Question about substrate - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 21 Old 12-05-2009, 12:11 AM Thread Starter
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Question about substrate

I have a 55 gallon community tank with lots of plants and a gravel substrate. I am getting a 75 gallon 18in wide tank tomorrow or sometime soon. I was hoping someone could give me a good rundown or direct toward a good guide on substrates. I have always liked black sand but not sure how they would look with a lighter wood and plants. I am not sure I would want to use any sort of peat/soil substrate due to the ph swings and added effort. Curious how sand or soil would affect the cleanliness and chemistry of my water. Also, I read that sand at the store may be treated for saltwater. Is there a certain type for freshwater and how expensive might it be for a 75.

I've got at least 10 types of plants and I have cory catfish, a twig cat, rainbows, neon and rummynose tetras, SAEs, rainbow sharks, roseline sharks, hatchet fish, rasbora hets, clown and kuhli loaches, and cherry and bamboo shrimp. I think that is it. I also run pressurized CO2 and 2 powerheads in the tank. I try to do weekly 50% water changes but with school its more like 2 weeks.

Oh, and one last concern is cleaning. I don't really clean my gravel aside from water changes. Is cleaning sand much more difficult?
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post #2 of 21 Old 12-05-2009, 09:14 AM
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in my 20 gallon i have african cichlid sand (no i do not keep cichlids in this tank), my 20 is a tropical community tank. it has not affected my ph in any way shape or form and it has been in there approx. 3 months. it is a darker brown and black color, i will try to find the exact brand for you. i paid $20.00 for a 20 pound bag

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post #3 of 21 Old 12-05-2009, 09:25 AM
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Eco-Complete African Cichlid Substrate

here is a link to the kind i have (i dont use the gravel, i use the sand) it is caribisea african cichlid sand. it says it is a pH puffer to maintain higher ph, but again, it hasnt affected mine at all. it is 7.6 out of the tap ans has been 7.6 in my tank since day 1

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post #4 of 21 Old 12-05-2009, 09:27 AM
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i do not find clean the sand more difficult and if you are going have bottom fish like the corydora, you should keep a sand or like substrate anyway because the gravel can hurt their soft undrbellies

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post #5 of 21 Old 12-05-2009, 09:29 AM
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I love dark substrate, either sand or fine gravel, makes your plants & fish's color pop out MUCH more.

Here's few pictures for ya, my 10g with black sand, the 20 g's with fine dark brown gravel and the 55g with fine dark brown gravel.

Personally if I was to to my tanks all over again, they'd all get black sand! Also in your case, the Cory will LOVE having sand over gravel. And no its not more or less difficult then cleaning your gravel tank IMO.
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File Type: jpg tank 2-2.jpg (101.8 KB, 56 views)
File Type: jpg tank 9-1.jpg (51.4 KB, 56 views)

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post #6 of 21 Old 12-05-2009, 11:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saulat View Post
I have a 55 gallon community tank with lots of plants and a gravel substrate. I am getting a 75 gallon 18in wide tank tomorrow or sometime soon. I was hoping someone could give me a good rundown or direct toward a good guide on substrates. I have always liked black sand but not sure how they would look with a lighter wood and plants. I am not sure I would want to use any sort of peat/soil substrate due to the ph swings and added effort. Curious how sand or soil would affect the cleanliness and chemistry of my water. Also, I read that sand at the store may be treated for saltwater. Is there a certain type for freshwater and how expensive might it be for a 75.

I've got at least 10 types of plants and I have cory catfish, a twig cat, rainbows, neon and rummynose tetras, SAEs, rainbow sharks, roseline sharks, hatchet fish, rasbora hets, clown and kuhli loaches, and cherry and bamboo shrimp. I think that is it. I also run pressurized CO2 and 2 powerheads in the tank. I try to do weekly 50% water changes but with school its more like 2 weeks.

Oh, and one last concern is cleaning. I don't really clean my gravel aside from water changes. Is cleaning sand much more difficult?
I will just comment on a couple of the previous responses. Re the African cichlid sand, I would not recommend this in a planted aquarium. It does have pH buffers added which are intended to keep the pH high, which is great for rift lake cichlids but not so great for planted community aquaria. The pH and softness should be lower than that usual for African cichlids. This sand, depending upon the chemistry of the tap water, might well end up raising it. I wouldn't risk it.

On the colour, plants and fish always look best with darker substrates (and backgrounds), and the fish feel more "comfortable." So as April and perhaps others mentioned, black/dark gray/brown natural colours are best.

As for gravel over sand, I prefer gravel (the smallest grain size, 1-2 mm) as it encourages good plant root development and does not risk the compaction that sand can cause if not careful. There are cleaning issues with sand that take more care. Sand is perfectly workable, not saying it isn't, but as you're asking I am simply stating my preference for small gravel which is supported by every plant authority I have so far read.

Byron.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #7 of 21 Old 12-05-2009, 12:17 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks, I think I may switch over to a black fine gravel. I would love to try some sand but maybe I'll wait until I can have a smaller secondary tank. I am trying to get a movie from my phone online so I can post a link to it.
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post #8 of 21 Old 12-05-2009, 04:51 PM Thread Starter
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No luck with the movie yet but my tank is draining and my fish are in a 10 gallon. Very excited to set up the 75 and about to run out and get some black gravel.
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post #9 of 21 Old 12-05-2009, 06:42 PM
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You realize that when your work is done and its all set up you WILL have to post pictures right!?

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post #10 of 21 Old 12-05-2009, 06:42 PM
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well.....you can at least post pics right?!?!

because i would LOVE to see them!!!!!!!

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