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Sand substrate recommendations . . .

Simon Cole

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Joined
25 Dec 2018
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499
Location
Buckingham
Hi folks, just getting back to you as I was tagged. My views haven't changed. The studies I was looking at were based on rice paddy fields where evidence was found in select locations. The truth about sand is that if you put it in a sieve and pour water through it (permeability) then really there is no locality where gas can collect and not diffuse. Permeability is virtually 100 percent. I cannot see even deep layers forming gas pockets. I do agree that a range of sulphur compounds can form due to specific bacteria, but it seems like deliberately clutching at straws just to substantiate an olfactory smell. I do think degrading matter will produce these smells where bacterial colonies establish, but I still cannot see that affecting the overall system in any profound way. Lol, glad you liked the beard I was hoping it might cheer people up. X
 

Wookii

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13 Nov 2019
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2,193
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Nottingham
Does anyone know if horticultural sand like this is safe for aquarium use (I'm guessing it is, but we all know what assumptions are . . .):


pr2000035343.jpg


Ditto for the grit and gravel:


pr2000035339.jpg
 

Tim Harrison

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UKAPS Team
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5 Nov 2011
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8,639
Location
UK
I think you can pretty much use any sand you like. Like Darrel mentions it's mainly composed of inert silica dioxide SiO2, quartz in other words. I've used coral sand before which is largely composed of biogenic calcium carbonate. But that was in combination with very hard water; crypts and aponogetons loved it.

There are a few systems which classify silt, sand, and gravel by particle size and those definitions may vary. Geologists, for instance, tend to think of sand as having a particle size between 0.0625mm to 2mm, and gravel 2mm to 64mm.

Obviously, the finer and more angular the sand the more it'll pack down and therefore might ultimately prove an unsuitable rooting medium for plants. However, if it's being used cosmetically it shouldn't really be a problem either way.

I use Tesco play sand in my scape box, which is quite fine grained but not too angular, I like the colour and I'm seriously thinking of using it for my next scape. I think my small school of Corydoras trilineatus might appreciate it. I might have a go at mixing my own using leftovers from other projects, but using the play sand as a matrix.
 

esxboi

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Joined
15 Apr 2021
Messages
7
Location
London
I'm in the process of testing out some different sands when I come to rescape my tank later in the year.

I currently have samples of:

  • Unipac Aquarium Silica Sand
  • Pool filter sand
  • ADA La Plata sand

I've been using the La Plata in my current scape, and it is a nice varied grain sand, but very light in colouration. For the new scape I'm after a sand that looks as natural as possible, but a little darker in colouration.

The Unipac Aquarium Silica sand that I have a sample of looks nice, and really natural, but is also a little bit lighter than I would have liked:


View attachment 161252

The pool sand is very light too, similar in colouration to the La Plata, but a bit greyer, so that is no good.

I wanted to take a look at Unipac's Silica Sand (different to the aquarium version) - the colouration looks ideal, though the grain size is larger at 1.5-2.0mm - but can't seem to find anywhere selling it:

View attachment 161253

Can anyone suggest a sand that they have used that is a darker colouration, closer to the image above (ideally in around 0.8-1.0mm grain size)? I was thinking of trying a play sand, but don't want to be left with 20Kg of the stuff if it's not quite right for what I want.
The Unipac Aquarium Silica Sand' is 0.8 to 1.2mm, I have 10 kg of it which I've mixed with 20kg of Unipac Aquarium Silver Sand & 5kg of Hugo Kamishi Natural gravel 2-4mm to give a really natural looking Amazon river bed
 

Wookii

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The Unipac Aquarium Silica Sand' is 0.8 to 1.2mm, I have 10 kg of it which I've mixed with 20kg of Unipac Aquarium Silver Sand & 5kg of Hugo Kamishi Natural gravel 2-4mm to give a really natural looking Amazon river bed

Excellent. Do you have some pictures of the finished substrate?
 

esxboi

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Joined
15 Apr 2021
Messages
7
Location
London
I'm in the process of testing out some different sands when I come to rescape my tank later in the year.

I currently have samples of:

  • Unipac Aquarium Silica Sand
  • Pool filter sand
  • ADA La Plata sand

I've been using the La Plata in my current scape, and it is a nice varied grain sand, but very light in colouration. For the new scape I'm after a sand that looks as natural as possible, but a little darker in colouration.

The Unipac Aquarium Silica sand that I have a sample of looks nice, and really natural, but is also a little bit lighter than I would have liked:


View attachment 161252

The pool sand is very light too, similar in colouration to the La Plata, but a bit greyer, so that is no good.

