Almost every aquascaper swears by soil, and there’s a good reason for this: unlike sand or gravel, soil is packed full with nutrients. as the week goes by. This may be a bigger problem with porous types of gravel, but using a UV-sterilizing filter may help prevent these algae outbreaks and other problems with waterborne parasites. Following that guidance alone will help protect your filter. To avoid problems, pick the substrate that works best for the fish and plants you plan to keep in the tank of your dreams! Plecos that stay small in this article, chances are most my readers have had at least one of these guys, am I right? This has some advantages since you can clearly see how dirty your tank is getting, and it will be hard to ignore. Many plants work great in gravel, and you can find many that do very well in sand also. Plus, the gravels are coated with 100% acrylic for greater water effect. Sand is an attractive and cost-effective option for the bottom of freshwater aquariums. So a good idea when using a sand bottom is to install a pre-sponge filter on your filters intake. Sand also prevents vital nutrients from being absorbed by your plant’s roots, since it restricts water from flowing through your substrate. Tanks that use aquarium sand seem to need less pH adjustment. They may be contaminated with toxins or heavy metals and can poison your tank. Many aquatic plants have shallow roots and don’t thrive when planted in the sand. There’s not many drawbacks to using gravel in your freshwater aquarium. I am very partial to the sandy-bottomed look myself. Commercial products may be labeled as natural or river sand, and look similar to the sand you see along a waterfront. Specifically, sand makes the most sense in certain kinds of saltwater aquariums. © Happy Diskus - e.Kfr. If you’re looking to recreate the smooth, tranquil appearance of a river bottom or lake, then aquarium sand might be your substrate of choice! You just hold your hose a few inches off the ground, wave it back and forth, or use your hand to create a little current, which will lift all the dirty stuff higher up into the water, and then you can easily suck it up. It is easier to maintain a gravel tank than an aquarium with sand. After some time, the white aquarium sand substrate will become covered in a biological film (ie. Gravel tanks often appear tidier and better maintained than their sandy counterparts. For saltwater aquariums, you must add buffer regularly. If you are running a hang on the back filter (HOB), turn it off while doing a water change and let the sand settle before turning it back on. You shouldn’t combine sand with your under gravel filtration system. Gravel is a popular option for freshwater aquariums, but sandy substrates may be a better choice in specific situations. Since the debris accumulates on top of the substrate, sandy bottoms often look dirtier than aquariums with gravel. Gravel is available is many different sizes and colors which makes it very diverse and also more likely to meet your own requirements for your aquarium. When doing water changes you can essentially vacuum up the waste right off the bottom. This site is owned and operated by Randy Martin. Many freshwater species prefer sand—especially dwarf species and shrimp. The main trade-off is these substrates also make it harder to eliminate toxic blue-green algae if you have an outbreak. It’s an ideal choice for community and planted tanks and lends itself to endless customization. Like I said with gravel you really need a gravel vac to get in there for a deep cleaning. The cost varies depending on size, quality, color. Stick to products made especially for aquariums for the best results. She is an expert in setting up new tanks and maintaining naturally-planted freshwater habitats, and has experience raising a wide variety of aquatic species. It’s very important to keep the pH levels in the tank balanced and stable. They can get by in gravel and often do in many tanks. 8 Beautiful Home Aquariums for Inspiration and Ideas, Bala Shark: All about this amazing species. If you are using sand then there are some risks to be aware about with your filter. Many people have had sand ruin their filters, often times going through several filters quickly. Thread starter davidwillis; Start date Dec 7, 2020; Tagged users None Dec 7, 2020 #1 D. davidwillis Community Member View Badges. Moreover, since the gravel is considerably heavier than sand, it … alone will NOT keep the alkalinity, calcium, and pH up where you need to keep them. