Substrate Advice

Philleh
Philleh Member Posts: 21
edited March 2011 in Beginner's Forum
Hello,

Looking for a bit of advice about a relatively new community tank in regards to what substrate to use.
The tank is about 3 months old, and has a range of fish and plants including;

Various live plants
Driftwood
Artificial cave

Kuhli Loachs
Clown Loachs
Gourami's
Betta (Seperation Tank)
Guppies
Neon Tetras & White Clouds
Bristlenose, Bronze & Peppered catfish
Angels
Rainbow Shark
Silver Shark
Swordtail
Dwarf Rainbowfish

I currently have a sand substrate (I think it is coral sand). The tank and most of the equipment was a hand-me-down from my father when I moved house, who used it as a Hospital tank for his Marine fish.

Whilst I like the visual appeal of the sand, I am finding it quite hard to clean and when the water gets churned up, the sand creates murky water which takes a day or 2 to settle.

After doing a bit of searching and research, I seem to like the look of gravel substrates that are on offer.
However I have heard that gravel may not be the best option for bottom feeders like Catfish and Kuhli/Clown Loaches which like to dig into the sand. Will they be okay with gravel - Food, Digging & Injury wise?
Another slight issue I have with the sand is keeping the plants from floating, however a few weights and some zip/cable ties seem to do the trick.
Will plants do better or worse in gravel?
Is there a type of gravel more suited to my situation that will work better than others? Or is sticking with sand my best option.

Any advice is much appreciated.
Cheers
Phil

Comments

  • lovethatfish
    lovethatfish Member Posts: 181
    your loaches will be better in sand. Silica sand will not alter the water or create a mirky colour.
    plants will probably do better in gravel as there is spaces for roots to spread and the plant can be held down. What plants do you have? there are some that can go in sand.
  • pseudotrop
    pseudotrop Member Posts: 72
    I'd take the coral sand out, it buffers to a high pH and KH unlike gravel and 'normal' sand.

    Gravel will be easier to get the plants to stay down and won't alter the pH or hardness. With the fish you have you want soft water with a low pH, coral sand will work against that.

    I use coral sand in my African cichlid tank, it helps keep the pH & KH higher.
  • 321clayt
    321clayt Member Posts: 766
    I am using pool sand which is silica. I find the plants stay in it well. Also the kurli loaches seem to love it as they are able to sift it while they eat and also bury themselves in it.

    It cost me $23 for a 20kg bag.

    As for the water going milky for a couple of days I would be looking at what type of filter you have. I would say you need a better filter or at least a bigger canister filter. I am guessing as you haven't mentioned the filter you are using.

    I found out that I didnt have a big enough filter on my tank as my tank would go milky for about 2 days after a water change turns out it was a slight ammonia causing the milky look. I then got a bigger filter no more problems.
  • Philleh
    Philleh Member Posts: 21
    Thanks for the advice.
    Silica sand sounds like my best option at the moment for both price and compatibly.
    I read that white substrate isn't the best for the brining out the fishes colour, is this correct, or will it be fine?
    Is it okay/practical to have both gravel and sand in the tank, perhaps 3/4 gravel and then a 1/4 section of the tank sand for the loaches?

    I have a mixture of plants of;
    Rotala Rotundafolia
    Blue Stricta
    Wisteria
    Mayaca
    Lime Rush
    Also have 3 pieces of driftwood (2 with plants attached)

    Will Silica sand work well for my situation?
    Also in regards to Filter I have an 'Eheim 2213' that I got from my father a few years ago and has been in storage, he used it for his Marine tank quite awhile ago.
    The tank I have is: 990 Long, 300 Wide, 580 High (Water level at around 440 high).
    I also have an internal 'Powerhead 402' which just cycles through the water.

    Does this sound okay for my tank?

    Cheers for the advice.
  • Neptune
    Neptune Member Posts: 356
    <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.aqadvisor.com/">http://www.aqadvisor.com/</a><!-- m -->

    Just side tracking a bit but by any chance have you ran all your tank info through "aqadvisor" if not I think it might be a very good idea.

    After you have done that could you please post the results.

