Thinking of getting rid of my SMS and going with sand... - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-11-2008, 08:15 AM Thread Starter
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Thinking of getting rid of my SMS and going with sand...

I'm running a low tech setup in a 55g and have grown tired of the SMS substrate. I have the reddish orange stuff and I've never been a huge fan of how it looks - I got it because it was cheap, sort of matched the flourite I've got as a base layer under there, and because it got rave reviews here. Lately I've gotten really sick of how light weight it is too. It is really tough to plant something and have it stay down unless it is a big plant, and it's so light that when I try to use the python I end up sucking up substrate. Recently this has been a problem because the fish have a parasite issue and I really should do a thorough gravel vac in addition to the treatment, but I can't. I'm thinking I might just tear it all right out of there and start fresh. (While I'm at it I might upgrade to a larger tank, but we'll see.)

I have always liked the look of the black substrates like an eco-complete, for the plants, but with the fish I keep I also really would like a nice white sand. Of course I realize that using the python with sand is another fun adventure, but I imagine (just guessing here) that it's a bit easier to plant stuff in sand. Not sure though, because I've never had sand before in any of my tanks.

Here's the other challenge - I have eartheaters. Yeah, I know, it's not the best combo with plants. But it's not super densely planted and they got bullied in the other tanks. I've grown accustomed to living with their re-landscaping so it's not that big a deal. But I do need to be sure that it's a substrate that is OK for them to be mouthing. I also have clown loaches - not sure if they have issues with sharper stuff.

So... is it wise to go the sand route, or is that just going to be the same amount or more trouble? If I do sand, given that I also have the eartheaters, should I still have that base layer of the flourite underneath? (So far they have never exposed it from under the SMS, but I have a good 3-4" of SMS in some spots) Are there any other considerations when using sand? What would be the best type, given the types of fish?

Or should I just go with the eco-complete? It wouldn't look quite as good with the fish but it sure would be easy.
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-11-2008, 11:51 AM
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my vote is for eco.

I have one custom mixed substrate tank and one sand tank, the non-sand tank is easier with planting stuff like pygmy chain sword, etc. With larger plants, I have no differences.

75g 3 T8s 2x OD, XP3, pres. CO2,
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-11-2008, 02:06 PM
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I've had good success with plants in eco, but I should warn you that it's no longer a deep black. More often than not, its full of light grey and red particles which are larger than the small black pieces, and will end up on the top as the black settles to the bottom. Reportedly, they'll send you a higher quality replacement if you complain, but of the 3 bags I've purchased, all were of the black/red/grey variety.
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-11-2008, 04:00 PM
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With the money you'd save if you go w/ sand - Pool Filter Sand: good quality, pre-washed @ $9.99 per 50lbs - over Eco-Complete ($26.00 per 20lbs), you can afford to purchase a 75g tank!!!

75g tank - 3" deep
Sand: 3 bags = $30.00
Eco-Complete: 7 bags = $182.00
Savings: $152.00!!

Switching out substrates in a large tank is such a major P.I.T.A., I'd certainly make it worth the effort and move to a better size tank, if at all possible. I'm sure your eartheaters would love a bigger tank and the sand as well. However, as you alluded; sand will give you as much trouble w/ needing extra care when gravel vacing.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-11-2008, 05:59 PM
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I have used both and prefer Eco-complete. Pool filter sand is cheap (<$4 at Home Depot) but you have to be careful when uprooting plants). You also will need to mix in some gravel or add some Malaysian trumpet snails to keep the sand from becoming compacted.

Here's a pic of mine:



Now, to show the difference here is a pic of the 55g. I was able to ge my Eco on sale for $10 a bag.


My tanks:
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นะกัดตัง กะขะชนะ
ตัวข้ามีกำลังดังพระยา ปลาในมหาสมุทร
สุกุโยเกล็ดแก้วมณีหุ้มห่อตัวข้าดังเกราะเพชร
พุตากะเก เขี้ยวแก้วทั้ง 4 ดุจตรีเพชร
หนุมาน มะอะอุปลา ใดมารอนราน วินาศสันติ
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-11-2008, 06:10 PM
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If you clean sand properly (remove "vacuum" part of a python and just the hose, little to no sand is lost. Don't let that be an area of concern. Heck, to be honest, I don't even gravel vac at all. I just blow around with a powerhead for a few secs and then start the water change....

Also, don't worry about compaction - that is a serious problem with play sand, but due to the grain size of PFS, I haven't had any problems in ~2 years without moving it.

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Originally Posted by Rod Hay View Post
With the money you'd save if you go w/ sand - Pool Filter Sand: good quality, pre-washed @ $9.99 per 50lbs - over Eco-Complete
FYI: Pool Filter Sand is $5 a bag at Home Depot, so it's an even better deal ($15 more in savings).

~ Joel
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-11-2008, 06:18 PM
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I just read that you have eartheaters - definitely go with sand and don't worry about rooted plants so much - look into java fern and anubias etc. it can be very stunning.

Take a look at this for inspiration (Trackhazard's Firemouth Tank):
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-11-2008, 07:01 PM Thread Starter
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That tank is beautiful!

I have plenty of anubias and a little bit of java fern (I had a bunch but it all died when I was treating ich a few months ago) so I could definitely do something like that. I really suck at tying plants down to stuff though, and haven't even attempted it since my flying fox ended up tied in a knot - that was nearly a disaster.

PFS seems like the way to go - now should I still leave the flourite underneath it? I do have some swords. They'd probably just be in the back corners though. Maybe I could even make some wide pots for those or something.

Just need to check with the cichlid forum to be sure that the PFS is OK for the geos and loaches... pretty sure it is and it's just rays that have a problem with it. Because I'd like to avoid having snails, since there's a chance that they're the source of a parasite issue in this tank.

I've never had a powerhead in my planted tank... probably should. That'd definitely make the cleaning easier. Great idea.

Quote:
Switching out substrates in a large tank is such a major P.I.T.A., I'd certainly make it worth the effort and move to a better size tank, if at all possible. I'm sure your eartheaters would love a bigger tank and the sand as well. However, as you alluded; sand will give you as much trouble w/ needing extra care when gravel vacing.
I'm looking at getting a 110. I have another place to put the fish while I do a change if I don't, but the 110 might be available, which would be a nice upgrade. The problem is that this tank is in the living room so it has to be like furniture too - nice wood stand and canopy - so it takes longer to find the right stuff. Either way, I've upgraded two other tanks in the past month so I'm used to the work!
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-11-2008, 07:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Dave B View Post
Just need to check with the cichlid forum to be sure that the PFS is OK for the geos and loaches...
I can tell you that it's safe. I could tell you at c-f.com too
My mikrogeophagus (Bolivian Rams) love it - it's gotta be fine for their larger cousins!
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-23-2008, 09:24 PM
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sand

i bought two fifty lb. bags of chicken scratch ,it is sand, not to fine or course, it comes in white or redish brown, you can get it at a feed store for farm animals foods . 6 dollars a bag very good stuff.
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