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Sand is better then gravel in my opinion. I use it in all my fresh water tanks. Go with pool filter sand it is cheap and looks very good. I would stay away from play sand because it is too fine. Best way to remove old gravel is with a dustpan. Make sure you clean it first. When you rinse your sand (its a must and you should do it over and over) use a pillow case. Rinse and rinse and rinse and rinse. Then rinse again. Oh and did I mention to rinse it. Rinse it until the water is running clear. Good luck and try to post before and after pics. Your loaches will love sand. It doesn't do as much damage to them (they like to burrow).
 

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Like the above posted you don't need anything special when you add sand. It will not change ph. If you are using argonite already in your tank to keep ph where its then yes,but if not no.
 
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