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What type of fish? Some fish like cory catfish need fine gravel or sand to burrow in. But some fish will mistake the sand for food and eat it, which will give them indigestion. Also what type of plants? Some plants get nutrients from the water through their leaves. But some get their nutrients from their roots and need good quality sand. It all depends:)
 

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...some fish will mistake the sand for food and eat it, which will give them indigestion. ...
I hadn't heard that yet... what type of fish eat sand that ought not to?

I would say that sand is a great default substrate, cheap, works for most fish and works great for plants.

Jeff.
 

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I hadn't heard that yet... what type of fish eat sand that ought not to?

I would say that sand is a great default substrate, cheap, works for most fish and works great for plants.

Jeff.
Interested in hearing about the specific species that have been effected as well...... Yes, some fish will pick sand up in their mouths and filter through it, blowing it out through the gills, etc, but I am not aware of any cases of "sand colic" (sorry, thinking in equine terms at this point) in fish.
 

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As a professional fisherman, I can assure you that fish can differentiate between food and inedible objects, with regards to swallowing. I open up the stomach of every fish a clean to see what it's been eating, and I've not once found anything other than food.

Fish are smart enough to not eat the substrate. I guarantee that anyone who claims to have had a fish die from ingesting sand is just wildly guessing, and did not perform an autopsy to see if that was in fact the case. Some people feel better having something to blame.
 

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Would be more concerned with large grain gravel and fish choking on same.
Have seen cichlid's,goldfish,accidentally ingest gravel and this sometimes get's caught in fishes throat.
Once saw a picture of goldfish with plastic plant protruding from it's anus.
:cool:
 

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Kaedeb, welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum.:cheers:

To your question, as has been mentioned by others, the needs of the fish intended for the tank should determine the substrate. Plants for the most part will manage in almost any substrate, but sand or fine gravel is the usual. As one who has experimented with so-called "enriched" plant substrates, I wouldn't waste the money.

If you have substrate fish like corys, sand is definitely better. A fine gravel can be useful if you want to set up a Central American stream, or an Indian (South Asian) stream. I rather like the look of sand, and now have this in 6 of my 7 tanks.

Byron.
 

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"Choking" can only occur if the water flow is cut off to the mouth, as the gills are located in front of the throat. An obstruction in the throat leads to starvation, not suffocation.

The plastic plant must have had food stuck to it ;-)
 

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"Choking" can only occur if the water flow is cut off to the mouth, as the gills are located in front of the throat. An obstruction in the throat leads to starvation, not suffocation.

The plastic plant must have had food stuck to it ;-)

Fish I have seen with pebbles lodged in their mouth,throat,did not wait to starve, but began flashing,barrel rolling , violently thrashing, in effort's to dislodge the obstruction and perished within a few day's if they or I could not dislodge the obstruction.
With large fish,damp towel,you can sometimes wrap the fish in damp towel, and dislodge the obstruction with tweezer's,Hemostat's.
I too spend considerable time fishing, and have found all kind's of non edible object's inside big Blue catfish,flathead catfsih bellies. golf ball's, batteries, styrofoam,rock's,even a child's shoe.
 

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That's why I don't eat catfish.

 
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