    Neptune
  • Philleh
    Philleh Member Posts: 21
    Warning: Rainbow Shark is too aggressive to co-exist with Neon Tetra.
    Warning: Bala Shark is too aggressive to co-exist with Neon Tetra.
    Warning: At least 5 x White Cloud Mountain Minnow are recommended in a group.
    Note: Betta [Male] may jump - lids are recommended. They can become stressful under presence of too many shoaling species. Try to keep under 1 shoal if the tank is small. Individual bettas may exhibit varying degrees of aggression and care should be taken that exceptionally aggressive/territorial fish be separated from a community before any damage may occur.
    Warning: Betta [Male] will likely to fin nip Guppy.
    Warning: Betta [Male] is not recommended to be with Guppy - further research is highly recommended.
    Warning: Betta [Male] is not recommended to be with Rainbow Shark - further research is highly recommended.
    Warning: Betta [Male] is not recommended to be with Bala Shark - further research is highly recommended.
    Warning: Betta [Male] will likely to fin nip Angelfish.
    Warning: Betta [Male] is not recommended to be with Angelfish - further research is highly recommended.
    Warning: Betta [Male] is not recommended to be with Dwarf Gourami - further research is highly recommended.
    Warning: Betta [Male] is not recommended to be with Banded Gourami - further research is highly recommended.
    Warning: Betta [Male] is not recommended to be with Clown Loach - further research is highly recommended.
    Warning: Betta [Male] is not recommended to be with Dwarf Rainbowfish - further research is highly recommended.
    Warning: Betta [Male] is not recommended to be with Bristlenose Pleco - further research is highly recommended.
    Warning: Betta [Male] is not recommended to be with Bronze Cory - further research is highly recommended.
    Suggestion: If you want to keep more than 1 Guppy, minimum recommend male to female ratio is 1:2 (M:F). You will be less likely to experience problem if you get even more females.
    Warning: Guppy is not recommended to be with Betta [Male] - male betta may attack a male guppy by mistake thinking he is another male betta.
    Note: Rainbow Shark may jump - lids are recommended.
    Warning: Rainbow Shark is not recommended for your tank - it may eventually outgrow your tank space, potentially reaching up to 15.2 cm.
    Warning: Neon Tetra may become food for Rainbow Shark.
    Warning: Bala Shark is not recommended for your tank - it may eventually outgrow your tank space, potentially reaching up to 30.5 cm.
    Warning: At least 5 x Bala Shark are recommended in a group.
    Warning: Neon Tetra may become food for Bala Shark.
    Warning: White Cloud Mountain Minnow may become food for Bala Shark.
    Warning: Betta [Male] may become food for Bala Shark.
    Warning: Guppy may become food for Bala Shark.
    Warning: Dwarf Gourami may become food for Bala Shark.
    Warning: Dwarf Rainbowfish may become food for Bala Shark.
    Warning: Peppered Cory may become food for Bala Shark.
    Warning: Bronze Cory may become food for Bala Shark.
    Warning: Neon Tetra may become food for Angelfish.
    Warning: Dwarf Gourami is not recommended to be with Banded Gourami - they may agressively fight.
    Warning: Banded Gourami is not recommended to be with Dwarf Gourami - they may agressively fight.
    Note: Clown Loach may pretend to be dead at times.
    Warning: Clown Loach is not recommended for your tank - it may eventually outgrow your tank space, potentially reaching up to 30.5 cm.
    Warning: At least 5 x Clown Loach are recommended in a group.
    Note: Bristlenose Pleco needs driftwood.
    Warning: At least 5 x Neon Tetra are recommended in a group.

    Warning: At least 5 x Dwarf Rainbowfish are recommended in a group.

    Warning: At least 4 x Peppered Cory are recommended in a group.

    Warning: At least 4 x Bronze Cory are recommended in a group.


    Recommended temperature range: 24 - 25 C.
    Recommended pH range: 6 - 7.5.
    Recommended hardness range: 5 - 15 dH.


    Warning: You NEED to add more aquarium filtration capacity!!!

    Your aquarium filtration capacity for above selected species is 45%.
    Your tank is too small - it will require massive amount of frequent water changes each week!

    Your aquarium stocking level is 294%.
    Your tank is seriously overstocked. Unless this setup is temporary, you should consider a larger tank.

    Thanks for the link, seems to be a very handy tool to use.

    Quite surprised by a few of the results.
    In regards to fish compatibility, I have had no problems thus far in regards to fights, as most of the fish are the same size as each other (baring the tetras and white clouds).

    The filtration warning is a worry however. I was told that as long as the filter can cycle the tank 3-4 times an hour, it should be okay?
    Roughly a 140L tank and the Eheim 2213 does 440L/H.

