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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm currently setting up a 55g aquarium and I'm having trouble with the substrate. To cut to the chase, I'm looking for a black sand that won't be harsh on the cories and other bottom dwellers, but will also be a practical substrate for plants without too much extra care. I've heard that some sands can cause lacerations to cories as well as barbel erosion (I have also heard this is a myth and its actually water quality, but better safe than sorry).

I have a few bags of SeaChem Fluorite Black Sand on the way, but I've heard mixed reviews and might want to try something different. I've also heard that Black Diamond Blasting Sand works great for cories and plants when washed and used with root tabs, so thats what I'm leaning towards right now. Although I would prefer not to, I'm willing to spend a fair bit of money for nice sand as well as extra time to keep the plants healthy if the substrate is not enriched. Any ideas? should I just stick to what I ordered? What do you use? any advice is appreciated.

Thanks for the help!
 

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I used black diamond blasting sand (for my planted 6 gallon low tech) around the edges and as a cap, with a mixture of garden soil, Terramin clay, and a few handfuls of worm castings from our compost underneath. It’s been about 6 months and it’s all doing great. I read that many people use BDBS with cories and they’re fine, I don’t personally have any though. My plants are doing amazing, the swords have really taken off and the Monte Carlo is and Micro Sword are spreading slow but steady. I would definitely try this again with a bigger tank- just let it settle out with the plants before adding stock, I had small ammonia fluctuations the first couple weeks from the soil.
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I've kept 50 or so Cory cats in different tanks, always black diamond blasting sand. Never had problems with them in particular. I did get a bad shipment online and they arrived beat up as described, barbs tore up. Nothing to do with the blasting sand.
That's great. Do you have plants in the BDBS? If so, how do you care for them?
 

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I posted my response while waiting in line at the grocery story deli, so I'll elaborate a bit more here.

My tank is relatively new; it's been up and running for 2 months now. Because I have a 15 month old at home and other hobbies to stay up with as well, I wanted something relatively low maintenance. I didn't want the potential ammonia from Aquasoil and wanted to be able to introduce fish from my other tanks pretty quickly; I had a cycled filter ready to go and didn't want to wait for ammonia to bleed off of my soil. Additionally, I had used pool filter sand previously with good success, growing Vals and swords.

I basically use one Thrive root tab per plant. Too much? I don't know. I'm still dialing in CO2 and light; I had some hair algae issues on a couple of my anubias and some of the Val but seem to be recovering from that. I've turned down the light, and shortened the photoperiod, and gradually turning up my CO2. I have a 250-2300gph Innovative Marine powerhead a couple of inches above the CO2art diffuser; I wanted to simulate a river current AND get some distribution of the CO2 around the tank. Oddly enough, the area with the best growth is furthest from the diffuser. Some of the Val furthest from the diffuser + powerhead are 30" long, and probably overdue for a trim. Maybe the current inhibits growth?

Details:

75g acrylic aquarium w/acrylic lid
100lbs BDBS (medium) substrate
30? Val
2x Madagascar lace
3x Anubias nana
2x Amazon sword
1x Innovative Marine 250-2500gph powerhead, set at 2 out of 9
2x Seachem Tidal 110 --> will be switching to FX6 with inline diffuser + 207 for water polishing (will also help with establishing a more circular current)

CO2Art Pro SE at 1.5bps (will be increasing; drop checker still quite blue)
1x Thrive tab/plant
Dose 1 capful of Seachem Trace per week

7x panda cory
9x peppered cory
5x bronze cory
6x yoyo loach
8x Colombian tetra
unknown number of Japanese trapdoor snails; not a massive number, but I don't keep track of them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I posted my response while waiting in line at the grocery story deli, so I'll elaborate a bit more here.

My tank is relatively new; it's been up and running for 2 months now. Because I have a 15 month old at home and other hobbies to stay up with as well, I wanted something relatively low maintenance. I didn't want the potential ammonia from Aquasoil and wanted to be able to introduce fish from my other tanks pretty quickly; I had a cycled filter ready to go and didn't want to wait for ammonia to bleed off of my soil. Additionally, I had used pool filter sand previously with good success, growing Vals and swords.

