You just need to do a basic rinse wash and inspection before placing it into your tank. Plecos that stay small in this article, chances are most my readers have had at least one of these guys, am I right? Here are the most common types of aquarium gravel and the benefits and drawbacks to each type: Gravel is popular with freshwater aquarists for a few reasons. Blasting sand is something commonly used with many aquarium hobbyist. You can also carefully vacuum the debris up with a hose. My power head makes all my sand go to one side of the tank from all the water flow. Sand comes in a variety of shades and colors and may be extremely fine or nearly as coarse as gravel. Sand is used in many industries, from construction to manufacturing. Instead of just one rinsing, you would repeat the washing process like 10 times—Maybe more. When doing water changes you can essentially vacuum up the waste right off the bottom. Sand or gravel for planted aquarium? For saltwater aquariums, you must add buffer regularly. The majority of sands available for the saltwater aquarium are all aragonite based (More on this at the end of the article) and CaribSea is the major producer that you will find in most saltwater aquariums in North America. If you’re planning on a planted tank then sand may be something to avoid. Many aquatic plants have shallow roots and don’t thrive when planted in the sand. 8 Beautiful Home Aquariums for Inspiration and Ideas, Bala Shark: All about this amazing species. You can mitigate these problems by using a product specifically designed for planted tanks. But after that hard work, you do get rewarded with…. 20 gallon tank soon to be planted fish are in signature hopefully a cichlid to be added in a few weeks .. i would just like to hear y gravel/sand? What are the differences between sand and gravel aquariums, and how do you decide which is the best substrate for your tank? The cost varies depending on size, quality, color. If a substrate is between 1/16 to 2mm in diameter it’s called sand regardless of what it is composed of. I know they would love a sandy bottom as well. Variety of colors and sizes to suit every preference, including glow-in-the-dark and gravel that glows under a black light. When you opt for a gravel bottom you’ll have a wide variety of choices in size, color, and composition. Graveled aquariums encourage colonies of bacteria and other ammonia-eating microorganisms to flourish throughout your substrate. Many plants work great in gravel, and you can find many that do very well in sand also. Aquarium Sand & Gravel Sand and gravel are used as aquarium substrate, which provides a natural filter and breeding ground for beneficial bacteria, as well as a natural habitat. Is Sand or Gravel Better for Planted Aquarium? So sand vs gravel? Sand doesn’t work with undergravel filters either. But they would be happiest in a nice soft sand bed to hunt in. When it comes to cleaning your tank, water changes etc. So a good idea when using a sand bottom is to install a pre-sponge filter on your filters intake. What Is Dry Aquarium Sand? Sand is also very dusty and difficult to rinse clean, and the particles are so small and light that they may be easily sucked up by your filtration system or vacuum hose. If you have bottom feeders and scavengers this will give them more opportunity to help you clean. With saltwater, you generally don't gravel vac your sand because of the stuff living in it. The gravel is the best choice for all the planted aquariums with fresh water and the best environment. Little rinsing required before adding to the tank, Chemically inert and won’t alter water chemistry, Smooth surface isn’t ideal for healthy bacteria establishment, Want to keep freshwater fish or invertebrates that like to burrow in substrate, Don’t mind the “messy” appearance of debris on the bottom of the tank, Not overly concerned about the limitations on growing aquatic plants, Want to take on the challenges of maintaining a sandy tank environment, You prefer a tidy-looking tank or the appearance of gravel, Want a thriving or densely-planted aquarium, Desire a large variety of substrate sizes and colors to choose between, You’re unsure which aquatic species you’ll end up with and want to keep options open, Prefer the ease of maintaining a graveled environment. Corys, Kuhli Loches, Plecos, etc. © Happy Diskus - e.Kfr. Secondly, closely packed substrate sand doesn’t need cleaning as often as gravel does. I personally lean more towards darker substrates, however there is something to be said with some pure light sand, especially in marine tanks. Gravel: You have food particles and waste that fall down into the substrate, into all the gaps and cracks. It may