Substrate Question
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Substrate Question

This is a discussion on Substrate Question within the Beginner Freshwater Aquarium forums, part of the Freshwater Fish and Aquariums category; --> Hello everyone, I'm new to the forum and already I can see that it will be by best "tank-side" resource! I'll have to restrain ...

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Old 08-05-2010, 12:40 AM   #1
 
Substrate Question

Hello everyone,

I'm new to the forum and already I can see that it will be by best "tank-side" resource! I'll have to restrain myself from reading every single post, since it's already 12:30 AM and tomorrow will arrive bright and early.

My question is this: years ago I used to keep cory cats in my 25 gal aquarium with gravel as a substrate, but it was not good for them. I noticed after a few years their barbels wore down. This was actually horribly traumatic for me because I felt so guilty. Anyways, I am re-starting my aquarium after a hiatus and this time around I would like to use sand as a substrate. Corys are my favorite fish and I can't imagine a tank without them.

I am thinking of a sand that is also good for freshwater plants, like Seachem Flourite or something like it. My problem is that my tank sits on a cabinet and the bottom 2 inches of the tank are not visible (the cabinet has a 2-inch-high edge). I have read that sand substrate is best kept to a max depth of 1.5 inches, but I want to be able to see the sandy bottom.

Any suggestions of what I should do? Maybe slip a piece of something under the tank so that more of the bottom is visible? Or would that make the tank unstable?

Also, any other suggestions about sandy substrates would be most helpful and greatly appreciated.

Thanks everyone!
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Old 08-05-2010, 01:31 AM   #2
 
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Hi & Welcome,

Let me start off with my credibility..:)..I am no expert but i will tell you I have a 55 gallon tank which you can view in my album that is sand and in most areas it is 2 inches thick and in some 3 inches..but when I put in some of my plants I set them in a plastic tray with soil and covered with sand. There are amazon swords, acorus, frill or cabomba and they are very healthy. It's mostly the swords in the trays. People say that with thick substrate you will have dead spots..I personally have not experienced it. In my 37 Gallon i went overboard with substrate and all are healthy..you just don't want to plant them too deep. i think I hit like 5-6 inches...I wanted a hill


Thank you for teaching me...I have never had cory cats and didn't know they could actually wear down their little barbels..



I would also like to mention this is my 100th post ..that means I have been talking way too much..
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Old 08-05-2010, 01:42 AM   #3
zof
 
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I think why some places will put a number of 1.5" on sand is so there is less of a chance of toxic gas build up, with something as dense as sand gases produced by bacteria and other methods like decomposition will build up in pockets in the sand until they get large enough to escape, at which point they could partially poison the water and have ill effects on your fish. This should be easily remedied though by occasionally suturing the sand to prevent the gas build up, how often I do not know as I have never had sand. I have seen people here with cories and gravel with out an issue but its usally insisted that the gravel not be sharp, it should be rounded.

You could also raise your tank, just use a thick piece of plywood cut to shape, as long as you feel it would be safe.


Quote:
Originally Posted by dfbiggs View Post
I would also like to mention this is my 100th post ..that means I have been talking way too much..
I agree, now hurry up and get to 200 newbie, I'm already to 231

Last edited by zof; 08-05-2010 at 01:44 AM..
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Old 08-05-2010, 01:48 AM   #4
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zof View Post
I think why some places will put a number of 1.5" on sand is so there is less of a chance of toxic gas build up, with something as dense as sand gases produced by bacteria and other methods like decomposition will build up in pockets in the sand until they get large enough to escape, at which point they could partially poison the water and have ill effects on your fish. This should be easily remedied though by occasionally suturing the sand to prevent the gas build up, how often I do not know as I have never had sand. I have seen people here with cories and gravel with out an issue but its usally insisted that the gravel not be sharp, it should be rounded.

You could also raise your tank, just use a thick piece of plywood cut to shape, as long as you feel it would be safe.