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. I don't care if my tank bed is live or not. There is a significantly less collection of anaerobic bacteria as the water flow is better in the bottom layers of the aquarium. Free of impurities such as ash, metals, pesticides, and silica. I wrote about Plecos that stay small in this article, chances are most my readers have had at least one of these guys, am I right? Unlike sand straight from the river, however, these bags of substrate have been processed and cleaned. I wrote up a review and some filter recommendations here to help you avoid the filters that will give you the biggest problems, if you are struggling with cloudy water from your sand. Here’s everything to consider when choosing between aquarium sand vs gravel! Lot’s of fishkeepers have ran normal HOB sponge filters with sand and haven’t had any issues, so it is doable. I have a tank that is 5'x3'x3'. All rights reserved.. *All prices including german VAT, plus shipping costs.shipping costs. What Is Dry Aquarium Sand? However, the first thing to consider when choosing a substrate is what fish are going to be living in your aquarium. Unlike natural sand, aquarium sand is uniform in size and shape and doesn’t have any sharp edges which could injure aquatic organisms. Corys, Kuhli Loches, Plecos, etc. Sand also prevents debris and waste products from sinking into your substrate. Gravel. But they would be happiest in a nice soft sand bed to hunt in. You’ll have a wider array of filtering options when you go with a gravel substrate since you can use either undergravel or hanging/canister filters with your tank. There weren’t many commercial options for substrate in the 1980s, so it’s probably no surprise my 8-year-old self gravitated towards the bags of sparkling blue and green gravel. Larger aquariums should have three to four inches of gravel or two inches of sand. Blasting sand is something commonly used with many aquarium hobbyist. There is no formal way of categorizing sand other than by the size of the particles. In this video, I explain how to clean newly purchased aquarium substrate (sand and/or gravel). You can mitigate these problems by using a product specifically designed for planted tanks. Tankarium is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to In long established tanks with deep sandbeds, I've heard stories of it crashing the system if you stir it up badly. But it usually takes more work to get all of that cleaned out. Since one of the main challenges with sand is keeping the cloudiness down in your water, you have to go through a lengthy process before-hand to help offset this.eval(ez_write_tag([[728,90],'fishtankwizard_com-medrectangle-4','ezslot_10',108,'0','0'])); You need to wash out and rinse your sand a lot before putting it into your tank. And I mean a lot. Generally most bottom dwellers enjoy sand. Important: Fish Tank Wizard goes through great lengths to provide you the best research and advice we can offer. When it comes to looks, a sand substrate is just much prettier in your aquarium. Each is right for certain aquariums. I know they would love a sandy bottom as well. Substrate does not need to be changed on a regular schedule, but should be swapped out when it becomes slimy or muddy. The sand will clog the system and potentially create dangerous air pockets that could fill up with toxic gas that could poison your fish. 20 gallon tank soon to be planted fish are in signature hopefully a cichlid to be added in a few weeks .. i would just like to hear y gravel/sand? Gravel takes a little more to maintain. If a substrate is between 1/16 to 2mm in diameter it’s called sand regardless of what it is composed of. Unlike natural sand, aquarium sand is uniform in size and shape and doesn’t have any sharp edges which could injure aquatic organisms. This is also a very bright, white, ultra-fine gravel sand that rivals some of the world’s most desirable beaches! Gravel is better as an aquarium substrate in terms of maintenance for freshwater tanks. To get a tank setup with gravel is pretty easy. can go with either fine gravel or sand, but dwarf species such as dwarf loaches do need sand. When you are buying the substrate from pet stores and local fish shops, you should expect to pay more. This is easily avoided though, if you are keeping your tank well maintained. I will be coming back to your blog for more soon. Hello! It may be better to keep Cichlids in a tank with gravel. Nature's Ocean® Aquarium Saltwater sand for reef tanks, fish tanks and saltwater aquariums. I hope to share with you all the things I learn and the stuff that fascinates me. Sand: With sand substrate the waste just sits right there on top. Instead, they remain on the top layer of sand where your filter intake can grab and remove them. When it comes to cleaning your tank, water changes etc. Silt - Out of the other two primary categories, silt is made of very fine particles. For saltwater aquarium keepers, you’ll need to be diligent with your maintenance to keep the algae growth down. It does not alter the water pH, too. 1998-2021. But thicker sand