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Sand vs sand vs sand....

This is a discussion on Sand vs sand vs sand.... within the Beginner Freshwater Aquarium forums, part of the Freshwater Fish and Aquariums category; --> Originally Posted by Fishnerd101 I must have been lucky when I put play sand in my aquarium. I bought it because it was dirt ...

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Sand vs sand vs sand....
Old 12-20-2012, 08:13 AM   #21
 
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Originally Posted by Fishnerd101 View Post
I must have been lucky when I put play sand in my aquarium. I bought it because it was dirt cheap (or maybe sand cheap). I didn't rinse it because I was too lazy and just put it straight into the aquarium. I put a dinner plate in and poured the water on the plate to it from clouding, and the water was perfectly clear.
+1

I use 1" of peat moss, 1" play sand, 1" pc select. and wet each layer then level and clean the tank before adding the next. then plants and finally add water poured over a dish

The tank is almost totally clear right from the start. But then I use no mechanical filter or circulation also. Which helps stuff settle.

no rinsing of any of the layers.


my .02
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Old 12-20-2012, 09:13 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by beaslbob View Post
+1

I use 1" of peat moss, 1" play sand, 1" pc select. and wet each layer then level and clean the tank before adding the next. then plants and finally add water poured over a dish

The tank is almost totally clear right from the start. But then I use no mechanical filter or circulation also. Which helps stuff settle.

no rinsing of any of the layers.


my .02
BBob,

In that order? What are your water parameters when you first put it in and how do they change over time? GH, KH and pH specifically.

I am torn as I would like to put more "stuff" in the substrate but am concerned that things might go out of spec on me and I would be forced to tear it out and start again.... I am considering no fish for certain period anyway so that wouldn't be the end of the world as long as it was quickly apparent that it was not going to fly.

My very first idea, when I knew zippo about this stuff, was that I wanted to have a natural environment with plants, dirt and not so much reliance upon filtration. I quickly realized that this was not easily possible due to the small size of the tank and the likely bio-loading involved.

I figured a sand bottom was a good first start... my LFS sells peat but it's supposed to be for the filter as a media stage so it's probably pretty pricey to put down an inch. I've read about using hardwood forest dirt, that nice rich black stuff when you dig down a bit, as an underlayer... is that similar to the PC select that you refer to?

Jeff.
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Old 12-20-2012, 12:07 PM   #23
 
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BBob,

In that order? What are your water parameters when you first put it in and how do they change over time? GH, KH and pH specifically.

I am torn as I would like to put more "stuff" in the substrate but am concerned that things might go out of spec on me and I would be forced to tear it out and start again.... I am considering no fish for certain period anyway so that wouldn't be the end of the world as long as it was quickly apparent that it was not going to fly.

My very first idea, when I knew zippo about this stuff, was that I wanted to have a natural environment with plants, dirt and not so much reliance upon filtration. I quickly realized that this was not easily possible due to the small size of the tank and the likely bio-loading involved.

I figured a sand bottom was a good first start... my LFS sells peat but it's supposed to be for the filter as a media stage so it's probably pretty pricey to put down an inch. I've read about using hardwood forest dirt, that nice rich black stuff when you dig down a bit, as an underlayer... is that similar to the PC select that you refer to?

Jeff.
Yes in that order from the bottom layer to top or the same order as you add it to the tank.


Just for reverence
here is the peat moss I use (canadian sphagum peat moss):
3.0 cu. ft. Peat Moss-70976040 at The Home Depot

and the pro choice select:
Pro's Choice Products

Parameter wise my water is 4 dkh and 9 degrees gh. With the peat moss both stayed at those levels for 2-3 years. PH rose to 8.4-8.8 (api high range test kit). But that was for my planted tanks that have no mechanical circulation. The high pH means low carbon dioxide. And even fish "requiring" low (under 7) ph values thrived for years.

The pc select is a baked clay so looks more like aquarium gravel.

I have heard of using soil as well. But haven't tried that. I have found that when using smaller bags of peat moss with fertz added you do have much more problems with algae. But even then a few days of lights out and no feeding bring things into line with the thriving plants.

When I used just plain sand guppies did fine but neon tetras no so well. And kH rose to over 20 degress and gh up around 40 degrees over the many years I operated that tank. (8-9)

So I feel the peat helped keep the hardness in line and allowed the more sensitive fish the thrive.


my .02

Last edited by beaslbob; 12-20-2012 at 12:10 PM..
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Old 12-20-2012, 12:15 PM   #24
 
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I'm not going to get into the soil/peat debate, but just point out a couple facts. Whenever you add any of these natural organic substances to the substrate, you are going to impact the biology and the chemistry of the water. That doesn't mean it is not good, or doesn't work--just that things will be impacted. Far differently from a tank with plain fine gravel or sand.