I basically use one Thrive root tab per plant. Too much? I don't know. I'm still dialing in CO2 and light; I had some hair algae issues on a couple of my anubias and some of the Val but seem to be recovering from that. I've turned down the light, and shortened the photoperiod, and gradually turning up my CO2. I have a 250-2300gph Innovative Marine powerhead a couple of inches above the CO2art diffuser; I wanted to simulate a river current AND get some distribution of the CO2 around the tank. Oddly enough, the area with the best growth is furthest from the diffuser. Some of the Val furthest from the diffuser + powerhead are 30" long, and probably overdue for a trim. Maybe the current inhibits growth?

Details:

75g acrylic aquarium w/acrylic lid
100lbs BDBS (medium) substrate
30? Val
2x Madagascar lace
3x Anubias nana
2x Amazon sword
1x Innovative Marine 250-2500gph powerhead, set at 2 out of 9
2x Seachem Tidal 110 --> will be switching to FX6 with inline diffuser + 207 for water polishing (will also help with establishing a more circular current)

CO2Art Pro SE at 1.5bps (will be increasing; drop checker still quite blue)
1x Thrive tab/plant
Dose 1 capful of Seachem Trace per week

7x panda cory
9x peppered cory
5x bronze cory
6x yoyo loach
8x Colombian tetra
unknown number of Japanese trapdoor snails; not a massive number, but I don't keep track of them.
Wow thats a lot of great info thank you! I think I'm going to shy away from the CO2, thats a little above my pay grade. As for the root tabs and fertilizer, thats much more manageable, I think I'll stick to that. I'm still debating on returning the Fluorite Black sand I bought and replacing it with BDBS though.. As for the amount of sand, you said 100lbs for 75 gallons? How deep was the substrate layer that you had? I might not even have enough fluorite sand, so I might have to switch anyways.

Thanks for all the help
 

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Wow thats a lot of great info thank you! I think I'm going to shy away from the CO2, thats a little above my pay grade. As for the root tabs and fertilizer, thats much more manageable, I think I'll stick to that. I'm still debating on returning the Fluorite Black sand I bought and replacing it with BDBS though.. As for the amount of sand, you said 100lbs for 75 gallons? How deep was the substrate layer that you had? I might not even have enough fluorite sand, so I might have to switch anyways.

Thanks for all the help
I'm using Flourite sand because I specifically like the look, it's not really sand-sand, more like very very fine gravel chips... Like grated brick almost. And I really like the slight differences in coloration between the individual pieces..... (mine is not black, it's the regular - looked like coffee grounds out of the bag but it's a beautiful terracotta now). It was a b**** to wash though, man, that took like 3 days. Although I was doing it in my tub, so.

I got two 7 kilo (15.4lbs) bags for my 29G tall (so that's a footprint of 30'' x 12'' I think??) and got about an inch and a half of even coverage. I sort of made it a little higher where I wanted to put my plants and a little lower where I was ok with having free space.... so plants are planted in around 2 inches and seem to do ok in that, though I'm using very non-demanding plants, being a newbie and all. Honestly if I were doing it again I'd get one more bag and get deeper coverage throughout but I just didn't have the strength to go back again and lug another 7kg on my back through the metro.
 

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The BDBS comes in 50lb bags; I bought two. I used ~5lbs for another project before I used the rest in my tank, so maybe 95lbs in the tank itself.

I'd say my substrate is 3-4" deep at the back and 1.5 - 2" deep in the front. I have a couple of large rocks that are sunk down to the bottom of the tank that take up some of that area/volume, too, so the ~95lbs goes further than it would without those rocks.
 

