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Discussion Starter #1
I am going to be transferring a 20L into a 33L and plan on eventually doing plants (like a month or so down the road). I want to be prepared substrate-wise, so what is my best option to put down now so I am not creating a huge mess when I decide to plant the tank.

Right now I have standard blue, white and black aquarium gravel as my substrate. The inhabitants are neon tetras (about a dozen), mickey mouse platys (two) and pepper corys (I can see two right now, there may be more...).

Thanks!
 

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I like the mix of Carib sea tahitian moon sand and moonlight sand. Looks nice the cory's really appreciate it. Some plant people claim it's too fine a grain(the moonlight sand) for plants but my tank is pretty plantastic. Or any type of sand thats not too sharp would be great. Onyx sand is supposed to be good for plants but I haven't seen it so I can't say if it's smooth enough for corys.

The mix I mentioned that I use is in this pic
 

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Corys will appreciate the sand as Agent has already said. As for plant growth goes any sand will be fine. Through if its too fine it might be hard to plant in with some plants. I just use regular play sand or a multi purpose sand. Never had any problems with them and my Corys have even breed in my 29 with a multi purpose sand.

Forgot to agree with Agent about the sand not being sharp for the corys.
 

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I kept cories for many years on gravel with no problems (barbel wise). That goes against what a lot of people say. That was as a kid and I just don't like gravel anymore as it doesn't look natural to me, no offense. I never tried planting it though.

Right now sand wise I have pool filter and Tahitian moon sand in various tanks. The pool filter is cheap, super easy to clean, and smooth enough for cories, but I hate the super bright white color. That was the only color I could find. No plants in that tank, but no reason they couldn't be kept in pool filter sand. The TMS is a nice black color, easy to clean, easy to plant, but is more expensive than many other sands.

I've also used play sand. SUPER cheap, but a real PITA to clean in comparison to the rest. It's very light, but I didn't have trouble planting crypts in it. It is soft for the most part, but mine had small rocks in it as well. I managed to scratch the bottom of my 40B when I was switching to pool filter. In my opinion the color is ok. I wish it was darker, but it's certainly better than the pool filter.

My other tanks are Eco Complete. It's basically pulverized lava rock. The color is nice, but the cost is not. A lot of people make the mistake of thinking they don't need root tabs with Eco Complete. That's not the case at all. This is actually something I'm planning to replace soon as I've fallen out of favor with it. I'm thinking I will replace it with Substrate Source sand. Nice range of colors (way more than other brands), ceramic coated like gravel so it shouldn't be sharp, and cheaper than TMS.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Ok, so as I am standing in my living room, deciding where to put this 30L (I did some quick calculations to figure it at 30 gallons, not 33 like I originally figured) I felt that the marine tank would be a better fit for this tank. I ended up breaking down the 20H marine and transferring it to the 30L, and I am very happy with the outcome. It was an easy move that took me about three hours.

From here, I still want to turn the FW tank into a planted tank. Right now, as I mentioned, it is aquarium gravel. I always thought for plants you had to put down Flourite first, and then your substrate over it. Now, this is just stuff I have heard around the block, since I have never done a planted tank before.

I think that I will start taking all the kitsch and plan on making this 20L a planted tank soon. Is it ok to make the transfer with inhabitants in the tank? Can I use the gravel in the tank, or should I toss it and start with strictly one of the methods you guys have suggested? And which is the best route for my given situation, where I will be transferring a live tank? I have a spare 20H (the old marine tank) that I can make a temporary home for these guys, but will that be the wisest plan, having to cycle at least one of these tanks?

Lastly, what should I do for a filter for a planted tank? Is HOB bad? I already invest a lot into the marine tank, and if spending another few hundred dollars is in my future, this might just stay a kitsch and gravel tank...

(Sorry for the noobiness, I'm a salty and am definitely outside my realm...)
 

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HUZZAH!! 20L just so happens to be one of my FAVORITE tank sizes to plant - good call!!!

Six out of seven of my planted tanks are just plain old sand. The seventh is plain old gravel!
You don't need anything fancier than a $3 bag of play sand (like you'd put in the boy's box out back). And if you LIKE the gravel you have now, you can just plant it up! You can make this as cheap and easy or as expensive and difficult as you want!

Fluorite is not necessary (though you can go that route if you wish - I never have). The only thing to bear in mind is that some plants, like Crypts and Swords, are heavy root feeders - so you will need a root tab (fertilizer) in the substrate by their roots (if you decide to keep those types of plants, and you will ^.~). Root tabs are pretty cheap, and last a few months, so no big deal at all (IMHO!)

