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Discovery of Sand

Posted By: Mr Leadfoot <leadfoot@sbcglobal.net>
Date: Saturday, 16 November 2002, at 2:14 a.m.

I've now converted all tanks, except for the un-setup 75 gallon, to sand. I yanked the UGF's in the two tanks that had them, and DIY-retrofitted the powerheads with sponge prefilters.

My 29 gallon had a UGF with two powerheads, and
I'm actually re-thinking the retrofit of the two powerheads. I'm wondering if I can continue to use one with the DYI sponge filter, which serves as a secondary large particulate filter, and that I'm hoping will also supplement my AquaClear 200 as far as a bacteria colonizer is concerned. I'm sure it won't harbor as much as my AquaClear, but I like knowing I have an extra bac home, just in case I overclean the other filter once in awhile.

The other powerhead I'd re-retrofit with a polishing pre-filter. Since that one would need to be cleaned alot, it probably wouldn't serve as a dependable colonizer. What do you think, does this idea sound, well, sound? :-)

After discussions with Drew, and trying out the sand in my 5.5 gallon, I just couldn't resist covenrting the others. The sand is just so awesome-looking. It really makes things look clean, and bright, and all the fish seem to like it. I also really like the fact that the sand compacts down below any waste, and if you want, you can really see how much debris there is in the tank. It seems like sand is much easier to clean, too, than regular gravel. The sand I got is larger than silica sand, so it's heavier, and I believe will breathe better. I can't remember the exact size of the sand, even though the place I got it had the size right there on the bin. I think it's size 16, rather than the real fine sand, or the Silica which size 30. If anyone is interested, let me know, and I'll get the exact grain size.

Because I've been a bit apprehensive about sucking up the sand when cleaning with my Python, up until today, the way I've been cleaning out waste from the sand is by simply sticking my hand in the tank, and waving it around a bit. This gets the waste up higher in the water column where the powerfilter can pick it up.

Well, today, I cleaned the tanks for the first time with the Python. No problem at all. Most of the waste just gets sucked up off the sand. I also actually tested cleaning the sand, like you would with gravel, and the sand came up the vaccum tube just like gravel does, but to my pleasant surprise, did not go up much farther than the gravel at all, so it didn't just get sucked out of the tank. I think I got lucky deciding on the larger sand.

I've also heard that you need to stir the sand around once a week or so, so that you don't end up with dead spots and algae growing, but each of my tanks have either clowns or striats, and adolfoi cories. All species like to root around in the sand, so they've been stirring it up for me. I've actually seen the striatas and clowns making like ostriches. I can't believe how far they stick their heads down in the sand, while rooting for food, or so it appears. Their actions also keep the terrain moving around quite a bit.

Plants also seems to love sand. It seems like their roots grow much faster. And being the larger-grained sand, I think they have a good chance of getting nutrients down to their roots, although a seemingly knowledgeable fellow at my excellent LFS says that botanical plants absorb nutrients through their leaves more than their roots. Anybody want to comment on that?

By the way, you wouldn't believe how much dirt was in the water once I removed the gravel and UGF plate in my 29 gallon. I couldn't even see through any of the water once I lifted the plate, and there was still 8 inches of water in there when I lifted the plate.

Well, that's my update. If anyone wants more info on my experience thus far with sand, let me know.

P.S. I'm going to try to keep my same feeding and cleaning schedule for awhile, so I can test to see if sand-only will have any different effect on nitrates in the water vs. gravel and UGF.


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