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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; --> I have HOBs on both of my sand/planted tanks, no issues at all with filter use with sand. On my 29g I have the ...

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Old 06-27-2011, 11:48 AM   #31
 
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I have HOBs on both of my sand/planted tanks, no issues at all with filter use with sand.

On my 29g I have the AquaClear 50 and the Marineland Penguin 150B and havent had any issues with them regarding the sand. I too however, turn off the filters for water changes, but not because of the sand, just easier for me so I dont have to pay attention to if my water gets too low and makes the filters unable to pull water.

On my 15g I have a TopFin 20, and have no issues with it and the sand either. I do NOT turn that filter off during water changes since the intake goes below mid-level in the tank, and I wouldnt do anything near or more than a 50% water change on it, so I have no worries.

I confess as well to buying the $25 bag of "Super Naturals" sand at Petsmart. I had never done sand before at that point, was in a hurry to set up my new tank (15g), and well, could kick myself for overpaying!! I had a rather frustrating experience with that sand getting water clear, an experience I did NOT have when I later switched my 29g to sand using $2.97 playsand from walmart. Both my sand is natural colored, but when I get around to setting my 5g back up for a single dwarf puffer, I plan on doing black sand.

But, yeah, so that's my experience and thoughts on it.
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Old 06-27-2011, 12:27 PM   #32
 
The only problem with sand and filters is that loose sand gets into the impellers and gets caught in impeller and causes damage to the motor, possibly frying it or grinding down the impeller. This is easily avoided as long as

1) the intake is ~1inch or so above the surface of the sand.
2) the substrate is settled when the filter is turned on, filter turned off during times when substrate may be disturbed
3) optional use of a pre-filter sponge will stop sand from getting into the intake.

Additional tips:
1) sand usually comes with much more dust than other larger substrates, the finer the sand, the lighter it is and the more likely they will produce large amounts of dust and potential for getting sucked into the filter. Even after hours of rinsing, most people will find a good amount of dust still with their sand. When you clean the HOB, you can detatch most motors from the housing and rinse it while going over with a small brush to prevent dust buildup that can damage the motor.

2) try and buy heavier sand. In terms of keeping filters in good healthy, sand that stays down is better for the filter. There are different densities for sand so some will stir up quickly and cloud the water while others will get stirred up and settle quickly. If the package is small and heavy, you might be getting less sand for coverage but it will be less easy to stir up.

3) use of water clarifiers. The super naturals, and some other brands include clarifying liquid with their sand. If you do NOT have fish in the tank, this can be used. It will bind to dust particles making them "stick" together and get caught by your filter. This is good for clearing up the leftover dust from the sand without risking damage to the filter. After the water clears, rinse out the filter media and give the filter a quick clean with a brush. Do not do this if you have fish already in the tank, there is a possibility the clarifying liquid may bind to the gills of the fish causing some respiratory problems in the future.
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LasColinasCichlids (06-27-2011)
Old 06-27-2011, 07:05 PM   #33
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SinCrisis View Post
3) optional use of a pre-filter sponge will stop sand from getting into the intake.
An excellent suggestion that also prevents plant parts from clogging the intake (in a planted tank), keeps fry from being "filtered" and adds to the biological filtration capacity of the tank!
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Old 06-27-2011, 08:28 PM   #34
 
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Old 06-28-2011, 08:48 AM   #35
 
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Please add that undergravel filters are absolutely incompatible with sand. It'll simply clog the plates and encourage more anaerobic spots which when disturbed, can potentially poison and kill your fish especially when the level of hydrogen sulfide produced is intolerably high for your fish.
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Old 06-28-2011, 09:34 AM   #36
 
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Good point, Lupin, always good to get your input! Havent seen you around TFK much lately, hope all is well.

I would like to add that although I have limited experience with UGFs, I hear they arent always the best option when having a planted tank.
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Old 06-28-2011, 11:27 AM   #37
 
Does anybody have experience with Corys and either playsand or Pool Filter sand? I'm going to be getting a 55 gallon tonight and taking a few months to build it up but wanted to start gathering information on Corys (and other substrate fish) and their compatibility with sands.

@LasColinas

Somewhere, might even be here I've seen an article written about UGF myths and them not being good with plants. I thought in the end I read that they are find for plants, just not the best solution.
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Old 06-28-2011, 11:37 AM   #38
 
corys love sand, its better for them and tehir barbels. However, they will play in it and kick it up, risky for your filter without a prefilter foam. Playsand is better because it is less course than filter sand, but i think the difference is negligible.
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Old 06-28-2011, 11:42 AM   #39
 
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Originally Posted by TwinDad View Post
Does anybody have experience with Corys and either playsand or Pool Filter sand? I'm going to be getting a 55 gallon tonight and taking a few months to build it up but wanted to start gathering information on Corys (and other substrate fish) and their compatibility with sands.

@LasColinas

Somewhere, might even be here I've seen an article written about UGF myths and them not being good with plants. I thought in the end I read that they are find for plants, just not the best solution.
I have corys in tanks with fine gravel and in tanks with playsand. In 20 years, the fine gravel has never been an issue, though an experienced aquarist did recently tell me that the dwarf species do need sand, so mine are now over sand. The "average" species have gravel. My dwarf loaches (two species) have had fine gravel but last week were moved to the sand tank. My medium loaches are over fine gravel. Playsand seems fine. Pool filter sand might be rougher; if so, that should be avoided.

As for UG filters and plants. While not the best it will work. Sand cannot be used with UG however, as Lupin correctly noted. The problem with UG and plants is the water movement through the substrate. While it is perfectly natural in all natural habitats where plants grow submersed that the water is pulled down into the substrate and then pushed back up through the substrate, due to the warming/cooling effect, this cannot be rapid, and the UG when using powerheads is too fast. The "old" UG with airstones worked better from this aspect. Now, having said that, one can grow plants in tanks with UG filter and powerheads. It is just not the best way to go, according to Karen Randall, Rhonda Wilson, Scott Hieber, and any other planted tank authority you can find.
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Old 06-28-2011, 11:44 AM   #40
 
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Pool filter sand is rather sharp, to prevent caking and channelization in a pool filter. Based on working with both, the play sand is easier on the skin (at least human skin).
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