Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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Big Fate 04-26-2011 12:14 PM

Gravel to Sand swap?
Ok, so after finally getting this 10 gallon cycled I decided I wanna change the gravel to sand. I've never really done sand as a substrate before so ima need a lil help from y'all.

1) Which sand is the best to go with and how many pounds do I need?

2) what's the most effective way of switching gravel out while still not disturbing the bacteria bed? (keeping tank cycled)

3) How much am I likely to spend?

I was thinking of doing a good vacuum cleaning before hand, then removing and placing ALL gravel into a stocking then laying my sand layer down and placing the stockings on top for about a few days? I don't know, how would you guys go about it?

Thoth 04-26-2011 12:49 PM

1) Which sand is the best to go with and how many pounds do I need?
I have used sand from Lowes and many different white aquarium sands and IMO the natural colored sands by Caribsea are the best (nice color and sized of grains). White sand makes everything very bright and to me looks a bit odd but it is personal preference. Small grained sands will stay suspended in water for much longer and you may want to stay away from this if you have fish that like to dig.

The amount you need will vary greatly based on what is going in the tank but I use 4 to 5 pounds per square foot of base of the aquarium as a starting point. This is enough to cover the bottom to 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch. Using this figure, you will need about 8 to 10 pounds to cover the bottom of a 20 long (30" x 12") aquarium. I have one that is moderately planted and I believe I used around 18 pounds.

2) what's the most effective way of switching gravel out while still not disturbing the bacteria bed? (keeping tank cycled)
Most of the bacteria is in the filter, I would remove the gravel and replaced it with sand. You should not have any issue. I have made the switch several times in the past with no problem.

3) How much am I likely to spend?
40 pounds of play sand will run about 6 dollars and 20 pounds of that caribsea sand runs around 20 dollars. CAribsea sell a small bag but I am not sure of the price range, maybe 8 dollars.

Thoth 04-26-2011 12:53 PM

sorry ;)

10 gallon tank, you will need about 6 pounds to cover the bottom to 1/2" to 3/4". Make sure you turn off a HOB or canister filter as a precaution when working in a sand tank to prevent particles from damaging the filter.

Big Fate 04-26-2011 01:13 PM


I always thought caribsea sand was for Salt water tanks because of the live bacteria? Where do I get the caribsea sand? LFS?

Big Fate 04-26-2011 01:35 PM

Sorry I forgot to mention its for a Fresh water community tank.

Dont think Caribsea sand would work due to it raising the PH. Thats more for Marine tanks and Cichlids... Any recommendations for a freshwater?

I'm looking for more like a brown sand... not white as it gets too bright.

Whats a good brown sand thats cheap and wont effect the PH?

Thoth 04-26-2011 02:45 PM

CaribSea Super Naturals | Moonlight Sand | Tahitian Moon | Torpedo Beach | Rio Grand | Amazon | Ramblin Rose | Kon Tiki | Zebra | Peace River

The super natural line will not change your water chemistry. I particularly like the sunset gold, which I use in my Cory breeding tanks. Petsmart has recently started carrying it. In the past it was hard to find and carried by smaller fish stores.

CaribSea Aquarium Substrates - Gravel & Sand - Fish - PetSmart
It $8 for 5 pounds.
picture of sunset gold sand in a fresh water tank.

Big Fate 04-26-2011 03:07 PM


Do you recommended that over Reg old Pool filter sand?

Thoth 04-26-2011 03:18 PM

I have never used pool filter sand. If you like the color and you are sure it wont change the water then go ahead an use it. If you only need a little, I think buying the caribsea would be the best route. Its not that expensive.

Which ever sand you use, make sure that you clean it well. When you think it is clean.... clean it some more. It will cloud your tank which will require large water changes and many weeks of filtering to clear up.

Big Fate 04-26-2011 03:21 PM

only reason I prefer using the pool filter sand is because none of my Petsmarts carry the caribsea in store. Online only..

The pool filter sand is a nice brown color, not white like the play sand. And have read it does not affect the PH in any way...

Byron 04-26-2011 07:00 PM

Pool sand may contain silica (from quartz) and silicates is a major cause of cyanobacteria. Also any "silica sand" the same.

I have two tanks with gray playsand, and while I was skeptical at first about using it, I must say i am more than pleased with the result. Home Depot in Canada carries this playsand which is dark gray; one writer mentioned it was identical to the sand in the Rio Negro system of the Amazon, so you can't get much more realistic.

You can have a look at one of my tanks under "Aquariums" below my name on the left, the "Amazonian Lagoon" 33g is the sand. There is also a pic of the 10g that has the same sand.

I certainly agree to avoid white or light sands, they are stressful to fish and tend to show up too much.


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