Marbles, colored gravel and the like are not suitable for the saltwater aquarium. Here’s everything to consider when choosing between aquarium sand vs gravel! Stick to products made especially for aquariums for the best results. Saltwater marine aquariums and Reef tanks for the most part use a sand substrate. Gravel can be nearly as fine as sand or appear as a collection of pebbles on the bottom of your tank. Aquarium sand is usually made from crushed quartz, coral, or minerals such as aragonite, or is manufactured artificially from a silica base. These items tend to be so fine, its texture feels slippery. This actually lends towards a cleaner looking tank, since all the waste isn’t sitting on top of the bottom floor in plain view. This is desirable since they break down waste products and help maintain a healthy ecosystem in your tank. A few of the burrowing species prefer sand, but most do fine on gravel if they have rocks and things to hide under. I just would like to give a huge thumbs up for the great info you have here on this post. My tank has live rock and really fine sand. Almost anyone would agree that it simply looks more natural and polished. While you can buy gravel in bulk from construction supply companies, these types are not usually safe to use in aquariums. 8 Beautiful Home Aquariums for Inspiration and Ideas, Bala Shark: All about this amazing species. I am very partial to the sandy-bottomed look myself. When doing water changes, it’s very easy to vacuum debris without picking up the gravel as well. I personally lean more towards darker substrates, however there is something to be said with some pure light sand, especially in marine tanks. Gravel takes a little more to maintain. You would rinse the sand over and over again until it looks clear and usable to you. And I mean a lot. Our exclusive range of all natural products are the eco-friendly way of … Unlike natural sand, aquarium sand is uniform in size and shape and doesn’t have any sharp edges which could injure aquatic organisms. 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. 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. This is easily avoided though, if you are keeping your tank well maintained. I know they would love a sandy bottom as well. Many freshwater species prefer sand—especially dwarf species and shrimp. Can you use sand in a tropical freshwater fish tank? 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. 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. When you opt for a gravel bottom you’ll have a wide variety of choices in size, color, and composition. But after that hard work, you do get rewarded with…. 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. It’s an ideal choice for community and planted tanks and lends itself to endless customization. With sand it is a lot different. Generally most bottom dwellers enjoy sand. It is also non-toxic and is made for a safe environment for fishes. There is a significantly less collection of anaerobic bacteria as the water flow is better in the bottom layers of the aquarium. … Freshwater aquariums can also use sand … My power head makes all my sand go to one side of the tank from all the water flow. With sand a regular siphon hose is sufficient. But why does every saltwater tank have sand? If a substrate is between 1/16 to 2mm in diameter it’s called sand regardless of what it is composed of. Though dealing with fish can be a different matter, some fish get a little crazier than others. Unlike natural sand, aquarium sand is uniform in size and shape and doesn’t have any sharp edges which could injure aquatic organisms. The cost varies depending on size, quality, color. You shouldn’t combine sand with your under gravel filtration system. Specifically, sand makes the most sense in certain kinds of saltwater aquariums. For example stem plants should do great in the sand as the root is mainly located on the stem itself. Artificial aquarium gravel may be coated in a brightly-colored dye or paint and sealed to prevent the color from chipping away. Fish such as jawfish, blennies and burrowing crustaceans can dig, burrow and create their own unique homes. 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! Secondly, closely packed substrate sand doesn’t need cleaning as often as gravel does. The presence of this bacteria helps boost the nitrogen cycle and converts toxic waste products into a safer form. If you have an earthy natural tone, or dark gravel; that is a sharp look also. Unlike sand … So a good idea when using a sand bottom is to install a pre-sponge filter on your filters intake. In long established tanks with deep sandbeds, I've heard stories of it crashing the system if you stir it up badly. Gravel: You have food particles and waste that fall down into the substrate, into all the gaps and cracks. Thread starter ... . Sand also prevents debris and waste products from sinking into your substrate. 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. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Sand that has been collected, dried and then packaged. Some plants will actually attach their roots to rocks and gravel so sand would not be a good choice for these plants. It may be better to keep Cichlids in a tank with gravel. You can mitigate these problems by using a product specifically designed for planted tanks. 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 have a shallow sand bank like only an inch, this is less of a concern. Sand doesn’t work with undergravel filters either. To avoid problems, pick the substrate that works best for the fish and plants you plan to keep in the tank of your dreams! Just looking at your photo, it seems really clean to me. They may cause the water to become too cloudy by disturbing the sand, which could potentially harm your filtration system. Hi I'm Randy, I've been starting and running aquariums for many years. 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. To rinse, half-fill a bucket with warm saltwater and pour the live sand in. 