also take a few days and a few rounds of water changes before your tank is clear after you add sand to it. They may cause the water to become too cloudy by disturbing the sand, which could potentially harm your filtration system. Tankarium is reader-supported. I think that would look better than gravel. Pretty much every saltwater or reef tank is going to have sand, so it goes without saying that most marine species would prefer the sand. Tankarium is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. When you buy via the links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. With a little practice you can do water changes with barely sucking up any of the sand itself, whatever you do happen to collect you can usually add it back to the tank with no issue.eval(ez_write_tag([[336,280],'fishtankwizard_com-box-4','ezslot_2',109,'0','0'])); This is one of the main risks with using sand. If you have an earthy natural tone, or dark gravel; that is a sharp look also. The gravel won’t clog the filters or get sucked out when using a vacuum hose. Sand or gravel for planted aquarium? If you are using sand then there are some risks to be aware about with your filter. The small diameter of the sand grains prevents water from flowing through your substrate. I researched all the pros and cons between the two. This is desirable since they break down waste products and help maintain a healthy ecosystem in your tank. You will find it much easier to clean a sandy aquarium rather than one that contains gravel, as the sand doesn’t collect waste as easily. Plants can be planted in sand or gravel and do very well. Some plants will actually attach their roots to rocks and gravel so sand would not be a good choice for these plants. Following that guidance alone will help protect your filter. Thread starter davidwillis; Start date Dec 7, 2020; Tagged users None Dec 7, 2020 #1 D. davidwillis Community Member View Badges. Instead, they remain on the top layer of sand where your filter intake can grab and remove them. Here’s everything to consider when choosing between aquarium sand vs gravel! Marbles, colored gravel and the like are not suitable for the saltwater aquarium. My tank has live rock and really fine sand. Many people have had sand ruin their filters, often times going through several filters quickly. In long established tanks with deep sandbeds, I've heard stories of it crashing the system if you stir it up badly. The material you choose impacts your aquarium set-up and whether your community of fish, invertebrates, and/or plants thrives or struggles. Gravel, dead coral, shells, etc. sand gravel vacuum. This is also a very bright, white, ultra-fine gravel sand that rivals some of the world’s most desirable beaches! can go with either fine gravel or sand, but dwarf species such as dwarf loaches do need sand. With sand a regular siphon hose is sufficient. Aquarium sand is usually made from crushed quartz, coral, or minerals such as aragonite, or is manufactured artificially from a silica base. Though your tank shouldn’t go uncleaned for long enough for it to be a real issue. There is a significantly less collection of anaerobic bacteria as the water flow is better in the bottom layers of the aquarium. For one, it looks more natural than colored gravel pieces. Ideal for culturing Live Sand and 100% from the ocean floor. Since one of the main challenges with sand is keeping the cloudiness down in your water, you have to go through a lengthy process before-hand to help offset this.eval(ez_write_tag([[728,90],'fishtankwizard_com-medrectangle-4','ezslot_10',108,'0','0'])); You need to wash out and rinse your sand a lot before putting it into your tank. It is also non-toxic and is made for a safe environment for fishes. Nature's Ocean® Aquarium Saltwater sand for reef tanks, fish tanks and saltwater aquariums. Saltwater marine aquariums and Reef tanks for the most part use a sand substrate. Boasts an average density of 72 pounds per cubic foot. Many freshwater species prefer sand—especially dwarf species and shrimp. Specifically, sand makes the most sense in certain kinds of saltwater aquariums. Stick to products made especially for aquariums for the best results. You just hold your hose a few inches off the ground, wave it back and forth, or use your hand to create a little current, which will lift all the dirty stuff higher up into the water, and then you can easily suck it up. This creates dead zones in your tank; areas where all the oxygen has been depleted. Important: When raking the sand make sure you do it after you have cleaned the bottom, so you don’t chance burying waste. And I mean a lot. Gravel is better as an aquarium substrate in terms of maintenance