Switching to Sand - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 15 Old 02-08-2013, 11:07 AM Thread Starter
Switching to Sand

Hey everyone!

I have a 10 gallon planted tank currently with a gravel substrate. I noticed this week that my cories barbels are getting damaged and am going to switch to a sand substrate. I have a few questions as to going about switching over an established tank. First, how much sand do I need for a 10 gallon tank planted with Amazon Swords? I also have Anacharis floating up top. Second, I live in an apartment and will be cleaning the sand using a 5 gallon bucket and the bath tub. Is there a general process to switching the substrate?

Thank you,
DanielaMarie
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post #2 of 15 Old 02-08-2013, 11:21 AM
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I have about 1.5 inches of sand (spread evenly it is about 1.5) in my 10g. You can slope it a bit to have it deeper in the back for the larger plants, and shallower in front. I'm not sure how much sand (in weight) this would be, I use play sand in my tanks and the 50-pound bag costs a few dollars.

I've switched 6 of my tanks over from gravel to sand, just did the 70g last week in fact. First, set up a temporary tank for the fish; this is better than tubs because you don't want to be rushed, and you may want to leave the new tank overnight. Fill the temp tank about 2/3 or so with water siphoned from the top of the existing tank, then add some dechlorinated fresh water. Move over hard objects (wood, rock, decor), and keep any that isn't used in a container of tank water. Move the fish over, then drain the existing tank and take out the gravel.

Wash the sand well. I find it easier with small amounts, say a cup at a time. Don't let the sand itself get down the drain. When the sand is in the tank, add most of the hard decor, it is easier to arrange this without water. Then partially fill with dechlorinated water, and plant. At this point a complete drain of the water can remove a lot of the initial cloudiness. Refill with dechlorinated water carefully so as not to disturb the sand. Get the filter, heater, lights running.

When I am ready to return the fish, I siphon some of the temp tank water into a pail, maybe half; net the fish into the pail. Top up with water from the new tank. Leave for 15-20 minutes, then net the fish over.

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 #3 of 15 Old 02-08-2013, 11:41 AM
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I've just set up my 20 gallon tank with sand and I used 15kg sand, slightly under an inch at the front sloping to 1.5 inches at the back.

When I added the water I placed a small plate on the sand and poured the water into the plate so as not to disturb the sand.

Last edited by yellowbrickroad; 02-08-2013 at 11:44 AM.
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post #4 of 15 Old 02-08-2013, 04:40 PM
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2 pounds per gallon is what I have been using and it seems to work for me in the traditional US tanks (10, 20, 55 gallon). You will have to increase this amount for long tanks, breeders and bow front tanks as they have more surface area. If you go with playsand you will have more than enough with one 50 pound bag. I have been using Caribsea sand which is expensive $0.75 per pound compared to $0.10 per pound for the playsand.

I have 10 pounds of sand saved to put in a 10 gallon that I might get around to setting up this weekend. I will let you know how it works out. I think this will be enough to cover the bottom but not enough for planting. This will be a grow out tank so I am just looking for the bottom to be covered.
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post #5 of 15 Old 02-10-2013, 05:16 PM Thread Starter
Thank you for your input. I just finished setting up the tank with the sand. I have the filter, heater and lights running but have not put the fish back in the tank. Now I'm wondering about the cycle, since the majority of the bacteria is on the filter and substrate. Everything in the tank is the same as before (filter media, decor, plants) except for the substrate. What should I expect and do in terms of cycling and keeping this a safe environment for my fish?

Thank you,
DanielaMarie
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post #6 of 15 Old 02-10-2013, 05:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DanielaMarie View Post
Thank you for your input. I just finished setting up the tank with the sand. I have the filter, heater and lights running but have not put the fish back in the tank. Now I'm wondering about the cycle, since the majority of the bacteria is on the filter and substrate. Everything in the tank is the same as before (filter media, decor, plants) except for the substrate. What should I expect and do in terms of cycling and keeping this a safe environment for my fish?

Thank you,
DanielaMarie
If the decor (wood, rock, etc) was kept wet and not washed under the tap, it will have bacteria on it in the biofilm. Same for the plants. And obviously the filter media. The fish can go in if you are satisfied with the aquascape. Sometimes I let a new setup sit overnight, or even a couple of days; rather depends upon my fiddling with it. I'm assuming there are not many fish in a 10g, so there should be no problem.

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 15 Old 02-13-2013, 04:50 PM
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Sand is by far the best substrate ever. It is a pain to wash but well worth the effort. I just recently put black blasting sand in my Shrimp tank. Not the totally natural look you'll get with play sand but it still looks great.

10g - Red Cherry Shirmp
20g long - SE Asia "Biotope"
30g - Jasper's (GF) Tank
75g - South American "Biotope"
Plenty of empties...
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post #8 of 15 Old 02-13-2013, 05:01 PM
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I completely agree with sand being the best ever and especially for catfish. I remember my first sand tank. I didnt clean the sand well enough and it took maybe 3 80% water changes to correct the problem. Also, I was continuing to clean it as if it was gravel. I found out that if you clean it like gravel, you lose a lot of sand and filters as you are throwing sand particles in to the filter (if you don't turn it off). I was regretting the change but it only took about 2 months to figure it out and I have only used sand since. I have never had a compaction issue as some people claim as a negative and I doubt I ever will based on my experience in soil science.
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post #9 of 15 Old 02-24-2013, 05:35 PM Thread Starter
Hello everyone!

Since changing to sand my fish and cycle is going well and looks great! Pre-switch I had a few ram horn snails in my tank, which I no longer have, and have noticed algae growth on one of my decorations and the leaves of my Amazon Swords. Is the lack of snails the cause of this or is something off? Do you have any suggestions as to controlling the algae on the plants?

Thank you.
DanielaMarie
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post #10 of 15 Old 02-24-2013, 07:09 PM
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based on what i know about plants and algae - algae will take hold when there is inbalance in your water i.e light fert and co2 to much on one thing not enough of another and the algae will gorw to use what is inbalanced. what light do you use ferts what is your dosing shedule for ferts and light on/off periods?
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