The "RIGHT" sand/gravel
Ok, I bought a bag of sand, I sorted it with a mesh strainer to get the bigger stuff out and then I rinsed the smaller stuff to get all the dust out and to get a bunch of the really tiny particles out.
The sand will be for plants and for Kuhliis. I am not worried about the Kuhliis as they will love whaetver sand I get but I am worried about it compacting and suffocating the roots of the plants.
The Q is:
How do you know for sure if the sand will compact or not? I know what beach sand does and how it feels. Is that what I am looking for? Do I want to let the sand sit in water for a day or so and see if I can easily put my fingers into it to the bottom, will that mean it should be plant safe?
Eventually I will just buy the right sand but when you have $10 to spend and get enough sand to do everything you need I am more than happy to do a little more work to get it.
I don't use sand any more at all. The reason being the finer the sand, the more likely it is to compact. For my tanks now, it's Eco-Complete or a gravel laterite mix. If I need a fine substrate, I just use a finer gravel. Even then, I have to sweep the gravel bi-weekly instead of monthly.
Ok, let's expand this a little then. What is the best size of fine gravel? Either or I just want something that will allow for good growth without adding anything. I got awesome growth once my aquarium epoxy gravel became "seeded" with gunk and nutrients and I expect better growth from something smaller and not so ugly.
Air soft pellet?
Grain of rice?
Give me an idea of grain size so I know what to look for and if I can get it out of the bag of sand I got. Some of it is actually pretty large while some of it is ultra small with a lot inbetween.
The top is the larger stuff I sifted and the stuff on the right is the smaller stuff. Left is about 2-4mm max. Right is 0.5-2mm max.
Let me expand it even further. Let's just see how far we can stretch it. lol
I like using the finer gravel in my planted tanks. I also use reverse flow filtration. By running the water in reverse flow via my ugf(yes, I still use them), I am able to reduce compaction of the substrate, provide clean oxygenated water to my bio-bed, and add another filter to the system.
The plants are able to "root" easier in the finer gravel. This allows for a more expansive root system and healthier plants. Plants are like a building, if the foundation is bad(ie., the root system) failure is assured.
I also add flourite or laterite to the gravel at a 2:1 or 3:1 ratio, laterite/flourite to gravel.
I will probably give reverse flow UGF a try some day but on a 10 gallon tank it would be powerheads, filters, filter and no room for anyhting else lol.
What is your gravel size that you use? I have sand, tiny gravel and medium gravel now from my mized bag of aggregate.
I use dark gray,red, black and a red/black gravel mix. The gravel size is about the same size as the gravel you have pictured on the right in your pics. I mix that with 50% laterite or florite. Plants are healthy and seem to thrive, especially my swords, crypts and anubius'.
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