bottoms have the risk of forming small air pockets, where old food and waste could potentially get trapped into it. Even if you don’t opt for a plant-specific medium, it’s easier to maintain a planted gravel tank over a sandy-bottomed one. The sand surprisingly enough could be a lot cheaper, since you can find cheap substitutes at local hardware stores. Aquarium sand is usually made from crushed quartz, coral, or minerals such as aragonite, or is manufactured artificially from a silica base. My power head makes all my sand go to one side of the tank from all the water flow. The gravel is the best choice for all the planted aquariums with fresh water and the best environment. Then when that pocket is burst, it releases all that toxic gases into the aquarium. Aquarium Sand & Gravel Sand and gravel are used as aquarium substrate, which provides a natural filter and breeding ground for beneficial bacteria, as well as a natural habitat. The material you choose impacts your aquarium set-up and whether your community of fish, invertebrates, and/or plants thrives or struggles. Many sand products are not safe to use in an aquarium or are particularly unsuitable for freshwater tanks. Dry sand is just what it sounds. A few of the burrowing species prefer sand, but most do fine on gravel if they have rocks and things to hide under. You can set your filter intakes quite low because the gravel is too heavy to get sucked into the filter. Sand isn’t the ideal substrate for every tank and imposes some limitations when used in freshwater aquariums. Prevents debris from sinking into the substrate, Ideal for delicate fish like shrimp and loaches, Works with all types of filtration systems, Pure Water Pebbles Bio Activ Live African Cichlid Sand, CaribSea Eco Complete Planted Black Aquarium Sand, Nature’s Ocean Aquarium Gravel Blackberry Glo, bacteria and other ammonia-eating microorganisms, No rinsing required before adding to your tank, Typically more expensive than other options, May not be suitable for freshwater community tanks, but some products work well for African cichlids and other aquatic species who prefer high water pH, Comes in a wide variety of natural shades to match your tank’s decor, Most products are safe for use in freshwater aquariums and will not alter water chemistry, Not specifically designed for aquariums and may cloud the water or clog filters even when rinsed, Provides plants with the nutrients they need to thrive, Porous clay particles allow water to flow through and healthy bacteria to flourish in your substrate, Chemically inert and will not alter water chemistry, Economical and easy to purchase in large quantities, Heavier than play sand and less likely to cloud aquarium water and clog filters, Usually coated to prevent the color from flaking off, Lighter than pool sand and may clog filtration systems, May contain nutrients to help planted tanks thrive, Wide variety of natural colors and textures available, Allows water to flow through the substrate, preventing dead zones, Chemically inert and will not alter water quality, Permits healthy bacteria to become established throughout your substrate, Provides aquatic plants with the nutrients they need to thrive, Allows water to circulate through and healthy bacteria to flourish in the substrate, preventing dead zones, Clay is chemically stable and will not alter water chemistry, Often very dusty and requires a lot of rinsing before adding to the tank, Porous surface may permit blue-green algae outbreaks. Natural Aquarium Gravel 10-20mm pieces Betta World substrates are an amazing way to show off your magnificent Siamese Betta Fish. These days we’re not limited to rainbow-hued bags of pea-sized gravel. When you buy via the links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Even with those bright lights and that lack of plants, you can absolutely control algae through regular water changes – study this closely, though, as too often can harm your aquarium – vacuuming your gravel and using that protein skimmer as directed. Reef Aquarium Discussion . Can you use sand in a tropical freshwater fish tank? Though your tank shouldn’t go uncleaned for long enough for it to be a real issue. You can also carefully vacuum the debris up with a hose. For example stem plants should do great in the sand as the root is mainly located on the stem itself. Swirl by hand and pour off any cloudy water, which should be discarded. They are just different. They may cause the water to become too cloudy by disturbing the sand, which could potentially harm your filtration system. I don’t think either one is all that difficult. Sand or gravel for Cichlids? Over time they decay filling that air pocket up with toxic gas. - Freshwater & Saltwater Aquarium Foru… Saltwater tanks depend in part on the substrate you select for proper water