Debating Sand

  • Get the NEW AquariaCentral iOS app --> http://itunes.apple.com/app/id1227181058 // Android version will be out soon!

railer20

AC Members
Oct 15, 2020
169
16
18
39
Kansas
Question and Poll!

Debating switching from gravel to sand. I have a 55 gal corner aquarium.
1. How do I know how much sand I will need? Anyone have a calculator?
2. I don’t have live plants but wouldn’t mind some easy ones that don’t require CO2. Is a sand base good or do I need something under?
3. I hear about pockets of gas pockets in sand is that a real thing?
4. Finally, black or natural sand for this setup? Plants have been moved but still similar.

4D36C86E-5DC5-4A39-9A2A-794239474EB4.jpeg
 

dudley

Eheim User
Feb 9, 2005
1,842
366
92
Medina, Ohio
Real Name
Dee
1. Try Substrate calculator , for a general calculator after you plug in tank dimensions, substrate depth and type of substrate. The type of substrate is limited on the list.
2. Depends on the type of plant. You could do fertilizers in the water column or root tabs.
3. Depends on the depth and type of sand substrate and how tightly it packs.
4. Color preferences are up to you in addition to the color of fish you want to stock. Pool filter sand (PFS) comes in white or tan shades depending on brand, availability and your location.

PFS is not a fine substrate so you may need less than what the fine sand calculator states.
 

FreshyFresh

Global Moderator
Staff member
Jan 11, 2013
4,998
832
120
West Falls NY
Real Name
Joel
A lot folks in the hobby love sand. I am not one of them. You have to have extreme patience for "gravel vacuuming" if you need to and it will work it's way into your filters and ruin impellers. You can mitigate that for the most part with pre-filter sponges.
 

railer20

AC Members
Oct 15, 2020
169
16
18
39
Kansas
A lot folks in the hobby love sand. I am not one of them. You have to have extreme patience for "gravel vacuuming" if you need to and it will work it's way into your filters and ruin impellers. You can mitigate that for the most part with pre-filter sponges.
Is there a smaller gravel that wouldn’t do that? My black gravel is starting to chip and would like something smaller/lighter to brighten tank up but don’t want anything sucking into my filter. And like I said wouldn’t mind some easy plants.
 

fishorama

AC Members
Jun 28, 2006
12,019
1,974
200
SF Bay area, CA
I use pool filter sand & have in several tanks. It doesn't compact like play sand can but I dislike the light tan or white color.

If my cheapness would allow it for an inert expensive small gravel I go with this CaribSea® Super Naturals Peace River Substrate | Aquarium Supplies at LiveAquaria I love the color & size but not the price.

You could go to a local landscape/gravel yard & see if they have something similar in size & color. Fish often look better on a darkish substrate, to my eye anyway. I've used #2 or #1 PFS, or 20 grit. It depends on how it's graded. I'd say 20 grit is the same as #2; #1 is finer & you may lose more each vac.

There's a technique to vacuuming pool sand. You can either try swirling the vac over the surface or learn to do a quick plunge & lift. Either way some substrate will be lost. Buy extra, you may need to add some eventually.
 
Apr 2, 2002
3,341
596
120
New York
I have a lot of the Carib Sea Torpedo beach sand. I love it. Agree it is normally expensive. But I got mot of mine on sale and with free shipping years back from FosterSmith (now Live Aquaria). I probably got a few 100 lbs. over two summers. I was ramping up my tank numbers and was buying stuff almost weekly. So every order I made I added about 40 -60 lbs of the sand.

Some time back I recall making a phone call to Carib Sea and I talked to them about the sand. Apparently it comes from a specific beach in Florida.

One consideration for sand or any other substrate I uses as that it is not sharp. I want somewhat rounded edges. We have a pool and use that sand in our filter. When one buys it the sand is not smooth. The reason is as it compacts it loses the ability to filter and eventually must be replaced. it is the swirling of the sand in the filter which cause it to smooth over time. But I keep a lot of plecos, corys and loqaches and I want them to have a nice substrate for their barbels.

