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Sand Or Gravel?

Author Topic: Sand or gravel?  (Read 4927 times)

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Offline Joe Browse

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Sand or gravel?
« on: September 03, 2014, 10:55:09 PM »
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Hi guys and girls

I'm thinking of having a revamp in my tank. It's a 300l with cardinal, neon and silver tip tetras, male guppies and 3 algae eaters 1 being huge!

I wonder if it would be ok to change my gravel for sand. I just fancy a change as my gravel in natural and I want the tank to be brighter.

What's your thoughts?


Offline chris213

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Re: Sand or gravel?
« Reply #1 on: September 04, 2014, 07:39:31 AM »
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i have sand in my tank i quite enjoy it and it suits the type of fish i have better , the only downsides to sand is that its a bit more of a pain  when vacuming ( the tank not the room  ::)  ) as it tends to get sucked up the tube which either means you have to filter it back out or top the sand up from time and it tends to show the mess up alot more than gravel.

Offline Sue

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Re: Sand or gravel?
« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2014, 02:38:36 PM »
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I have sand as well, but as I do water changes with a bucket I just wash the sand I've sucked out and put it back. With 300 litres, I expect you'll be using a hosepipe rather than a bucket  :D

I used to have gravel, I removed it and put sand in, with all three of my tanks. You will lose some bacteria on the gravel so it's possible you'll get a mini-spike of ammonia and/or nitrite. Keep an eye out for that. If you feed the fish on half rations for a few days before and after it should help keep any mini-spike to an absolute minimum - I didn't see a reading for either of them in any tank.

Make sure the sand is all washed before change over day. Some can have a lot of dust in which takes a fair bit of washing. You don't want to have removed the gravel then discover the sand needs a huge amount of washing.

As far as cleaning the tank with sand, you hover the siphon tube about half an inch above the sand and make little swirling motions which lifts the muck off so it can be sucked up without taking too much sand.

Offline Joe Browse

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Re: Sand or gravel?
« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2014, 08:16:36 PM »
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Awesome   ;D I'm glad it's ok as I've seen a few with sand and it loos really smart. I was also thinking of a 3D background but can't find one the size of my tank anywhere :(

Offline Rich_D

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Re: Sand or gravel?
« Reply #4 on: September 05, 2014, 01:41:15 PM »
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Im another with sand, I had gravel in my first tank, moved to sand after a year and not gone back to gravel since. Sand just looks cleaner and more natural. As for your 3d backgrounds you can buy them online in about 4 different sizes in height online then cut them to size.

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Offline ColinB

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Re: Sand or gravel?
« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2014, 05:42:22 PM »
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The 3D backgrounds that I've seen are quite thick and will take up some tank volume.

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Offline Loubaa

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Re: Sand or gravel?
« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2014, 05:54:03 PM »
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Glad I cam across this one - I was just about to ask the same question. I have a small 55l tank and wanted to swap the gravel for something finer for my cories. I imagine the plants will do better in it as well (mine keep floating around whenever I do a water change!)

I was wondering if the cories would like a light substrate though.

Offline Diz1

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Re: Sand or gravel?
« Reply #7 on: September 05, 2014, 07:35:31 PM »
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Also for me, would sand be the best substrate for the Betta I'm planning to get? ???

Offline Rich_D

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Re: Sand or gravel?
« Reply #8 on: September 05, 2014, 07:41:37 PM »
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Sand for the cories is fine and better really as they like to nose around in it like they do in the wild.

As for your Betta Diz I'm not sure as it's one of the fish I've never kept but I'm sure Sue can help u here.

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Offline Sue

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Re: Sand or gravel?
« Reply #9 on: September 05, 2014, 07:44:39 PM »
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It doesn't seem to make a difference to bettas. I've had them on small gravel, sand and once some of those half inch decorative rock chips (smooth of course). The bettas never seemed to take any notice of what was on the bottom of their tank.
However, I do find it easy hoovering a small tank that has sand. It took so long to clean the gravel that the tank was over half empty before I got round it all.

Offline Puffin

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Re: Sand or gravel?
« Reply #10 on: September 05, 2014, 07:46:57 PM »
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I've got grey sand, and you can get black sand. No idea if there are any possible problems with these, I assume they are natural colours not dyed!
Glad I cam across this one - I was just about to ask the same question. I have a small 55l tank and wanted to swap the gravel for something finer for my cories. I imagine the plants will do better in it as well (mine keep floating around whenever I do a water change!)

I was wondering if the cories would like a light substrate though.
I suppose it depends on the colour of the bottom dwelling fish, as to what colour substrate they feel most comfortable on! Which cories have you got Loubaa?

Offline Diz1

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Re: Sand or gravel?
« Reply #11 on: September 05, 2014, 08:37:33 PM »
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Thanks Sue and Rich.
Sue, what do you think of the dark gravel for Bettas? Some of the sites I've looked at recommend this as more natural looking for the fish. Some also recommend smooth glass marbles, but wouldn't these be difficult to clean, and wouldn't they grow a lot of algae?

Offline Sue

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Re: Sand or gravel?
« Reply #12 on: September 05, 2014, 09:10:09 PM »
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The pebbles (like this but brown) I had for a while were a bit like mis-shapen marbles. They were quite easy to clean, just push them aside to get at the muck that collected under them. Actually easier to clean than gravel. Marbles are particularly recommended for breeding egg laying fish, but of the egg scattering types rather than those that keep their eggs in a bubble nest. The eggs fall in between the gaps and the adult fish can't get at them. But if there was anything else in the tank with the betta, such as cories, marbles are not a good idea. My pebbles didn't grow any algae.

It is generally considered that darkish substrates of whatever type are better for fish as they don't reflect the light as much and fish prefer this. The problem comes that most cheaper sand is, well, sand coloured. And some of the darker coloured ones are dyed.

Offline Richard W

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Re: Sand or gravel?
« Reply #13 on: September 06, 2014, 06:52:51 AM »
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I'm not convinced by the idea that fish are more comfortable on a dark substrate. Personally, I think fish feel more vulnerable when they are exposed on all sides i.e. when all sides of  the tank are clear glass, especially when there is little shelter in the tank.
 That's why I've painted the sides and back of my tanks black. Not only do the fish appear to be more relaxed, but their colours show up much better against a dark background. I only have ordinary sand as substrate but a large part of this is covered by plants. I've never seen a river, lake or  pond with black gravel, which looks very artificial to me.

Offline Diz1

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Re: Sand or gravel?
« Reply #14 on: September 06, 2014, 08:22:29 AM »
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Thanks Richard. That's very interesting. What kind of paint do you use? ???

Offline Richard W

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Re: Sand or gravel?
« Reply #15 on: September 06, 2014, 11:53:43 AM »
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I can't remember and I no longer have the tin, but it was for metal, the nearest thing to glass paint I could find. It does need two or three coats to get a good finish. Also, I'd only do it before adding fish, even modern "low volatile substance" paints might give off enough fumes to do your fish harm. I did try gluing black card on the outside instead, but that wasn't as good, giving too much of a mirror effect, I found some fish becoming obsessed with their own reflection. For the later tanks, I compromised by putting a single layer of paint first, then gluing on card which works well and is a lot cheaper and quicker than multi layers of paint. You have to clean the glass really thoroughly before painting, to get rid of any greasy spots. Meths is a good cleaner, don't use window cleaning stuff as that will repel the paint.

Offline Diz1

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Re: Sand or gravel?
« Reply #16 on: September 06, 2014, 12:58:04 PM »
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Great, think i might do that for future projects, thanks for the advice :)

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