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Old 11-17-2011, 07:47 PM   #1 
ManInBlack2010
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thinking about sand substrate in my next tank...

any tips for a newbie... i've heard it's more difficult than gravel. Can it be cleaned with my gravel vacuum? If not, what's the 'easiest' way to clean it? I plan on setting up a 5g tank this weekend.
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Old 11-17-2011, 08:24 PM   #2 
vilmarisv
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I actually find it easier than gravel because I don't have to rinse and rinse, just move the vaccum over the sand and pickup the waste being careful not to remove sand.
If you don't like seing the waste on the surface it's something you should really consider before you decide... the gunk sits on top so you can see it until you clean it. Gravel tends to hide it better because the waste sinks in between the pebbles.
I decided on Petco brand sand because is a coarse sand and it's better for plants than regular sand.
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Old 11-17-2011, 11:59 PM   #3 
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I have used both and I think gravel is way easier to clean if you have to 100% water changes! But if your tank is cycled it's great! Sand is easier to clean in a cycled tank, although it does have a tendency to be picked up by the siphon. What I would do is get a Turkey baster to pick up the debries and then just use the siphon to make sure you got everything.
Another thing that sand has a tendencies to do is make your tank really cloudy. Even just moving around decorations makes it cloudy. Maybe this was just my tank but I still thought I would mention it!

Sand takes some time to get used to cleaning wise as you can't just stick your gravel vacuum in it and suck up all the debris. But, if you like the look of sand better and you feel you can handle the different way of cleaning it. Go for it!
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Old 11-18-2011, 02:22 AM   #4 
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sand also compacts over time .. so you'll have to use something like a fork to poke it once in a while so stagnant air bubbles don't form in the sand and turn into bad gasses for your tank .. and since it does compact .. it'll be very hard to grow any plants in the sand since the roots of live plants will have a lot of difficulty growing when it's compacted that is if you decide to put any live plants in your tank ..

also sammy ... my bf's betta loves to dig holes in it (only in the corners for some reason) .. and usually gets sand all over his tail fins .. and i worry so much that he's gonna get sand stuck some place bad .. like his labyrinth .. but so far so good =)

i've had all sorts of substrate .. glass beads (including marbles and decorative glass shells and stars) .. real fine sand (the kind you would see on those white sandy beaches .. and when it's dry if you sneeze it'll float away and kinda looks like it's melting when it touches water) .. regular AQ gravel .. fine "sand" gravel (i do not recommend this kind .. looks like sand .. packaging also said sand it really isn't .. cus behaves like gravel that was crushed into a smaller grain and floats on the surface when cleaning .. got it at petco .. it's a bad bad substrate) .. out of everything that i use .. i like fine sand the most .. it's a pain in the rear-end to clean for initial use .. but maintenance is a lot easier then gravel .. and if you have a hard time not sucking up the sand when using a gravel siphon .. what u do is detach the actual siphon handle and just use the connector tube .. then keep it 1-2 inches away from the top layer of sand .. and that should pick up any debris that lays on the surface of the sand without agitating the sand if that makes sense =D

it all depends on what your planning for your tank

*side note* if your planning on doing a dual substrate with gravel and sand .. so you can plant live plants and keep the sand look .. make sure to plant your plants in the gravel first before laying the sand .. that way when you add water .. the sand doesn't fill in all the crevices of the gravel which will then block roots to grow =)

last note .. i also recommend using this method (youtube link below) to clean the sand for initial use .. BUT .. do not do it like this guy in his tank .. i would do it in a bucket .. then rinse it a few extra times to get rid of any excess cloudyness that could come with using sand (i rinsed about 50 times after .. then let it stand over night .. and rinsed it again about 20 times with warm water cus i'm paranoid .. before scooping it into my tank .. the bottle really collects a lot of the initial debris and particles that comes off of new sand

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-XB0bwtZh8

Last edited by HatsuneMiku; 11-18-2011 at 02:29 AM.
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Old 11-18-2011, 03:43 AM   #5 
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I've had sand and gravel. They each have their pros and cons. One thing with sand is you have to pour water in for water changes slowly and carefully because if you kick up a lot of sand, it can really wreak havoc on your filter. I ruined a good AquaClear 20 that way. It wasn't even 6 months old but the sand got stuck in the impeller and broke it.

And definitely, you need to poke it or stir it frequently. I didn't know that the first time I got sand and my pure white sand turned a nasty shade of gray. There were stinky toxic pockets of bad gas everywhere and they killed two of my cory cats.

But that aside, sand is a great substrate.
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Old 11-18-2011, 08:10 AM   #6 
SnowySurface
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I've been using sand for a couple of months now and I like it way more than gravel. When it's time to clean up poop, I use a turkey baster to pick up some of the bigger pieces of poop to make the tank look a little cleaner. It was a bigger pain to set up than gravel, but maintanance is much easier now that the tank is set up. :)
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Old 11-18-2011, 08:59 PM   #7 
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thanks everyone!! after reading your guys' posts i decided to give it a go. bought a 5.5g tank set (the 5.5g was cheaper than the 5g O.o) and some black sand - so far i'm not having very many problems with the sand except for it moved all over when i was pouring the water in and then when i smoothed it back it flew all over the place *facepalm* we will see how this goes, lol - i will definitely poke the sand, probably weekly when i do my water changes.

i'll post pics of the tank once my camera finishes charging, i'm really excited, i saw a white HM at petsmart when i got the tank and i'm gonna go back and get him tomorrow just cause i can't let him go, lol, even if he's gotta live in my 1.5g betta bowl till my tank finishes cycling - the tank came with this chemical that supposedly cycles the tank in 3 days... i thought it was worth a try
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Old 11-20-2011, 01:44 PM   #8 
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Chemicals to cycle tanks don't really work. :(

There are some companies that will sell good bacteria to seed a tank. But even that doesn't work if the bacteria isn't kept cold until it reaches the tank. The only thing that properly cycles a tank is time. I doubt the chemicals you brought will harm the fish, but your tank won't be cycled in just three days. Cycling can take anywhere from 4-8 weeks. It is a somewhat annoying process, but the benefits are worth it in my opinion. :)
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Old 11-20-2011, 02:16 PM   #9 
ManInBlack2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SnowySurface View Post
Chemicals to cycle tanks don't really work. :(

There are some companies that will sell good bacteria to seed a tank. But even that doesn't work if the bacteria isn't kept cold until it reaches the tank. The only thing that properly cycles a tank is time. I doubt the chemicals you brought will harm the fish, but your tank won't be cycled in just three days. Cycling can take anywhere from 4-8 weeks. It is a somewhat annoying process, but the benefits are worth it in my opinion. :)
yeah the chemical came with the tank so luckily no money wasted, lol,
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Old 11-20-2011, 02:43 PM   #10 
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I hope it wasn't Caribsea sand, I used that in my latest tank and I find it very messy. After topping up after a WC yesterday my boy got coated in a film of sand and he spent 30 minutes shaking it off
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