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I'm wondering how long it takes for the water to clear after setting up a sand substrate tank?

I washed (and washed and washed) the sand Tuesday, then got the tank (36 gallon bowfront) and set it up Wednesday night with the sand, plants and water. I thought by this morning the water would have cleared but it's still cloudy.

It's a 36 gallon, but I'm running an Aqueon 55/75 filter.
 

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I'm wondering how long it takes for the water to clear after setting up a sand substrate tank?

I washed (and washed and washed) the sand Tuesday, then got the tank (36 gallon bowfront) and set it up Wednesday night with the sand, plants and water. I thought by this morning the water would have cleared but it's still cloudy.

It's a 36 gallon, but I'm running an Aqueon 55/75 filter.


Assuming you did wash the sand enough, it will clear probably in about 3 days, maybe 4 at the most. Good luck. Be patient. It will get there :)

Gwen
 

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I used pool filter sand and it never clouded so I cant say from personal experience but from what I've read it can take anywhere from 1-3 days depending on the sand, shouldn't take too long though if you rinsed it well, try doing a large water change to speed it up
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I used playsand and I washed the crap out of it. Literally. ;o) The water was almost clear when I was done, so I thought I'd gotten it pretty clean. I'll try to be patient. That's sooo not my style, though. LOL
 

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To be honest. I dont even clean my pool filter sand. Yes when adding it, the water does get a bit cloudy, but aftera day or 2, its back to normal. I typically only add the sand when I syphon some out accidentally from cleaning.
 

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I used playsand and I washed the crap out of it. Literally. ;o) The water was almost clear when I was done, so I thought I'd gotten it pretty clean. I'll try to be patient. That's sooo not my style, though. LOL

I'll stick with the 3-4 days if you washed it until it was "pretty clean" ;-) The filter will do the rest. I washed mine until it was crystal clean and had no problems at all. Then the next time around, I didn't go that far, figuring maybe I did wash too much the first time. My water was cloudy for 4 days, maybe even 5. If you're that impatient, you can buy Purigen by Seachem. It's apparently amazing at clearing cloudy water instantly. You need to put it in your filter. It's very small, so you need a mesh bag. It would replace carbon, if you use that.

Gwen
 

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Also recognize that there are other reasons for cloudiness; and frequently with a new substrate it is a bacterial bloom, because the substrate is "clean" and it takes time for organics to accumulate and bacteria to colonize, and while this is going on the bacteria appear in the water to deal with the invisible organics in dechlorinated water from the tap. So it may not be the sand.
 

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If you have adequate filtration the removal of the old substrate should have absolutely no impact on your bacteria since they will be in the filter, not the substrate. Not to mention that the bacteria that cause cloudy water are NOT the nitrifying bacteria that consume ammonia and nitrite. The bacteria that cause cloudy water are heterotrophic bacteria that live in the water column (not in filter, on substrate, etc.) and consume food, feces, etc. and produce ammonia. This bacteria would not be impacted by a filter or substrate change.

If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck it is not a chicken. If you just added sand and the water is cloudy it is dirty sand.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I just did a water test and got zeros across the board (ammonia, nitrate, nitrite) but the tank is planted, too.
 

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If you have adequate filtration the removal of the old substrate should have absolutely no impact on your bacteria since they will be in the filter, not the substrate. Not to mention that the bacteria that cause cloudy water are NOT the nitrifying bacteria that consume ammonia and nitrite. The bacteria that cause cloudy water are heterotrophic bacteria that live in the water column (not in filter, on substrate, etc.) and consume food, feces, etc. and produce ammonia. This bacteria would not be impacted by a filter or substrate change.

If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck it is not a chicken. If you just added sand and the water is cloudy it is dirty sand.
I'm sorry, but this is inaccurate. Bacteria are sticky and colonize surfaces in a biofilm. There are more bacteria in the substrate than anywhere else, breaking down organics [I agree, these are not nitrifying bacteria]. When the substrate is replaced by clean material, these bacteria have to rebuild. The bacterial bloom in the water is caused because there are organcs in the water (tap water is often full of microscopic organic matter) and the bacteria quickly appear to handle these organics. As the substrate matures, this dissipates. You can read more detail here:
http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/freshwater-articles/bacteria-freshwater-aquarium-74891/
 

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I just did a water test and got zeros across the board (ammonia, nitrate, nitrite) but the tank is planted, too.
This is normal, the plants will handle the ammonia/ammonium. The bacterial bloom in the water is a variety of different bacteria, as I mentioned in my previous post. That linked article will explain things.
 

