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I am buying from one of my employees a 46 gallon bow-front tank... Full setup w/ emperor biowheel filtration,heater, glass versa-top, lighting and wood stand... Not a bad deal - $200!

Anyhow, I wanted to use sand as my substrate for the very first time. I've read that "play sand" while should be available at Lowes or Home Depot should be pretty affordable, so I wanted to go that route.

I need to know though - what special steps do I need to take for setting up the tank using this sand? Do I need to rinse it first? If so, what's the best way to do this without washing away half the sand? Should I expect it to take a few days to settle once I add the water to the tank? Should I add the sand first then the water? Should I let the filter system run while it's still cloudy, or let everything settle before starting the filtration?

Are there any "gotchas" that I need to worry about once the tank is up and running?

Any helpful hints that anyone can throw my way will be greatly appreciated!

Thanks so much in advance from a sand substrate newbie!
 

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Play sand tends to be very fine, and when disturbed (either by you or your fish) it can float a fair distance before it lands again. I'ld add sponge prefilters to any filter intakes to make sure it doesn't float into the impeller of your filter! Another slightly larger (and slightly more expensive, but not by much) is pool filter sand. Some folks prefer the playsand and take precautions to avoid getting it in their filters, and other folks prefer pool filter (or other larger grained) sand.

With either sand you're going to want to wash it. I washed mine by the "put some sand in a 5 gallon bucket and stick a hose down into it, swirl and stir, pour off water, repeat" method. Some people like sand in a pillowcase in their bathtub... lots of options for cleaning the sand.

I would expect a slightly cloudy tank after you add the sand, no matter how well you cleaned the sand first. The better you clean it though the less of a problem that will be, and the quicker it will clear up. As long as your filter's pump/impeller is protected from the sand, I'd be inclined to let the filter help clear it up, but it's been awhile since I last set up a tank with sand.

-Rick (the armchair aquarist)
 

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Pool Filter Sand!! It is cheap, under $10 for 50LBS a pool supply warehouse near my home. Worth every penny! Just ensure you rinse it very well, it is nothing like rinsing coral gravel (that takes forever!). But a good rinse will cut down on cloudiness when the sand is added.
I even did the exchange of coral gravel to sand while I had fish in the tank, almost no cloudiness! Your fish will love it! Looks so natural!
 

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I believe pool filter sand is the same thing as silica and a 50 lb bag was only $2.79 at Menards any ways that's what I chose to go with, it was called Handy Sand.
 

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When you think you've cleaned it enough clean it a few more times. you CANNOT clean it too much! I put about 20lbs (wet) in a 5 gallon bucket and put it in the bath tub and have water running into the bucket as i stir it. You can also do it outside with a hose but it will stay cold for a long time after added to the tank so dont use cold water if fish are in the tank!
 

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I just set up a 125g with pool filter sand that i cleaned in a large cooler & garden hose.
I put 20 pounds at a time and filled, swirled and poured off the water for about 15 minutes.
i put a few inches of water in the tank and added sand and let it sit over night.
Next day I filled tank by pouring water on top of a large rock to disperse water and not disturb sand. I had no cloudy water at all.
 

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Get a good algae cleaner, but the mag float ones don't work as well on bowed glass as they only make contact on the sides of the magnet cleaner. Just a heads up that I wish I had thought of when I set up my cube.
 

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We use the tube sand you would normally buy to weigh down a car in the icy winter. You can get 50lbs for under $3.00 at The Home Depot. We sift out the larger sand with a kitchen strainer and rinse the rest in the bathtub until the water runs clear. Once in the tank it clouds up a little but clears up overnight and is never an issue after that. It's a great money saver!!
 

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I use play sand from Home Depot, rinsed well in a bucket with a garden hose . I do small amounts at a time(around 10-15 pounds) and IMO it gets it a little cleaner a little faster, but still takes a while . The results are worth the effort though. I add the sand to the tank(tank is enpty at this point) as it becomes clean, once I have added all of the sand I add my rocks and other decor items. After all the decor (or at least the big stuff is in there) Istart filling the tank and use a large plate or mixing bowl to diffuse the water stream to keep from stirring up the sand too much. Once the tank is full I let it settle a bit , then turn on the filter(s). Only do this last step with a prefilter of some sort around the inlet of the filter tube, cause otherwise your filter is going to suck up bits of sand and sound like a rock grinder.
 