I agree, now hurry up and get to 200 newbie, I'm already to 231
I'm not a newbie anymore..I am a full Junior!...If I hurry I will spread ignorance..
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Old 08-05-2010, 03:03 AM   #5
 
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Rinsing the sand before use is the most bothersome aspect with using it , but is important to rinse several times to help prevent clouding of the water. The more you rinse,,the faster the tank clears after placing the sand in the tank and filling with water.
If depth of sand is kept below three inches then there is less chance of gases (hydrogen sulphide) forming and stirring the sand with a plastic fork or other tool after weekly water changes can also help .
Personally,, I just toss a few Malaysian Trumpet snails in the tank, they do very good job of sifting through the sand on their never ending search for food and I don't bother with sifting the sand.
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Old 08-05-2010, 04:04 AM   #6
 
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use a gravel cleaner once a week will help.my planted tank is into it's 3rd week and my plants are growing like crazy lol and in some parts it's only 2 inch deep mostly but where the water lily grows it's around less than half a feet deep like a mound lol no problems but groth spurt =) saw algae yesterday from too much lighting.my mistake of not offing the lights when i went out. a balance in the tank is always whats needed. 40% light 40% dark 20% in between. use an under gravel filter it will help by taking up some place at the bottom of the tank or fill the bottom with the old rough gravel add plastic layer on top of it to keep the fine sand from falling into the sides before adding the fine subtrate on top. ( it helps with the alevation as well ) plus you dont have to get rid of the old gravel.
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Old 08-05-2010, 04:32 AM   #7
 
i have pool filter sand sand about 4 inches deep in some places in my tank. there have been no problems in 6 months or so. the only irritating factor is that a layer of green algae forms where the sand meets the glass at the front, probably because i have quite a lot of indirect natiral light in my room, which i have to stir up every couple of weeks. I don't bother stirring the rest of the sand because its too densely planted anyway and I have malaysian trumpet snails in there, who seem to do a good job
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Old 08-05-2010, 08:15 AM   #8
 
Thanks!

Thank you all so much for your suggestions! I think my plan of action is: raise the tank with 1/2 or 3/4 inch plywood treated with waterproofing sealant. Fill with 2-2.5 inches sand, raising a bit at the back. This will give me a bit less than an inch of visible substrate and I think it's preferable to using 4.5 inches of sand in my case because my tank is quite small (25gal). I'll definitely get a handful of Malaysian trumpet snails (ok maybe not literally a handful) and if I someday get a pair of clown loaches...well I just hope to reach a healthy, mutualistic tank equilibrium!

Thanks again! I love this forum!

Last edited by sovrappensiero; 08-05-2010 at 08:17 AM..
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Old 08-05-2010, 07:44 PM   #9
 
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glad you're enjoying your time here.

I think 2.5 inches in the front will work good for foreground plants. I would maybe this about taking it a little deeper the back if you plan on planting on heavy rooted plants, i.e. amazon swords (e. bleheri).

Have you thought a plant list of any kind of lighting you plan on using?

on a side note, I would not recommend using a UGF with a sand substrate, nor would i recommend it with a planted tank. Roots need to grow, I can only imagine the headache a UGF would cause with plants with extensive root systems...
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Old 08-05-2010, 10:11 PM   #10
 
Yes, I was thinking something similar in terms of the substrate - after reading the comments I feel more confident about deviating from the "2.5 inches max" rule. I was thinking maybe 2-4.5 or 2-5 inches (2 in front up to 4.5 or 5 in the back) but I may bump those numbers up a half-inch, as you suggested.

I haven't totally decided what plants I want to host...but I think a South American biotope would be a good model. I'm not too picky about sticking precisely to the biotope, but I do want to keep species that at least live in similar conditions in the wild. So, maybe Echinodoras and...any other suggestions for me? I've always loved java fern, but of course that's a million miles outside this biotope...

I'd welcome some plant suggestions for a South American biotope. As for fish, I love corydoras (of course - thus the choice of sandy substrate) and I also love shoaling fish like tetras - actually, choice of fish is probably the main reason why I'm leaning towards South America. One day I'd like to have two tanks - one South American and one SE Asian biotope. Sigh...

Don't worry, I would never use an UGF with sand!!! I don't like UGFs anyways...I have a canister filter (Eheim - ancient) but I'm toying with the idea of trying to go sans filter, or maybe with a sponge filter. The canister filter I have doesn't povide too much current, so it would be ok for the fish, but it might hinder plant growth too much. I like nice, lush vegetation!
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