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Old 02-18-2014, 01:15 PM   #1
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Sand vs. small gravel - cleaning

I have a thread going in the hardware section but I figured I'd make a separate post here about some questions I had regarding which substrate to go with and possibly some plant questions.

I'm planning either a 29 gallon (if it works) or a 40 gallon breeder (I would like this but I don't have much room and it would cost $$$) with about the following load as the goal:



Now, the tank includes cory catfish which I've had in the past, but I had small-mediumish black gravel that was probably too big for them. From everything I'm reading they absolutely love sand, and I like happy fish.

My question is, how hard is sand to clean? Before when I'd do water changed I'd just shove the water vacuum hose into the gravel and mix it up, sucking up things that came out. I'm concerned that with sand, being as particulate as it is, that it'd get kicked up all over the aquarium making a huge mess and also getting sucked into the vacuum. Or do people clean sand a different way?

I don't plan on using planted plants, just really easy low light plants that hopefully won't need much fertilization and no CO2 injection like java moss.
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Old 02-19-2014, 12:07 PM   #2
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Vacuuming sand isn't impossible but you will end up sucking more of it out of the tank since it doesn't weigh as much as the gravel, to fight this go with a more coarse sand. Also your cleaners should do a decent job of keeping it clean for you for the most part as long as you don't over feed and have a decent filter.

D
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Old 02-19-2014, 12:12 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply, I've been looking around and am considering some 20/40 pool filter sand, or, if I decide to go with black, some Black Diamond Blasting sand (I have a TFS store on my way home from work). I'm not sure yet though as my stand is black and I'm not sure about black sand with a black stand.

If I do decide to go with the black diamond, I've been reading some positive and negative things about it. People who use it seem to like it, others seem suspicious of it. I've read about it being manetic and trashing impellers on filters, and also that it might be too sharp for corries. Anyone have any experience?
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Old 02-19-2014, 12:14 PM   #4
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I vacuum my sand by gently stirring the top and not letting too much sand get up into the vacuum tube, you can also occasionally stir the sand letting the filter pick up some of the junk that might be buried.
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Old 02-19-2014, 12:14 PM   #5
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I've always liked black substrate, but I prefer to mix in a color as well, possibly a small bag of dark blue gravel, drop some here and there. Plus a gravel sand mix mimics what the fish have in the wild extremely well!
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Old 02-19-2014, 12:57 PM   #6
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The more I read about the black diamond "sand" (it's actually coal slag) the less I decided I liked it. I also had some cheapo black gravel back when I had the tank setup before and it wasn't the worst, but I much preferred the more natural brownish rocks that I had in my eclipse 6 gallon tank.

I think I'll stick with the pool filter sand, maybe even get two different kinds and mix and match the stuff depending on the colors. It seems like exactly what I'm looking for, not clumpy like play sand but not large like gravel. I'd like my corries to be able to sift through it but I want to be able to clean it with a vacuum decently too.
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