balance and chemistry; the materials used are calcium-based and this mineral is vital to the health of the tank. Graveled aquariums encourage colonies of bacteria and other ammonia-eating microorganisms to flourish throughout your substrate. However this site is no substitute for professional veterinary guidance. Pretty much every saltwater or reef tank is going to have sand, so it goes without saying that most marine species would prefer the sand. Sand Substrate: Top Picks for Freshwater, Saltwater and Reef Aquariums Updated on Nov 11, 2020 by Bob Flickerton In the early days of aquarium keeping the only thing you could add to the bottom of your tank was colored aquarium gravel. This is desirable since they break down waste products and help maintain a healthy ecosystem in your tank. Boasts an average density of 72 pounds per cubic foot. Variety of colors and sizes to suit every preference, including glow-in-the-dark and gravel that glows under a black light. In some cases, it almost feels like slime. Hi I'm Randy, I've been starting and running aquariums for many years. Gravel requires a deeper cleaning typically with a gravel vacuum.eval(ez_write_tag([[580,400],'fishtankwizard_com-medrectangle-3','ezslot_4',107,'0','0'])); There are several factors to consider, such as how easy each are to setup, to clean, which species you are planning on keeping, and what equipment you need . Fish such as jawfish, blennies and burrowing crustaceans can dig, burrow and create their own unique homes. Plants can be planted in sand or gravel and do very well. Generally, gravel ranges from just above 2mm to ¼ inch in diameter, which is about the size of a dried pea. I love researching everything about fish tanks. Sand or gravel for planted aquarium? I wrote up a review and some filter recommendations here to help you avoid the filters that will give you the biggest problems. Of course it depends on your setup, fish, the type of sand etc. A final reason gravel substrates tend to be more popular in aquariums than sand is because they hide the debris better. Sand looks natural and beautiful. Also you can sometimes find a more quality color that in the end is going to look better in your tank. In my tank (saltwater) I wanted to add a mixture of black and tan gravel but every saltwater tank I have seen before has sand in it, so I was wondering if it was necassary and if so why. This site also participates in other affiliate programs and is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies. Sand is an ideal substrate for animals such as: Many aquatic plants struggle in sandy substrates, but these species thrive: Gravel is the most common type of aquarium substrate and is an ideal product for most freshwater aquariums. Here’s a list of the types of aquarium sand you’ll encounter and some notes on the benefits and drawbacks of each type: The primary benefit of using sand substrate in your freshwater aquarium is the smooth, natural appearance. In contrast, gravel may permit the algae to grow throughout your substrate, where it can be challenging to treat. Our exclusive range of all natural products are the eco-friendly way of … Plants can be planted in sand or gravel and do very well. Some fish species prefer a sand substrate. Pure water pebbles can also be used as substrates for fresh and saltwater aquariums. If you’re still not sure which is the better option for your freshwater aquarium, then here’s my advice: Jen has more than 30 years experience as a biologist, aquarist, and fishkeeper. Aquarium gravel, or substrate, makes the tank more attractive, and it comes in a variety of colors and sizes, from tiny pebbles and sand to large river rocks.However, it also serves several important purposes beyond decoration, though there are some situations in which substrate isn't desirable. If you use aquarium gravel the pH level of the water will be quite high So this is something that you … Gravel: You have food particles and waste that fall down into the substrate, into all the gaps and cracks. However, sand is more prone to clouding your water, it could damage filters, and there is a chance of toxic air chambers forming in the sand. You should be aware of these things before making your decision of which substrate to go with. Freshwater aquariums can also use sand as the substrate. It may also take a few days and a few rounds of water changes before your tank is clear after you add sand to it. … It could be pretty unsightly to see all that junk at all times in your tank. Small particles of food and other materials that stand out against a sandy bottom may be indistinguishable when lying on the bottom of a graveled tank. bacteria) and will also get clogged with dirt and detritus–so once your aquarium is up-and-running, your gravel won’t be such a pure white–but don’t worry, all that extra color (even though the color is mostly brown…) is actually doing good things for the health of your tank. If you have an earthy natural tone, or dark gravel; that is a sharp look also. This creates dead zones in your tank; areas where all the oxygen has been depleted. If you’re planning on a planted tank then sand may be something to avoid. The presence of this bacteria helps boost the nitrogen cycle and converts toxic waste products into a safer form. General Aquarium Discussion. This is more than just an aesthetic choice; it also impacts your aquarium’s set-up and longevity. sand gravel vacuum. Thread starter ... . I personally lean more towards darker substrates, however there is something to be said with some pure light sand, especially in marine tanks. With sand a regular siphon hose is sufficient. With sand it is a lot different. You should also do raking. With a little practice you can do water changes with barely sucking up any of the sand itself, whatever you do happen to collect you can usually add it back to the tank with no issue.eval(ez_write_tag([[336,280],'fishtankwizard_com-box-4','ezslot_2',109,'0','0'])); This is one of the main risks with using sand. It is also non-toxic and is made for a safe environment for fishes. Gravel, dead coral, shells, etc. There are really no limits to what you can do with a graveled freshwater aquarium. Sand (like the type used in a children's play sand-box), gravel (such as the kind found in fish stores that comes in pretty colors that is primarily sold for freshwater tanks), as well as rocks that are quarried on land often contain unwanted minerals, metals, silicates, and possibly chemicals or toxins that may leach out into the aquarium water and become problematic. When you opt for a gravel bottom you’ll have a wide variety of choices in size, color, and composition. Picking the substrate for your aquarium might not seem like a big deal, but it has serious consequences for your aquarium. sand gravel vacuum. Tankarium is reader-supported. Gravel is typically made from rocks such as quartz or sandstone that have been crushed, smoothed and rounded into shape. It was nothing fancier than a bowl with feeder goldfish and African dwarf frogs. gravel or sand ? If not doing often water changes, you'll have to add buffer to the sump weekly as saltwater animals use up the carbonates, calcium, etc. So sand vs gravel? And the price is comparable between these two at specialty stores. In most cases, pea-size gravel makes the better substrate for freshwater aquariums. You can get away with a 50lb bag for extremely cheap.eval(ez_write_tag([[300,250],'fishtankwizard_com-banner-1','ezslot_3',119,'0','0'])); The benefit from buying from pet stores or your local fish shop is you can find substrate that has beneficial additives for your water and plants. Can you use sand in a tropical freshwater fish tank? While you can buy gravel in bulk from construction supply companies, these types are not usually safe to use in aquariums. Sand is also very dusty and difficult to rinse clean, and the particles are so small and light that they may be easily sucked up by your filtration system or vacuum hose. Tanks with a substrate in their bottom are a much better choice than a simple one. Small to medium aquariums should have two to three inches of gravel or one inch of sand in the bottom. My tank has live rock and really fine sand. One of the first decisions you’ll face when designing an aquarium is what type of substrate to use in the bottom of your tank. These items tend to be so fine, its texture feels slippery. Almost anyone would agree that it simply looks more natural and polished. Gravel - As you may already know, gravel is a much more coarse version of sand and is composed of larger particles. Important: When raking the sand make sure you do it after you have cleaned the bottom, so you don’t chance burying waste. There are many beneficial reasons to use sand as your aquarium substrate. The small diameter of the sand grains prevents water from flowing through your substrate. Sand doesn’t work with undergravel filters either. To rinse, half-fill a bucket with warm saltwater and pour the live sand in. You may need to adjust the intake on your hanging or canister filter to prevent them from getting clogged with sand. Saltwater aquarium sand is often made of aragonite, calcium carbonate material that slowly releases calcium and raises pH (except black aquarium sand). The majority of sands available for the saltwater aquarium are all aragonite based (More on this at the end of the article) and CaribSea is the major producer that you will find in most saltwater aquariums in North America. The gravel won’t clog the filters or get sucked out when using a vacuum hose. Sandy substrates usually limit these outbreaks to the surface layer, since water is