In response to the boiling the sand... this is some peoples personal preferance. I personally have never gone as far as to boil it myself. But I do take a 5 gallon bucket fill it half full of sand and continually fill the bucket with water rinse the sand and dump out the water. It takes me about 2 hours to completely rinse a bag of play sand so that it doesn't cloud my tank every time I stir it up.
And in response to the Pool filter sand. Essentially its just Silica sand. Its widely used in the aquarium hobby, and much prefered by most people. I used it in my 175g african cichlid tank, along with crushed coral to buffer the Ph. Instead of buying it at the LFS next time find your local pool sales place and just purchase it through them you will save a lot more money that way.
Must admit I have sand in both my tanks, and never had any probs, my fish love it, they dig it up and its never the same each day, I have 2 freshwater mussels and they love digging and hiding in it.
I also have no probs with plants in it, I dig them in well, But I have prob about 6inch depth of sand in places where the fish have dug it, the floaty plants, getput nest to my hardscape and there roots dug under the rocks.
I dont have any problems with it getting everywhere.
And when I had loaches and corys on gravel, then moved to sand they looked healthier and their barbel grew big
edited to add, I rinse in the bath, I put sandin big bucket and run the shower constanly though it while stiring the sand
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i have 3 tanks with sand 100,75, and 55... the 75 and 55 are pretty well planted not really massive growth but they do grow fairly well i dont do ferts or co2
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IME almost every single problem people have with sand is due to the type of sand and not sand in general.
The sand I use comes in multiple colors and I use either solid black or black and white mixed. Light colored backgrounds and substrates will cause fish to wash out their colors to try and match it. This is why I use black backgrounds and dark or black substrates. They darken their colors to try to match so reds are redder, blues are bluer, etc. There is actually a measurable increase in the pigmentation with darker backgrounds. Fish not only seem more colorful but actually are physiologically.
My plants have always done well to too well in the sand I use. It is inert but I enrich it with root tabs.
My cories have never had any issues (neither have my loaches, spiney eels, catfish, bichirs, goldfish, the stingrays at the store I was running, or anything else).
The sand I use is very uniform in size and sinks very quickly when moved by cichlids, goldfish, etc. This means that for it to be an issue with filters the fish have to spit it right into the intake.
Some silica-based sands can cause horrible brown algae problems. The one I use has a polymer coating that prevents this.
IME sand is much easier to maintain, effectively maintenance-free. I will never use gravel ever again except in cases of fish so large it simply isn't practical (pacus, big catfish, etc.).
Sand is the most natural substrate available. Effectively all of the fish we keep in the hobby are from waters that move too slowly for gravel to be the substrate. The substrate is sand or finer (the finer being silt or mud, both impractical in the hobby for almost everyone).
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"On a final not(e) I will mention Dead Pockets. These are areas that form in sand that aren’t circulated by the water. They are usually oxygen deprived and have no anaerobic bacteria. So the sand should be sifted on a regular basis."
Boy, did I learn this lesion the hard way! Lost a lot of fish! I too use sand (play) and it is fairly fine (I washed it a min of six times! to remove the ultra fine particles.)
That said, I discovered that a heavily planted tank has a huge down side- I did not stir the sand due to extensive root systems and boy, after a year or so, the sand became toxic! (even killed off most of my plants)
Live and learn - I am trying a new method. I added an UG filter plate that has power heads running in reverse. This drives water through the sand keeping it clean (waste can't get down into it.) I have a normal canister filter filled with noodles and I added a biowheel to further improve bio-action.
The UG is not and will not be used as my filter, it just automaticly "stirs" the sand and boy, does it work! Whether it works in the long run I'll see but boy, does it keep waste out of the top sand layer and (I hope) may keep "pockets" of dead space from forming and allowing deadly bacteria to grow on the fish liquid waste that would normally diffuse down into the sand.
Last edited by Cermet; 03-12-2011 at 02:09 PM.
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A 75 gal with eight Discus, fake plants, and a lot of wood also with sand substrate. Clean up crew is fifteen Sterba's Corys. Filters: canister w/UV, in-tank algae scrubber that removes phosphates and nitrates! Also, a highly dangerous commercial nitrate removal unit from hell
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I have white play sand for my cories, causes them no damage what so ever.
I've had a planted sand tank, had excellent growth.
White play sand can stress some fish to where they wash out their colouring, their washout hd nothing to do with water parameters. I changed the white sand over to black sand, and now their colours look awesome!
In the tank i use sand i have malaysian trumpet snailsw, they keep the sand aerated, no bad pockets
White play sand is cheap as here. Black quartz sand not so cheap.
Silica sands usually do cause diatom outbreaks
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That cleared up alot of questions I had, Thanks for being very informative!
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This was a 2 yr old thread that returned from the dead but glad it did because I learned a lot since then and don't use sand at all anymore. Don't like it at all.
I mixed Flourite with Tahitian Moon Sand from CaribSea Super Naturals and not only did a bunch of my plants die but the plants that propagate via runners did absolutely nothing.
So this whole thing about mixing sand with plant substrate seem like misinformation to me.
I wouldn't be so quick to blame the sand mix, and thus judge the info as incorrect.