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Old 06-29-2005, 07:31 PM   #1
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Sand for substrate

Okay stupid question: just bought a new 55 gallon with overflow filter. Not up and running yet, but will be. Anyways, it will be a planted, fw tank and I was wondering, can I use sand? My thinking says "of course". But I want to make sure there isn't something weird about using sand with plants that I don't know about.

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Old 06-29-2005, 08:08 PM   #2
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Sand doesn't usually have enough (if any) nutrient value for plants. That being said, some people have success using sand with plant fertiliser tablets inserted under the plants. Sand will also form anaerobic pockets and requires "stirring" periodically manually, by MTS, or particular fish.
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Old 06-29-2005, 09:39 PM   #3
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Sand can work for plants and there is some sand made specifically for planted tanks. Seachem's Onyx sand is one that comes to mind. Some people also use pool filter sand or play sand instead of sand sold at your LFS. As Hoovercat mentioned, you might want to add some plant tabs and Malayan trumpet snails, or MTS, are a definite help in keeping the tank healthy.
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Old 06-29-2005, 11:34 PM   #4
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I have pool sand in my endlers tank and have been pleased so far. I also added a little bag of gravel also. I used plant tabs and am waiting for the MTS to build up a little more from my communtiy tank before transplanting. I like the sand a lot. Cleans easily and find it easy to plant in.
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Old 06-30-2005, 12:46 AM   #5
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So if I do go with the sand idea, how do you vacuum it without sucking up the sand as well?
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Old 06-30-2005, 01:12 AM   #6
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Typically I just pass it over the sand and stir things up and suck it up from the water column.
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Old 06-30-2005, 01:42 AM   #7
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I asked this question and got some very good responces..
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Old 06-30-2005, 06:30 AM   #8
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That really hasn't been a problem for me. The siphon may lift some sand but it falls back down immediately.
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Old 06-30-2005, 09:11 AM   #9
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depends on the sand. playsand and tahitian moon sand are very light and will suck right up. pool filter sand is coarser and doesn't easily suck up the tube.
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Old 06-30-2005, 10:14 AM   #10
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Sand blasting sand (blasting grit) is also heavy like pool filter sand..
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Old 06-30-2005, 01:31 PM   #11
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So would everyone recommend Pool Filter Sand then? It seems to be the recommended sand of choice. Sounds like play sand is cheap, but seems to be too light for gravel vacuuming sometimes.

I guess my plan is to increase my light to about (or just under) 2 watts per gallon. Put sand along the bottom. Large pieces of driftwood and small plants. Sounds like as long as I have MTS kicking up the botton i should be pretty good.

See any problems with my plan?
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Old 06-30-2005, 01:38 PM   #12
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That sounds like a well thought out plan to me.
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Old 06-30-2005, 01:45 PM   #13
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pool filter sand is gonna be pretty inexpensive too. maybe not as cheap as $5 for 50lbs of playsand, but probably cheaper than epoxy coated gravel, and way cheaper than Tahitian sand or a plant substrate like flourite.
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Old 06-30-2005, 08:01 PM   #14
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Well thanks a ton guys. I'm really jazzed about getting this tank up and running. Should be pretty cool, I hope.
So whats the opinion of everyone on how sand looks for freshwater? And does anyone have pictures of a FW tank that uses sand?
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Old 06-30-2005, 08:39 PM   #15
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I'm not sure if this will help but I just built a sort of "beach" area in my tank using open sand. The sand is Black Beauty blasting sand and is analogous to Tahitian Moon Sand, and fairly fine. You can see several Malaysian Trumpet Snails sitting on top of the sand wondering where the food is. I'm going to let the E. triandra surrounding it creep into the edges of the sand but not overgrow it. I wanted an open area of sand for my Africans to dig and breed in, but so far they're still afraid of it - what a bunch of sissies :P

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Old 07-01-2005, 03:26 AM   #16
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Nice photo Travis! So where in our lovely state of Colorado can I find sand like that?

Speaking of my new aquarium, I will be fishless cycling it (hopefully starting Saturday) and I was wondering at what stage could I start planting a few plants?
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Old 07-01-2005, 03:39 AM   #17
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blasting sand would be available either at HD or the equipment rental place in your area..
you could add them in the begining.. but they will likely absorb a good deal of the ammonia.. filters are more for machanical filtration in a well planted tank.. So if you want to go ahead and start heavy planting.. work on getting healthy plants and you really dont have to cycle the tank in the traditional sence of the word.. healthy plants would be the cycle..
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Old 07-01-2005, 03:41 AM   #18
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Wow. I didn't know that. Sweet!
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Old 07-01-2005, 04:02 AM   #19
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When I said that what I ment by heavy planting was 75%+ plant coverage..
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Old 07-01-2005, 11:13 PM   #20
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Of course starting out with a heavily planted tank doesn't mean you shouldn't monitor the ammonia and nitrite levels to make sure the tank is cycling properly.
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