Sand in freshwater tank? - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 21 Old 08-04-2009, 07:41 PM Thread Starter
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Sand in freshwater tank?

I was wondering if it is okay to have sand in a freshwater tank. I've never tried it, but I've always wanted to. Does it work, or do you have to have a special filtration system? If I could have it, is there anything I need to know before doing it?
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post #2 of 21 Old 08-04-2009, 07:47 PM
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Yeah lots of people have sand in freshwater tanks. Make sure not to use an undergravel filter! Use a strong filter and while siphoning the tank, keep it above the sand not in it.

One 29 Gallon - Lots of Fish
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post #3 of 21 Old 08-04-2009, 08:15 PM
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I have sand in a couple of my tanks and love the look of it. Make sure you do not use a marine sand as that will affect the Ph of your water. Buy a sand specifically for freshwater or you can use play sand (from Lowes or Home Depot, etc.). Make sure to rinse it really well before using it. They do sell a sand for African cichlids and that will increase your Ph also.

Also, make sure your filter intake is a few inches above the sand so none gets sucked into the filter where it may jam your impeller. Turn your filter off when doing water changes. Stir your sand every once in awhile with a chopstick or plastic fork to dispel any gas pockets.

150 Gallon - Mostly American Cichlids
135 Gallon - Angelfish Community
75 Gallon - Odd couple (Polleni/Angelfish)
55 Gallon - African tank
20 Gallon Long - QT
10 Gallon - Empty
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post #4 of 21 Old 08-04-2009, 09:39 PM Thread Starter
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Wow, okay! Thanks guys :D That is so good to hear!
And, thanks for the tips, too.
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post #5 of 21 Old 08-04-2009, 09:42 PM Thread Starter
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Oh yeah, can I have live plants in the sand??
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post #6 of 21 Old 08-05-2009, 12:03 AM
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Absolutely. I do and I'm really happy with it, and the plants seem happy too. I do use liquid ferts & root tabs to supplement their growth, along with good lighting. Not sure if you need more detail on that but there's plenty of info on those points in the threads that have been posted as of late. (Thank you Byron )

If you don't stand up for something you'll fall for anything...
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post #7 of 21 Old 08-05-2009, 02:30 AM
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You can do just about anything your heart desires in a tank, just ask yourself one question, how will this change the quality of my water? If you look at my profile you can see my pictures of my two tanks one I finished today.

One has a lighter sand, the other a darker sand. I use drift wood that has been (ironically ) sand blasted. The lighter sand I use is actually sand blasting sand (not glass beads or black diamond cut) I got mine from Tractor Depot when they have it. It's a whiter sand and easily washable. I use slate from a local roofing company drill holes in it, and attach the drift wood with screws, I just cover the slate with sand. The darker tank is just mortar sand used for mixing concrete I like the texture of it better than the play sand and it has small pebbles in it. I got that at Lowes just down from the play sand. Rinse this stuff out.

I also use a multitude of easy growing plants. Some floating some rooted. I like to keep my tanks somewhat natural looking. But it's up to you, how you want to design and place your tank items. Plant cover fish love it, and so do fry. If you don't have live plants fake ones are good too, and yes they look different in the water than they do in the package.

My first setup I used stone from our local creek, I used mainly the smaller stone, and no I didn't wash it, as the stone itself will already contain some of the basic bacteria needed to start or cycle a tank, just watch out for lime stone, it will change your water levels. ( I don't recommend this process if you are in a hurry to get nice fish in there, it takes some time to get the levels to settle and the tank to cycle)

I've only started myself in the aquatic hobby, not only is it fun, but it's very relaxing. Just remember we all loose some fish, but once you get the simple stuff down, you just move on to more adventurous tanks. Hope this helps you out some, I'm by no means an expert, but from what I've learned from other's on the forums, and my good friend Mac, I've only lost one adult fish so far.
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post #8 of 21 Old 08-07-2009, 10:57 PM Thread Starter
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You guys are awesome :D
I looked for play sand, but it all comes in 50 lb bags! I really don't need nearly that much. What do y'all think of this- Caribsea Super Natural, Torpedo Beach Sand 20lb: Pet Supplies

Read the product description. It sounds good to me, but I wanted your opinions before I got it :)
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post #9 of 21 Old 08-08-2009, 10:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Vinswald View Post
You guys are awesome :D
I looked for play sand, but it all comes in 50 lb bags! I really don't need nearly that much. What do y'all think of this- Caribsea Super Natural, Torpedo Beach Sand 20lb: Pet Supplies

Read the product description. It sounds good to me, but I wanted your opinions before I got it :)
I had assumed this would be marine (salt water) sand and therefore not useable for freshwater, but according to the information on the website it is totally inert and suitable for freshwater tanks. That being the case, it will work. They say there are different colours, so I would definitely choose a darker natural looking sand colour, because plants look better against a darker substrate (and background), and depending upon the fish you intend to keep they usually look better with a darker substrate because they feel more secure and their natural colours are usually darker as a result. I have found this with gravel, the same characins (tetras) and corys in a tank with pale buff-coloured gravel that were moved to a tank with dark gravel showed a significant colour change to their natural darker hue; not surprising, since these fish come from waters with dark substrates (generally). SA fish and SE Asian fish all do better with darker substrates; they come from naturally dark waters and thus exhibit better colouration when provided an environment that more closely replicates the natural habitat.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]

Last edited by Byron; 08-08-2009 at 10:33 AM.
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post #10 of 21 Old 08-08-2009, 11:23 AM
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I switched to sand in all my tanks. I have pool filter sand in my 55 gal. tank. You can get this at a pool supply store. I paid $11.99 for a 25lb. I bought mine at Lesles pool supply. This sand is great it's a courser sand and looks a tannish white color. Because the sand is course it is easy to clean. When I get algae on the top I just rub it between my hands. I does need alot of rinsing out but to me it was worth the look I got. The water will be cloudy for a day or two but with a filter pad rinsed out every day for a few days and when the sand settles the water will clear up.Any sand left can be sold on craigslist. I was able to sell about 10lbs that was left. All my smaller tanks and shrimp tanks have black sand. I will never go back to gravel again because I love the look. Corys and bottom dwellers love the sand also.
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