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Thread: Sand for a Discus Tank?

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    Registered Member valery's Avatar
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    Cool Sand for a Discus Tank?

    Hey guys,
    I'm getting a new tank today and I'm very interested in covering the bottom with white sand. Would this be okay for discus? I know they pick at the ground a lot for fallen food, would it be of concern with them picking up the sand?

    Thank you in advance
    Valery

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    Registered Member csarkar001's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sand for a Discus Tank?

    i use a very thin layer of sand and it has worked well. note that the sand will change your pH when you put it in so i would go slow if there are fish in the tank already. also, i would paint the outside bottom of the tank the same color as the sand to help hide places that the sand is not covering.

    chandan

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    Homesteader Eddie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sand for a Discus Tank?

    Hey Valery and big WELCOME to Simply. Sand is a very nice substrate for a discus tank. Most use pool filter sand or silica sand. I have used a fine white sand and the fish enjoyed it very much. Not sure if you can get this type of sand, it was inert and made for freshwater aquariums.

    Take care,

    Eddie
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    Default Re: Sand for a Discus Tank?

    I would love to put some sand in mine, once my flukes problem is over. What about fine food particles? If I feed beefheart, will that fool the water or are the fish still able to pick at the sand and get the small food particles?

    I have lots of fish that like to forage and I thought in nature they do it in the sand..but it's mostly live food I guess so not sure how this would work with messy food?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eddie View Post
    Hey Valery and big WELCOME to Simply. Sand is a very nice substrate for a discus tank. Most use pool filter sand or silica sand. I have used a fine white sand and the fish enjoyed it very much. Not sure if you can get this type of sand, it was inert and made for freshwater aquariums.

    Take care,

    Eddie

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    Homesteader Eddie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sand for a Discus Tank?

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniella View Post
    I would love to put some sand in mine, once my flukes problem is over. What about fine food particles? If I feed beefheart, will that fool the water or are the fish still able to pick at the sand and get the small food particles?

    I have lots of fish that like to forage and I thought in nature they do it in the sand..but it's mostly live food I guess so not sure how this would work with messy food?
    I wouldn't feed messy foods too often with a sand/substrate tank. For adults being fed less frequently and of cleaner foods, sand would be ideal IMO.

    Eddie
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    Registered Member valery's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sand for a Discus Tank?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eddie View Post
    Hey Valery and big WELCOME to Simply. Sand is a very nice substrate for a discus tank. Most use pool filter sand or silica sand. I have used a fine white sand and the fish enjoyed it very much. Not sure if you can get this type of sand, it was inert and made for freshwater aquariums.

    Take care,

    Eddie
    Yes, I believe I can get the fine sand (suitable for freshwater and saltwater). Thanks a lot Eddie! Beautiful discus by the way!! =]

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    Registered Member valery's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sand for a Discus Tank?

    Quote Originally Posted by csarkar001 View Post
    i use a very thin layer of sand and it has worked well. note that the sand will change your pH when you put it in so i would go slow if there are fish in the tank already. also, i would paint the outside bottom of the tank the same color as the sand to help hide places that the sand is not covering.

    chandan
    Thank you for the reply Chandan! Do you know if it will lower or increase the pH? I've read that Discus like low pH. I'm keeping mine at around 6.5. And I'm hoping to get quite a bit of the sand because it will be a planted.

    Valery

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    Registered Member Islesfan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sand for a Discus Tank?

    Quote Originally Posted by valery View Post
    Do you know if it will lower or increase the pH?
    Valery
    If you use pool filter sand, which is inert, it won't change your PH. If you use something that is sold for Saltwater aqauriums it will make your PH rise. Pool filter sand is also much cheaper than sand from LFS.

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    Registered Member Darrell Ward's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sand for a Discus Tank?

    I have successfully used pool filter sand in the past. But as with any substrate, it will trap debris no matter how "good" you think you are stirring and cleaning it. I slowly pulled the sand from all of my tanks, and I don't miss it one bit. You will be surprised if you pull your "kept clean" sand from a tank that has been running for a year or more. The amount of discolored water that rises up out of the sand when you remove it is alarming.
    Darrell

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    Default Re: Sand for a Discus Tank?

