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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
i am thinking about switching from gravel in my 125 gallon african cichlid tank to pool filter sand mixed with puka shell.. however im a little confused... how do i gravel vac with pfs? wont it all jus get sucked up? do you just not gravel vac and just change the water? then someone told me i get a scooper and jus scoop clumps out like kitty litter.... wont there be too much uneaten food on the bottom if i dont gravel vac even if its sand or do the fish scoop thru the sand more readily thant hey do with gravel? im not really concerned with how "real" it looks.. just speaking on a functional level
 

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The PFS that i bought, i can stick the gravel vac right into the sand (at an angle), and when i am done with my water changes there is miniscule amounts of sand in the bottom of the bucket.

I've found that its really not necessary to do this often as all of the waste sits atop the sand. Its more or so to release potentially trapped air pockets that could be in the sand.

I was skeptical myself although i am now a believer. These are the types i currently use:

The bag on the left was bought at home depot for around 5-6 bucks

 

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I use nothing but sand in all of my tanks and find vacuuming pretty easy without sucking up and flushing sand down the drain. I use a python with a long tube attachment - I'm not sure of the sizes but I believe mine is about 30 inches with the regular width of about 2". When I vacuum the sand, I hold the tube in one hand and the outgoing length of hose in the other. I stick the python right down into the sand and move it around to suck up enough sand so that it fills around half of the length of the vacuum tube - when I get to that point, I keep the tube in the same spot so it is hitting the glass bottom and not sucking up anymore sand - I let the sand continue to rise a little higher in the vacuum tube as this really separates all the debris - I let it float like that (like a fluidized bed) for 30 seconds or so by controlling the vacuum sucking by taking my other hand that is holding the hose length and bending it in half, just enough that the sand doesn't rise any higher in the tube but keeps it suspended while it is pulling out all the debris which rises above the sand and gets sucked out. Once you have tried this a couple of times, you'll learn exactly how much to bend the hose to restrict the vacuum just enough. After about 10-15 seconds of suspended sand in the tube, I bend the hose completely in half, stopping all suction and the sand drops out the bottom of the tube back to the aquarium bottom and now I move over to another area and start over again - sucking enough sand to fill the vacuum tube half way up, etc, etc.
What I also use for areas where the 2" diameter won't fit is a 1" rigid, clear PVC tube about the same length - 30". I purchased an adapter for the old style portable dishwashers - it is a grey adapter about 2 inches long ($3-4 at the hardware) - 1" diameter at one end and about 3/4" at the other end. The 1" end fits perfectly around the clear PVC tube (clear so I can see the stuff being sucked up) and the 3/4" end (maybe 5/8'??) is a perfect fit for the python hose - the python hose fits right into the smaller end nice and snug - been using this set-up for 10 years and works flawlessly and no leaking - and with a 1" tube, trust me the vacuum power is awesome. I repeat the same action as described above - controlling the vacuum action by bending the hose. Again, plunge the tube into the sand and bend the hose to control the vacuum -I usually hold the hose around waist height as it is returning to my drainage oulet.
So first I vacuum with the 2" tube, then just pull the hose off the 2" tube and my 1" PVC tube always has the adapter on it - I just run the hose end that I just pulled off the 2" tube into the 5/8" end. Presto!!
I hope I have explained this clearly and hope you find this as easy as I do. Good luck.

Adapter is like this http://www.homehardware.ca/en/rec/index ... er+adapter
Just get rid of the clamps. These come in different sizes - make sure you get the right size. 1" at one end and 3/4" at the other.
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
how much sand do i need in pounds for a 125 gallon tank? right now i have a gravel vac with about 5 or 6 feet of hose that i put into an 18 gallon bucket.. we fill it up with 12 gallons exactly each time.. what i do now is once a week i break down the entire tank... rocks ornaments everything.. and gravel vac the entire tank... it is really exhausting.. so with sand i would only have to vaccuum the areas that i can see i woudlnt have to break the entire tank down?
 

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Regardless of the type of substrate your ornaments should be on the bottom and the substrate added on top. The purpose is to avoid trapping dirt under the ornaments but also to avoid the cichlids digging the substrate out from under the ornaments/rocks and topping them causing injury or breakage.

You should still vacuum all substrate, but there would be less because there would be none under the decor.

Do yourself a favor and get a python that reaches the sink and eliminate the buckets.
 
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
i had one.. got it with a tank that i got from craigslist....it wouldnt fit on my sink as i already have a quick connect for my washing machine and im not gonna take it on and off its a pain and id rather be able to do laundry...i gave it to my friend who didnt have a gravel vac and i think he cut it cuz it woudlnt fit on his sink either....so how many pounds of sand should i get? 150? is a 125g tank...def gonna put the rocks on the glass thou makes sense..
 