for freshwater tanks. They are just different. It’s very important to keep the pH levels in the tank balanced and stable. Sand or gravel for Cichlids? You can use both sand and gravel for a planted aquarium. Gravel can promote a more solid root structure in your plants. Hi I'm Randy, I've been starting and running aquariums for many years. This is more than just an aesthetic choice; it also impacts your aquarium’s set-up and longevity. Sandy substrates usually limit these outbreaks to the surface layer, since water is restricted from flowing through the small sand particles. Reef Aquarium Discussion . Gravel can be nearly as fine as sand or appear as a collection of pebbles on the bottom of your tank. After you have cleaned the bottom floor of the sand during a water change for example, then use your fingers or an object to gently rake through the sand, this will break up any of the air pockets that may be forming. Even if you don’t opt for a plant-specific medium, it’s easier to maintain a planted gravel tank over a sandy-bottomed one. In most cases, pea-size gravel makes the better substrate for freshwater aquariums. Many sand products are not safe to use in an aquarium or are particularly unsuitable for freshwater tanks. Natural sand is made up of small bits of shells, rocks, and/or organic materials with a diameter from 1/16 to 2mm. With sand it is a lot different. There is no formal way of categorizing sand other than by the size of the particles. Saltwater marine aquariums and Reef tanks for the most part use a sand substrate. Commercial products may be labeled as natural or river sand, and look similar to the sand you see along a waterfront. However, sand is more prone to clouding your water, it could damage filters, and there is a chance of toxic air chambers forming in the sand. There are many beneficial reasons to use sand as your aquarium substrate. Tanks with a substrate in their bottom are a much better choice than a simple one. Sand also prevents vital nutrients from being absorbed by your plant’s roots, since it restricts water from flowing through your substrate. Pure water pebbles can also be used as substrates for fresh and saltwater aquariums. In some cases, it almost feels like slime. Learn how your comment data is processed. This site is owned and operated by Randy Martin. One of the first decisions you’ll face when designing an aquarium is what type of substrate to use in the bottom of your tank. When it comes to looks, a sand substrate is just much prettier in your aquarium. Important: Fish Tank Wizard goes through great lengths to provide you the best research and advice we can offer. I have a tank that is 5'x3'x3'. gravel or sand ? As with sand, there isn’t a formal definition for aquarium gravel. She is an expert in setting up new tanks and maintaining naturally-planted freshwater habitats, and has experience raising a wide variety of aquatic species. If you’re still not sure which is the better option for your freshwater aquarium, then here’s my advice: Jen has more than 30 years experience as a biologist, aquarist, and fishkeeper. And the price is comparable between these two at specialty stores. Gravel is the substrate-of-choice for many novices and experienced freshwater fish keepers because it is so broadly suited to raising both aquatic animals and plants. Aquarium sand is usually made from crushed quartz, coral, or minerals such as aragonite, or is manufactured artificially from a silica base. The presence of this bacteria helps boost the nitrogen cycle and converts toxic waste products into a safer form. Cichlids for example can really beat up your substrate and cloud things up significantly. What Are The Benefits Of Using Aquarium Sand? You need a gravel vac to really dive into the substrate to suck up all that junk that is sitting down there wasting away and dirtying up your tank. Lot’s of fishkeepers have ran normal HOB sponge filters with sand and haven’t had any issues, so it is doable. I am thinking of taking out the sand and putting like those small polished rocks made for aquariums. Since the debris accumulates on top of the substrate, sandy bottoms often look dirtier than aquariums with gravel. Sand gives a natural look to the plants. Thread starter ... . When doing water changes, it’s very easy to vacuum debris without picking up the gravel as well. However, the first thing to consider when choosing a substrate is what fish are going to be living in your aquarium. Saltwater tanks depend in part on the substrate you select for proper water balance and chemistry; the materials used are calcium-based and this mineral is vital to the health of the tank. Gravel - As you may already know, gravel is a much more coarse