People mix sand and gravel all the time, but I prefer one or the other. Much easier to clean that way. The two WILL get mixed up, but you like the look, go for it.
I'd recommend straight sand - but that's ONLY because it's what I prefer aesthetically and I think it's way easier to clean. My plants don't seem to have a preference. ^_^

I've done a substrate transfer with and without fishums in the tank, it's possible, and people do it all the time. In my experience though, it's MUCH easier to do it without them (remember, I'm a worrier). It really depends on what you feel comfortable with.

If I were in your shoes, I would fill up the 20H, put the gravel and filter in there (instant cycle!) and transfer the livestock while you re-set-up the 20L. When the 20L sandy and settled, move everyone back with their original filter. If you're feeling extra cautious, grab some of the wife's (new) pantyhose, give 'em a good rinse, and stuff them with gravel to bring extra seeded media back in, but you should be fine with just the filter currently on the tank.

As for filtration, I'll leave this to others. I have used both HOB and Sponge filters on smaller tanks with no issues. (Love my canister best, but my only experience with this is on my 55) The only trouble my HOB ever gives me is with my floating plants, but there are ways around this (if you even want floaters!)

Honestly, since you already have the tank set up and running, you shouldn't have to put out money for anything aside from sand and plants. . .

OOOH!!! AND LIGHTS! (Don't forget to ask about the lights! Ferts are good, too! ^__^ )

SOOO super excited for this project, Wakeypoo. . . *DANCES*

*derp* I forgot about the dirty tank. . . 5 out of 7 are plain old sand. . . >.<
 

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I just wanted to add that yes gravel will work fine and ( at least for me) the jury is still out on the barbel issue with the corys. I say they would appreciate sand because they shovel around in it and push it through their gills sifting for food. It's more natural for them and quite frankly who doesn't enjoy watching a cory face deep in sand snuffling around? :)


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Discussion Starter #8
I just wanted to add that yes gravel will work fine and ( at least for me) the jury is still out on the barbel issue with the corys. I say they would appreciate sand because they shovel around in it and push it through their gills sifting for food. It's more natural for them and quite frankly who doesn't enjoy watching a cory face deep in sand snuffling around? :)


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Kind of like Watchman Gobies.

Is play sand good for that? I sell it at work and get a discount ;-)
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Perfectly good for that. ...
Ah man I love Watchman Gobies and they always look so grumpy. They do sift just like that!
Should I (how do I?!) rinse the sand?

We generally don't use play sand in marine aquaria because of the high silicate content. It leads to uncontrollable diatom outbreaks. :shock:
 

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Meh, sometimes we get diatoms in a new tank, but they typically go away on their own once things establish and settle in (a month or so ish). I've only had this happen in one tank (5g), but see it come up often enough in posts here. . . not a big deal in freshwater!

I just rinse the stuff out back in a bucket or two. I fill a 5g bucket about 1/4 - 1/2 with sand, drop a hose in, and let it go for a while! Stir the sand by hand and drain off the yucky water until the water runs clear.

PLAY SAND is by far the 'dirtiest' sand I've come across, so this process can take a while. Rinsing smaller portions of sand at a time seems to get the job done better, though it *may* ultimately take a bit more time.
 

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Should I (how do I?!) rinse the sand?

We generally don't use play sand in marine aquaria because of the high silicate content. It leads to uncontrollable diatom outbreaks. :shock:
What Chesh said..but she missed one thing.
Do you have mini slaves, oops I mean kids? ;-) I have them do pretty much exactly what Jess stated in a 5 gallon buckets for EVER to make sure water runs clear as I stare at the tank thinking what to do next haha.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
What Chesh said..but she missed one thing.
Do you have mini slaves, oops I mean kids? ;-) I have them do pretty much exactly what Jess stated in a 5 gallon buckets for EVER to make sure water runs clear as I stare at the tank thinking what to do next haha.
My mini slaves are too young. The three year old will get bored of it (or dump out all the sand) and my one year old doesn't follow directions well...

How deep of a sand bed do I need (should I use)?


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Depends on the plants you have. Any plants that have massive root systems you will want about 3" (don't go more then 4). Any stem plants can do fine in about 2". Most ppl do about 3 in the back of the tank where the taller large plants usually go and about 2 in the front where ppl usually put foreground/smaller plants.
 
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