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Old 03-13-2013, 03:04 PM   #1 
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Rosalina's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Michigan
Question How to trade out gravel for sand?

I have a few Corydoras and a Betta for my 10gal tank and I know that Corydoras prefer sand, but my tank is all set up and I'm a bit nervous about switching out the gravel for sand. I heard that some people have to wait days for the sand to settle and I only have a 1gallon 'transporting' bowl and a .5gallon 'hospital' bowl. I would find it cruel to stick my fish in those for a few days as the tank settles without filtration or a heater.

Is there a certain brand that is best (While still being somewhat inexpensive for this college student)? Or tips to make this easier? I have tried to research it up on what to do, but lots of iffy stuff I've found.
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Old 03-13-2013, 03:12 PM   #2 
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Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Orange/Ulster County, New York
For me, when I did my 10 gallon project with the tank, cories, sand, etc. I spent $80. And that's mainly because the petco sand was $5 EACH.

The upside was that it was NICE.

The downside:
It clouded the water.
It supposedly raises the pH.

I really didn't like how the tank looked, and I still don't. I now have sand in the 5 gallon, and I only have a good half inch of it covering HALF the tank because I'd rather use the marbles.

So I'd say NO to petco sand.

As for sitting out, YES, let the sand settle for a few days. Test the pH and such. Also, don't forget to shift the sand because gas bubbles can get caught in the sand and I've been told can kil lthe fish :/

The first day


notice the color of the water
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Old 03-13-2013, 03:36 PM   #3 
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Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Waxhaw, NC
I started off on black betta sand from petsmart. I poured the sand into a bowl in the sink and turned the water on low. I then gently stirred the sand for what seemed like forever. Once I saw that no debris was coming up I put it in the tank. It took three containers for my 4 gallon and I experienced no cloudiness.
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Old 03-13-2013, 03:49 PM   #4 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Southwest US
I used white Petco sand and washed it in a couple of batches in a 5 gallon bucket until the water runoff was clear before putting it in the tank. I didn't notice any clouding of the water and am really enjoying the look.
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Old 03-13-2013, 10:08 PM   #5 
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Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Michigania
I have silica sand, no clouds, but it's not as soft as the sand you're probably thinking of.

However, home improvement stores sell white playsand for sandboxes, I spent $15 on two bags that completely covered my 55 2" deep. Regular brown sand is about $5-6. Yes, it needs rinsed BEFORE you put it in!!! I can't stress this enough.


Settled and blackwater

(yes, there is a 7' piranha in there. you can see her hiding in the first one, this was a day after we brought her home)
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Old 03-13-2013, 10:20 PM   #6 
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Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: North Central, OH
I've been wanting to do the same switch!! Been researching and asking about the best/fastest way to do it for months!!

What I have gathered So FAR::
Pool filter or black diamond blasting sand seem to be the best choices to get it done fast, but play sand most mimics a cories natural environment. The black diamond is used for sandblasting, so it can be a little sharp, but I've heard only 1 person say that. I personally am probably going to go with the black diamond. (I keep cories too)
Now after you have decided on sand and have picked it up. Get a 5 gallon bucket, and fill it up about 1/2-2/3 of the way with sand (you should probably do this in the lawn!) then go grab your hose, stick it in as far as you can, and turn it on full blast. Rinse, Rinse, and rinse some more till its not cloudy anymore, then rinse a couple more times. Keep doing this until you think that you have enough sand to fill your tank. (you'll probably need multiple buckets)
Then remove all the water from your tank, put the fish in a bucket with the filter running on it, and remove the gravel.
After you have the gravel out, fill the tank with the sand, fill the tank up 1/4 way with water. (you might want to do this with a plate in front of the bucket so that you dont have your sand going in all different directions) and if its cloudy, remove the water, try shouldnt take more than a couple times if you rinsed the sand well innitially.
fill the tank back up, add your fish, put the filter back in the main tank, and you are done! :)

Last edited by aemaki09; 03-13-2013 at 10:23 PM.
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Old 03-13-2013, 10:32 PM   #7 
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Join Date: Sep 2012
Petco's "sand" is really fine gravel (and a manmade material), it's NOT actually sand. It will float on surface tension and no amount of "soaking" it stops that behavior. Real sand sinks. Caribsea sands (Tahitian Moon, Moonlight, Torpedo Beach, etc) are all fine. The Tahitian Moon (black sand) is actually a coal slag product like Black Diamond is... so if you want that and want a lot of it, there's no reason to pay extra on the Caribsea. The Moonlight sand is very very fine.

I'd second the suggestion for PFS or Black Diamond (I've used both), but with the Black Diamond, get the finer 30/60 grit not the 20/40 if you go that route and have a choice (some stores only carry one or the other, so if you get what you can get that's okay, the 30/60 is just finer and looks a bit nicer). Pool filter sand is 100% silica sand and does not contain limestone or any of the other junk often found in "play" sand. You can get the PFS at Home Depot or Lowe's, or any specialy pool store. Leslie's store brand sand is sometimes more "white" than tan, so if you want a really white sand for cheap you might check that out.
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Old 03-13-2013, 10:56 PM   #8 
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Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Australia
Here's my experience of it.

I changed over in my 16 gallon tank after my panda cories suffered on my gravel. I used inert white sand from an aquarium shop.
I removed most of my fish and put them in a 5 gallon plastic tub with all the tank plants. I couldn't catch all of them and I didn't want to keep stressing them out by trying, so I gave up.
I drained the water to two inches above the substrate and scooped the gravel out with my hands. The remaining fish were savvy about getting out of the way.
I rinsed my sand carefull and use my hands to place it in the tank where I wanted it (I kept a gravel border and made a sand road through the middle - it's a very skinny tank).
I replaced my plants and gently refilled the tank, bouncing the water off the plants in an attempt to not disturb the sand.
I put my fish back in the tank.

My water was a bit cloudy for 24 hours or so, but that doesn't bother the fish at all, and it didn't really bother me. I had a slight pH spike, which did cause me to lose one of my very sensitive borasas maculata, but that was my fault for not being more careful with the species - I should have kept them seperate and acclimatised them over a few days. Cories and bettas were all fine. :)
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Old 03-14-2013, 12:22 AM   #9 
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Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Michigania
Sand will find a way into your filter.

I have silica in my frog tank, and there's always a little bit of sand in the bottom of the whisper. If it clouds your water, it'll be a pain to continuously clean out of the gears, but having your cories comfy will be worth it.
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Old 03-14-2013, 12:53 AM   #10 
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Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: California
I am new, but I use 20 Grade Pool Filter Sand from the local Leslie's (50 pounds for $10). I believe you can see a pic if you look at my aquariums. Mine is not a super bright white and I rinsed it thoroughly in a 5 gallon bucket (about $3 at WalMart) before putting it in and had no problems with cloudiness.
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