restricted from flowing through the small sand particles. Some sand is rougher than others, like the pool filter sand that is commonly used, so keep that in mind when placing fish like the corys who might be sensitive to that. It’s not easy to change the substrate in your tank once you’ve established an aquatic community. You will find it much easier to clean a sandy aquarium rather than one that contains gravel, as the sand doesn’t collect waste as easily. Saltwater marine aquariums and Reef tanks for the most part use a sand substrate. I just would like to give a huge thumbs up for the great info you have here on this post. It is this high nutrient content which promotes the desired strong plant growth, even with very demanding aquarium plants, such as lawn builders. Sand gives a natural look to the plants. Cichlids for example can really beat up your substrate and cloud things up significantly. Can I use an under gravel filter with sand? You need a gravel vac to really dive into the substrate to suck up all that junk that is sitting down there wasting away and dirtying up your tank. Gravel can promote a more solid root structure in your plants. Here are the most common types of aquarium gravel and the benefits and drawbacks to each type: Gravel is popular with freshwater aquarists for a few reasons. I researched all the pros and cons between the two. I remember setting up my first aquarium as a child. Unlike sand … Setting up a saltwater tank involves the decision of what type of gravel (substrate) to use. Shrimp almost require sand. Marbles, colored gravel and the like are not suitable for the saltwater aquarium. Sand is a desirable substrate in tanks that house freshwater invertebrates, cichlids, or burrowing fish like Kuhli loaches. While preparing to setup my new fish tank I had to decide between sand or gravel for my aquarium substrate. Having adequate filtration and wide water circulation in your tank will help prevent these zones from developing. You just need to do a basic rinse wash and inspection before placing it into your tank. When doing water changes, it’s very easy to vacuum debris without picking up the gravel as well. Saltwater marine aquariums and Reef tanks for the most part use a sand substrate. Gravel and sand are common substrates, and each has pros and cons. Gravel is the substrate-of-choice for many novices and experienced freshwater fish keepers because it is so broadly suited to raising both aquatic animals and plants. Instead of just one rinsing, you would repeat the washing process like 10 times—Maybe more. You can use both sand and gravel for a planted aquarium. Artificial aquarium gravel may be coated in a brightly-colored dye or paint and sealed to prevent the color from chipping away. Gravel is also the ideal choice for growing aquatic plants since it allows roots to take in nutrients from the water flowing through the substrate. Freshwater aquariums can also use sand … Other types of gravel are porous and allow bacteria and microorganisms to flourish in your substrate. But after that hard work, you do get rewarded with…. Natural sand is made up of small bits of shells, rocks, and/or organic materials with a diameter from 1/16 to 2mm. Sand is used in many industries, from construction to manufacturing. Just looking at your photo, it seems really clean to me. I am thinking of taking out the sand and putting like those small polished rocks made for aquariums. I think that would look better than gravel. This actually lends towards a cleaner looking tank, since all the waste isn’t sitting on top of the bottom floor in plain view. But why does every saltwater tank have sand? Though dealing with fish can be a different matter, some fish get a little crazier than others. Many plants work great in gravel, and you can find many that do very well in sand also. Joined Mar 29, 2018 Messages 28 Reaction score 2. Ideal for tanks with undergravel filtration or where elevated pH levels are required. Sand or gravel for planted aquarium? After you have cleaned the bottom floor of the sand during a water change for example, then use your fingers or an object to gently rake through the sand, this will break up any of the air pockets that may be forming. Learn how your comment data is processed. What Are The Benefits Of Using Aquarium Sand? Commercial products may be labeled as natural or river sand, and look similar to the sand you see along a waterfront. If you have a shallow sand bank like only an inch, this is less of a concern. To avoid clouding the aquarium water, place the sand in a plastic bag, lower it to the bottom of the aquarium, and pour it out slowly and gently. While there are a variety of options for the bottom of your tank, including using potting soil, peat, or even leaving it bare, most aquarists opt for either gravel or a sandy bottom.