Debating Sand

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Apr 2, 2002
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Unlike dudley, I have always used a pre-filter sponge on almost all of my filter intakes for the past 20 years. As dudley also noted, it is important to use a large pored foam and then to clean it regularly. I squeeze mine out weekly. One of the advantages to using a pre-filter is it means I have to clean the media inside the filter less often.

For example, I clean the pre-filter on all 3 of my canisters every week. Two of those canister I clean the internal media every 6 months and the third, which is loaded 100% with 20 ppi Poret foam I clean about once every 2.5 to 3 years. Since I began using Poret foam I have been switching out the old pre-filter sponges with the 10 ppi Poret foam. Also, I do use this on tanks with sand as the substrate and it does appear to prevent sand from getting into the filter. I use the Carib Sea Torpedo Beach sand. Nut i also have sand in tanks where the pre-filters are the more commin sponge material (usually made from an AC 110 foam).

I was taught almost 20 years ago by a fish keeper who worked with huge pumps, the ones which are used in large scale applications, never to impede the intake side of a pump. He told me If I needed to slow the flow from a pump to always do so on the output side. As a result it is important to rinse pre-filter sponges/foams before they clog as that will soon restrict the intake flow.

My experience is I do more maint. work on filters when I have no pre-filters than when I use them.

Oddly enough I have one tank, a 15 gal. that is heavily planted and has white clouds plus amano and blue shrimp (Neocaridina davidi ) which is filtered by a pair of AC 100s which do not have a pre-filter sponge on the intake.

All of this just proves there are very few right ways to do anything in this hobby. What matters is that the methods any one of us choose to use work to keep our tanks and thus their inhabitants in the best conditions we can provide.

Over time I have moved more and more away from power filters to sponges- more specifically, Poret cubefilters and Mattenfilters. These do not need pre-filters. :p
 
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fishorama

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Well, I did etch the impeller on an AC 70 when I first tried #1 grit pool sand. I had the intake too low. I fixed that by raising the intake & adding a prefilter that I rinsed every 10-14 days. It really depends on your tank planting & fish load. I tend to understock & over plant my tanks but you may do it differently. Each tank & filter can be different depending on layout, substrate, fish load, feeding etc. There's no 1 right way to do things, it's all about your tank, equipment & fish...& your maintenance schedule...all of those can be adjusted to some extent. Finding the "sweet spot" is a learning process that may change over time.

I have to say I keep 2 filters on most tanks over 20g...it makes my life easier. I alternate cleaning as needed...I can skip a week or 2 of maintenance if I go away or get too busy...I'm often lazy...it works for me!
 
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fishorama

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2tank, I forgot to address your concerns on pool filter sand & bottom dwellers. I've used it with several (10?) species of loaches & some catfish without issues, no barbel wear or body scratches. Only 1 actually buried itself entirely in the sand ( finer #1 pfs), most just poked their faces in for live worms etc.

I would be more concerned with sand sifters & PFS like some cichlids. But...if it's too big or rough they don't spew it out their gills, they just chew & spit IME. I don't know other than angels (not that I'd them call sifters), what cichlids or other sifters I've kept on PFS. Smallish gravel, yes, but then no gill action, just spitting.

#1 pfs does tend to "blow around" more than #2 or 20 grit depending on the filter return strength. & since it's lighter it's harder to swirl'n'vac over the surface or the quick vac plunge without losing more sand. You can always rinse any in the bucket & pour it back in the tank, there's a steeper learning curve with finer sands.

I only tried play sand once & hated it. It wasn't graded so there were fine & larger grains with compaction. Mine was also very dirty even after rinsing several times. The type 2 tank uses is more uniform & I'm sure much cleaner but at a huge cost difference, mine was ~$3/50 lbs.