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I don't agree. Yes, many bacteria develop biofilms, but that doesn't mean they all do. And although bacteria can colonize the substrate, that doesn't mean every tank has a significant amount. I have changed out the entire substrate of tank after tank after tank and never had any issues with bacterial clouds, mini-cycle, re-cycle, or anything like that. If you let a lot of debris rot in your substrate then yes, you could have a significant amount of bacteria in the substrate, but even then you may not have any issues by swapping out the entire substrate at one time.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
For the record, I didn't swap out any substrate. This is a brand new tank with brand new sand.
 

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I don't agree. Yes, many bacteria develop biofilms, but that doesn't mean they all do. And although bacteria can colonize the substrate, that doesn't mean every tank has a significant amount. I have changed out the entire substrate of tank after tank after tank and never had any issues with bacterial clouds, mini-cycle, re-cycle, or anything like that. If you let a lot of debris rot in your substrate then yes, you could have a significant amount of bacteria in the substrate, but even then you may not have any issues by swapping out the entire substrate at one time.
I assume you didn't bother to read the article, so I won't prolong that discussion as the article covers it. In the case of the OP, the cloudy water is most likely a bacterial bloom which in my 20+ years of experience occurs in all new tanks, to some degree depending upon factors. And changing out the substrate in any tank is establishing a "new" biological system however one looks at it.
 

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I did.

Again, looks like dirty sand, acts like dirty sand, it isn't bacteria.

Again...I have swapped out entire substrates in tank after tank after tank after tank after tank and never had any issues. If you have enough filtration the bacteria will live where their needs are best met, in the filter, NOT randomly/evenly spread out across any available surface in the tank. Although there is a lot of surface area in the substrate it does not provide the flow and therefore food and oxygen that they require. They will live in the filter where they get a strong contact flow bringing them the food and oxygen they need, not sitting on the sand or gravel where they get a little flow. This is basic ecology, organisms concentrate where their needs are best met based on limiting factors (like water, food, etc.).
 

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I missed part of the article, sorry.

I agree that an unvacuumed 4" bed of gravel will trap a massive amount of debris, allow it to rot, and result in massive amounts of bacteria (exceeding what is found in the filter of that tank). But I do not agree that it is a given that in any tank there are more bacteria in the substrate than the filter. As stated the flow rate alone will favor the nitrifying bacteria in the filter, not the substrate. A well maintained bed of gravel will have some debris, but not necessarily enough to throw the tank off balance if removed. I also think that the bacteria in the substrate with a lot of trapped debris are living off of that debris, meaning if you remove the substrate and the bacteria and debris inside it you should not throw the tank itself off balance since the bacteria were there for the debris, not the free ammonia and nitrite in the water column. In addition, sand will not trap nearly the amount of debris that gravel will, resulting in much less debris in the substrate to feed the bacteria system that can occur with gravel as a substrate.

Which source discusses the heterotrophic bacteria that consume waste and produce ammonia?
 

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I used playsand and I washed the crap out of it. Literally. ;o) The water was almost clear when I was done, so I thought I'd gotten it pretty clean. I'll try to be patient. That's sooo not my style, though. LOL

Been there and done that, I had the same results...cloudy water.
Do yourself a favor, go get some pool sand and ditch the play sand. Play sand is loaded with who knows what. Some people on here swear by play sand but the sand they may be getting is completely different from what we're buying in our parts of the country.
Pool sand is cheap, clean, and like someone wrote he dont even rinse it. I rinse mine to be safe but its clean.
 

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Been there and done that, I had the same results...cloudy water.
Do yourself a favor, go get some pool sand and ditch the play sand. Play sand is loaded with who knows what. Some people on here swear by play sand but the sand they may be getting is completely different from what we're buying in our parts of the country.
Pool sand is cheap, clean, and like someone wrote he dont even rinse it. I rinse mine to be safe but its clean.


I would be totally interested in trying pool sand, if and when I ever do a larger tank and need sand. Isn't there something, (silicone) that causes some problem? Phosphates? Thought I remember hearing something negative about playsand, but don't remember what it was.

Gwen
 
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