravel, added the sand and slowly added the water. I was prepared for a cloudy tank filled with sand. I knew I would have to wait an hour before turning on my filter while the sand settled. Turns out, there was no sand kick-up. No cloudiness. Just pure crystal clear water and beautiful sand.
Once the levels tested correctly (which was on the very first test) and the water was to temperature, I put my fish friends back in their home.
THEY LOVED IT. It was like Christmas morning. The cory cats (who should have been in sand anyway) had a ball. I mean they were playing, sifting, and loving life. The other fish loved it as well. They kicked it up with their tails and a few even seemed to roll around in it(in a fish way).
I did this a few days ago, and it only gets better. My tank is cleaner (believe it or not). All the poo seems to get kicked up by the fish and just filters away. I'm hard pressed to even find any poo on the sand floor. I've continued to have crystal clear water. My fish actually seem happier (especially the cory cats). I even added more cory cats to my brood (emerald/green corys). My levels are all perfect. I make sure to test constantly, but I've had ZERO problems since moment one.
Yep, I've seen the light. I'm now a 100% sand convert. Gravel will never touch my tanks again.
The question my pop up, so I'll just answer that now. I've researched and seen tutorials on how to clean the tank with sand in it and vacuum the bottom, ext. I'll be sure to follow the proper cleaning routine (including turning off my tanks when cleaning).