I think I must have gotten Eco Complete (not sand) back in the sale days & free shipping of Drs. Foster & Smith (Live Aquaria now, owned by Petco) when 2tank got his Torpedo Beach sand, lol. I still have it & like it's small gravel size & almost black color. I tried Flourite black sand once but it was too fine & dusty for any but my 10g shrimp tank. My cherry shrimp did look great on it & plants grew very well. I was given some regular brown Flourite I tried once. It seemed more sharp than Eco, meh. I also have a newer tank with Black Diamond Blasting sand, no fish yet just plants & algae...I'll see how it works out...

I that may be my sum total of sand experience, sorry to ramble on...
 

railer20

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2tank, I forgot to address your concerns on pool filter sand & bottom dwellers. I've used it with several (10?) species of loaches & some catfish without issues, no barbel wear or body scratches. Only 1 actually buried itself entirely in the sand ( finer #1 pfs), most just poked their faces in for live worms etc.

I would be more concerned with sand sifters & PFS like some cichlids. But...if it's too big or rough they don't spew it out their gills, they just chew & spit IME. I don't know other than angels (not that I'd them call sifters), what cichlids or other sifters I've kept on PFS. Smallish gravel, yes, but then no gill action, just spitting.

#1 pfs does tend to "blow around" more than #2 or 20 grit depending on the filter return strength. & since it's lighter it's harder to swirl'n'vac over the surface or the quick vac plunge without losing more sand. You can always rinse any in the bucket & pour it back in the tank, there's a steeper learning curve with finer sands.

I only tried play sand once & hated it. It wasn't graded so there were fine & larger grains with compaction. Mine was also very dirty even after rinsing several times. The type 2 tank uses is more uniform & I'm sure much cleaner but at a huge cost difference, mine was ~$3/50 lbs.

I think I must have gotten Eco Complete (not sand) back in the sale days & free shipping of Drs. Foster & Smith (Live Aquaria now, owned by Petco) when 2tank got his Torpedo Beach sand, lol. I still have it & like it's small gravel size & almost black color. I tried Flourite black sand once but it was too fine & dusty for any but my 10g shrimp tank. My cherry shrimp did look great on it & plants grew very well. I was given some regular brown Flourite I tried once. It seemed more sharp than Eco, meh. I also have a newer tank with Black Diamond Blasting sand, no fish yet just plants & algae...I'll see how it works out...

I that may be my sum total of sand experience, sorry to ramble on...
petsmart had a big sale on 50# bags or Caribsea Torpedo Beach so bought a couple bags to try. I will get that rinsed, figure out how to get gravel out and sand in without killing fish, then maybe think about easy plants that work with my lighting/setup that don’t require much trimming and CO2
 

fishorama

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Sounds like a good plan. We're going to need pics! & I may have to check out the Petsmart sale...

As for switching out substrate, go slow even in your newish tank. Say maybe 1/3 at a time. You can remove the fish to a bucket or not. It can carry a small risk either way. Good luck!
 
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FreshyFresh

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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.
I have a very small grained natural gravel in one of my tanks. On my ~10y/old oscar tank I have a mix of black and natural gravel and on my 9yr old planted 55, it's black gravel that has (or had?) specs of colored gravel in it at one time.

Like you say, with most canisters, sand shouldn't contact the impeller because the impeller is at the top, after the water goes through all the media.

Here's some pics of my tanks from the other day.


 
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railer20

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I have a very small grained natural gravel in one of my tanks. On my ~10y/old oscar tank I have a mix of black and natural gravel and on my 9yr old planted 55, it's black gravel that has (or had?) specs of colored gravel in it at one time.

Like you say, with most canisters, sand shouldn't contact the impeller because the impeller is at the top, after the water goes through all the media.

Here's some pics of my tanks from the other day.


I’m in the “trying to find new decor” stage now lol.
 
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Apr 2, 2002
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So, how do you like the Torpedo Beach?

Oddly enough I have it in a number of tanks, but I have not tried planting in it. I have potted planted and those attached to wood or rocks only in sand bottom tanks. (So far.)

I remove sand and gravel most times by siphoning it out. Tis often involves refilling the tank with water along the way. Sometimes I can back some of the water I sucked out with the substrate. This will not work well as the size of the gravel gets larger. It works great for sand.
 
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