Sand woes - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-14-2017, 06:59 PM Thread Starter
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Unhappy Sand woes

I have a 55g tank with a play sand substrate that is the bane of my existence. There are three featherfin catfish in there and they love rolling around in it and wallowing it out like little pigs. This is annoying, but the bigger issue is there is sand everywhere, literally everywhere. All my plants are covered with sand (not just low ones, but the leaves of higher up ones all have a sand coating). Vacuuming it is a nightmare as well, I end up unavoidably sucking out a bunch of sand.

I get the feeling that the sand is just way too fine.

Is this common with sand, or did I just choose the wrong variety and/or didn't wash it thoroughly enough?

It is bad enough that I have decided to completely remove and replace the substrate and replant everything. I really would prefer to be able to use sand to be a little gentler on my fish, and I think it looks nice. I do have a 5g with a different (expensive) variety of sand that I have zero problems with, but it is also a very small tank.

I know though, that if I go with sand again and have these same issues, that I might lose my mind. It is hard for me to accept recommendations from people, since I saw many people talking up this play sand and how great it was before I decided to use it. Does anyone know a variety of black sand that is least likely to have these issues?

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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-14-2017, 07:15 PM
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I have a 55g tank with a play sand substrate that is the bane of my existence. There are three featherfin catfish in there and they love rolling around in it and wallowing it out like little pigs. This is annoying, but the bigger issue is there is sand everywhere, literally everywhere. All my plants are covered with sand (not just low ones, but the leaves of higher up ones all have a sand coating). Vacuuming it is a nightmare as well, I end up unavoidably sucking out a bunch of sand.

I get the feeling that the sand is just way too fine.

Is this common with sand, or did I just choose the wrong variety and/or didn't wash it thoroughly enough?

It is bad enough that I have decided to completely remove and replace the substrate and replant everything. I really would prefer to be able to use sand to be a little gentler on my fish, and I think it looks nice. I do have a 5g with a different (expensive) variety of sand that I have zero problems with, but it is also a very small tank.

I know though, that if I go with sand again and have these same issues, that I might lose my mind. It is hard for me to accept recommendations from people, since I saw many people talking up this play sand and how great it was before I decided to use it. Does anyone know a variety of black sand that is least likely to have these issues?

Usually when I see conversations regarding play sand there is always talk of its bad aspects. 2 popular ones being its dirty and the second being its irregular and fine grain size. Seems like you are experiencing the ill effects of its small grain size.

Check out pool filter sand and black blasting sand, choose the larger grain size on each to help keep it put. Also the larger grain size will help keep nasty anaerobic pockets out, not completely safe, but much better than fine grained sand (like play sand). Pick up some burring snails like Malaysian trumpet snails to help with good gas exchange.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-14-2017, 07:26 PM
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Yeah, I just added pool filter sand to one of my tanks that I'm resetting and did a vacuum test to make sure it didn't get sucked up; stayed in the tank wonderfully. Mine is AquaQuartz Pool Filter Sand - Standard #20 Grade High Purity Filter Sand. I got a 50lbs bag for real cheap, can't remember where though. Google that name though and I'm sure you'll find it. Your kitty fish are going to wallow in it though, but this stuff from what limited hands on I've had with it seems to settle VERY quickly. I rinsed it by simply putting some in a 5 gal bucket, sticking a hose in to the bottom and letting it overflow for a few minutes. Was pretty clean already, almost no clouding in the tank after adding it, what little clouding there was I let my Eheim take care of; made quick work of that.
guts and guts like this.
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-14-2017, 07:32 PM
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Check out pool filter sand and black blasting sand...
Yes! Even though you'll see reports of folks saying they use playground sand with no problems, playground sand is extremely fine and "powdery" for use in little Timmy's sand box. Each grain is so small it has a slower sink rate and stirs up easier, gets in impellers, between magnet scrapers and glass easier, etc. The stuff Quagulator and mgeorges mentioned is more like river sand. Heavier, larger grains and less messy. Too abrasive for little Timmy to play in, but not your catfish- they'll love it

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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-15-2017, 02:07 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys! I will take a look at pool filter and blasting sand and see what I can get more easily around here.

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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-15-2017, 02:57 PM
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There may still be need for a bit of thinking before switching to another sand. when you mention the sand all over, I get the feeling there may still be trouble. I don't know your fish so it will take some looking at your end but for my problems with sand, I see another item. My fish are types who pick the sand ,any sand, up and then spit it most any place. So if your fish are doing this, a different sand may not help that much. A better sand will definitely reduce the problem but look first before doing the deal and finding the same problem?
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-15-2017, 03:12 PM
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# 20 grade density pool filter sand's grain size is large & heavy enough so that it quickly falls back to the bottom of the tank when disturbed in any way, even by aquarium vacuuming tools. It will not free-float in the water column, nor get into filters, etc.

I'm quite sure it will work just fine, but if not, your option is to get rid of the catfish, or change to another substrate.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-16-2017, 02:20 PM
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Hope you keep some kind of sand in there though. Sounds like your fish are having a fun time.
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