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What substrate is safe for corydoras catfish/loaches

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Starting a new tank and would like to house corydoras catfish, possibly loaches. Will have shrimp as well but doubt that effects anything.

Was wondering what substrate is good for them.
I do want it a heavily planted aquarium.
I read around and sand is the obvious go to but I am nervous about it as I never used it before.
Is it difficult to plant in sand? Isn't it messy as well causing cloudy water?
I will probably use java fern and anubias as that won't be effected by the sand but I will also probably use plants like java moss, crypts, crypt parva, and more
I don't plan to have small, thin plants like micro swords
What brands of sand should I get?
Also I have some extra gravel laying around, if I do go with sand can i put that right on top of the gravel or would it fall to the bottom and the top would just be gravel?

Thanks.
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I use pool filter sand for my corys and have no issues to report. I have orange laser, green laser, and pygmy hastatus all in different tanks but all with pool filter sand, plants and HMFs. Water is clear, plants are doing well, and my corys spend all day rooting around in the sand so I'm guessing they like it. And it's CHEAP which makes it even better :)
 

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I also use silica (pool filter) sand any my Cory's are just fine. I'm also aware of folks that use big box (sacrete) play sand and that works well too. Sand works great, it just needs to be 'washed' well to remove the fines (tiny dust/dirt like particles of sand). Also, for plants, you want a somewhat coarse sand as opposed to a fine sugar like sand as very fine sands can pack making root penetration difficult and potentially promoting anaerobic regions.
 

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I have Eco Complete in a couple of tanks and Caribsea Super Naturals sand in others. Cories have done well in each tank.

I do think that the sand will work its way under the gravel if used on top, but I haven't ever used both so not really sure. If you want to use the gravel I'd make that the top layer.
 

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I use pool filter sand as well. I had clay but my Cory's barbells got shorter. They have improved so much with the sand. The sand lets fertilizers get to the roots too. It isn't at all cloudy.


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If you have a Home Depot handy and like a more natural tan/brown sand, I recommend checking to see if they have Quikcrete brand pool filter sand. I like pool sand as it is graded much more than all purpose or play sand and it is normally much, much, cleaner so that I don't bother rinsing it. But much of the pool sand is a glaring white color, unlike the Quikcrete I find.
And I do like to mix several type to make a less uniform bottom which looks more like the way nature does things. Nature is messy!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for all the replies. So any pool filter sand is fine or do i need to look for something specific. As a few of you mentioned a coarse sand and not a very fine sand as it will cause aerobic areas as well as inhibit root growth. Thanks again.
 

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If you have a Home Depot handy and like a more natural tan/brown sand, I recommend checking to see if they have Quikcrete brand pool filter sand. I like pool sand as it is graded much more than all purpose or play sand and it is normally much, much, cleaner so that I don't bother rinsing it. But much of the pool sand is a glaring white color, unlike the Quikcrete I find.
And I do like to mix several type to make a less uniform bottom which looks more like the way nature does things. Nature is messy!
I have been to three HD near me and none of them have this PFS, they only have the HTH brand nowadays (but you can apparently find them online still). I was in a hurry so did not want to wait.
 

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Thanks for all the replies. So any pool filter sand is fine or do i need to look for something specific. As a few of you mentioned a coarse sand and not a very fine sand as it will cause aerobic areas as well as inhibit root growth. Thanks again.
It is my understanding that all pool filter sand will be the same grit size due to being made for use in the filters where it is pretty critical on size. But then I don't find it is all the same as some is lighter or darker. But I do like the size as it does give some advantages I like. One is that it is cleaner so that less rinsing is needed but the main thing for me is that it is less likely to have small bits that tend to get into HOB filters and stick around the impeller shaft. That tiny bit of grit can very quickly score the shaft and require replacement. Canisters do the media before the impeller but still I don't like the thought of too much sand moving around if heavier works the same.
Not terribly surprised to see it is not available in the Quikcrete at all stores as some things are more regional it seems.
 

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If all you can get is play sand, it's really not so bad. I use pool filter now, but mostly because it makes a better cap for dirted tanks. The small, light play sand grains will be easier for your cories to dig through; if it's all you can manage to find, perhaps it is some consolation to speculate that they might enjoy it more (though who can really say).
 

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Just want to piggyback on this topic. Have people had good success with the black diamond blasting sand with loaches and cories. I know A lot of people use it in planted tanks, but is it as good for loaches and cories as pool filter sand? I have eco-complete and my kuhlis wont burrow in it so thinking of changing.
 

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I would just like to but in and say, I have had 6 corys in gravel for 3 and half years, and no barbels or health issues became of it.

It really depends on the size of the gravel, and the texture. If ANY are sharp or bumpy, I would not recommend it. But as long as it is genuinely rounded gravel, you should be good to go! Make sure their pellets (that you feed them) don't sink into the gravel. Make sure there are no crevasse's that any food could get lodged in, in the gravel. Oh and I also have a ten gallon with play sand, it is great! My tank has been thriving for 2 yrs! Good luck with whatever choice you decide.
 

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When I was breeding Corys I used play sand from Home Depot, Lowes or True Value, never had a problem with any. I did give it a good rinse in a 20 gallon tote with a hose pipe. Having said that I always did it in the spring or summer.

Pool sand was always that dollar or so higher than play sand. Tight, me? Nope, just careful ;-)
 
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