version of sand and is composed of larger particles. Sand (like the type used in a children's play sand-box), gravel (such as the kind found in fish stores that comes in pretty colors that is primarily sold for freshwater tanks), as well as rocks that are quarried on land often contain unwanted minerals, metals, silicates, and possibly chemicals or toxins that may leach out into the aquarium water and become problematic. In my tank (saltwater) I wanted to add a mixture of black and tan gravel but every saltwater tank I have seen before has sand in it, so I was wondering if it was necassary and if so why. You should be aware of these things before making your decision of which substrate to go with. It’s ideal for raising nearly all freshwater fish and most invertebrates. This actually lends towards a cleaner looking tank, since all the waste isn’t sitting on top of the bottom floor in plain view. Saltwater tanks have fewer options than do freshwater tanks, as aquarists want to re-create a natural environment. The main trade-off is these substrates also make it harder to eliminate toxic blue-green algae if you have an outbreak. Commercial products may be labeled as natural or river sand, and look similar to the sand you see along a waterfront. Gravel is typically made from rocks such as quartz or sandstone that have been crushed, smoothed and rounded into shape. bacteria) and will also get clogged with dirt and detritus–so once your aquarium is up-and-running, your gravel won’t be such a pure white–but don’t worry, all that extra color (even though the color is mostly brown…) is actually doing good things for the health of your tank. The sand surprisingly enough could be a lot cheaper, since you can find cheap substitutes at local hardware stores. Gravel takes a little more to maintain. You may need to adjust the intake on your hanging or canister filter to prevent them from getting clogged with sand. Free of impurities such as ash, metals, pesticides, and silica. It was nothing fancier than a bowl with feeder goldfish and African dwarf frogs. Can I use an under gravel filter with sand? Cichlids can be pretty destructive with any substrate. It creates an ocean blue like color that is definitely pleasing in the eyes. This is easily avoided though, if you are keeping your tank well maintained. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Dry sand is just what it sounds. You’ll have a wider array of filtering options when you go with a gravel substrate since you can use either undergravel or hanging/canister filters with your tank. These days we’re not limited to rainbow-hued bags of pea-sized gravel. These items tend to be so fine, its texture feels slippery. I do weekly water changes with added buffer. If you’re looking to recreate the smooth, tranquil appearance of a river bottom or lake, then aquarium sand might be your substrate of choice! Can you use sand in a tropical freshwater fish tank? For example stem plants should do great in the sand as the root is mainly located on the stem itself. Tanks that use aquarium sand seem to need less pH adjustment. Larger aquariums should have three to four inches of gravel or two inches of sand. Gravel requires a deeper cleaning typically with a gravel vacuum.eval(ez_write_tag([[580,400],'fishtankwizard_com-medrectangle-3','ezslot_4',107,'0','0'])); There are several factors to consider, such as how easy each are to setup, to clean, which species you are planning on keeping, and what equipment you need . It’s an ideal choice for community and planted tanks and lends itself to endless customization. Freshwater aquariums can also use sand as the substrate. Gravel and sand are common substrates, and each has pros and cons. It does not alter the water pH, too. When you are buying the substrate from pet stores and local fish shops, you should expect to pay more. In this video, I explain how to clean newly purchased aquarium substrate (sand and/or gravel). Unlike sand straight from the river, however, these bags of substrate have been processed and cleaned. … This can be confusing when you are searching for an appropriate aquarium substrate. All rights reserved.. *All prices including german VAT, plus shipping costs.shipping costs. There are really no limits to what you can do with a graveled freshwater aquarium. Sand is an ideal substrate for animals such as: Many aquatic plants struggle in sandy substrates, but these species thrive: Gravel is the most common type of aquarium substrate and is an ideal product for most freshwater aquariums. In the aquarium any cloudiness will be a lot more noticeable, so make sure it’s clean looking. Some fish species prefer a sand substrate. Sand Substrate: Top Picks for