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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Greetings everyone. I am in the process of converting my 46g natural plant/community tank to a cichlid setup. Most of the plants have been transferred to a cycling 30g where I'll soon move my community fish.

My dilemma is that my 46g has a very coarse gravel (actually small rocks). I really like the looks, but some of the cichlids I'm wanting to get supposedly prefer sandy bottoms. I am wondering if it would be plausible to have areas of sand along with areas of the original rock. I was hoping the cichlids that prefer sand would naturally stake out those areas while the others would be content to live over the gravel.

Any thoughts, or opinions would be appreciated.
 

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Honestly, most of the cichlids who like the sand are either going to sift or dig and get the sand wherever they want regardless of how you want it to look. If in your mind you've got dreams of pretty delineated sand and gravel districts it most likely won't go down like that.

Do you know what species you were looking to keep?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I researched several cichlids, mostly South American (and a few semi-aggressive Africans. I'd imagine the diggers would eventually mix the sandy areas into the coarse gravel, but I could add more sand I'd think. What's the worst that would happen if I just kept the coarse gravel?
I'll be using the compatibility chart once I get up to speed on the scientific names. Hopefully I won't have to obtain a marine biology degree! :)
 

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They will move it all over. And the sand is smaller so it will settle under the gravel. You will end up with a layer of sand under your gravel, and you will hardly even be able to tell there is sand in there at all. Then while doing gravel vacuuming, you will start to suck the sand out.

So the chances are you will and up almost right where you started from. :)
 

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I guess you could try putting gravel on one side and sand on the other. Never heard of anyone doing it, but it might work.
 

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I've found it works different with different tanks. In a planted twenty, I did divide it with gravel and fluorite in one area and sand in the other end. Turned out okay there with the small fish I had. They did not move the sand much. In larger tanks where I have used all- purpose or play sand which has many different size particles, I found I got different results. Over time the vacing sucks the small fine stuff up and tends to send it down the drain. As this happens the ratio of large to small particles begins to change the appearance of the bottom. For the fish , we may be over thinking the problem in many cases. There are some real sand sifters who might need/want fine sand but in general, I believe they will go with what they find without any stress.
 
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