Sand as substrate - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-09-2015, 11:37 PM Thread Starter
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Sand as substrate

I love the look of sand, but I've heard bad things about it. For instance, is it true you have to mix it every month or so to release gasses? My local Petco just had a $1/gallon sale and I picked up a 55 gallon. I am just in the planning phase and probably won't be ready for fish until 2016. I've been stuck at deciding what substrate to use for a while now. I have always used Eco-Complete when I used to keep fish a decade ago and my son's tank has just regular gravel. Don't really want to use either of them with the new tank.

I plan to keep a small group of Julii Cories and I know they need a soft substrate...is sand considered soft? Also, will plants anchor in sand? I don't want to use it as a topper, so is there anything I need to know about using just all sand?

And just out of curiosity, does anyone here have freshwater clams in their tank? They seem like a neat thing to have, but I'd like to hear from someone who has kept/is keeping them. Thanks in advance!
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-10-2015, 01:52 AM
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Sand comes in several forms.

Play sand has a mix of moderately fine particles on down to almost flour. This blend of particles allows the substrate to pack down with no spaces between the particles. Therefor no water flow.

Pool filter sand has all the particles graded or sifted so they are all the same size. Usually 20 or 30 mesh. Since all the particles are the same size there are gaps between the particles, so water movement is good between the particles. This is good for oxygen exchange, and to get the fertilizers to the root area.

The problem with sand is that the particles are coarse so they do not hold the fertilizers well.

Clay particles are much finer, and can hold the fertilizers in a way that the plants can get them. Clay particles that are packed together into small masses are very good substrate. Montmorillonite clays are such a material.
Safe-T-Sorb, Turface and some others are montmorillonite clays. They have their own problems, though. They are very lightweight, and it is difficult to anchor plants when you first plant them. Once they get rooted, plants grow very well in it.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-10-2015, 04:16 AM
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Sand is as inert as your Eco-Complete, well washed pool sand is cheapest, and easiest substrate for tank.

If you have a choice, you have a problem, till you elect your choice. No choice, no problem, only consequences, learn to live with them.
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-10-2015, 05:05 PM
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Originally Posted by sesakaso View Post
I love the look of sand, but I've heard bad things about it. For instance, is it true you have to mix it every month or so to release gasses? My local Petco just had a $1/gallon sale and I picked up a 55 gallon. I am just in the planning phase and probably won't be ready for fish until 2016. I've been stuck at deciding what substrate to use for a while now. I have always used Eco-Complete when I used to keep fish a decade ago and my son's tank has just regular gravel. Don't really want to use either of them with the new tank.

I plan to keep a small group of Julii Cories and I know they need a soft substrate...is sand considered soft? Also, will plants anchor in sand? I don't want to use it as a topper, so is there anything I need to know about using just all sand?

And just out of curiosity, does anyone here have freshwater clams in their tank? They seem like a neat thing to have, but I'd like to hear from someone who has kept/is keeping them. Thanks in advance!

Have a look at the replies to your same question on AC - Aquarium Community forum.
I believe you 'll find the answers you're looking for there.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-10-2015, 06:52 PM
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I have a 55 gallon set up about two months now. I put pool sand in it. So far, I love it. Trash/mulm sits on top, and is easily siphoned off. You can see the trash easily in whiteish colored sand. My crypts are growing quickly in it. Yes, the fish can pull the plants out easily at first, but my crypts took hold quickly. I've had gravels and that black sand/blasting sand before, and I must say I like this whitish colored pool sand much better. I have 11 albino corys, 8 otos, and three angels in this tank. It looks very nice and clean. Over time the algae may turn it some greenish tint, or not. I haven't had it long enough to know that aspect yet. But I am doubtful this will be an issue. Just stir up the sand and bury the algae covered grains and they should die, I guess.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-10-2015, 08:35 PM
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I have a 55 gallon set up about two months now. I put pool sand in it. So far, I love it. Trash/mulm sits on top, and is easily siphoned off. You can see the trash easily in whiteish colored sand. My crypts are growing quickly in it. Yes, the fish can pull the plants out easily at first, but my crypts took hold quickly. I've had gravels and that black sand/blasting sand before, and I must say I like this whitish colored pool sand much better. I have 11 albino corys, 8 otos, and three angels in this tank. It looks very nice and clean. Over time the algae may turn it some greenish tint, or not. I haven't had it long enough to know that aspect yet. But I am doubtful this will be an issue. Just stir up the sand and bury the algae covered grains and they should die, I guess.

When your whitish PFS starts to pick up a little algae coating - yes, do stir it up a few times - but when it thickens somewhat and becomes more apparent, just siphon out the top 10%-15% layer, and replace it with new sand - presto - just like new for the next 3-4 months.


Had this tank set up for well over a year - replaced the top layer like I described above, about every 4 months, and it looked like this all the time.

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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-10-2015, 09:16 PM
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Originally Posted by discuspaul View Post
When your whitish PFS starts to pick up a little algae coating - yes, do stir it up a few times - but when it thickens somewhat and becomes more apparent, just siphon out the top 10%-15% layer, and replace it with new sand - presto - just like new for the next 3-4 months.


Had this tank set up for well over a year - replaced the top layer like I described above, about every 4 months, and it looked like this all the time.

Sooo Beautiful!!! I am really loving the white sand look.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-10-2015, 09:41 PM
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I used white sand in my 75G. I love the look. Mine is new so it is getting covered in diatoms and looks a little brown.
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