Onyx sand substrate maintenance questions - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 2 (permalink) Old 05-12-2010, 05:59 PM Thread Starter
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Onyx sand substrate maintenance questions

I recently bought a used 29g tank with everything included, stand, fillers heaters, and even inherited a few fish.

The original owner said the tank has black Onyx sand, he did not say what brand or tell me anything more accept he bought it because he wanted to try and grow plants but they didn't work out for him anyway.

When I was packing up the tank I got a bucket and started putting the sand in it with my bare hands, but I don't think this stuff is really sand, as the particles are sharp and jagged, when I was done I had micro cuts and soar fingers. I wouldn't think this stuff is any good for substrate digging fish or bottom feeders.

So anyway, I got some rubber gloves and rinsed this stuff a few times before I put it back in the tank, but it continues to be really dusty. There is a fine gray powder that has settled on top of the substrate and all the fish food and wast sits on top of the sand like an eye soar but I don't think I can use a siphon to vacuum the mulm up without sucking the substrate out of the tank.

So my question is, how do I clean this stuff? Can I put the gravel vac in it or will I just be slowly sucking all the substrate out of the tank?

Second question, if I got some cory cats or small plecos, will they get hurt on the sand?

The tank came with black skirt tetras and ghost fish which are driving me nuts, I've never had them before and am used to mollies, platies, guppies, gold fish, etc. who come to the surface to feed but these guys just stay at the mid level of the tank and pick the food off as it floats in front of their faces which makes it difficult to judge if I'm over feeding them.

I plan on setting this tank up as a low light planed tank some day and I'm hoping to use top soil or similar mixes for the tank but I have no idea how to clean all the wast out. This is not a problem at the moment but something that occurred to me while I was cursing the uneaten fish food on the bottom.

I was reading in another thread that if this stuff is the seachem brand, it might up the Ph in the tank, which is no good, because Ph from the tap is high and the Kh around 12 already which is putting the tank above 7.4! but I don't have a high range test kit so I'm not sure. If this is what is causing the high Ph in the tank then I should get rid of it, but one of the glass fish is (supposedly) 4 years old already and the black skirt tetras about two so maybe this isn't an urgent problem.

Thanks for reading all that, I know its long but I have so much I want to talk about :P
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post #2 of 2 (permalink) Old 05-12-2010, 11:30 PM
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I like Onyx Sand, but you're right it is pretty dusty. I'd just rinse it really well and then let it dry before adding it to the tank. IDK why the drying step makes a difference, but IME it does!

And IMO you shouldn't have any issues keeping Cories with it. I'd stick with Cories though, since the tank is on the small side for most Plecos. You could have a sizable school of dwarf cories in there (I've got 12 C. pygmaeus in my own 29gal, I love them!)

I also wouldn't worry too much about it changing your water parameters- it does have a carbonate content (which is great for the plants) so might buffer your pH, but that's a good thing. Since the substrate has already been used, I doubt it will do much to your water at this point.

No, you won't be able to use a gravel vacuum to clean the tank any more, though. If you plant out the whole tank (get a carpeting plant) you wouldn't need to do that any more anyways.

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