06-29-2009, 02:07 PM
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Jeaninel is correct, do not use marine or reef sand in a FW tank. It raises pH, adds minerals (some will) and is counter to good plant growth should you be thinking of plants at some point.
On the cleaning issue, a python will suck up sand so you need to run it slightly above the sand surface when vacuuming the sand substrate. That means you can't get down into the substrate like you can with gravel, so you have to be careful not to allow the sand to compact which it will naturally do if left undisturbed (as will gravel). Compaction causes anaerobic conditions in sand or gravel, but the risk is higher with sand. There are differing opinions on the detrimental effects this can have, but it is a biological and chemical fact that it does occur. Some exists in every aquarium and plant roots make use of it as do anaerobic bacteria, but it can be more prevalent in sand. Keeping the sand thin (in depth) and stirring it can prevent trouble. Peter Hiscock has a good section on all this in his excellent book "An Encyclopedia of Aquarium Plants," and Karen Randall, Rhonda Wilson and many other plant experts have written on this previously in AFI and TFH.