07-15-2009, 02:44 AM
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I'm also new to the hobby, but everything I've read said that you can indeed use play sand, but there are a lot of other options. The good thing about play sand is it is very cheap and available everywhere.
I *would* say that will upset the cycle as you have bacteria in your filter and in your gravel, but how much I dunno. You may be better off letting it go for a month with fish in it so that you filter becomes even more acclimated, then switch, but someone will more experience may say otherwise.
I get the feeling that you can be as hardcore into aquaria as you want, or as basic as you want. Running just sand should pose no problems, but there is always someone willing to sell you something to place underneath it, esp if you run live plants.