Using real sand in a freshwater tank? - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 12 Old 01-22-2014, 01:26 PM Thread Starter
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Using real sand in a freshwater tank?

I have a 36 gallon tank right now with 7 fish, one of which is an Oscar, so I believe I have a size issue so I am looking at trying to get a bigger one, and if I do, was wondering if it is possible to use real sand even though it's a fresh water tank. Typically I think you find sand in salt water tanks and was just curious if it would cause problems in a fresh water environment. I can't really think of why it wouldn't work, but was hoping for some stories of people who have done it. I hear it is easy to clean too since debris and waste can't fall to the bottom as easily as it would through the cracks of typical rocks/gravel.

Also, if sand can work in freshwater, can I just go grab some from the beach, or do I have to get it from a certain place that specifically processes it for use in a tank? I ask because I am about 10 minutes from the beach so it wouldn't be hard for me to get some.

I appreciate any feedback.
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post #2 of 12 Old 01-22-2014, 01:34 PM Thread Starter
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I saw in another thread that I guess pool filter sand is good? What exactly is that?
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post #3 of 12 Old 01-22-2014, 01:38 PM
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Using real sand in a freshwater tank?

Sand works great in freshwater tanks. My favorite to use is pool filter sand, which can be found at any pool/spa supply store as well as in hardware stores (seasonally). It's sand that is used in pool filters. The grains offer huge amounts of surface area for bacteria to grow, as well as trapping large particles (in the pool filter).

Don't use beach sand - there's stuff in it, and it's WAY to fine. If you like the beach sand look, then you can get the caribsea supernaturals moonlight sand. If you go with a sand that fine, you'll want to switch your filtration to a canister or else it will constantly foul the impeller. Pool filter sand is much larger grains and is heavier so it does not get kicked up and swept away in the water column like the fine sands do.
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post #4 of 12 Old 01-22-2014, 01:47 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jaysee View Post
Sand works great in freshwater tanks. My favorite to use is pool filter sand, which can be found at any pool/spa supply store as well as in hardware stores (seasonally). It's sand that is used in pool filters. The grains offer huge amounts of surface area for bacteria to grow, as well as trapping large particles (in the pool filter).

Don't use beach sand - there's stuff in it, and it's WAY to fine. If you like the beach sand look, then you can get the caribsea supernaturals moonlight sand. If you go with a sand that fine, you'll want to switch your filtration to a canister or else it will constantly foul the impeller. Pool filter sand is much larger grains and is heavier so it does not get kicked up and swept away in the water column like the fine sands do.
Awesome, I will definitely have to stop by a pool store then. I am not tied to the beach look because, frankly, I don't really know what the difference is between that or any other type of look with sand :)
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post #5 of 12 Old 01-23-2014, 02:28 PM
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I use common play sand from building supply stores for both FW and marine tanks.


my .02

maintain Fw and marine system with a strong emphasis on balanced, stabilized system that as much as possible are self substaning.

have maintained FW systems for up to 9 years with descendants from original fish and marine aquariums for up to 8 years.

With no water changes, untreated tap water, inexpensive lighting by first starting the tank with live plants (FW) or macro algae( marine)

see: http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/a...-build-295530/
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post #6 of 12 Old 01-23-2014, 02:59 PM
I also use play sand in my freshwater ranks, it takes some extra rinsing, but it looks great.
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post #7 of 12 Old 01-28-2014, 03:30 PM
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With sand I assume you cannot use a siphon vacuum cleaner like with gravel? How do you clean the sand and do water changes?
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post #8 of 12 Old 01-28-2014, 03:57 PM
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With sand I assume you cannot use a siphon vacuum cleaner like with gravel? How do you clean the sand and do water changes?

After a few weeks the sand become water logged and just stays at the bottom. At least in my non filtered non circulated tanks.

You can just siphon the crud off the top.

Water changes are best done pouring water over a dish.

but then I don't clean the sand but once a year or so and never do water changes.

So my input is worth at most .02

maintain Fw and marine system with a strong emphasis on balanced, stabilized system that as much as possible are self substaning.

have maintained FW systems for up to 9 years with descendants from original fish and marine aquariums for up to 8 years.

With no water changes, untreated tap water, inexpensive lighting by first starting the tank with live plants (FW) or macro algae( marine)

see: http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/a...-build-295530/
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post #9 of 12 Old 01-28-2014, 04:51 PM
Hover, don't dig the siphon into the sand
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post #10 of 12 Old 01-28-2014, 07:56 PM
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I use play sand in 4 of my 5 tanks. Just hover the siphon about 1/2" above the sand and use a slight swirling motion to lift the debri up.
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