Aquarium Decoration (Rocks, Plants and Substrates) • Sand or Gravel for Cichlids?

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Sand or Gravel for Cichlids?

Postby jcusantos » Sun Aug 02, 2009 3:48 pm

Hi everyone, totally new to this and a quick question, so excuse my newb'ish ways :)

Sand or Gravel in a Cichlid tank? Does it matter or do the Cichlids mind gravel?
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Postby Morcs » Sun Aug 02, 2009 4:26 pm

There are some good articles on the pros and cons of sand:

http://www.cichlid-forum.com/articles/aquarium_setup_list.php

I use gravel, they dont mind either way.
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Re: Sand or Gravel for Cichlids?

Postby Dj823cichild » Sun Aug 02, 2009 6:49 pm

jcusantos wrote:Hi everyone, totally new to this and a quick question, so excuse my newb'ish ways :)

Sand or Gravel in a Cichlid tank? Does it matter or do the Cichlids mind gravel?


It's totally up to you. Both are acceptable but you have to make the choice of what you want. I started out with gravel, but about 3 weeks ago I made the switch to sand. It was the best thing I did easier to clean and manage! But that's just me you may like gravel better.
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Postby steelers fan » Mon Aug 03, 2009 1:41 am

sand is much easier to keep clean and it kinda hard for alot of cichlids to scoop and spit gravel to carve out a home
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Postby Toby_H » Mon Aug 03, 2009 2:16 am

There are a few thousand types of "Cichlids"... some prefer sand, some may prefer gravel... others may not care... What kind are you considering keeping?...

In the end... for most either will work fine and it's more of a personal choice...

I find sand is easier to keep clean and I much prefer th elook of sand...

but experience and opinion will vary...
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Postby Sprungster » Mon Aug 03, 2009 1:36 pm

How is Sand easier to keep clean compared to gravel?

How do you keep your sand clean?
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Postby Toby_H » Mon Aug 03, 2009 4:41 pm

Here is a Cichlid Forum video on how to clean sand substrate in an aquarium.... click on the word library in the top right corner... then scroll down to videos for several others including one on how to rinse fresh sand prior to adding it to your aquarium...

http://www.cichlid-forum.com/videos/cleaning_sand.php

Sand keeps the waste/debris right there on top where you can see it and get to it very quick and easy. Gravel, to be kept clean and healthy, has to be "gravel vacuumed' which in my experience is a pain in the rear and takes much longer than cleaning sand...
The happier you make your fish the happier they will make you

Minimum requirements means minimum happiness for all
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Postby Cichlidaevid » Mon Aug 03, 2009 7:09 pm

I've considered swiching to sand, and may eventually make the change just for the sake of looks. For now, I have crushed coral in my African tanks. The fish still move it around and make pits, holes and what not in the substrate. If I had small Tangynikan fish, I would definitely use sand.

In my case, the gravel vaccuuming is quite easy. I just hit the open areas with the vaccuum when I do the water change each week. (It removes the water, obviously, so it takes no additional time). Then, every month or two I will remove the rocks from the tank and do a vaccuum where they were and add the water. Easy, really, especially if your aquascape is mostly large rocks like mine.

I also prefer the buffering capability of the crushed coral, even though I probably don't need it with my tap water. I also don't have to worry about sand getting in my filter and ruining the impeller.
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Postby steelers fan » Tue Aug 04, 2009 9:32 am

i just do a quick pass with the python with every water change and my sand never looks like it needs cleaned
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Postby wheatbackdigger » Tue Aug 04, 2009 2:00 pm

