View Full Version : gravel or sand?

10-03-2007, 03:27 PM
i would like to know the pro's and con's of gravel vs. sand. i got my new 75 gallon and want to get it setup as quick as possible.. i was going to put is sand but my lfs said they didn't recommend it but didn't say why. thank you for all your help

10-03-2007, 04:11 PM
I personally use sand in all of my tanks if I'm going to use a substraight. The reason being is the wast generally just sits on top of the sand and is easier to siphon out, and I think it looks better IMO. The reasons that some people don't like to use sand is because it can be kicked up easier than gravel, and if you are using a canister or HOB filter it will get sucked up through the intakes, and it's not good for the impellers. To take care of that problem you can just add a sponge to the end of an intake to act as a prefilter. I hope this helps and good luck setting up your tank.

10-03-2007, 04:42 PM
Depending on what type of 'sand' you get it can also take quite a bit more time/effort to clean it initially, but that is a one-time thing. Sand can look nicer and many fish prefer it as well, but gravel is easier to clean initially.

Once in the tank, yes detritus sits on top of sand - unless the fish have churned the sand (which they do frequently), so I'm on the fence about which substrate is better in that respect. You can churn gravel when vacuuming it without sucking it up as you would with sand...

I'd say go with whichever you like the look of. You can use Pool Filter Sand which is kind of a compromise - it's really more like fine gravel than sand and is not too dusty to clean at first. Be sure you can see the colour of the PFS in the bag before you buy it though - not all brands are the same colour, and colours may vary regionally as well. The stuff I got ended up looking kind of grey-purple in the tank (I hate it).

10-03-2007, 05:38 PM
I prefer sand for the look and the behavior of my fish.
My sand of choice is play sand, it's cheap and looks good.
Cleaning takes me about 15-20 minutes per 50 pounds.

I run a Fluval cannister, an AC power-head with a quick filter, a cheap power-head with a rigged filter and an old Fluval 2+ internal filter.

The cannister could care less about the sand as it never reaches the impeller.
The AC and the cheapo are safe because the sand can not get through the media.
The 2+ tends to dislike sand so it sits up high. Keep in mind none has ever made it to the impeller it just clogs up the sponges and gets stuck in the housing making it difficult to take apart.

10-03-2007, 05:56 PM
The use of prefilters can solve any sand problems with your impellers.

The choice of larger grain sizes also helps it sink faster. There are two to recommend that do not require intense cleaning but do require a thorough rinsing. 1.) Pool Filter sand - this can be found at many pool stores and has a nice tan color usually. 2.) Quickrete Medium washed sand - this can be found at your local homecenter and color varies widely.

Both are similar grain size and the PFS is only a couple bucks more per bag but is cleaner to begin with too...usually only requiring a light rinsing.

I use sand since it provides more natural interaction between my fish and their environment.

10-03-2007, 07:43 PM
how far from the bottom should my intakes be? i have a xp3 and ac110.

10-03-2007, 08:37 PM
Picking through these threads may help

10-05-2007, 06:55 AM
I use sand also, for all of the same reasons that everyone has said. I got a good deal on a 40 lb bag of Caribsea Aragonite. It's a good mixture of fine/larger particles of sand. It was pretty easy to rinse and it sinks quickly and is a nice white color.

10-05-2007, 09:13 AM
If the OP was considering a sand sifting species he would want to avoid the Caribsea substrate because it is finely crushed coral which can be sharp.

10-05-2007, 12:13 PM
Then there is the CaribSea African Cichlid Mix, which is pretty fine and doesn't seem very abrasive. Despite it's being a mixture of white and black granules I find it appears too glaringly white under aquarium lights though. Some people may like it but it's not for everybody. (It does help to buffer the PH though.)

10-29-2007, 06:44 PM
My XP intakes are 2 inches from sand level. No problem with the impellers on these because any grains get trapped by the media first. Pump is at the top and last in line.
AC and EMP intakes are standard one section length. No issues so far.
I've found less of a need to vac. both from fish keeping the junk stirred up to be caught by the intakes more than gravel, and the fact that less food is lost.

10-29-2007, 09:33 PM
I also use sand. Like everyone has said, it's much easier to clean. I have an AQ70, the intake sits close to 4 inches above the substrate. Haven't had any problems yet. I chose a black background, grayish almost black sand (Grey Coast by Seachem (http://www.seachem.com/products/product_pages/GrayCoast.html)), and texas holey rock for a nice contrast with the dark colors.

If you go with sand, you only need about an inch so you don't get air pockets. Here's a nice article (http://www.cichlid-forum.com/articles/sand.php) on sand.

11-01-2007, 07:04 AM
Can you post a pic of your tank?

11-01-2007, 09:46 AM
I've been using the Grey Coast substrate for a while and I LOVE IT! Really is great stuff and the color goes well with most cichlids. (IMO better than the black substrates like TMS)

The substrate is made from calcite so it also has the benefit of buffering your pH to around 8.0+

11-01-2007, 04:27 PM
I still have another holey rock to get, then I can get rid of the two green decorations. Also was planning to paint the background instead of vinyl.

It's only a 29 gallon, but it'll have to do until I get a 75...


Here's a close up picture of the sand. The camera makes it look huge but it seems about the perfect size and sinks fast. It did take a while to wash though. My Kenyi loves to shovel this stuff.