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LittleShadow

Planted tank sand substrate

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Hey all!  Just posting to ask a quick question about what kind of sand substrate you guys find/ found to be the best for a low tech planted tank and why.  So far I have only used the fluorite gravel for my planted tank. 

 

Don't get me wrong - it has worked Wonderfully.  Since January I have had one running with this type of substrate and have had absolutely Zero problems with it, other than having to wait for the initial murkiness to die down/ be water changed out (the first time you add all the water really stirs everything up - especially if you know someone who is impatient and doesn't want to bother with a plate to block the main impact of the water hitting the substrate).  I have had No algae problems, every plant that I have put in here has done well (except the val was eaten, but that's not the substrate's fault, lol).  My banana plants are huge and start a new shoot probably once every couple weeks to once a week.  I never have to dose anything either.  Come to think of it, I have had fewer problems with algae with this setup than any non-planted setup I have had. 

 

The thing is, is I just Really like the look of the sand, and was wondering if there's anything else out there that I could trust as much as the fluorite gravel - but hopefully not any more expensive?  I remember reading somewhere about another type of substrate that the company had actually lied about how "balanced" their brand was, and it was causing buyers major algae problems because of it.

 

Thanks for your input!! 

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It doesn't really matter in my opinion. People on here like to use pool filter sand, but play sand and river sand, provided they've not been treated, are okay too. Then you have the bagged products the big aquarium companies sell. If sand ends up costing as much Flourite something is very wrong (runs about $40-50 a bag here :rofl ).

I don't see how changing substrates will cause algae. If you don't have algae now it's because you have good light/ferts/co2 levels, healthy plants and excellent husbandry. Sand is no more inert than Flourite, so I would consider using some root tabs. The only difference between the two is Flourite has a high CEC value, which means, whilst initially inert, it takes in nutrients from the water column and stores them.

If you're really worried about algae, you can add some floating and terrestrial plants to help take in nutrients/block light.

Edited by dan in aus

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I have the black flourite sand in my planted tank right now and I really like it. It has the same cloudiness issue as the flourite gravel, but other than that it is very pretty and nice to plant in and the plants seem to really like it

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I just use pool filter sand, but that's mainly for price. 10$ for 50pounds.

Of course I have to use root tabs with it.

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If sand ends up costing as much Flourite something is very wrong (runs about $40-50 a bag here

Holy Crap!  :yikes Yeah, that would be some expensive sand, and/ or fluorite!  The stuff I bought (granted, I think it's the most basic kind, and the Only kind that I've seen at PetSmart/ Pet Supplies Plus around here) ran about $16-$18 (and some odd cents) a bag. 

I don't see how changing substrates will cause algae. If you don't have algae now it's because you have good light/ferts/co2 levels, healthy plants and excellent husbandry. Sand is no more inert than Flourite, so I would consider using some root tabs. The only difference between the two is Flourite has a high CEC value, which means, whilst initially inert, it takes in nutrients from the water column and stores them.

If you're really worried about algae, you can add some floating and terrestrial plants to help take in nutrients/block light.           

 

I'm not too worried about algae at the moment, I was just worried that if I changed something Then a problem would appear lol.  I have been making sure I have a plant light in there, but other than that, the only thing providing the co2 and ferts is the food and the fish, and the light stays on normal daylight hours.

 

I have the black flourite sand in my planted tank right now and I really like it. It has the same cloudiness issue as the flourite gravel, but other than that it is very pretty and nice to plant in and the plants seem to really like it

 

 

I will definitely keep that in mind :) I had plain black sand a while back and everything *popped* against it nicely.

 

And $10 for 50 pounds!  That is a steal!  I've used root tabs before though, and don't care much for them since I'd have to buy them over and over and over again :(

 

I was looking around and found this stuff: http://www.bigalspets.com/onyx-sand-3-5-kg.html?utm_source=Amazon+Products&utm_campaign=Amazon+Products+Datafeed&utm_medium=Comparison+Shopping&SKU=28180

any opinions?

 

 

 

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Honestly the root tabs are more for what kinds of plants you have, the java ferns and moss etc don't really need them but the heavy root feeders like swords do.

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Regarding the Seachem Onyx sand, there are a couple of reviews on amazon you can check out.

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Onyx sand is incredibly dusty, perhaps more so than Flourite. It's also not terribly black in person (unless it's changed since I last saw it).