I tried sand. That lasted about six months and I switched back to gravel. Got tired of cleaning sand out of everywhere, The last straw was when my FX5 started squealing like a pig. Had to take the motor housing apart after a few months of running. That was fun. Tried everything to keep the filters sand-free, but all it takes is a grain or two. Got a few nice scratches on the glass where sand got trapped in my mag cleaner. Switched over to gravel and haven't had a problem since, so much happier now. I also think gravel is much easier to clean. I do a deep gravel cleaning every other w/c. Couldn't do that with sand, had to stir the sand up to get under the surface. That made the tank look wonderful. I use a small, natural colored stone gravel. Small enough for most med to larger cichlids to dig, big enough to keep out of my filters.
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Postby Cichlidaevid » Tue Aug 04, 2009 2:57 pm

wheatbackdigger wrote:I tried sand. That lasted about six months and I switched back to gravel. Got tired of cleaning sand out of everywhere, The last straw was when my FX5 started squealing like a pig. Had to take the motor housing apart after a few months of running. That was fun. Tried everything to keep the filters sand-free, but all it takes is a grain or two. Got a few nice scratches on the glass where sand got trapped in my mag cleaner. Switched over to gravel and haven't had a problem since, so much happier now. I also think gravel is much easier to clean. I do a deep gravel cleaning every other w/c. Couldn't do that with sand, had to stir the sand up to get under the surface. That made the tank look wonderful. I use a small, natural colored stone gravel. Small enough for most med to larger cichlids to dig, big enough to keep out of my filters.


This is exactly why I've never made the switch..... :wink:
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Postby jcusantos » Fri Aug 14, 2009 6:41 pm

wheatbackdigger wrote:I tried sand. That lasted about six months and I switched back to gravel. Got tired of cleaning sand out of everywhere, The last straw was when my FX5 started squealing like a pig. Had to take the motor housing apart after a few months of running. That was fun. Tried everything to keep the filters sand-free, but all it takes is a grain or two. Got a few nice scratches on the glass where sand got trapped in my mag cleaner. Switched over to gravel and haven't had a problem since, so much happier now. I also think gravel is much easier to clean. I do a deep gravel cleaning every other w/c. Couldn't do that with sand, had to stir the sand up to get under the surface. That made the tank look wonderful. I use a small, natural colored stone gravel. Small enough for most med to larger cichlids to dig, big enough to keep out of my filters.


haha... I've found this very amusing, yet sorry to hear about all your troubles :fish:

Thank you everyone for your input. I'm pretty new to this stuff and my main objective was/is to make sure that these fishes don't die on me the next day, which is why I had to inquire. I do like the sand look, but after reading above's post, I'll try gravel for a while... :thumb:
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Postby bigcatsrus » Sat Aug 15, 2009 6:03 am

Hi

I have to say this is only one persons experience, I think you'll find a lot of people on here would sing the praises of sand all day long.

Asphetically to me the sand looks much better but it is definately more hassle than gravel. As me and my other half have got more and more in to the hobby we have fallen on the side of the fence that is trying to have the tanks as close to the fishes natural environment as possible.

Fish keeping I find though is very much like any other hobby, it's each to your own. Some people will have blue gravel with skulls and ship wreaks in it and at the other end of the scale you have natural set up like the Tanganyikan (it's and african lake) setup we have just done.

Now we have only just switched over to sand but so far we are very very happy with the results.

As a newbie I would suggest you start with a small natural gravel, it is easier to set up, easier to clean and a the fish won't mind it. The beauty is if you do change your mind later down the line there would be no harm in swapping over to sand like we have.

I've put before and after pics of the tank that has recently been changed to try and show the difference in looks.

HTH

Image

Image
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Postby Demasonian » Sat Aug 15, 2009 8:39 am

The choice of sand or gravel as a substrate is completely your decision, but if you like the look of sand and your cichlids of choice prefer sand, then don't be afraid to give it a chance!

Personally, I switched to sand about five years ago in all my tanks and would never consider going back. I use canister filters and HOBs (EHeim and Aquaclear mostly) and haven't had a problem with sand ruining the impellers. A larger grain sand will have enough weight that it won't stir up easily and therefore shouldn't be in the water column. If you're worried about scratches, use a razor blade instead of a mag float.

While the choice is yours, I would not hesitate to recommend sand over gravel to anyone. Easy to keep clean, the fish love it and it looks great.
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