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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am really wanting to change my 55 gallon aquarium to sand and stack rocks. I have heard several different things and would like some opinions. There is play sand from home depot and lowes but a lot of people say thats terrible for your fish, and others say they use it. My local pet store also has aquarium sand, and they even have a certain type of sand made specifically for Africans (which is what I have) ...It is very expensive though. I would like to know everyones opinion on the sand. If I can just use regular playsand, what is the procedure for getting it cleaned and in the tank. How do I make sure it is clean of anything harmful for my fish. Also what color is good? And how long do I wait for the cloudiness and sand to settle before I can put my fish back in their tank? I would be really greatful if you guys could post some pics of your tanks that have sand and rocks stacked... I'd like to transition to something more natural that makes my fish feel more at home and helps their colors pop! Just looking for some ideas...Thanks everyone! :D
 

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Well the one part I can help you on is that pool filter sand is much easier to clean. And I think it looks great. And from what I've read, many other members use it as well. It's a light tan, but with the lights on, it looks much lighter in color. I rinsed mine in an hour, mixing the sand in the bucket every couple of minutes when the water ran clear. I'm sure other members have rinsed theirs too in the same manner, but with play sand, the rinsing can be long and tedious. I hope this helped.

Oh and PFS is pretty cheap as well.
 

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I have used PFS with just enough rinsing to stir the sand up and remove some foriegn elements. I really like the PFS. It looks natural, Is easy to clean and the sand isn't as uniform as you would think.
 

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As far as maintenance goes you can skim the surface of the sand with the syphon hose or you can add a large vac that allows you to sift the sand for dirt. Not really much different from gravel.
 

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Agree - pool filter sand is the way to go.
Here in MN. its about $8.50 for a 40lb bag.
Looks tan out of water, but once its placed in a lit tank it looks white'ish.
Check out this video from the forum library on how to rinse sand - http://www.cichlid-forum.com/videos/rinsing_sand.php
Most people rinse sand in a bucket with cold water - make sure your sand is at a good tank temperature before adding fish.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
thanks everyone for your responses. pool filter sand it is! does anyone have any pics they can post of their tanks with sand and rock stack setup?
 

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I'm thinking of going to sand as well. Few questions. What’s the best way to prevent sand from getting in the filters? AQ 110, Fluval 405, powerheads, etc? addons? Rubber banding some filter/sponge to the intake? Not needed?

If sand does get in there will they lock up or break? Is it as easy as rinsing the impellers before they break or when they get stuck?

vacuuming the bottom of the tank doesn’t just suck the sand right up? In my gravel tank the larger (pea sized) rocks fall and the smaller stuff and fragments end up getting sucked in. Is it just a little more finesse? And maybe adding a few cups back every few weeks?

Other tips/tricks/gotchas/lessons learned from going sand would be appreciated. I have done a month of reading on this forum while my tank cycles, now I’m ready to change everything inside it besides the established filters!

Thanks
 

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Mostly no special treatment is needed to keep sand out of the filters. The only tank where I have a problem has a larger-grain substrate than sand, but occupied by a fish that spits mouthfuls of substrate directly into the filter intake, LOL.

In that tank the impeller (HOB filter) just stops and as soon as I rinse out the grains it starts right back up again. The danger is if you don't notice and the motor tries to run for a day without a moving impeller the impeller will burn out. Pays to keep a spare on hand.

There is a video in the library about vacuuming sand.
 

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Thanks for addressing some of my concerns. I still think I am going to take the 'leap' and change over to sand. The mixed gravel looks a little old school. Plus I want the tank environment to be the best for the fish as I can.

So you don’t put any profiler or sponge on the HOB intake? Just check the HOB every day or two to make it it’s not stuck? Same thing with the Fluval 405 impeller? Or is that filter strong enough to handle the sand it might suck up?
I guess the last question is how high off the sand should I set my intakes? The 405 intake can easily be trimmed and so can my AQ 110 because it has an extension on it.

Thanks!
 

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move intakes at LEAST 5-6 inches off the back for any HOB filters. for my canisters it doesnt seem to matter. the sand gets collected at the bottom and i just clean it out every so often when im doing changes. either way i think u also need to consider randomly stirring the sand every few weeks. (nitrate can build up inside the sand and when its released it can ballon levels out of wack) for instance how a beach smells at low tide. thats the nitrates being released. well GL to ya. and remember if you think its rinsed enough. do it one more time just to be sure :)
 

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PFS Sand is nice, I just used it in my 55g setup.. It's Clear White PFS and I added a 20lb bag of the tan cichlid sand mix.. Here is how it looks. I didn't like the sand so white so that is why I added the tan bag to the white.. I really like the way it turned out. Toned down the white a lot and added a more natural look to it..

 

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OK. I will trim the intakes to try to be at least 4-5 inches off the substrate. It’s good to know the 405 is easy to clean the sand and doesn’t get jammed.

Stirring the sand seems like a good idea. Preventing nitrate buildup is one of the justifications I had for removing the UGF and powerheads.

Mixing the brown in does look good! More decisions to make!

Thanks again
 

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I guess it depends on the brand of pfs you use. I got my sand at Leslie's, and was lucky enough that it's not pure white. It's a nice tan color. Good luck with the switch, and post some pics.
 

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One more vote for PFS. 100lb for <$20 for something you only have to rise lightly before throwing in.
 

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I am giving that black sand blasting sand a go this time. I just setup a tank last night with some in it. Was $8 for 50lbs and I got the real fine stuff that is 40-80 grit which looked to be about the same size and the silica sand I have in my other tanks.

Might try out a few cheaper fish at first to make sure there are no contamination to it and they go ahead with its permanent inhabitants.
 

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xxbenjamminxx said:
I am giving that black sand blasting sand a go this time. I just setup a tank last night with some in it. Was $8 for 50lbs and I got the real fine stuff that is 40-80 grit which looked to be about the same size and the silica sand I have in my other tanks.

Might try out a few cheaper fish at first to make sure there are no contamination to it and they go ahead with its permanent inhabitants.
I have been using black blasting sand for about a year with no issues what so ever. In Ontario canada I can get # 12 black blasting sand for about $10.00 for 88 lbs... it's been great but at number 12 grit it's still a weee bit to fine for me but overall it does work good. My geophagus and other cichlids seem to love it. Just watch your Aquaclears and pumps because there is some iron based material on there and will stick to the magnets in your motors. Make sure you remove and check them every so often to clean off the metallic particles or they will wear down pretty fast....
cheers!!!!
 
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