Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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-   -   Substrate: Sand, Gravel, or Both? (

G9 08-16-2008 04:24 PM

Substrate: Sand, Gravel, or Both?
If you scroll down to ornaments, plants, and substrate the site has this about substrate:


You have to bear in mind that there are advantages and drawbacks of using sand or gravel. Let's start off with gravel. What are the advantages? Well, apart from disguising a lot of the dirt, waste also tends to work its way under the gravel so that tank doesn't look so dirty. You can remove the waste with a gravel vac. The disadvantage of this is that waste can get missed if the gravel isn't cleaned properly. This could have a detrimental effect on the water quality. Now let's look at sand. The advantage of using sand is that waste doesn't get trapped underneath, it sits on top. This means that the filtration tends to remove it more efficiently than if you're using gravel. If you are using a light coloured sand, you can see the waste a lot easier when you are cleaning. The disadvantage of using sand is that because the waste sits on top and doesn't go underneath, the tank can look a little dirtier than if you were to use gravel. So I suppose it's six of one and half a dozen of the other. Personally I prefer sand. I'm more confident that the tank is cleaner because the filtration removes dirt quicker.

One important thing that you have to bear in mind when using sand is dangerous gas pockets can build up so you should try and move it around a little bit when cleaning. You do have to be careful because the finer it is, the easier it is to suck up. It is very important to mention that our substrate will be a haven for beneficial bacteria, just like what is inside your filtration. For this reason, you don't want to clean the substrate too much. What you are trying to achieve is removing waste, that's all. A little bit of dirt is good, you don't want a spotless fish tank.
So what should I use for my freshwater tank? All species are 4in and under, mostly livebearers, and not excavators.

willow 08-16-2008 04:34 PM

gravel will be absolutly fine for your tank. :)
even if you do decide to get some corys perhaps.
as long as the gravel is not sharp there should be no problem.

G9 08-16-2008 04:37 PM

Is there a reason why sand is not recommended for freshwater? Is it because gravel is easier to vacuum and clean?

I'm thinking of getting a Panda Cordyoras.

SheyFirestar 08-17-2008 12:34 AM

i like sand it keeps your options open and bottom feeders like it too. i think sand may just be a little higher maintenance than gravel. you have to stir it up a little to make sure you dont have any gas pockets in it. and when you clean you have to be a little more careful not to suck up the sand in your vacuum. but the bonuses are cool too. you dont get as much build up of waste hiding in your substrate because it cant sink down anywhere it sits right on top waiting to be cleaned.

i started with larger round black and white gravel and i liked the way it looked. then i decided to get kuhli loaches as bottom feeders and started converting over to black sand. finished it tonight had about 1/3 of the tank to do today but im really happy with the conversion. i just wish i had started out with sand.

willow 08-17-2008 01:54 AM

Any pictures SheyFirestar i bet it looks lovely :)
corydoras will do well on both substrates,they look more interesting
on sand because they sift through it looking for food,
and the sand falls from the gills,looks funny.
and yeah a little more work,but again it does look nice.
there is no reason not to use it.
alot of people use "play sand" as it's cheaper,however it's reported
that it can compact easily,have a look at the gallery section,
there are some really nice sand substrate tanks on here,
as well as gravel ones,it may help you to make up your mind.
have fun. :)

okiemavis 08-17-2008 09:58 AM

IMHO sand is the best way to go if you have cories. Even if your gravel is smooth, the cories have to root around in it to get the food that's fallen in between, and it's not really the best way for them to get food. Not that you can't do gravel, but they're much more fun and interesting on sand.

G9 08-17-2008 10:08 AM

I see... I'll keep this all in mind. Thanks al for the input.

KarlS 08-17-2008 10:24 AM


KarlS 08-17-2008 10:27 AM

Lets try that again...


I have sand in my aquarium and I think it's great, the reason im posting is I keep on reading about these gas pockets.. What are they? are they dangerous to my fish? & how to I check for them?

willow 08-18-2008 04:34 AM

Anaerobic gas pocket. = poisonous gasses.
what happens is that if the substrate isn't turned-disturbed
then any rotting waste decomposes and it produces gasses.
when the substrate is eventually stirred,vaced the gas is released
and it can and probably will kill the fish.
i hope i've explained it right.

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