silica or river sand ?

Discussion in 'Planted Tank Equipment' started by Trev Pleco, Sep 14, 2012.

  1. Trev Pleco
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    Trev Pleco Algae destroyer

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    I’m keen to add a basic type substrate to a 450L bristlenose brood stock tank, which has always been left with the glass bottom and doing a weekly vacuum with the water change. I’m now adding CO2 to this tank to combat BBA and to keep some of my lower tech plants ultra happy, including a humongous java/mopane outcrop, needle leaf and mosses. I don’t plan to add anything into the substrate, unless I add some crypts and will then keep them happy with some fert pills. Ok, simple question - should I go with say a medium grain silica 2-5mm or river sand ? I was thinking that the silica might be easier to maintain with doing a gravel vacuum when needed and the more tightly packed river sand might result in some anaerobic pockets ? I would not plan to empty the tank to add the substrate, but would simply add it "˜somasoo’ and with doing a 50% water change. What's tempting is I live close to a river with some stunning golden and clean river sand, but which I would have to boil first.
    Advice from the experts please ?
     
  2. shihr
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    shihr Administrator Staff Member

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    why not add some gravel which is peasized and smooth? ive grown almost anything from that type of gravel.. or is it a matter of cost?
     
  3. Trev Pleco
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    Trev Pleco Algae destroyer

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    So would that be a largish silica grain then, say 4 to 8mm, would that not be quite rough rather than smooth ? Not too hassled about the cost as either option would be minimal, I can buy various size silica grains at about R100 for 40kgs.
     
  4. Razer2007
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    Razer2007 Valued Contributor

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    So this is not for looks but for easy maintenance?
     
  5. shihr
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    shihr Administrator Staff Member

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    ive never had success with silica gravel i must be honest.. read some where that it hardens your water or something.. just plain brown peasized river gravel works best for me :)
     
  6. Trev Pleco
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    Trev Pleco Algae destroyer

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    Ok is each grain pea size then :scratch:, as that sounds big for river gravel or is this the same thing that is sold for a koi pond drum filter, which i thought was silica ? Where would your peasized river gravel be available ?
     
  7. shihr
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    shihr Administrator Staff Member

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  8. azurekoi
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    azurekoi Specialist

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    I've allways "druked a pit" to convention.... My tanks for years allready run with a mix of riversand and sometimes beach sand if I need to buffer a tank..

    Blah,blah fishpaste to the folk who say my plants dont get enough oxygen to the roots.... everything is going BOS...

    Trick for me is having various sizes of gravel/sand in the mix... from sand to bits of peagravel 5mm...just love the natural look it gives...
     
  9. Maurice
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    Maurice Aquascaper

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    I agree with Richard here, those pea gravel looks great, and if you only add a layer of around a cm or so, just to cover the bottom glass panel, it should be easy to gravel vac, as the particle size is big and you will be able to suck up all there shit.
     
  10. Lloydster
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    Lloydster Green fingers

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    if you not using any REAL root feeding plants and its not a show tank then get whatever gravel you like.

    just make sure its inert, and job done!
     
  11. Algae wizard
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    Algae wizard Valued Contributor

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    Use river sand, it will look better, just make sure to sterilise it.

    You can boil or
    sterilise with H2O2 peroxide

    Have fun
     
  12. Trev Pleco
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    Trev Pleco Algae destroyer

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    OK I'm being pea brain about all this ! Is pea gravel the same stuff you get at the LPS as basic aquarium gravel and the same stuff you get at your pool shop for filter sand if you prefer the medium or bigger grain size gravel ? Is silica then just the finer white sand you get for pool filters and readily available at say Builders ?
     
  13. Trev Pleco
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    Trev Pleco Algae destroyer

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    yes correct, want to move away from just glass as that looks awful within a day or two
     
  14. JP01
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    JP01 Moderator Staff Member

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    Builders and the pool stuff is crushed sillica, pea gravel is round little river rocks about the size of peas and up.
     
  15. azurekoi
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    azurekoi Specialist

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    Barry M ha a secret stash of premo Pea Gravel that makes my left eye tooth drool...the stuff is GORGEOUS...
     
  16. fish lady
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    fish lady Algae harvester

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    I agree, I use river sand and its works like a charm. I'm not fond of the silica sand.
     
  17. Trev Pleco
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    Trev Pleco Algae destroyer

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    OK, will have to do a massive boiling session after midnight when the domestic hierarchy is asleep :-X
     
  18. Slagter
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    Slagter Aquascaper

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  19. JP01
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    JP01 Moderator Staff Member

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    Trevor why not add hot water from the tap and add some uncented jig to the drum leave it a day wash and dechlor that will kill all the nasties and keep you out of the dog box?
     
  20. BioLogic
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    BioLogic Algae harvester

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    Pea gravel is the 2-4mm stuff from the alluvium diamond mines - it is very pretty and I found that with the addition of some clay pellets (air-dried red clay) as a base layer, Cryptocoryne grows bos! The spaces between the grains allows for strong root formation. I used to get mine from Montague Bark and Stone in Montague Gardens - not sure if they still there though.

    Silica sand is crap if planted. It compacts like hell and the uppermost layer becomes cemented with algae - because it is so reflective it allows for algae to grow in the uppermost cm or so - forming a crust. If un-planted you can vacuum it everyday though and so is nice for cosmetic purposes.

    River sand is great if you want to achieve a certain look - so once again cosmetic. It does tend to compact quite strongly but if used as a cap I still find that I get excellent results - ADA's various sands - Malaya, Africana etc are all graded river sand - they are not a growing medium but rather a cosmetic product. River sand is easily sterilised with a 5% bleach solution - soaked in it for half an hour to an hour and then thoroughly rinsed and spread out to dry.

    I would say for your use silica sand would work best.
     

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