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Tori

Just another question on South American substrate

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After many years of keeping African cichlids with shell grit substrate I have now decided to set up a couple of South American tanks. I've read a lot of post about substrate where people are using play sand filter sand paving sand etcetera and it looks like it comes down to personal preference. So before I make up my mind which one to use was wondering if someone could tell me if these sands and gravels are inert and pH neutral. Cheers and everyone have a great Christmas 

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Most LFS gravel is OK. Bunnings has some decent gravels for cheap too.

Stay away from marble or glassed based substrates from Bunnings as there can be chemical interaction which pull the pH in a direction you may not want, or there could be contaminants on the 'mirror' stuff. 

The problem I found with sand is that it compacts and can be a PITA to vacuum. The particle is amorphous, so eventually settles firmly and can go anaerobic. Yep - that means you get to clean out stinky black sand when you remodel that system. 

If you're going South American, think small gravel to be kind to your clean-up crew and yourself when it's cleaning time. Have a little think about driftwood and plants too. If you structure your substrate installation it's really easy to do a low-tech planted that will pretty much self fertilise. 

That said: the big question is "What species are you considering?" Some substrates and plants are incompatible with some species. 

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 thanks for the reply I ended up buying a bag of play sand from Bunnings but I think I got more mud than sand I didn't like it anyhow as you said to fine and would end up causing problems. I also got a bag of pool filter sand from Clark Rubber which is coarser than the play sand I tested with some acid and got no reaction. I'm thinking of some sort of Geo and something a bit smaller that is compatible not 100% sure yet I'll set the tank up and see what's available. Cheers

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Yes, the filter sand has a larger particle and should be OK with Geophagus spp. 

Lemme know how you go. 

Cheers - Ozi. 

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I've used filter sand before. The grain size is excellent, just big enough so that it doesn't compact and is easy to clean. It's inert and perfect except that I don't find it very pleasing to look at. This time around I went with a fine white silica sand that I obtained from a local quartz quarry. Beautiful appearance, though maintenance might be a little more time consuming.

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