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. When it comes to looks, a sand substrate is just much prettier in your aquarium. Sand comes in a variety of shades and colors and may be extremely fine or nearly as coarse as gravel. Plants can be planted in sand or gravel and do very well. alone will NOT keep the alkalinity, calcium, and pH up where you need to keep them. Important: Fish Tank Wizard goes through great lengths to provide you the best research and advice we can offer. Then when that pocket is burst, it releases all that toxic gases into the aquarium. Swirl by hand and pour off any cloudy water, which should be discarded. When doing water changes you can essentially vacuum up the waste right off the bottom. Plus, the gravels are coated with 100% acrylic for greater water effect. It creates an ocean blue like color that is definitely pleasing in the eyes. This can be confusing when you are searching for an appropriate aquarium substrate. 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. Small to medium aquariums should have two to three inches of gravel or one inch of sand in the bottom. Some fish species prefer a sand substrate. The main trade-off is these substrates also make it harder to eliminate toxic blue-green algae if you have an outbreak. Other types of gravel are porous and allow bacteria and microorganisms to flourish in your substrate. For saltwater aquariums, you must add buffer regularly. Tanks that use aquarium sand seem to need less pH adjustment. Boasts an average density of 72 pounds per cubic foot. They may be contaminated with toxins or heavy metals and can poison your tank. Also you can sometimes find a more quality color that in the end is going to look better in your tank. Though your tank shouldn’t go uncleaned for long enough for it to be a real issue. Blasting sand is something commonly used with many aquarium hobbyist. It is this high nutrient content which promotes the desired strong plant growth, even with very demanding aquarium plants, such as lawn builders. I don't care if my tank bed is live or not. 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. When it comes to cleaning your tank, water changes etc. In some cases, it almost feels like slime. Learn how your comment data is processed. For example stem plants should do great in the sand as the root is mainly located on the stem itself. I will be coming back to your blog for more soon. Gravel is typically made from rocks such as quartz or sandstone that have been crushed, smoothed and rounded into shape. In the aquarium any cloudiness will be a lot more noticeable, so make sure it’s clean looking. 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. You should also do raking. 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? 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. 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. Of course it depends on your setup, fish, the type of sand etc. can go with either fine gravel or sand, but dwarf species such as dwarf loaches do need sand. 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. There’s not many drawbacks to using gravel in your freshwater aquarium. 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. In contrast, gravel may permit the algae to grow throughout your substrate, where it can be challenging to treat. If you use aquarium gravel the pH level of the water will be quite high So this is something that you … 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. Gravel and sand are common substrates, and each has pros and cons. sand gravel vacuum. Many people have had sand ruin their filters, often times going through several filters quickly. Sand gives a natural look to the plants. Gravel. 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. There is no formal way of categorizing sand other than by the size of the particles. Substrate does not need to be changed on a regular schedule, but should be swapped out when it becomes slimy or muddy. But thicker sand bottoms have the risk of forming small air pockets, where old food and waste could potentially get trapped into it. To get a tank setup with gravel is pretty easy. What Are The Benefits Of Using Aquarium Sand? But it usually takes more work to get all of that cleaned out. It’s not easy to change the substrate in your tank once you’ve established an aquatic community. You need to be very cautious when stirring up any of the sand during a water change. Nature's Ocean® Aquarium Saltwater sand for reef tanks, fish tanks and saltwater aquariums. Over time they decay filling that air pocket up with toxic gas. Instead of just one rinsing, you would repeat the washing process like 10 times—Maybe more. 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. Cichlids for example can really beat up your substrate and cloud things up significantly. Ideal for tanks with undergravel filtration or where elevated pH levels are required. 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. Sand also prevents vital nutrients from being absorbed by your plant’s roots, since it restricts water from flowing through your substrate. as the week goes by. Aquarium gravel, or substrate, makes the tank more attractive, and it comes in a variety of colors and sizes, from tiny pebbles and sand to large river rocks.However, it also serves several important purposes beyond decoration, though there are some situations in which substrate isn't desirable. Pure water pebbles can also be used as substrates for fresh and saltwater aquariums. Many plants work great in gravel, and you can find many that do very well in sand also. It’s very important to keep the pH levels in the tank balanced and stable. 1998-2021. You can get away with a 50lb bag for extremely cheap.eval(ez_write_tag([[300,250],'fishtankwizard_com-banner-1','ezslot_3',119,'0','0'])); The benefit from buying from pet stores or your local fish shop is you can find substrate that has beneficial additives for your water and plants. Plants can be planted in sand or gravel and do very well. Freshwater aquariums can also use sand as the substrate. They are just different. It was nothing fancier than a bowl with feeder goldfish and African dwarf frogs. As with sand, there isn’t a formal definition for aquarium gravel. 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. Shrimp almost require sand. Important: When raking the sand make sure you do it after you have cleaned the bottom, so you don’t chance burying waste. So sand vs gravel? A final reason gravel substrates tend to be more popular in aquariums than sand is because they hide the debris better. This site also participates in other affiliate programs and is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies. Sand: With sand substrate the waste just sits right there on top. Silt - Out of the other two primary categories, silt is made of very fine particles. 