That said, I have never used pool sand in a tank so I could be totally off base in my thinking. It very well may be fine to use under all conditions.

Once note, the finer the sand, the more easily it is to suck it out of the tank when vacuuming. The way to avoid that is to use a smaller diameter siphon, This reduces the suction power.
 

railer20

AC Members
Oct 15, 2020
169
16
18
39
Kansas
I have a lot of the Carib Sea Torpedo beach sand. I love it. Agree it is normally expensive. But I got mot of mine on sale and with free shipping years back from FosterSmith (now Live Aquaria). I probably got a few 100 lbs. over two summers. I was ramping up my tank numbers and was buying stuff almost weekly. So every order I made I added about 40 -60 lbs of the sand.

Some time back I recall making a phone call to Carib Sea and I talked to them about the sand. Apparently it comes from a specific beach in Florida.

One consideration for sand or any other substrate I uses as that it is not sharp. I want somewhat rounded edges. We have a pool and use that sand in our filter. When one buys it the sand is not smooth. The reason is as it compacts it loses the ability to filter and eventually must be replaced. it is the swirling of the sand in the filter which cause it to smooth over time. But I keep a lot of plecos, corys and loqaches and I want them to have a nice substrate for their barbels.

That said, I have never used pool sand in a tank so I could be totally off base in my thinking. It very well may be fine to use under all conditions.

Once note, the finer the sand, the more easily it is to suck it out of the tank when vacuuming. The way to avoid that is to use a smaller diameter siphon, This reduces the suction power.
I was looking at this one I saw on sale. There’s no information that I saw to tell me if it’s the same size as the torpedo that you recommended or not. Do I have to worry about my canister filter sucking sand up and ruining the impeller or anything? Or is that for HOB filters?

 

dudley

Eheim User
Feb 9, 2005
1,842
366
92
Medina, Ohio
Real Name
Dee
If you keep your filter intake strainer 3-4 inches above the substrate it's usually not a problem unless you have fish that stir up the substrate or spit it directly into the strainer (cichlids).

I use non-typical sand like substrate in all my tanks and while I find it in my canister filters, most of it is trapped in the filter media and doesn't reach the impeller due to the filter pump mounted on top of the canister body. However, when I was running an FX5, the motor is located at the bottom of the canister body so I needed to raise the intake up higher to reduce the amount of substrate ingested.

My Aquaclear filters have had slight damage to the impeller shafts due to sand ingestion so I keep the intake strainer higher in those tanks.
 
  • Like
Reactions: railer20

railer20

AC Members
Oct 15, 2020
169
16
18
39
Kansas
If you keep your filter intake strainer 3-4 inches above the substrate it's usually not a problem unless you have fish that stir up the substrate or spit it directly into the strainer (cichlids).

I use non-typical sand like substrate in all my tanks and while I find it in my canister filters, most of it is trapped in the filter media and doesn't reach the impeller due to the filter pump mounted on top of the canister body. However, when I was running an FX5, the motor is located at the bottom of the canister body so I needed to raise the intake up higher to reduce the amount of substrate ingested.

My Aquaclear filters have had slight damage to the impeller shafts due to sand ingestion so I keep the intake strainer higher in those tanks.
I run a cascade 1000 canister so my motor is on top so that would help. I also read about people putting sponges over their intake.
 

dudley

Eheim User
Feb 9, 2005
1,842
366
92
Medina, Ohio
Real Name
Dee
People do use sponge pre-filters on both canister and power (HOB) filters but I'm not one of them usually. I tried them out and if not frequently cleaned (depending on stocking) they get clogged quickly. I now only use them infrequently or on tanks with fry or shrimp.

There are choices on sponge pre-filters, some are fine pores which will trap sand and clog up more quickly and coarse pores which won't really help with sand.
 
  • Like
Reactions: railer20
zoomed.com
hikariusa.com
aqaimports.com
Store