06-09-2011, 04:48 PM
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Originally Posted by deman3
How thick of sand bed is needed? How much sand does that equate too in a 55 gallon? I am not opposed to changing the substrate just trying to break down total cost here. I have a ton of old natural slate tile that I was planning to work into some cave decor. Would the slate hurt the fish or should I do some other form of natural rock?
Some Malawi cichlids love to re-arrange the sand, build territories, spawning sites, etc. I would aim for no more than 2 inches overall; this is sufficient for Vallisneria or similar plants, and not too deep to cause problems. Playsand from Home Depot or Lowe's is what I use in sand substrate tanks. One bag would do a 55g, and that is a few dollars.
Slate can be used, and I have seen some wonderful aquascapes using it; it is best to silicone it together (in a dry tank obviously) to prevent the collapse. You want to create caves, and this is risky with slate as it is thin and relatively light, compared to chunks of limestone which is what I used many years ago. It is more natural in appearance too.