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Old 02-26-2004, 02:43 PM   #1 (permalink)
 
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Default Sand Questions

Hi everyone,
Sorry if this has been answered elswhere but I looked and couldn't find it...
I'm in the process of changing one of my tanks to a sand substrate, but before you all have heart attacks let me explain my idea a bit more.

I needed a cheap substrate and one that would work with corys, also the tank isn't really high light (and I doubt that in the next year or two I'll be able to increase it any more) and I'm going to be sticking with harder to kill plants since this is an office tank and I can't (as much as I'd love to) spend much time on it's maintence...that also means the tank is on a limited budget.

So....most of the tank will be sand, but I'll have some areas of Shultz's Aquatic Plant Soil (plan is to use small containers for the aquascaping). I'm also preparing a number of pieces of driftwood with java fern and possibly later some other plants that could root on wood

Now the questions becomes:
~ In addition to anerobic bacteria is there anything that I might need to look out for

~Are there any "hard to kill" plants that could actually do well in a sand substrate

~What kind of snails, or are there any critters that could help in keeping the sand stirred without treating any of the plants as a second course

~With approx 1.5wpg, 6500K NO light is there a big need for CO2...the tank will be heavily stocked with fish and likely remain on the lightly to moderately planted side (depending on my luck )

Sorry for the lenth, I think I had some others...but I forgot

T'anks in advance for any help

^_^


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Old 02-26-2004, 04:26 PM   #2 (permalink)
 
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Sakrete, the makers of cement in those paper bags also has a cheap construction sand and a play sand. These have sharp grains and I think these would be harmful to the barbels of the Corys. I use it 50/50 with top soil, but only below a gravel top.

The filter sand found at pool suppy stores is more expensive but seems to be larger rounder grains and I think would be better suited for the corys.

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Old 02-26-2004, 11:47 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Steve, have you ever found problems with your substrate? Like when comming to prune plants, does the soil come up and cloud the water?
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Old 02-27-2004, 04:16 AM   #4 (permalink)
 
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My son has two SW tanks . One has sand from the beach (Gulf of Mexico). The other has the Sakrete sand. Both were cloudy after setup but cleared within a few days. The outside tank had bait fish in them called "Piggy" Perch down here. They hide in the sand flat side down. So when they do this they really move the sand around. This makes it cloudy but clears in an hour.

My large FW tanks have about two inches of the 50/50 top soil/sand mix and about 1.5 inches of gravel that still has some laterite in it from an older application. The roots of my 1/4 inch diameter stem plants (local Ammannia latifola) are quite extensive. When I pull them out of the substrate the roots are full of light gray clay. The plants somehow sequester the clay out of the brown colored substrate (which is probably a good biological sign). Anyway this create a real mess. The tank turns opaque gray. There is no real way around this. If you cut off the stems at the base of the plant the roots will rot in the substrate creating anerobic conditions. Since the opaqueness is from fine clay particles, it would take weeks for it to clear, plus I don't want it settling on the plants. So I usually do this pruning just before a water change. I normally do a 50% water change, but after pruning I may do a 80-90% change. I also run a large diatom (Vortex XL) on it for a while until the water is crystal clear. Afterwards everything looks great, but it is a little more work. However, I think the benefits of getting the micronutrients to the roots from the top soil is worth it.

With the gravel top cover, the water stays clear unless you actual pull up a bunch of really deep rooted plants. See my web site.

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Old 02-27-2004, 04:29 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Would using something like Clarity help clear it up faster?
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Old 02-27-2004, 04:50 AM   #6 (permalink)
 
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I'm not familar with "Clarity". But water clarifiers in general are flocculents that bind together the small particles so they get into a heavy mass and sink to the bottom. They also coagulate the gill structure damaging and sometimes killing the fish. I have read many warnings in aquatics books about not using flocculants with fish.

So I don't use them any more. And I would rather remove the cloudy water with a water change than have the particles stay on the top surface of the substrate. Water changes are great for fish and plants, and with Tom Barrs nutrient dosing regimen it is needed so the nutrients don't build up to high concentrations.

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Old 02-28-2004, 07:23 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Sand Questions

Hi,

Thanks for joining APC!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Babelfish
I needed a cheap substrate and one that would work with corys
Sand is tough on the cory barbels as it has sharp edges. Look into Turface as a possible substrate. It is cheap.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Babelfish
~ In addition to anerobic bacteria is there anything that I might need to look out for
Algae. Make sure to plant heavily.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Babelfish
~Are there any "hard to kill" plants that could actually do well in a sand substrate
I would suggest to you to go with Cryptocoryne wendtii, Echinodorus species (sword plants), vallisneria, and other heavy root feeders. The point is to plant the tank heavily. These plants will produce extensive root systems and prevent your substrate from going completely anoxic (resulting in the creation of an unhealthy substrate).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Babelfish
~What kind of snails, or are there any critters that could help in keeping the sand stirred without treating any of the plants as a second course
Unlike in marine tanks, the plant roots will provide sufficient oxygen to the substrate to keep it from completely anoxic. Focus on planting heavily.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Babelfish
~With approx 1.5wpg, 6500K NO light is there a big need for CO2...the tank will be heavily stocked with fish and likely remain on the lightly to moderately planted side (depending on my luck )
The plants I listed above do not need a lot of light and, hence, don't need supplemental CO2. Use a little peat mixed into the bottom 1/3 of your sand and you should be fine.

Let me know if you have any other questions. Good luck!
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Old 03-01-2004, 07:59 AM   #8 (permalink)
 
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T'anks for the tips !
Sorry I've been away for a few days...just as I was leaving work last week I noticed fin rot on one of the diamond tetras...lesson learned...never "adopt" or "liberate" a fully stocked, badly maintained tank that you paid $80 for....I had only changed half of the substrate but it was enough to cause more than enough trouble and some delay .


"Use a little peat mixed into the bottom 1/3 of your sand and you should be fine."

Won't the sand manage to settle down to the bottom of the peat or is this another case where the roots will manage to hold everything together

On the "heavy root feeders" that were mentioned....I've read elsewhere (not sure where) that sand isn't the best for root feeders as it doesn't hold enough of the nutrients that plants need to grow, or is that why the peat was suggested

Also....could I use peat from a garden center or should it be something from a LFS


T'anks in advance...
Sorry for the rampant usage

^_^

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Old 03-01-2004, 02:50 PM   #9 (permalink)
 
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This is what I'd do.

Vacuum the existing substrate, save all the dirt that settles in the bottom of the bucket. Add this to the bottom of the new tank, add about 1/2" layer of peat, maybe 1/2" soil if you pre soak it for 2- weeks or so.

Cap this layer with Turface, Aquatic plant soil(same as Turface but cost more) about 2-3" deep.

I'd suggest Pearl grass, Water sprite, Bacopa, Moneywort, Coon tail, Hygro, Java fern for the wood and moss.

Adding CO2 will help, and it's cheap and easy with DIY to see how it helps.

Regards,
Tom Barr
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Old 03-07-2004, 09:35 PM   #10 (permalink)
 
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Default Sand questions

I'd do as Tom suggests (always).

This bit about the substrate getting all homogenized doesn't really apply in a plant tank, especially one which is heavily planted from day one. The roots will grow all over like netting or spider webs and anchor the different layers right where they are. They'll also pump oxygen down to keep things aerobic, like Art mentioned.

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