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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; --> When I bought my 15g tank and took my first jump into sand as my substrate I paid $25 (well, my husband paid for ...

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Old 06-18-2011, 12:27 AM   #21
LasColinasCichlids's Avatar
Thumbs up Sand

When I bought my 15g tank and took my first jump into sand as my substrate I paid $25 (well, my husband paid for it) for the naturals brand natural colored sand at petsmart. I LOVE the look of it, and it seemed as though the maintenance on the 15g was so much easier than that of my older gravel substrate 29g tank. So I eventually decided to do the change and switch the 29g tank from gravel to sand and plant it. Instead of expensive sand, i went to Walmart and got a 50lbs bag of "natural play sand" for $2.97!

I love the look of the sand, my plants LOVE the sand. For moving the sand around in the 29g I have about a dozen trumpet snails, and for the same purpose in my 15g I have 10 black kuhli loaches.

Sand has made my life easier, and my tanks look so much nicer. My bottom dwellers and plants appreciate the sand. My tanks seem healthier with sand verses gravel, as debris doesnt hide in my sand like it can in gravel.

When I need to vacuum the bottom of the tank, I use my old gravel vac and I actually put it right up and over the sand, occasionally even pushing the vac 1/4" into the sand, to get debris, food, and what not up...and I never have but maybe a total of a 1/2 of a teaspoon of sand in the bucket after I do a 30% water change with the gravel vac. (That is with the 29g tank, I approach the 15 gallon differently because it is more heavily planted and the loaches are very active and my betta is overly friendly, lol.)

Just wanted to add my 2 cents.
As for plants, I have had the best luck using stem plants (wisteria, moneywort, brazillian pennywort), planted in the sand, as their roots are generally on their stems. I do have other rooted plants that seem to do wonderful in the sand (amazon swords, java ferns, melon sword, corkscrew sword, dwarf SAG, crypt wendtii). The only plants I have had that use to be in the gravel in the 29g are crypt wendtii, and they are now in the sand in the 15g and are doing wonderfully!!!
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Old 06-26-2011, 06:09 PM   #22
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What has been your experience with sand and filtration? Do you need a special filtration system?
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Old 06-26-2011, 06:16 PM   #23
for under ground or HOB of canister... I have a canister and it does fine.
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Old 06-26-2011, 06:29 PM   #24
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Well, I have an aquaclear, and someone told me sand just destroys over the back filters...
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Old 06-26-2011, 06:32 PM   #25
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So I was just wondering if this was true and I'd have to buy a whole new filter...
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Old 06-26-2011, 06:58 PM   #26
Don't forget to answer GodMadeFish's question, don't want to bump him.

From a financial stand point, It is smarter to buy a 100lb bag of sand from Menards then a 20lb bag from petsmart. However the bags of sand you can buy from your LFS offers nutrient enriched sand. Is there a way to make the 100lb bags of Menards sand nutrient enriched and still save money while obtaining the same beneficial effect?
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Old 06-26-2011, 07:42 PM   #27
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I use a HOB and it's fine with sand, just let the sand settle overnight before turning it on. I have black sand in a 10 gallon and love it. Once it settles, it doesn't really ever "stir up" like you think it might. My tank was cloudy about 8 hours and then crystal-clear. Very easy to plant in, much easier than the ecocomplete in my other tank. My MTS snails love it as do my plecos. If you don't want a HOB, you can eventually upgrade to a canister. Either way, the trick is to not let sand get to the impeller (clogs it and scores the plastic housing or tears up the impeller).

I confess to buying a 20lb bag of the black sand from Petsmart, it was a convenience thing and I really like the way black sets off the plants and fish. Don't care for the white/"natural" color sand personally.

Last edited by DKRST; 06-26-2011 at 07:44 PM..
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Old 06-26-2011, 09:53 PM   #28
I also use 2 hob's on my 55gl tank..Honestly never had a problem but I am also preventative. I turn them off during water changes or any tank keeping and I do NOT turn them on till my water change is done and the sand is calm and if you vacuum fill like I do the sand never get out of control. I could see how they could get ruined by not using common sense so other that go for it. I'm sure there are some large fish that like to dig or stir up the sand so if you have a large Pleco or something that enjoys up rooting plants then there's a chance of sand getting worked into your filter and that would be bad.
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Old 06-27-2011, 09:24 AM   #29
Or just toss a prefilter sponge onto the intake of the HOB and that should prevent any sand from getting in as well if you are worried about it.
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Old 06-27-2011, 10:37 AM   #30
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