SAND AS A SUBSTRATE - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-19-2004, 01:23 AM Thread Starter
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I have a brand new 40 gallon tank that I had lyin around because I never used it and was going to set it up in my dad's office. He didnt want anything too fancy like my 10gallon but he did think that live plants made it nice. I went to home depot and bought 2 50lb bags of plastering sand (all purpose sand, not white like silica) for 3.50. The guy @ home depot said that its great for a plant substrate. He meant it for outdoor plants but I was wondering if this would be fine for a couple live plants. What are a couple of good live plants that I can put in there that would be alright with an all sand substrate? And also would a carpet grass-type plant be ok?
I would have 1-2 100watt bulbs over the tank and no CO2. Im not worried about that because im not going to have a tramendous amount of plants. Thanks!

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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-19-2004, 01:22 PM
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I use home depot play sand with no problem. I would test that sand you got in a bucket to make sure it will not effect PH,kh etc. Fill bucket with a few inches of sand and water let sit for a few days to a week test everyday. You should not see any difference from your regular water parameters as far as change is concerned


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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-20-2004, 08:13 PM
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also depending on how much you have in there sand can be a problem for 2 reasons
It compacts the roots of plants
Makes cleaning a little hards

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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-21-2004, 01:29 AM
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What about nutrients though?

I see that everyone recommends using sand in conjunction with flourite or something else. I imagine that is for the nutrients. Would sand alone work very well for a planted tank?
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-21-2004, 01:35 AM
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sand and flourite would be a good combo. sand and eco-complete and flourite would be the nutts

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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-21-2004, 06:12 AM Thread Starter
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I dont have the money to fill up about 2-3 inches with eco (would prefer eco over flourite for personal taste) so im just using straight sand.
The guy at my lfs (smart guy) told me its not necessary to get fert. sub. and that plants would grow just fine with good light. He told me all about having just sand and said it would be a good idea money wise and since im not going for a prize winning tank. Ofcourse a fert. sub. would help A LOT in growth but not truly necessary so im stickin with just sand. Ill let ya know how it works

I have a AC 300 and i have it on the low setting and it barely beads down on the sand and puts the dust in the air and was wondering if there is anything ican do to prevent the water from beating down so hard since the filter is really powerful!

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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-21-2004, 03:24 PM
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About your filter, you might consider getting some sort of small sponge filter or algae scraper sponge and putting it over the outlet. Or the rock idea works well too.

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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-21-2004, 06:09 PM Thread Starter
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my filter is an aquaclear 300

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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-22-2004, 06:10 PM
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Not an expert by any means, I have 5 tanks, all with sand. However, I forewent (word?) the sand from Home Depot, because the playsand was too fine, and the other sand they had included particles that were too rough and jagged for my (and maybe my fishes') taste.

I opted instead for a sand that I got for 5 times the price at my favortite LFS, but well worth the US$17 per 50 lbs. It is a 2/16 sized sand called Pure Monterey Beach Sand. Contrary to what it's name might indicate, this sand does NOT affect by water at all.

The nice thing about this sand is that the grain is large enough that it does not suspend in the water column, even after being kicked up by my loaches or plecos, whereas fine-grained sand tends to cloud the water column and get sucked up into filters. I run AquaClear filters on most tanks, and have them running full-flow, except when feeding.

As far as cleaning is concerned, this is where I love sand. Substrate maintenance is virtually nil. Detritus stays on top of the sand, instead of getting IN it, so hovering a siphon tube above the sand picks up any remaining waste that doesn't otherwise eventually get circulated and picked up by the filters. In my opinion, sand makes for a much cleaner tank, and cleaning the substrate is almost non-existent. In fact, I only siphon the waste once a month or so, because most of the time the waste either liquefies quickly or gets circulated to where the filter intakes get it.

If I do siphon waste every great once in awhile, even if I stick my siphon tube right into the sand bed, the sand doesn't get sucked out of the tank. Simply lifting the tube out of the sand causes the sand to fall right out. I also use my Python on the larger tanks and get the same results.

In over two years, I have never run into an anerobic spot either. I attribute that to the fact that I ALWAYS add the sand to the tank while there's water already in the tank, which elmintates the possibility of air pockets in the sand. I also periodically stick a plastic stick into the sand to stir it around a bit, but I honestly find this to be overly-cautious and now only do this once every 60 - 90 days or so, just out of habit, because I originally started doing this because fish actions tend to move the sand around, and I really started doing it to "tidy up" the sand.

To combat the small amount of algae growth on substrates that can make white sand look dirty sometimes, I make sure I have active bottom-hugging fish in the tanks, whose actions cause the sand to get turned over. In the larger tanks I added community-friendly geophagus cichlids that are known as "eartheaters" like barasiliensis, Juruparis, Surinamensis and cupids, which sift through the sand for food, thereby keeping the sand nice and clean. I'm sure eels, kuhli and dojo loaches would work, too, but I suspect they might unwittingly uproot plants too often. :-)

Plants appear to LOVE sand. My Amazon swords have reached 21 inches in height, and are about 15 inches wide. I throw away handfuls of corkscrew vallisneria at EVERY water change. All this with no C02 and no fertilizers. My water is naturally soft, so I figure those particular species love the water, too. Only until recently have I looked to adding some nutrients, probably in part due to the fact that the swords and vals are doing so well that they're now sucking the nutrients out of the water that other plants need more of.

Other species of plants include crypts, anubias, and rotala. I gave up on water sprite and wisteria because they were too prolific, and I was tired of literally throwing out bucketfuls at every water change.

To sum it all up, IMHO I believe sand is the best substrate, provided you get the right grain size and add the right fish. FWIW, I previously ran UGFs and ran standard and large-sized gravels, as well.
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