    I presume that the calculator takes an average fish size? As (as far am I am aware) the tank doesn't seemed to be over stocked as no fish are longer than 5cm. Obviously with time they will get bigger and thus overstocking will occur, however I do not plan to have the same number of fish when their sizes do increase.

    advice much appreciated
  • Mooo
    Mooo Moderator Posts: 7,653
    The adivsor site does count the fish as adults..
    photo mooo_avat.gif "I'm a Doug Addict" photo cow2heartkisses.gif
  • Philleh
    Philleh Member Posts: 21
    No worries. At this stage should I be worrying about the over stock warnings if all the fish are less than 5cm each?
  • Doug
    Doug Member, Classifieds Posts: 2,371
    The aqadvisor site bases its filtration ability on the stock levels of fish not the rule of thumb of 4 times per hour. their way of doing it is much better as it looks at the ability of the filtration to deal with the amount of waste being produced.

    I would be first correcting this. I was going to mention that the tank seemed to be under filtered with the 2213. Your tank is about 130 ltrs and is heavily stocked. I would look at either getting a second canister filter or upgrading to a larger filter.

    As your fish are young then the stocking levels indicated by aqadvisor are not of such great concern right now but they will be. I would suggest looking at the outputs and begin taking action to fix them when its possible.

    You see, this is how MTS (multiple tank syndrome) starts <!-- s:D --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_biggrin.gif" alt=":D" title="Very Happy" /><!-- s:D -->
  • Neptune
    Neptune Member Posts: 356
    Philleh

    That would be one of the biggest "Warning" I have ever seen.

    Over the years on Aquarium Forums this is not actually uncommon and often many new to keeping fish will know better just because the LFS told them so.

    That is the only reason I always prefer to refer them to that site which is totally independent.

    Now you have to work out which direction you want to go.
    In regards to fish compatibility, I have had no problems thus far in regards to fights, as most of the fish are the same size as each other (baring the tetras and white clouds).
    Yes that would be because of their age and as soon as they mature the situation changes its snack time.
    The filtration warning is a worry however. I was told that as long as the filter can cycle the tank 3-4 times an hour, it should be okay?
    Roughly a 140L tank and the Eheim 2213 does 440L/H.
    Sounds like LFS advice.

    Your tank size is it 140lt or far less I have a 140lt but with all the substrate and DW it is actually 100lt

    I also run an Eheim Pro11 and a UGF and my tank is far smaller than your tank.

    Neptune
  • Philleh
    Philleh Member Posts: 21
    Thank you very much for the advice guys.
    As you said, unfortunately as a beginner seeking advice, I hear a lot of mixed messages and it's hard to work out which ones are correct.

    Would you suggest getting an additional filter (around the same specs as the 2213) or would it be better ditching the filter and just getting a new and bigger one? (And transferring the filter media to keep the bacteria).

    I can also definitely see the urges of MTS! When the fish start getting more mature and bigger, this might be the direct I have to take.
  • Doug
    Doug Member, Classifieds Posts: 2,371
    Well, personally i would go for the larger filter option as with a smaller tank like that one having the pipework for two filters will begin to detract visually from the tank.
  • Philleh
    Philleh Member Posts: 21
    Will purchase a new filter first thing Monday morning.

    Are UG filters quite effective as well? Will they work if I have sand rather than gravel?
  • Neptune
    Neptune Member Posts: 356
    Philleh

    Yes UGF are very effective but like every thing else many will disagree.

    They are like any other piece of Aquarium equipment first you must understand and maintain them correctly.

    I dont think you could run one under sand as it would quickly block up.

    If you are using sand as a substrate it is adviusable to run a prefilter over the inlet other wise it will cut the impeller to pieces very quickly.

    Neptune
  • 321clayt
    321clayt Member Posts: 766
    If you do buy a new larger filter put that on your tank but I would also run the smaller filter as well never hurts to have to much filtration and its always good to have a back up filter just in case.

    As for the gravel I found the white sand really does bring out the colours in my discus. I did have black gravel and found my discus were always dark.
  • Philleh
    Philleh Member Posts: 21
    No worries, will do.

