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BakaMandy 04-10-2010 08:59 AM

Mixing Sand and Gravel Substrate
Is it okay to mix sand and gravel substrate?

I've been working on a plan for an Oscar tank (keyword: planning! Probably won't be able to do anything for about a year, so taking the time to research), and read that sand is better since it's easier to clean up their mess, however there's the risk that dangerous gas pockets will develop in the sand. And with gravel the particles of waste can get stuck under the gravel and make it harder to clean properly. So I figured if I mixed gravel and sand I could possibly eliminate both problems.

Although since I don't know if it would actually work so I was hoping someone here had "expert advice" on the subject.


aunt kymmie 04-10-2010 09:13 AM

I'm no expert but here's my experience: Sand, when mixed with gravel, will result in the sand sifting and falling underneath the gravel. It's the walnut theory: largest items remain on top while smaller items end up at the bottom, just like a nut bin. Walnuts are on top, almonds are on the bottom. I have sand in all my tanks and stir it around a bit at water change time. I don't worry about anaerobic pockets forming as the stirring eliminates this problem from happening.

BakaMandy 04-10-2010 09:30 AM

Oh yeah, i guess that's true :S Darn...

When you mean by stirring, do you mean to at least disturb the surface of the substrate? Or just stirring the water a little?

aunt kymmie 04-10-2010 11:33 AM


Originally Posted by BakaMandy (Post 360564)
Oh yeah, i guess that's true :S Darn...

When you mean by stirring, do you mean to at least disturb the surface of the substrate? Or just stirring the water a little?

I vacuum the top of the sand with a gravel vac, hovering just above the surface. Once I'm done vacumming all the muck up then I stir the sand with a pair of bacon tongs. I used to use a chopstick, then I used a fork, then I decided to use the bacon tongs. For my purposes the bacon tongs work the best as I can push them down into the sand, using a scissoring action, back and forth. The tongs are only used for the tank, nothing else.

kelly528 04-10-2010 03:37 PM

If you can get ahold of some (they stopped making it in November) 3M Colorquartz is a cheap inert sand that comes in many nice colors including jet back, tan, white, purple, orange, etc. It is covered in ceramic and the grains are round as opposed to cubic/crystalline grains which lock together like a puzzle. For this reason it resists compacting quite well and would probably discourage (NOT eliminate) the possibility of anaerobic pockets forming.

You can get it in pool supply stores, as it's mixed with sealant used to 'pave' pool decks with.

Also, burrowing snails like malaysian trumpet snails will turn the sand over for you.

herbwin 04-10-2010 07:16 PM

For an oscar tank I would use large 1-2 inch polished pebbles (I forget what the commercial name is, you can get bags of them at garden/building supply stores) instead of sand or gravel, which the oscars are like to make a mess of anyways. You don't need to have it very deep at all, just enough to cover the bottom. They are easy to clean using a gravel cleaning siphon when doing water changes, you will not have any gas buildup. The only drawback is you have to find another way to secure any plastic plants.
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BakaMandy 04-11-2010 12:15 AM

@Aunt Kymmie: Ah! Thanks you for the tip :D!

@Kelly528: Ohhh really? o.o I'll have to take a look then. Is it about the same price as regular sand?

@herbwin: :O Pebbles eh? Hmmm... I kinda want to get sand though because I want to aim for a nice image for the tank appearance though, and I like the look sand has (plus it will make it easier to spot and clean up messes), but I'll think about it :O Thank you for the tip!

herbwin 04-11-2010 09:03 AM

The main reason I suggested the pebbles is they are harder for oscars to move around. Oscars are not the worst diggers as cichlids go, but they are still likely to move sand around, you could end up with a mountain on one side of the tank and a bare glass bottom on the other!
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