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Sand As A Substrate


sammc
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What sort of cichlids? Do you mean fine sand? Kribensis are earth movers, they need medium> largish gravel. Africans etc, need lots of filtration for many reasons; you can keep more to tank and it helps with agression. But fine sand will keep the water murky. If you want africans, crushed coral is a good choice as it makes the water hard and the pH up. South Americans: River sand is good to use, and that is what I use. I mix it in with some larger gravel to break it up as it compacts down. = not so good.

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I use fine white river sand in my jebo and 4ft tank. but its not powdery fine - just normal sand sized grains. To combat the compacting (which it does and also to prevent the anarobic bacteria pockets that you can get in it), I use a chopstick to rake it through every so often

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I use pool filter sand in my planted tank, its really good and has a nice colour so dosent seem to reflect light and discolour the water like i have found with some of the yellow and brown sands. It hasnt had any effect on my pH, fish are all happy and plants growing well. It does smell funny when you first take it out the bag though and needs a good was to remove all the powdery bits in with it.

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The only problem i have with my sand substrate is that some plants often become uprooted really easy, beacause the sand is so light, sand is also supposed to create an anoxic environment more easier and can lead to gasseous build up in the substrate ( i forget what gas, something sulfate? which is poisionous) This occured in my tank under a huge rock, which had compacted the sand enough to cause anaerobic conditions, however several gravel vacs later, and dense planting have fixed this problem :lol:. On another note, it may be easier if you lay a medium of somesort underneath the sand now, im regrettiing that i didn't, just peat or mulm to give plants an extra boost. HTH Daniel EDIT: as phil said make sure you wash it, it can take a while to get the cloudiness but its better than trying to get it out of your tank.

Edited by Daniel
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I also added an undergravel filter below my sand (with flyscreen ontop to stop the sand falling through) That keeps water curculating in the sand and also keeps the water crystal clear, filtering through sand is great for that :lol:

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i forget what gas, something sulfate? which is poisionous

I think you are referring to Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) which is the main one that the lfs usually makes people panic about. There are a variety of gasses that can be produced the substrate when it is deep enough and/or the particle sizes are small enough. Carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) are most commonly produced and are a good sign that your substrate is working for you in breaking down organics and cycling nitrogen and they are not toxic. Usually you'll only get H2S if you've got a lot of organic material (particularly proteins etc) in anoxic conditions. If you're producing H2s it is toxic, but you'll smell it - it's also called rotten egg gas and with good reason. Denitrifying bacteria (one's that break down nitrogenous compounds - mostly nitrite) are anaerobic, so if you have anoxic substrate in the tank nitrogen can be removed as nitrogen gas or nitrous oxides. In addition, CO2 in the substrate is thought to help the growth of many plants. There are definately some aquatic plants that absorb CO2 from the substrate and many ppl think this ability is quite widespread amongst higher aquatic plants.

Sorry about the essay. Take home message, don't stress about gasses in the substrate unless it smells like your tank really overdid it on last nights baked beans.

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Denitrifying bacteria (one's that break down nitrogenous compounds - mostly nitrite) are anaerobic

Is that right? Everything I have read says that they are aerobic, which is why they can die if you have a blackout etc - lack of O2. have I misundersood what I read? Or is it just an old spouse's tale?

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No, there is a bacteria that breaks down nitrAte - just the conditions needed for this bacteria are so hard to replicate (and dangerous!) for a home aquarium, that waterchanges are better/easier/more achievable/safer.

Edited by Leema
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Nitrification requires oxygen as it works through oxidation to convert ammonia to nitrite and then nitrite to nitrate.

Denitrification is inhibited by oxygen, so it is anaerobic.

the conversion of nitrate or nitrite to gaseous products, chiefly nitrogen (N 2 ) and/or nitrous oxide (N 2 0), by certain types of bacteria. This occurs mainly when oxygen levels are very low or absent.

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My bad - nitrate not nitrite (brain fart) areobic bits ammonia → nitrate → nitrite then anaerobic bits → nitric oxide → nitrous oxide → dinitrogen Sorry for the confusion

Edited by PeterJ
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