    I started this thread where we discussed the merits of the different sand one can use in Discus tanks here.
    http://forum.simplydiscus.com/showthread.php?t=73326

    Using sand always means more maintenance work but Discus love to pick through it and wild Discus especially are more at ease in a tank with at least a thin layer of sand.

    Domestic Discus have changed in many ways from their wild cousins but they still like sand.
    The play sand and pool filter sand are both well suited to use in Discus tanks but because they are very fine grained the oxygenated water does not freely circulate through them.
    Either use a thin layer of 1/2" thick or no more than 2 inches provided you regularly and thoroughly hydro-vac it to keep it clean.
    Larry Waybright

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    Default Re: Sand for a Discus Tank?

    How do you prevent the sand from going in the tube when you vaccum? I use a python and it was quite a succion. I remember that I sometimes had gravel going through it and it was much more coarse. The sand would just go out with the water I am guessing, when using a python?

    Quote Originally Posted by Apistomaster View Post
    I started this thread where we discussed the merits of the different sand one can use in Discus tanks here.
    http://forum.simplydiscus.com/showthread.php?t=73326

    Using sand always means more maintenance work but Discus love to pick through it and wild Discus especially are more at ease in a tank with at least a thin layer of sand.

    Domestic Discus have changed in many ways from their wild cousins but they still like sand.
    The play sand and pool filter sand are both well suited to use in Discus tanks but because they are very fine grained the oxygenated water does not freely circulate through them.
    Either use a thin layer of 1/2" thick or no more than 2 inches provided you regularly and thoroughly hydro-vac it to keep it clean.

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    Default Re: Sand for a Discus Tank?

    Valery,
    Welcome. As for sand affecting your water chemistry, silicon based sand (e.g. silica quartz etc) will not change the parameters. Unfortunately, white silica sand can be hard to find depending on which part of the world you're in. If you're lucky, it can be readily available and cheap. In my case, I was not lucky and had to spend $40 for 50 pounds of 3M Colorquartz.

    Most white "sand" is calcium based (typically from crushed corals). These will raise the hardness of your water and affect the pH. These sands are typically used for saltwater and African cichlid aquariums. The best way to test any candidate sand would be to drip acid on a small sample. If the acid starts to bubbles, the sand is no good for your discus tank. If nothing happens, then chances are good it'll be OK. If you're still unsure, you can take a sample, boil the heck out of it in a little bit of water and test the water for hardness.

    David,
    I think the purpose of periodically stirring the thin layer of sand around is not to increase the good bacteria (which as you said, you already have in the filters). The idea is that the oxygen (and light) will discourage the bad bacteria (anaerobic bacteria) from forming. These guys will generate toxic byproducts if left to grow in the dark recesses of deep substrate.

    Tim

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    Registered Member Apistomaster's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sand for a Discus Tank?

    Even with a Python you only have to kink the hose enough to find the ideal suction force for the sand. You just want to lift it up into the large cylinder, let it tumble until the dirt is removed then kink the hose off completely and let the sand fall back into place. Move on to the next adjacent area and repeat. Follow a pattern of slightly overlapping areas and in the end all your sand will be cleaned and still in the aquarium and not down the drain.
    It is an easy skill to learn.
    Larry Waybright

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    Registered Member csarkar001's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sand for a Discus Tank?

    Quote Originally Posted by valery View Post
    Thank you for the reply Chandan! Do you know if it will lower or increase the pH? I've read that Discus like low pH. I'm keeping mine at around 6.5. And I'm hoping to get quite a bit of the sand because it will be a planted.

    Valery
    I bought my sand at Home Depot (very cheap) but it did raise the pH temporarily. despite my best efforts i loose some each time i vacuum so i add a handful back but that amount is too small to move the pH needle.
    have to admit that feeding beefheart does become a problem with the sand. i find it works better if i cut the frozen piece into three or four smaller nuggets and only feed one at a time. takes longer but less gets wasted/stuck in the sand. sand is more work but i dont like a bare bottom on a show tank. i wouldnt do sand on a growout though.

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    Registered Member Darrell Ward's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sand for a Discus Tank?

    While it may be more natural to have sand in a discus tank, I've found the fish don't seem to care one way or the other. They pick food off the bottom with sand, and the same fish pick food off the bottom without sand, even my wilds.
    Darrell

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