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FAQ: Can I use SAND as substrate? How to convert?
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Steve Hampton
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Joined: 05 Feb 2003
Location: Jacksonville, FL

PostPosted: 2003.07.01(Tue)19:24    Post subject: Re: Sand and Plants Reply with quote

TetraKeeper808 wrote:
I know this subject comes up a lot, but there must be a way, takashi amano uses fine sand in all of his tanks and look at them, there must be a secret. any ideas?


Actually it is a secret. Amano uses a product called Power Sand...it is not just plain sand. ADA keeps the ingredients a well guarded secret. But, sand can be used quite effectively in a planted tank. The very best option is SeaChem's Onyx sand providing you are injecting CO2, otherwise Onyx sand may raise your pH higher than you'd prefer.

Plain coarse grain silica sand or Tahitian Moon sand are both good options. I often use pool filter sand that is mixed with garden loam, plant mulm, laterite, peat, and topped with pea gravel...the pea gravel is optional...I prefer to darken the color from the bright sand.

Sand is not without problems though compaction really isn't the issue as is often the blame. Really fine grained sand may compact but play sand and pool filter sand won't have this problem. Because sand is inert, you need to supply iron to the roots of most plants either by including laterite or with the addition of root tabs. Because there is less circulation in a sand substrate you may have problems with trapped gases formed from anaerobic areas. Some of these gases can kill plant roots...it's this process that is incorrectly blamed as compaction. Roots have no problem pushing through sand, but the gases (mainly Hydrogen Sulfide) are very toxic to plant roots. Personally, in all the years of using sand based (I've never used 100%) substrates I've never experienced any problems related to the sand causing any problems.
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Skysong
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Joined: 07 Feb 2003
Location: MB, Canada

PostPosted: 2003.07.01(Tue)20:09    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I finally got around to changing my tank substrate, I threw in play sand to give it that "river feel". Laughing I have Amazons, Tetra, and I will PM you or post if there is any significant difference in my plants. I have root tabs, and I'm hoping for the best.
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bteo3
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Joined: 24 Mar 2003
Location: Kuching SARAWAK Malaysia

PostPosted: 2003.07.01(Tue)23:49    Post subject: Re: Sand and Plants Reply with quote

Hello Steve,

Steve Hampton wrote:
I often use pool filter sand that is mixed with garden loam, plant mulm, laterite, peat, and topped with pea gravel...the pea gravel is optional...I prefer to darken the color from the bright sand.


If the pea gravel layer is not used, won't the enriched sand substrate leaches nutrients into the water and causes algae problems?

Steve Hampton wrote:
...you may have problems with trapped gases formed from anaerobic areas. Some of these gases can kill plant roots...


Could this (anaerobic) condition be eliminated with under-soil heating? Is there a cheaper solution?

Thanks.
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Steve Hampton
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Location: Jacksonville, FL

PostPosted: 2003.07.02(Wed)13:19    Post subject: Re: Sand and Plants Reply with quote

bteo3 wrote:
Hello Steve,

Steve Hampton wrote:
I often use pool filter sand that is mixed with garden loam, plant mulm, laterite, peat, and topped with pea gravel...the pea gravel is optional...I prefer to darken the color from the bright sand.


If the pea gravel layer is not used, won't the enriched sand substrate leaches nutrients into the water and causes algae problems?


It would if the other ingredients were mixed within the entire substrate. What I didn't describe is how I make my substrate. I add about 1 inch of pool filter sand, then I add 2 oz. per gallon (double the recommended amount) of laterite. Using my hand I thoroughly mix the laterite and 1 inch layer of sand. Next I place on top of the sand/laterite mixture a handful of peat for each 10G of tank water, plus as much plant mulm as I can harvest from an existing tank, and about a half an inch of garden loam. I top this with 2-3 inches of pool sand. The substrate is basically fine to use as is and there is minimal risk of the deeply buried laterite or organic material to enter the water column, however as mentioned I always add a pea gravel on top purely to darken the bright reflective sand.


bteo3 wrote:

Steve Hampton wrote:
...you may have problems with trapped gases formed from anaerobic areas. Some of these gases can kill plant roots...


Could this (anaerobic) condition be eliminated with under-soil heating? Is there a cheaper solution?

Thanks.


Personally I've never experienced these conditions. My plants have rapid growth from CO2 injection, this causes a lot of O2 to be released via the plant roots. Hydrogen sulfide is quickly oxidized in rapid growing tanks. Also, keeping a team of Malaysian Trumpet Snails will help avoid these problems in fine grain sand or slow growing tanks. Under-soil heating does create convection currents and will bring water that is O2 rich into the substrate...but fine grain sand won't allow much of this to take place. I would always opt to use a large grain size substrate of gravel if I went to the expense of cable heating.
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Taratron
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Joined: 05 Feb 2003
Location: AZ

PostPosted: 2003.07.24(Thu)13:43    Post subject: 10 gallon Sand? Reply with quote

Looking to convert my 10 gallon betta tank from gravel to sand. Problem is, all the lfs carries around me are calcium sand (for saltwater...thanks, but my water is hard enough!) and some black sand, brand name Moon Bay, or something akin to that.

What is the safest sand to use for kuhlis and cories? Plants are java moss, elodea, and hornwort.
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Shawna in CA
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Joined: 05 Feb 2003
Location: California

PostPosted: 2003.07.24(Thu)20:29    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oooooo! Black sand! I love that stuff. It's kind of jagged, though, and hard on plant roots. It's GORGEOUS, though!!!!

Can you get play sand? I've heard this is OK to use, it's just really super dusty. Supposedly gardening centers have ordinary plant sand in bags, too, and as long as it doesn't contain fertilizers, it should be OK>
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Taratron
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Joined: 05 Feb 2003
Location: AZ

PostPosted: 2003.07.25(Fri)14:08    Post subject: Reply with quote

Is there any other "white" sand besides play sand?

I use play sand in some of my desert animals' cages....not too sure of it in a fish tank!
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Skysong
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Joined: 07 Feb 2003
Location: MB, Canada

PostPosted: 2003.07.25(Fri)15:43    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have "play-sand" in my 29.....it's not bad. For a lighter tone of sand, I would check out a garden center instead of Home Depot. I never saw any there when I got my sand....but it may be there too. Confused Oh well. You can wash the sand out with a LOT of fresh running water, an old pillowcase, and a bit of patience. That gets rid of most of the dust. Try to get sterilized sand, or you can bake it in the oven at a very low setting for a few hours to kill whatever may be growing in it.

Black sand is gorgeous, I second that. Smile

The "white sand" should be at a run-of-the-mill garden center. Smile Good luck!

Best be careful to not bury your plants, like I started doing. Wink I still haven't figured out how to gravel-vac it without sucking most of it out... Confused
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Cyradia
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Joined: 06 Feb 2003
Location: Winston-Salem, NC

PostPosted: 2003.07.25(Fri)16:05    Post subject: Reply with quote

I use play sand in a few of my tanks too and have been happy with it. I did wash it really well...pressurized hose (just a squirt nozzel set on jet stream) into a buck about 10 times. Mine is very light in color and is more uniform than the aquarium sand I bought in a fish store once.
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Taratron
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Joined: 05 Feb 2003
Location: AZ

PostPosted: 2003.07.25(Fri)19:27    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gracias guys. Smile Now....how's the best way to remove the gravel without killing my good bacteria?

Seeing as my kuhlis will jet into any gravel left.....should I remove all the fish from the tank when I do the switch?
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