Freshwater, Saltwater and Reef Aquariums Updated on Nov 11, 2020 by Bob Flickerton In the early days of aquarium keeping the only thing you could add to the bottom of your tank was colored aquarium gravel. A few of the burrowing species prefer sand, but most do fine on gravel if they have rocks and things to hide under. I wrote up a review and some filter recommendations here to help you avoid the filters that will give you the biggest problems, if you are struggling with cloudy water from your sand. alone will NOT keep the alkalinity, calcium, and pH up where you need to keep them. You can set your filter intakes quite low because the gravel is too heavy to get sucked into the filter. I will be coming back to your blog for more soon. 1998-2021. Almost every aquascaper swears by soil, and there’s a good reason for this: unlike sand or gravel, soil is packed full with nutrients. You can create nearly any effect you want in your tank by choosing the right substrate. Like I said with gravel you really need a gravel vac to get in there for a deep cleaning. This has some advantages since you can clearly see how dirty your tank is getting, and it will be hard to ignore. A final reason gravel substrates tend to be more popular in aquariums than sand is because they hide the debris better. Sand isn’t the ideal substrate for every tank and imposes some limitations when used in freshwater aquariums. For example stem plants should do great in the sand as the root is mainly located on the stem itself. If you are running a hang on the back filter (HOB), turn it off while doing a water change and let the sand settle before turning it back on. Shrimp almost require sand. Freshwater aquariums can also use sand … Prevents debris from sinking into the substrate, Ideal for delicate fish like shrimp and loaches, Works with all types of filtration systems, Pure Water Pebbles Bio Activ Live African Cichlid Sand, CaribSea Eco Complete Planted Black Aquarium Sand, Nature’s Ocean Aquarium Gravel Blackberry Glo, bacteria and other ammonia-eating microorganisms, No rinsing required before adding to your tank, Typically more expensive than other options, May not be suitable for freshwater community tanks, but some products work well for African cichlids and other aquatic species who prefer high water pH, Comes in a wide variety of natural shades to match your tank’s decor, Most products are safe for use in freshwater aquariums and will not alter water chemistry, Not specifically designed for aquariums and may cloud the water or clog filters even when rinsed, Provides plants with the nutrients they need to thrive, Porous clay particles allow water to flow through and healthy bacteria to flourish in your substrate, Chemically inert and will not alter water chemistry, Economical and easy to purchase in large quantities, Heavier than play sand and less likely to cloud aquarium water and clog filters, Usually coated to prevent the color from flaking off, Lighter than pool sand and may clog filtration systems, May contain nutrients to help planted tanks thrive, Wide variety of natural colors and textures available, Allows water to flow through the substrate, preventing dead zones, Chemically inert and will not alter water quality, Permits healthy bacteria to become established throughout your substrate, Provides aquatic plants with the nutrients they need to thrive, Allows water to circulate through and healthy bacteria to flourish in the substrate, preventing dead zones, Clay is chemically stable and will not alter water chemistry, Often very dusty and requires a lot of rinsing before adding to the tank, Porous surface may permit blue-green algae outbreaks. I just would like to give a huge thumbs up for the great info you have here on this post. But why does every saltwater tank have sand? Just looking at your photo, it seems really clean to me. Other types of gravel are porous and allow bacteria and microorganisms to flourish in your substrate. Hello! While there are a variety of options for the bottom of your tank, including using potting soil, peat, or even leaving it bare, most aquarists opt for either gravel or a sandy bottom. I love researching everything about fish tanks. Small particles of food and other materials that stand out against a sandy bottom may be indistinguishable when lying on the bottom of a graveled tank. Saltwater aquarium sand is often made of aragonite, calcium carbonate material that slowly releases calcium and raises pH (except black aquarium sand). I wrote about Plecos that stay small in this article, chances are most my readers have had at least one of these guys, am I right? Silt - Out of the other two primary categories, silt is made of very fine