    How do you 'clean' your sand? I find mine gathers quite a lot of fish waste.
  • Doug
    Doug Member, Classifieds Posts: 2,371
    Using a gravel vacuum. Essentially a syphon with a wider intake so that the current will lift the fish waste but not the sand/gravel

    few examples here

    <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.americanaquariumproducts.com/Aquariumvacuum.html">http://www.americanaquariumproducts.com ... acuum.html</a><!-- m -->

    they are cheep as chips and one of the most important things to have in an aquarium. I have 3 of different sizes for different things.
  • Philleh
    Philleh Member Posts: 21
    Thanks for that. Just popped down my LFS (Aquarium Fish Paradise) and picked one up.

    Whats is the correct technique to use it in order to minimise the disturbance to the sand and thus making the water cloudy.
  • lovethatfish
    lovethatfish Member Posts: 181
    just hover it over the sand and all the stuff like poop should just lift up into your vac. Or you clean it normally and just tip the sand that has been picked up from the vac straight back into the tank, minus the water of course.
  • Philleh
    Philleh Member Posts: 21
    Worked a charm, thanks for that. Nice clean sand again.

    Just put my aquarium through the advisor again and got the following output which is looking a bit more promising.
    Warning: Bala Shark is too aggressive to co-exist with Neon Tetra.
    Warning: Rainbow Shark is too aggressive to co-exist with Neon Tetra.
    Warning: When Keyhole Cichlid starts to breed, they may become too aggressive to co-exist with Neon Tetra.
    ...... (Same warnings as before).......
    Warning: Clown Loach is not recommended for your tank - it may eventually outgrow your tank space, potentially reaching up to 30.5 cm.
    Warning: At least 5 x Clown Loach are recommended in a group.
    Suggestion: If you want to keep more than 1 Guppy, minimum recommend male to female ratio is 1:2 (M:F). You will be less likely to experience problem if you get even more females.
    Warning: Guppy is not recommended to be with Betta [Male] - male betta may attack a male guppy by mistake thinking he is another male betta.
    Note: Bristlenose Pleco needs driftwood.
    Warning: At least 5 x Neon Tetra are recommended in a group.

    Warning: At least 4 x Bronze Cory are recommended in a group.

    Warning: At least 4 x Peppered Cory are recommended in a group.

    Warning: At least 5 x Dwarf Rainbowfish are recommended in a group.

    Warning: Your selected species may eventually require 113% of your aquarium space. You may need to deal with territorial aggressions later on. Try removing some of (Balantiocheilos melanopterus, Tanichthys albonubes, Cleithracara maronii, Pterophyllum scalare, Chromobotia macracanthus, Pangio kuhlii, Corydoras aeneus, Corydoras paleatus, Ancistrus sp.) or get a larger tank.


    Recommended temperature range: 24 - 25 C. [Display in Farenheit]
    Recommended pH range: 6 - 7.5.
    Recommended hardness range: 5 - 15 dH.


    You have plenty of aquarium filtration capacity.

    Your aquarium filtration capacity for above selected species is 476%.
    Recommended water change schedule: 26% per week.
    Your aquarium stocking level is 94%.

    The filtration looks a lot better.
    Even without the new filter, the capacity is 199%.
    Stocking level is quite high however, so will definitely have to look for alternatives in the future (MTS?)
  • Doug
    Doug Member, Classifieds Posts: 2,371
    MTS <!-- s:dance4: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/WoohooSmiley.gif" alt=":dance4:" title="dance4" /><!-- s:dance4: -->
  • lovethatfish
    lovethatfish Member Posts: 181
    let me guess...
    MTS stands for 'My Tongue is Stuck'... <!-- s:lol: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_lol.gif" alt=":lol:" title="Laughing" /><!-- s:lol: -->
  • Doug
    Doug Member, Classifieds Posts: 2,371
    MTS = multiple tank syndrome

    which quite often leads to MLTS which is a much more expensive illness, Multiple Large Tank Syndrome
  • 321clayt
    321clayt Member Posts: 766
    <!-- s:laugh2: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/lol-1.gif" alt=":laugh2:" title="laugh2" /><!-- s:laugh2: --> <!-- s:laugh2: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/lol-1.gif" alt=":laugh2:" title="laugh2" /><!-- s:laugh2: --> <!-- s:laugh2: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/lol-1.gif" alt=":laugh2:" title="laugh2" /><!-- s:laugh2: --> <!-- s:laugh2: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/lol-1.gif" alt=":laugh2:" title="laugh2" /><!-- s:laugh2: -->