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That's great. Do you have plants in the BDBS? If so, how do you care for them?
I do in all my tanks. I use dirt under bdbs in a few and root tabs in the others. My current tank is dirt under bdbs. Has been that way for a couple years now. I add root tabs to the raised planter beds and under new plants when I feel like it. Otherwise, the fish poop seems to be enough most of the time for me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I do in all my tanks. I use dirt under bdbs in a few and root tabs in the others. My current tank is dirt under bdbs. Has been that way for a couple years now. I add root tabs to the raised planter beds and under new plants when I feel like it. Otherwise, the fish poop seems to be enough most of the time for me.
Thanks so much for the help. I think I'm gonna try to stick with root tabs and maybe some liquid fertilizer if needed. On paper I'll have a decently large bioload and not a whole lot of plants, so from what I have come to understand, it should be fine

Thanks again for all the help
 

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Thanks so much for the help. I think I'm gonna try to stick with root tabs and maybe some liquid fertilizer if needed. On paper I'll have a decently large bioload and not a whole lot of plants, so from what I have come to understand, it should be fine

Thanks again for all the help
Should be fine! You'll have to hit the balance point between growth and load. You'll get a feel for it, but it will take time.
 

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I have black NZ iron sand in a section of my tank for my corys, it's very fine and soft, looks beautiful (shimmery) and the corys love it. The plants in that section are thriving too. The rest of the substrate is Fluorite black, which is quite nice but I'm finding I prefer the sand, it's easier to plant in and feels so nice. I use root tabs under my hungrier stem plants, and apt all in one fert for the water column, with co2 dialled in using a nilocg reactor running off my fx6. Everything is happy and healthy as far as I can tell.

I am thinking of changing all the substrate over to the NZ iron sand eventually.
 

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I have black NZ iron sand in a section of my tank for my corys, it's very fine and soft, looks beautiful (shimmery) and the corys love it. The plants in that section are thriving too. The rest of the substrate is Fluorite black, which is quite nice but I'm finding I prefer the sand, it's easier to plant in and feels so nice. I use root tabs under my hungrier stem plants, and apt all in one fert for the water column, with co2 dialled in using a nilocg reactor running off my fx6. Everything is happy and healthy as far as I can tell.

I am thinking of changing all the substrate over to the NZ iron sand eventually.
How do you change substrate, do you have to tear down the whole tank?
 

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How do you change substrate, do you have to tear down the whole tank?
I probably will just because of how heavily planted it is. This tank is a grow out for some very small clown loaches and turquoise rainbow fish right now, so when I'm ready to change over, I'll just move everything into the larger permanent tank, put the new substrate into the current five footer and then move the corydoras, neons, guppies and otos back along with half of the plants.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I have black NZ iron sand in a section of my tank for my corys, it's very fine and soft, looks beautiful (shimmery) and the corys love it. The plants in that section are thriving too. The rest of the substrate is Fluorite black, which is quite nice but I'm finding I prefer the sand, it's easier to plant in and feels so nice. I use root tabs under my hungrier stem plants, and apt all in one fert for the water column, with co2 dialled in using a nilocg reactor running off my fx6. Everything is happy and healthy as far as I can tell.

I am thinking of changing all the substrate over to the NZ iron sand eventually.
Where'd you find this sand? I like the sound of it. Is it inert?
 

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Where'd you find this sand? I like the sound of it. Is it inert?


I bought mine years ago, before it was fancy and super expensive, but this is basically the same stuff. Doesn't affect my pH at all, but the iron seems to help my plants. It's bound so it's inert, but the plants are still able to access it. It has slightly magnetic properties so you don't really want it getting sucked up into your filters and clinging to your impeller, but fortunately to me at least it seems heavier than regular sand and doesn't blow around nearly as much.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·


I bought mine years ago, before it was fancy and super expensive, but this is basically the same stuff. Doesn't affect my pH at all, but the iron seems to help my plants. It's bound so it's inert, but the plants are still able to access it. It has slightly magnetic properties so you don't really want it getting sucked up into your filters and clinging to your impeller, but fortunately to me at least it seems heavier than regular sand and doesn't blow around nearly as much.
I'll for sure look into it, thanks!
 
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