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Are you telling me that I just spent $70 on two small bags of sand substrate and it is as good as play sand???? Is aquarium substate actually better? I don't mind paying for it if it has more benifits otherwise I can still return it as it is still in the bag! Advise please..... :(
 

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Some types of sand have buffers to help keep the pH high. It if says 'marine sand' or 'cichlid sand' it will probably help. Otherwise, IMO you got ripped off.

Anyway, when I switched from gravel to sand I used playsand. I didn't rinse it AT ALL because it was wintertime (couldn't do it outsied) and my mom was afraid it would ruin the bathtub. :roll:

I pretty much just dumped it in and refilled the tank. And let me tell you, it was cloudy. I couldn't see my hand an inch from the front glass. But I added the fish back in anyway, and the filters. I had no problems. It took about a week to totally clear up with no special filter media running. I was using three seperate HOB's (whispers).
 

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dtexan said:
say you didnt rinse the sand :roll: would the filter take care of the mess?
I actually did this 2 weeks ago, i didnt feel like rinsing coral/beach sand for a 55G, its really a lot, so i just added water, and with a big cup i scooped the sand and then fill it in the tank gently, kinda putting it on the tank floor. It WILL cloud the water, but with the filter on and let overnight, by morning its all clear!...

now i dont think i will ever rinse sand again, maybe just once just to take care of some impurities, but not more than that.
 

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dtexan said:
say you didnt rinse the sand :roll: would the filter take care of the mess?
In general when a large group of people are saying to rinse your sand really well there is probably a good reason to do it. Although questioning things is never a bad idea too.

Certainly it is an option to just rely on the filter to clean the sand, and someone already stated it might work - however I would advise against it.

Even if you rinse the sand, the water will still be cloudy after you add it - usually for a few days. However, when the water clears it doesn't mean that it was filtered out. Chances are the tiny particles of dirt/dust that were in the sand that made the water cloudy have just settled down on top of the substrate. I would guess 99 times out of 100 if you stirred up the sand after the water cleared up you would have cloudy water again. You would also be putting yourself in a difficult situation if you have filter media that could clean out cloudy water - unless you make it a one time thing.

For that reason I would recommend washing your sand - thats really the only way to get it clean. If you rely on the filter you wont remove the silt it will just settle in the tank.

Having said that I think there is one other option - and a lot of people may disagree with this. If you have coarse grain sand one thing you could do is do a quick rinse of the sand, then put it in your tank. Then you can vacuum the sand. That is a very direct way of cleaning sand. In my experience I can vacuum my whole tank in a lot less time than it took me to rinse my sand. And even after I rinsed my sand I found out that I still picked up cloudy water when I vacuumed the sand the first few times anyway.

By the way, when I say vacuum sand I don't mean skimming the surface with the vacuum - I mean stick the vacuum in the sand and let the suction turn it up - you should see a cloud be removed from the sand. I think this method will only work with coarse sand - if the sand is too fine it might get sucked up in the vacuum.
 

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I was wondering if you could mix a couple bags of aquarium sand with a couple bags of aquarium gravel? I have natural river rock gravel and it would look good with my new sand???
 

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eke said:
I was wondering if you could mix a couple bags of aquarium sand with a couple bags of aquarium gravel? I have natural river rock gravel and it would look good with my new sand???
If you mix sand with gravel, and have any fish/critters that sift through the sand the sand and gravel will slowly separate with the larger gravel on top of the sand (at least this is my experience with a marine tank that had sand/crushed coral mixed together).
 

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We ended up changing the water in the tank twice and it is now clear. I read a few post of people saying they didnt clean the pool filter sand prior to using it so I figured I would be good to go.
 
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