I wanted to take a look at Unipac's Silica Sand (different to the aquarium version) - the colouration looks ideal, though the grain size is larger at 1.5-2.0mm - but can't seem to find anywhere selling it:

View attachment 161253

Can anyone suggest a sand that they have used that is a darker colouration, closer to the image above (ideally in around 0.8-1.0mm grain size)? I was thinking of trying a play sand, but don't want to be left with 20Kg of the stuff if it's not quite right for what I want.
The Unipac Aquarium Silica Sand' is 0.8 to 1.2mm, I have 10 kg of it which I've mixed with 20kg of Unipac Aquarium Silver Sand & 5kg of Hugo Kamishi Natural gravel 2-4mm to give a really natural looking Amazon River
Excellent. Do you have some pictures of the finished substrate?
IMG_20210415_181014.jpg
IMG_20210415_181009.jpg
 

esxboi

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London
That's not the finished substrate obviously lol or mixed with any gravel it's just a quick mix of roughly 50/50 silica and silver sand, when I get my plant delivery tomorrow ( I missed the door bell today so there all sitting in the sorting office) IL be setting up my tank at the weekend, I'll take proper photos of the real finished substrate & uploaded them. You change the ratio depending on the colour your going for, also with Aquarium Silver Sand only being 0.25-0.8mm you need the slightly larger Aquarium Silica Sand to help with compaction while keeping the light colour you see in parts of the Amazon. Once you mix in a fine gravel for a more natural look and ur stone/rock, i like to use petrified wood stone and some matching 4-6mm gravel for detailing you get what I believe is a pretty close to some of the videos I've seen of the Amazon river bed.
 

Michael1212

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Joined
18 May 2019
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82
Location
Singapore
I'm in the process of evaluating a few sands as well, so I will share.
Here is a close up pic of the JBL Sansibar River sand. Pretty impressed by this stuff. The Sansibar Red and Sansibar Orange has a finer grain than this (no pic sorry).
20210424_145352.jpg


This next sand is the Ans Bright sand, which is finer than the River, and more yellow. Looks and feels a bit sharper, but the grain size is consistent.

20210424_211951.jpg


Last two are the Sudo Bottom sand (darker) and the Sudo reef sand. Tiny but inconsistent grain sizes, with some grains being better described a flakes. Despite being the most expensive, very unimpressed. Some shops said the Reef sand was quartz, others said it was calcium carbonate.

20210424_212041.jpg


20210424_212052.jpg
 

Conort2

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16 Feb 2018
Messages
626
Location
London
I’ve been using the jbl river recently too, pretty good stuff. Fine and soft enough for corydoras but not too fine that it gets blown all over the place. I’ve just purchased some of their ‘white’ sand and this seems to be a lot finer so not too sure how that will perform.

cheers.
 

Wookii

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So in the end, I've gone with Unipac silver sand for this weeks rescape, possibly mixed with a bit of ADA La Plata to give some grain variety, as I have a spare bag of that. I tested the coarser Unipac Silica sand with my Hasbrsus Cory's and it was still a bit too coarse for them to dig in. The scape will be a bit of test bed for a few new things I'm trying - the sand being one of them.

I'm going to be putting the sand over a nutrient rich layer (another DIY mix experiment) - what sort of depth should I be looking at, and what sort of depth is ideal for planting in, particularly crypts and the like with larger root stocks? I was thinking around 30mm at the front glass where there will be little of no planting, rising to around 60mm at the deepest where the larger crypts will go? - I've not used sand as a substrate before, so I don't know how well it holds on during planting compared to aqua soils?
 

dino21

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17 Mar 2020
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161
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Derbyshire
Used the Silver Sand with our dwarf corys, they seem to like it, but not used it on its own, put down a layer of small but smooth aquarium gravel with about 20-25mm of sand on top of tha

Just starting another tank off, also with a silver sand topping but using Molar Clay ( cat litter) as the base - quiet a few comments in the forum about it if you search.
 

Wookii

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Nottingham
Used the Silver Sand with our dwarf corys, they seem to like it, but not used it on its own, put down a layer of small but smooth aquarium gravel with about 20-25mm of sand on top of tha

Just starting another tank off, also with a silver sand topping but using Molar Clay ( cat litter) as the base - quiet a few comments in the forum about it if you search.

Thanks. I have read about the cat litter as a substrate, but I'm going to go with an enriched substrate - a mixture of peat granules, old (to add bacteria) and new aqua soil, and some bonsai Kanuma which is supposed to have a high CEC (allegedly higher than Akadama) without breaking down, all laced with some Osmocote. It might be rubbish, but I have all the components from other projects, so I figured I'd try it.
 

dw1305

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7 Apr 2008
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nr Bath
Hi all,
put down a layer of small but smooth aquarium gravel with about 20-25mm of sand on top of tha

Just starting another tank off, also with a silver sand topping but using Molar Clay ( cat litter) as the base
I've tried both of these, but it always ends up with the sand underneath due to <"granular convection">.

cheers Darrel
 

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