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I used 100 lbs for my 135 gallon (same footprint as a 125...72" x 18") and it gave me about a 2" thick bed. This was plenty for me as I don't have any plants in the substrate, just some tied to driftwood.
 

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For my 135 I used 3 50 pound bags of play sand from ace hardware. Not he white kind, and I love it. I saw you were concerned with how natural it looks, so I'll say something on that real quick. When I was switching from gravel to sand I looked at every place within half an hour, and found absolutely no pool filter sand, in a dash of frustration I bought normal play sand from ace hardware and cleaned it real good (REAL good lol, it's dusty). It was a blessing that it went down like that, I'm positive now that if I had gotten pfs or any really white sand I would have found it to look unnatural, at least with the rocks that I have. Perhaps it would be different for you but I find the dirtier look of normal play sand to be ideal when it comes to a natural look. Plus I paid 4 bucks a bag lol.
 
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
yea i went to the local spa/pool place and got 150 pounds of pool filser sand for $6/ bag... a few questions thou... ok when you guys say clean it... i jus put it in a bucket and wash it out and then scoop the sand out? seems like this process will take a long time as it took me awhile jus to fill up a 10 gallon tank i put some eureka red fry in... another thing... i bought 2 20 lb bags of crushed coral and i have a half a bag of puka shell.. is it ok to mix those in with the sand to help naturally buffer the water... and the puka shell jus looks really cool....
 

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Yeah, that's pretty much the process. Fill a 5 gallon bucket about 1/3 to 1/2 full with sand, take the garden hose and shove it down into the sand and fill the bucket with water, swirl it around with your hands, gently tip the bucket to let the dirty water run off without dumping the sand, repeat again and again until the water runs clear. Empty the cleaned sand into your tank or another container and start on the next batch. It takes a lot of time and is a lot of work but it is worth it in the end. I used play sand and didn't have hardly any clouding in the 4 tanks I have used sand in. PFS should be cleaner than the play sand so should clean up quicker.

I don't buffer my water so can't help you on your other question but I do know lots of people mix crushed coral into their substrate to raise the Ph. Not sure on the puka shells.
 
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
lol i dont have a 5 gallon bucket or a garden hose... i live in an apartment complex i have an 18 gallon tub (12 gallons realistically) and a 2 gallon bucket i use.. i guess maybe putting alot of sand in the 12 gallon bucket in the bathtub would work.. then jus tip that... sounds like a *************** but thats probly gonna be my fastest way... it took forever in the 2 gallon bucket and i didnt even really wash it that good and it was only cloudy for like a day....and puka shell is basically just little seashells.. looks pretty cool.. i got it at petsmart then couldnt find it again when i went back to get more so i jus got the crushed coral...
 

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To do the same thing in a bathtub you would put the bucket under the faucet and let it run full blast for 15 minutes straight. Then check it and see if the water is running clear.

Be sure to warm the substrate before adding to the tank.
 
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
so use hot/warm water? only thing thats gonna suck about that is my tub drains really slowly... but whatever it should work... any thoughts on mixing the crushed coral and puka shell with the pool filter sand? i appreciate all your guys help
 

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Use cold water for the rinsing, and then warm water when you are ready to put it in the tank to warm it up. I use my thermometer...why not?

I would not mix anything into it. The African Rift lakes do not have puka and coral. The calcium you are adding does not dissolve fast enough to do much for your pH or your buffer. And the two textures can only make vacuuming more challenging.

Get the super in there to fix the drain, LOL!
 
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
im not supposed to have any pets... lol since i have 5 fish tanks a turtle tank and 2 cats at the moment.. i try not to call them for ****.. im kinda cool with the maintenance guy thou cuz im always like well gimme the part and ill do it myself so he likes me... still im not tryin to get evicted cuz of my cats.. i doubt theyd care about the fish tanks....and yea ill return the crushed coral tomorrow.. gonna change all this stuff 2moro... then attempt to build a stand for a 55 gallon that i bought for my friend off craigslist so i can give him all my Mbunas... tank should look sweet i got a 15 pack of ceramic cave rocks and im gonna use some of the regular rocks i have in there now.. jus keeping all the peacocks, haps and lethrinops... actually picked up a whole bunch of eureka red fry and a breeding group of black fin lethrinops that im sure wont breed until i get all the mean mbunas out of the tank and theres alot more room in there... also got a few Enantiopus melanogenys fry hope they grow out.. cuz the sand sifting is pretty cool... ill let you guys know how it goes and take pics.. thanks for all your help
 

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btw, It would take volumes and years but try to rinse the sand outside you don't want the sand and residue in the plumbing/pipes at home.
 
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
wow this is an old thread lol my tank looks so different now lmao and i live in an apartment complex and sand goes in the plumbing all the time and i have never had a problem
 
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