sand or gravel? - Page 2 - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #11 of 15 Old 05-05-2012, 10:13 AM
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Defiantly pool filter sand. I had a bad experience with play sand. I bought a bag of play sand, rinsed it well and put in in the tank and filled with water and it was so cloudy. Not sure what was in the sand but I'll never use play sand again. Pick up a bag of pool filter sand at a pool store and you'll be happy with your decision.
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post #12 of 15 Old 05-05-2012, 10:23 AM
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Either sand or gravel can work very well once we rule out extremes. For instance, pea sized gravel looks great but just isn't a good substrate because food gets too quickly is out of reach and plants don't root well. Sand is great except glaring white and black may be less than desirable. Personally, I like small natural gravel or tan colored sand.

Now for sand, whether play sand or pool filter sand, make sure you rinse well - and I'm talking bucket and hose rinsing outside (cool beverage optional). You really want to rinse it really, really well to remove the 'fines' (dust like particles) lest you'll be fighting cloudy water after it's in the tank.

As for cleaning, unless heavily planted, fine gravel may require the occasional gravel siphon cleaning. For sand, it's merely a hover over method as needed. Also for sand, some feel it needs to be stirred. I think if you have some Malasian Trumpet Snails to stir the upper inch (or stir the upper inch during weekly water changes) your fine. Again, moot if the tank is heavily planted. And don't worry about anaerobic regions down under as they are inevitable and not the concern some seem to think. (It's actually stirring detritus deep into anaerobic regions that can present a problem.)

So there you go...sand or fine gravel. Both work well. In some ways, sand may have a slight edge.
I'd even go as far as saying, you may not have to clean the pool filter sand. I didnt, and my tank never clouded up. If you are precautious one, then go for it. But be sure to use the plate method in filling up your tank, so the water pressure doesnt stir the sand around (which will cause cloudy water). With play sand tho, there is no getting around it, you will have to rinse, and rinsing play sand is tedious and a pain.

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post #13 of 15 Old 05-05-2012, 10:30 AM
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I love the ultra fine gravel. In my LFS they call it "mesh" and it looks like either large grain sand or very small gravel. I think it looks very natural and river-bottom-ish. :) I have a densely planted tank so I don't suck it up all that much when I clean - I focus on the stuff on the very top layer.

Edit: Mine is mixed with Flourite (for the plants), which is the larger clay-colored bits you'll see. It's fine enough that my apistos can siphon through it like they love to do for food. My goby has also buried himself in it once in awhile. I think unless you have pygmy cories, it should be fine for fish that like to sift substrate.
Here's a visual with kuhlis for scale.



Here's the RZA sifting - his favorite activity.



I'm happy to show more photos if it would help you with your decision.

Last edited by magpie; 05-05-2012 at 10:41 AM.
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post #14 of 15 Old 05-05-2012, 11:18 AM
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I'd even go as far as saying, you may not have to clean the pool filter sand. I didnt, and my tank never clouded up. If you are precautious one, then go for it. But be sure to use the plate method in filling up your tank, so the water pressure doesnt stir the sand around (which will cause cloudy water). With play sand tho, there is no getting around it, you will have to rinse, and rinsing play sand is tedious and a pain.
Not all pool filter sand is created equally. Last year I replaced the sand in my pool filter. After the filter ran for an hour, the filter was plugged. When I backflushed, the cloud of fines was substantial. After another hour, the filter was plugged again. Another backflush produced another cloud of fines. It began running normally after 3 or 4 backflushes.
I had bags left over I decided to clean for future aquarium use. It was similarly full of very fine particles that got flushed out.
You may have had higher quality, but my advice is to rinse any substrate before using as it just isn't worth the trouble if you don't.

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post #15 of 15 Old 05-06-2012, 12:21 AM
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You may have had higher quality, but my advice is to rinse any substrate before using as it just isn't worth the trouble if you don't.
ABSOLUTELY. Pool filter sand needs to be washed like anything else. Even if it says it's been pre- washed. Really, pre-washed doesn't mean ANYTHING, because whether or not it's been "washed" has nothing to do with whether it's been washed well enough. I, for one, am not going to take any company's word for it, as their standards are likely to not be on par with mine.

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