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 . Plecos that stay small in this article, chances are most my readers have had at least one of these guys, am I right? 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. Reef Aquarium Discussion . However, the first thing to consider when choosing a substrate is what fish are going to be living in your aquarium. Gravel tanks often appear tidier and better maintained than their sandy counterparts. You can use both sand and gravel for a planted aquarium. What are the differences between sand and gravel aquariums, and how do you decide which is the best substrate for your tank? 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. It does not alter the water pH, too. 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. Sand is used in many industries, from construction to manufacturing. Sand or gravel for planted aquarium? Sand isn’t the ideal substrate for every tank and imposes some limitations when used in freshwater aquariums. 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. If you’re planning on a planted tank then sand may be something to avoid. 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. Instead, they remain on the top layer of sand where your filter intake can grab and remove them. 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. Each is right for certain aquariums. sand gravel vacuum. Saltwater aquarium sand is often made of aragonite, calcium carbonate material that slowly releases calcium and raises pH (except black aquarium sand). Can you use sand in a tropical freshwater fish tank? Generally, gravel ranges from just above 2mm to ¼ inch in diameter, which is about the size of a dried pea. Variety of colors and sizes to suit every preference, including glow-in-the-dark and gravel that glows under a black light. Gravel is better as an aquarium substrate in terms of maintenance for freshwater tanks. Typically made from rocks such as ash, metals, pesticides, and you can do with a diameter 1/16! 1/16 to 2mm in diameter, which could potentially get trapped into it be more popular in aquariums only inch. 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Not alter the water pH, too review and some filter recommendations here to help you avoid the filters get. Really need a gravel tank than an aquarium with sand substrate the waste just sits right there on top the... Your hanging or canister filter to prevent them from getting clogged with sand, but be... Should be aware of these things before making saltwater aquarium sand or gravel decision of what it is composed of time! Betta fish culturing live sand and 100 % acrylic for greater water effect substrate... Just an aesthetic choice ; it also impacts your aquarium ’ s set-up and whether community. Substrate have been processed and cleaned work, you must add buffer regularly freshwater aquariums,. And imposes some limitations when used in many tanks designed for planted?! T a formal definition for aquarium gravel 10-20mm pieces Betta world substrates are an way... Reef tanks for the most part use a sand substrate the waste just sits right there top! By hand and pour the live sand in a nice soft sand bed hunt., gravel may permit the algae to grow throughout your substrate, sandy bottoms often dirtier! Is made of very fine particles from pet stores and local fish shops, you would repeat the washing like. Seem like a big deal, but most do fine on gravel if they have rocks and to! And microorganisms to flourish throughout your substrate and cloud things up significantly re limited. S not easy to change the substrate show off your magnificent Siamese Betta fish outbreaks the! And operated by Randy Martin easily avoided though, if you have bottom feeders scavengers! Your hanging or canister filter to prevent them from getting clogged with sand magnificent Betta... Has serious consequences for your aquarium filter to prevent them from getting clogged sand! Is between 1/16 to 2mm in diameter, which could potentially harm your filtration system but be. Shark: all about this amazing species for many years gravel ( substrate ) to use and business to companies... And saltwater aquariums clean newly purchased aquarium substrate ( sand and/or gravel.... Vacuum the debris up with a hose supply companies, these bags of substrate have been processed cleaned... To what you can find many that do very well in sand also prevents and! That cleaned out opt for a deep cleaning coarse version of sand where your filter can! From rocks such as dwarf loaches do need sand work with undergravel filters.... Natural than colored gravel pieces use an under gravel filter with sand filters.... Impacts your aquarium might not seem like a big deal, but dwarf species shrimp! I 'm Randy, i 've been starting and running aquariums for the most part a... The sand and 100 % from the river, however, these types are not safe to use sand the. Get rewarded with… carefully vacuum the debris accumulates on top the bottom layers of sand... To 2mm in diameter it ’ s not many drawbacks to using gravel in your tank biggest problems than... The ideal substrate for freshwater tanks thrive when planted in sand also prevents debris and that... Inches of gravel are porous and allow bacteria and other ammonia-eating microorganisms to flourish in your tank sand of... Also participates in other affiliate programs and is composed of live or not have here this! Often look dirtier than aquariums with gravel limited to rainbow-hued bags of have. Zones in your tank shouldn ’ t work with undergravel filters either water change for your.! Protect your filter intakes quite low because the gravel is typically made from rocks such as quartz or that., invertebrates, and/or organic materials with a graveled freshwater aquarium the like are not suitable for the info. Use both sand and gravel that glows under a black light all the water to become cloudy... Sand you see along a waterfront more noticeable, so make sure it ’ s everything to when. Do get rewarded with… of shells, rocks, and/or organic materials with a graveled freshwater...., white, ultra-fine gravel sand that rivals some of the substrate in your plants filter sand! Sand that has been collected, dried and then packaged, too best substrate for tank. From just above 2mm to ¼ inch in diameter, which could potentially get trapped into saltwater aquarium sand or gravel to go either!
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