- LexyLv 610 years agoFavorite Answer
One thing you should consider is the type of fish your getting. A lot of bottom dwellers do best in sand substrate. For example Corydoras and Kuhli Loaches. Corydoras can actually grind their barbels down on sharp gravel, then starve to death actually. They should have a more rounded gravel or sand. Other fish like Dwarf Puffer Fish also prefers a sand substrate.
What kind of fish are you thinking of getting?
- 10 years ago
I love the look of sand rather than gravel, and as someone else mentioned it depends on the bottom dwellers you intend to have, if any. (I also love corydoras which is why I started using sand) :) The only thing is are you diligent with tank maintenance because with sand, the anaerobic gases build up underneath and can damage, or kill fish when they are released. A simple stir once a week to prevent it will help. I also have more issues with vacumming because it tends to get more sand than the actual gunk in it so to remove dirt from the bottom I started using a turkey baster and it fixed that problem lol. If you're good with maintenance, then DEFINITELY go with sand, it looks amazing! So much more natural looking. Also, as a side note, if you google play sand for aquariums you can get suggestions for different brands you local stores carry that are aquarium safe. I got a 50lb bag of play sand to use for about $5. It takes a bit longer to clean before adding to the tank but the price is worth it. The sand they sell in pet stores is much more expensive and I think it's too bright anyway.
- Geoff BLv 410 years ago
People are going to tell me I'm nuts, but the tanks I've had with sand substrate have tended to work better than those with gravel. Gravel needs to be vigorously vacuumed out, as the large spaces allow bits of food and other debris to fall in between. A sand substrate has smaller gaps, so more of the debris settles on the top, where it can be more easily removed.
If you want to grow plants in it, you should use some sort of nutritive substrate. Gravel is the worst for growing plants. I've had great success with a mixture of potting soil and vermiculite on the bottom, topped with sand. The plants grow very well, and the sand keeps the dirt out of the water column.
Anaerobic substrate is not necessarily a bad thing. If you want more information about this subject, I highly recommend Diana Walstad's book, Ecology of The Planted Aquarium.
On the whole, a finer substrate will require less maintenance. Unless you really enjoy vacuuming gravel with every water change, go with the sand. Even if you don't have any plants, put some sand in there.
In nature, you tend to encounter pure gravel substrates in areas of very vigorous water movement, few plants, and few fish. Those probably aren't the conditions you're attempting to recreate in your tank.
On a side note, in response to another answer, I seem to remember having seen a refutation of that thing about Corydoras catfish damaging their barbels on gravel. Barbel shortening is more likely to be caused by poor nutrition/health than sharp substrate. If I could find the citation, I would post it.
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- Anonymous5 years ago
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- 10 years ago
Sand. Because not only does it help the plant roots grow properly, but there is a lot more surface area for bacteria to grow, baby fish don't get trapped under the substrate (I have had adult fish get stuck in gravel and die) and is the only substrate you should use for bottom dwellers like loaches, corydoras and other fish with barbles as well, like barbs, danios and goldfish. It also gives a more natural look to the tank. Use play sand as there are trace amounts of shells as a source of calcium for the tank without making the sand alkaline, if you have fish that need an acidic ph. You could also use it for african cichlid tanks but you will need to add lots of rocks and shells.
If you have plants or bottom dwellers, then they will aerate the sand and prevent too much anaerobic bacteria from growing. While in an african cichlid tank, they will keep digging the sand and aerating it as well.
When using play sand, wash it thoroughly as it contains a lot of clay.
- 10 years ago
Gravel. But not gravel from the road or anything. Store bought aquarium gravel.