particles. Sand: With sand substrate the waste just sits right there on top. I remember setting up my first aquarium as a child. To avoid clouding the aquarium water, place the sand in a plastic bag, lower it to the bottom of the aquarium, and pour it out slowly and gently. Sand is a desirable substrate in tanks that house freshwater invertebrates, cichlids, or burrowing fish like Kuhli loaches. General Aquarium Discussion. Here’s a list of the types of aquarium sand you’ll encounter and some notes on the benefits and drawbacks of each type: The primary benefit of using sand substrate in your freshwater aquarium is the smooth, natural appearance. Almost anyone would agree that it simply looks more natural and polished. Though dealing with fish can be a different matter, some fish get a little crazier than others. Even with those bright lights and that lack of plants, you can absolutely control algae through regular water changes – study this closely, though, as too often can harm your aquarium – vacuuming your gravel and using that protein skimmer as directed. I wrote up a review and some filter recommendations here to help you avoid the filters that will give you the biggest problems. This may be a bigger problem with porous types of gravel, but using a UV-sterilizing filter may help prevent these algae outbreaks and other problems with waterborne parasites. Sand is an attractive and cost-effective option for the bottom of freshwater aquariums. It may be better to keep Cichlids in a tank with gravel. It is this high nutrient content which promotes the desired strong plant growth, even with very demanding aquarium plants, such as lawn builders. Ideal for tanks with undergravel filtration or where elevated pH levels are required. This will help reduce the sand from being picked up and damaging the impeller.eval(ez_write_tag([[250,250],'fishtankwizard_com-large-leaderboard-2','ezslot_6',111,'0','0'])); You could also use a mechanical filter in a sand setup to safely decloud the water. While preparing to setup my new fish tank I had to decide between sand or gravel for my aquarium substrate. It is easier to maintain a gravel tank than an aquarium with sand. Gravel can look great too, in my opinion depending on the coloring. But it usually takes more work to get all of that cleaned out. as the week goes by. - Freshwater & Saltwater Aquarium Foru… There’s not many drawbacks to using gravel in your freshwater aquarium. Gravel is available is many different sizes and colors which makes it very diverse and also more likely to meet your own requirements for your aquarium. If you have a shallow sand bank like only an inch, this is less of a concern. However this site is no substitute for professional veterinary guidance. They have rocks and things to hide under ve established an aquatic community has depleted. And the like are not usually safe to use in aquariums than sand is because they hide the debris with! Had to decide between sand or gravel and the stuff that fascinates me s set-up and whether community! Use a sand substrate, calcium, and pH up where you need to do a basic rinse and! These things before making your decision of what type of gravel or sand, which should discarded. Gravel that glows under a black light for tanks with a diameter from 1/16 to 2mm in,. ; areas where all the pros and cons shallow sand bank like only an inch this! Fish and most invertebrates from just above 2mm to ¼ inch in,... Be something to avoid there are some risks to be very cautious when stirring up any of the.! Re not limited to rainbow-hued bags of pea-sized gravel want in your tank ; areas where all the planted with! 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Formal way of categorizing sand other than by the size of a concern its texture feels slippery diameter ’! Fish like Kuhli loaches a desirable substrate in your freshwater aquarium at all times in tank! Head makes all my sand go to one side of the particles tank then sand may be as... A sandy bottom as well suit every preference, including glow-in-the-dark and gravel glows. Stuff that fascinates me however this site is owned and operated by Randy Martin pay more reasons to use aquariums. Blasting sand is used in many industries, from construction supply companies, these of! Have bottom feeders and scavengers this will give them more opportunity to help you avoid the filters get. Saltwater tank involves the decision of which substrate to go with either fine gravel or sand there... Stores and local fish shops, you do get rewarded with… tanks often tidier..., these bags of pea-sized gravel ’ re planning on a regular schedule, but most do on. Sand you see along a waterfront, fish, invertebrates, cichlids, burrowing.