Conventional root tabs can be expensive. Osmocote gel caps are just as effective and more economical. You need to ensure they stay submerged though, exposure to the water column can cause an ammonia leach.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/100-EA-Osmocote-Plus-Root-Tabs-for-Aquarium-Plants-Size-00-capsules-/261229588038

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I just use black petco sand.

I caution you. ;)

When sand gets into your filters it will wear down your propellers :( I do have to replace them fairly often. :tantrum

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I just use black petco sand.

I caution you. ;)

When sand gets into your filters it will wear down your propellers :( I do have to replace them fairly often. :tantrum

 

True about the impellers, but I find that sponges over the filter intakes help a lot. I also only put in (treated) fresh water into the filter box when doing water changes instead of tank water. At any sign of grinding you should try to take off the impeller and rinse it out at full blast, blowing on it to dry. I've kept impellers alive this way for a long time. I have AquaClear 70s, fyi.

Edited by QandD

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Awesome!  And the grayish is actually kind of what I was looking for lol.  Not black (I've had plain black sand before - never had any impeller issues with it, but it was in an angel tank) but not blinding white (and then possibly green afterwards) either.  However if it's always going to look muddy with the goldies mulling through it idk if I'd want that brand =|  And I've already had to pick roots out of our biowheel's impellers when they suddenly get Really loud. I'm hoping with a larger tank that I can eventually get away from the HOB impeller types of filters.  I've thought about a sump, or a fluidized bed filter, although they are a)expensive(at least sumps are) and b) I'd want to make sure I understood Everything about it before doing anything with it and then running the risk of water damage.  Sticking a sponge over an intake wouldn't be a big deal though.  Is there a certain porousness to the sponges that would be better/worse?  Oh and I have only tried rooted plants, and I really like them.  Maybe one day I'll find some java moss to sacrifice! lol

 

Sorry if this is a bit rambly - just got done with a 12 hour shift and need to get to bed!  Thanks a bunch guys, keep 'em comin'!

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A sponge that is fine enough to trap debris, but not hinder flow is best. When I've had prefilters in the past I've just bought one of those largish sponges for an Aquaclear filter. All you need to do is cut an appropriate sized square out of it and make a hole for the intake to slide onto. Come water change time you will want to give it a good clean/rinse.

Edited by dan in aus

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Awesome! And the grayish is actually kind of what I was looking for lol. Not black (I've had plain black sand before - never had any impeller issues with it, but it was in an angel tank) but not blinding white (and then possibly green afterwards) either. However if it's always going to look muddy with the goldies mulling through it idk if I'd want that brand =| And I've already had to pick roots out of our biowheel's impellers when they suddenly get Really loud. I'm hoping with a larger tank that I can eventually get away from the HOB impeller types of filters. I've thought about a sump, or a fluidized bed filter, although they are a)expensive(at least sumps are) and b) I'd want to make sure I understood Everything about it before doing anything with it and then running the risk of water damage. Sticking a sponge over an intake wouldn't be a big deal though. Is there a certain porousness to the sponges that would be better/worse? Oh and I have only tried rooted plants, and I really like them. Maybe one day I'll find some java moss to sacrifice! lol

Sorry if this is a bit rambly - just got done with a 12 hour shift and need to get to bed! Thanks a bunch guys, keep 'em comin'!

I had the CaribSea Super Naturals Moonlight sand in my tank, and it was beautiful - however, it got brown and dirty FAST. I soon poured Activ-Flora Lake Gems over it because of that. I'm a big fan of this substrate (it's the prettiest IMO, and also great for plants with added micronutrients), but it can be hard to find - I got my last bag on Amazon.

I had minor issues with sand getting into the impeller, but not enough to cause problems for my filter. I tried adding a prefilter, but it got so brown and unsightly in a matter of days that I had to take it off. I just couldn't keep it clean. However, I think this may be more due to the type of sponge I used than the prefilter concept itself. I used a beige filter pad from Drs. Foster and Smith. I removed one of the intake pieces to make it higher off the ground, and much less sand got into the filter after that.

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I feel like a kid in a candy store with this stuff!!  There's so many different things to pick, and I can only pick one! lol

The lake gems are definitely pretty as well, and there's a lot of different options!  I just can't decide!!

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Here's what they look like in my tank ... I'm a big fan! :)

b31417e49b78d36d34e241ce329b89f7.jpg

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Your tank is soo pretty!!  And your goldfish too!  They remind me of Halloween, what with the orange and brown/black :P  I'm definitely considering this stuff now - it's always hard to imagine what it will look like in a tank just from the picture on the bag lol

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