Redchigh has done soil substrate tanks, so he can add more. I have no intention of using soil, simply because I have yet to find any real benefit (reading the works of those who advocate this method), plus there can be serious negatives. I'm simply not prepared to risk my fish just to hopefully have improved plant growth. And frankly I have to question how "improved" it would be anyway.

Redchigh and I exchanged some PM's on this subject not long ago, and as I mentioned then, I have no desire to put my fish at more risk, which means I would use the 6-month settling-in method with no fish, as this is safer. But I am also not willing to set up a tank for 6 months with no fish. Although, I suppose I could experiment with this in my plant-only QT for new fish, since this tank frequently runs for 6+ months without fish before I may buy new fish.

Anyway, just recognize the issues and be prepared. There are many ways to set up a planted tank; most have pros and cons of some sort. Understand them before trying them.

Byron.
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Old 12-20-2012, 01:17 PM   #25
 
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I have a tank with pfs and a fist full of rainbow gravel for color. I have pics of it in tank and granual size in my profile.

It is a good sand for those that don't have fish with barbles as it is corse, but a good for plants as mine thrive in it. It also works well with my current setup. I will be changing it out when I add Cory Cats, but as of now it works great! Yes it needed to be rinsed. Just because it doesn't cloud water, doesn't mean it doesn't need to be cleaned.
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Last edited by Bluewind; 12-20-2012 at 01:22 PM..
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Old 12-20-2012, 02:27 PM   #26
JDM
 
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Originally Posted by Byron View Post
... Anyway, just recognize the issues and be prepared. There are many ways to set up a planted tank; most have pros and cons of some sort. Understand them before trying them.

Byron.
I'll probably go for a more known factor... sand, and skip the extra stuff as my daughter will want to get some fish in there quickly and me deciding to experiment won't likely go over well.

I have a funny feeling that we will end up with another tank and it may be plant only, so I will be able to do some experimentation with water and substrates that way. If it remains stable then fish may end up in there.... maybe I'll add shrimp or something.

I'm currently boiling a funky Malaysian driftwood chunk... needed our largest pot.

Jeff.
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Old 12-20-2012, 04:13 PM   #27
 
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Ah, heck, may as well share my thoughts on the sand issue!

My favorite sand of all? The black "tahitian moon". Downside = almost as expensive as a bag of "ecocomplete"! Why is it my favorite? My observations that the darker substrate intensifies the darkness of the fishes colors.

Playsand? Yep, I have it in multiple tanks. Upside? Really inexpensive, natural color! Downside, fish colors a little washed out with light substrate, fish "poo" shows up a little too well, but I still like it! Does take some washing, but worth the effort to save the $$.

Pool sand? Haven't used it (yet). Upside not too expensive, easy to find if you have a pool filter you need to replace the sand in! Downside (possibly) - may be very white and microscopically "sharp". Old pool filter sand is usually replaced due the the smoothing and wearing of the sand grains (they compact together, causing channeling in the pool filter). New pool sand reportedly is "sharper" than some other sands. Of course, using old pool sand removes the issue of sharp edges on the sand grains.

I think you are fine either way. I wash all substrate material before it goes in my tank, just in case. Play sand quality varies greatly, some requires a lot more washing.
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Old 12-21-2012, 06:43 AM   #28
 
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Ah, heck, may as well share my thoughts on the sand issue!

My favorite sand of all? The black "tahitian moon". Downside = almost as expensive as a bag of "ecocomplete"! Why is it my favorite? My observations that the darker substrate intensifies the darkness of the fishes colors.
i have thought about this moon sand. do you have MTS? or anything to turn it over? would that even work since it compacts so well?

my niece has soem of that stuff and as soon as i touched it i thought...man this would look good in an aquarium. lol.

all of my sand tanks also have MTS to turn the sand over and to prevent the gas pockets.
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Old 12-21-2012, 10:02 AM   #29
 
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I have lots of MTS and lots of plants. I don't think the tahitian moon sand is any worse than play sand for compaction issues. I don't worry about the hydrogen sulfide issue, except where black sand shows on the tank glass. That, I agitate during weekly water changes. I have good filter current flow, which should minimize any gas-release issues from the substrate, my plants really don't like having their roots disrupted on a regular basis, and as Byron has posted elsewhere, there is evidence that anaerobic pockets might not be all bad (at least for plants)! Note, I do like a thick substrate since I have lots of sword plants.
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Old 12-21-2012, 03:59 PM   #30
 
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Umm what's this about black sand? I def have some
Showing on the glass...is that bad? What should I do about it?
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