Sand vs gravel
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Sand vs gravel

This is a discussion on Sand vs gravel within the Beginner Freshwater Aquarium forums, part of the Freshwater Fish and Aquariums category; --> Currently I have a 10gallon, anubias plants, driftwood moss, African dwarf frog 2 platties, heater at 80degrees, filter, and fluorescent lighting. I am not ...

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Old 04-23-2013, 10:00 AM   #1
 
Sand vs gravel

Currently I have a 10gallon, anubias plants, driftwood moss, African dwarf frog 2 platties, heater at 80degrees, filter, and fluorescent lighting.

I am not liking the gravel. I was told that Sand was more of a hassle than gravel was. I thought sand would look nicer and have a more peaceful feel to the tank. Can someone tell me the pros and cons in detail for sand vs gravel? Also would swapping substrate mess up the nitrogen cycle? The tank is only 3 weeks old. How would you swap it correctly without hurting the cycle too much?
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Old 04-23-2013, 11:14 AM   #2
 
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Sand is very easy to maintain... Once you know how. As with anything, there is a learning curve. Cleaning (vacuuming) sand is a finess job, while gravel is rather brutish. People tend to freak out about sucking out some sand, which I've never understood. It's just sand - you can always add more.

Once your tank is well established, it's all but bullet proof. Because the tank is so new, I would not suggest making any changes. When the time comes, you can remove the gravel a little at a time until its all gone, then just add the sand. That will give the bacteria in the filter a chance to pick up the slack.
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Old 04-23-2013, 03:38 PM   #3
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaysee View Post
Sand is very easy to maintain... Once you know how. As with anything, there is a learning curve. Cleaning (vacuuming) sand is a finess job, while gravel is rather brutish. People tend to freak out about sucking out some sand, which I've never understood. It's just sand - you can always add more.

Once your tank is well established, it's all but bullet proof. Because the tank is so new, I would not suggest making any changes. When the time comes, you can remove the gravel a little at a time until its all gone, then just add the sand. That will give the bacteria in the filter a chance to pick up the slack.
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Old 04-23-2013, 03:51 PM   #4
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Yah, sand lets most of the detritus stay where you can suck it off easily... on the surface of the sand. Gravel lets it get down between everything. Once you get things balanced and going there may come a point where vaccing the sand becomes unnecessary... I haven't vacuumed in over a month now as there is nothing to suck up as long as I remove the worst of any dead foliage before it turns to mush... just water changes.

The key to sand is getting it rinsed off first though or your water will get cloudy from all the fine particulates. Just hitting it with a hose in a pail a few pounds at a time then pouring off the dirty water works well, repeat until the water runs clear and then do some more. For a 10 gallon you don't need much.

While I sort of agree with Jaysee, I think changing this out before you get any fish in place would be best though.

Edit: If it were me I would remove the gravel, add the sand and a few more plants and not even worry about the cycle... but that's just me.

Jeff.

Last edited by JDM; 04-23-2013 at 03:56 PM..
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Old 04-23-2013, 03:52 PM   #5
 
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if your already cycleing I would hold off and wait for the cycle to complete. do it now your going to get a prolonged cycle compared to a mini weekish long cycle if you wait.
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Old 04-23-2013, 03:53 PM   #6
 
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Originally Posted by jaysee View Post
Sand is very easy to maintain... Once you know how. As with anything, there is a learning curve. Cleaning (vacuuming) sand is a finess job, while gravel is rather brutish. People tend to freak out about sucking out some sand, which I've never understood. It's just sand - you can always add more.

Once your tank is well established, it's all but bullet proof. Because the tank is so new, I would not suggest making any changes. When the time comes, you can remove the gravel a little at a time until its all gone, then just add the sand. That will give the bacteria in the filter a chance to pick up the slack.



+1 here with the bold and underlined, whole reply but especially the bold underlined
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Old 04-23-2013, 04:54 PM   #7
 
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Originally Posted by Tarutan View Post
Currently I have a 10gallon, anubias plants, driftwood moss, African dwarf frog 2 platties, heater at 80degrees, filter, and fluorescent lighting.

I am not liking the gravel. I was told that Sand was more of a hassle than gravel was. I thought sand would look nicer and have a more peaceful feel to the tank. Can someone tell me the pros and cons in detail for sand vs gravel? Also would swapping substrate mess up the nitrogen cycle? The tank is only 3 weeks old. How would you swap it correctly without hurting the cycle too much?

I had multi colored gravel for a while, but i changed to playsand The tank does look much better!

Pro's Fish seem to have more color and are happier, easy to clean.

Cons harder to keep plants from floating away lol.
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Old 04-23-2013, 04:56 PM   #8
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...
Cons harder to keep plants from floating away lol.
That just means more play time in the sand... that's not a bad thing... is it?

Jeff.
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Old 04-23-2013, 05:02 PM   #9
 
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That just means more play time in the sand... that's not a bad thing... is it?

Jeff.
It's not to bad, I added more sand and it helps alot but my cory loves to dig under the plants.
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Old 04-23-2013, 10:05 PM   #10
 
I switched to [pool filter] sand a year ago and I'm very glad I did. It's too easy for uneaten food and detritus to get down in the gravel and decay. It requires routine gravel siphoning to prevent the nitrogenous waste from producing excess nitrates. With sand, everything stays on top and either slowly decomposes and/or is easily siphoned off during the weekly water change.
Be careful not to get too fine a grain sized sand as this can pack and is not a good substrate for rooted plants. It also can present other problems if there are digging fish and too much current. As I mentione I used pool filter sand, but many members here report success with regular play sand from the big box store.
Also, as others have mentioned, make sure you wash/rinse the sand very well to remove 'fines' (dust like particles of sand). The easiest way I think is a 5g bucket outside with a hose. Put a couple of good handfuls in the bucket, fire the hose in, let settle just a bit, pour off and repeat until clear.
As to your existing gravel, when I did mine, I removed abut 10g (60g tank) of water, I moved the fish temporarily into a 5g bucket, scooped the gravel, then added the sand, decor and fish.
You might want to bag some gravel for the biology and leave in the tank for a week or two.

Keep us posted.

Edit: going back to your original post, I realize the tank is only 3 weeks in so preserving the gravel as I suggested won't make much difference. Sorry for any confusion.

Last edited by AbbeysDad; 04-23-2013 at 10:17 PM..
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