03-16-2008, 02:56 AM
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The dangers of using sand can be lessened by performing more substrate stirs or "deep sweeps". This loosens the substrate and makes it more difficult for pockets to form. However, this only increases maintainence. Some are OK with the trade off. But, constant "stirs" are not good for the roots of the plants as it breaks them off and damages them. These roots not only anchor the plant, but also are the viaduct for nutrition for the plant.
It has also been studied and recorded that darker substrate calms fish. It has been cited in such magazines as Tropical Fish Hobbiest, probably the premier magazine in the hobby. Many "how-to" books, and beginner books, also cite the use of darker substrates.
I do agree that sand looks good in many tanks. I actually use sand in some of my African Cichlid tanks(EcoComplete For Cichlids). The darker color does not wash out the fish and provides a darker environment enhancing the brilliant colors of these fish. These tanks also are higher maintainence, getting weekly "stirs".
It is not a bad thing to use sand if one is willing to accept its drawbacks.