• You are viewing the forum as a Guest, please login (you can use your Facebook, Twitter, Google or Microsoft account to login) or register using this link: Log in or Sign Up
  • You can now follow UKAPS on Instagram.

Suitable substrates for Apistogrammas and bottom feeders?

Gadget

Member
Joined
17 Apr 2021
Messages
50
Location
Sheffield
Hello folks. First post round these parts.. I'll do an introduction thread soon... In the meantime...

I am setting up a 350L corner tank (Juwel Trigon), and it will be primarily a community tank. Further down the line when it is more established, I am wanting to add some Apistogrammas (probably Agassizi or Cacatuoides) and will also have other bottom feeders like pygmy Botia and Otocinclus, and maybe some whiptail cats. I am looking for a suitable substrate/sand that will not give them a hard time with sharp edges or overly large grains etc?

My previous tanks a few years back used Palm Fibre Peat soaked in Hydroponics nutrients, and capped with fine to very fine pool filter sand. However, while this method worked out pretty well for me, it was messy at times, and lots of arguable questions about whether this is a good way to go or not... What would be your recommendations for substrates for a community tank? I do want to plant it out fairly heavily, especially towards the back and will incorporate wood too, but want to keep an open area to the front of the tank. Currently I am looking at Tropica aquarium soil powder, with something underneath like their planting substrate or ADA power sand etc? I want to try do it as budget conscious as possible, so ADA is out.

Regards
G!
 
Last edited:

Courtneybst

Member
Joined
5 Sep 2016
Messages
453
Location
London
Hey Gadget, welcome!

I have some juvenile apistogrammas at the moment and use 2-3mm inert gravel, no problems so far. I also did the same with an Apistogramma cacatuoides in the past without issues. I'm guessing sand is preferred. 🤷‍♂️
 

Gadget

Member
Thread starter
Joined
17 Apr 2021
Messages
50
Location
Sheffield
Thanks for the welcome. Yer, fine sand can often be preferred, though not necessarily the best for plants, so trying to find the best compromise substrate wise?
 

Courtneybst

Member
Joined
5 Sep 2016
Messages
453
Location
London
Thanks for the welcome. Yer, fine sand can often be preferred, though not necessarily the best for plants, so trying to find the best compromise substrate wise?
Oh right I see what you mean, you could go the Tropica substrate route and cap it with sand or Tropica Soil Powder by itself.
 

shangman

Member
Joined
13 Jul 2020
Messages
324
Location
London
I think for apistos and other sand sifting species, the finer the sand the better. I use playsand for kids, it's very cheap, very fine and a nice pale neutral colour. Even my baby apistos sift it, so I think it's really good, I have kept apistos on less fine sand and although it still works ok, they don't sift as frequently and not until they're fully grown. I don't think they need the whole tank to be sand - as long as you have a good front sand area, the rest could just be a tropica powder or other aquasoil. I am planning a new tank atm and this is my plan as well.

Something you could consider, to make things less messy, is to keep your soil substrate (like tropica powder) and sand separate with strategically placed rocks and/or driftwood which have filter fluff inbetween them to create a barrier. This way you don't have to worry about mixing the substrates or capping this with that, which as well all know when you move a plant or take it out makes a very annoying mess! Most fancy aquascapers use this trick or a variation, as it's both practical and it looks nice too. You can still keep some plants in the sand, but they will just grow very slowly.


^ this aquarium is massive, but it shows the technique of separating the soil and the sand with rocks. You can grow mosses and ephiphyte plants on the rocks if you want to hide them. I'm sure I've seen better/more videos on this technique but I can't find them!! But all these vids do show it off quite well.

These videos show similar techniques:

 

Gadget

Member
Thread starter
Joined
17 Apr 2021
Messages
50
Location
Sheffield
Thanks... This could be the way to go.... That would also assist with terracing the scape as well, and gaining a little height over the back of the tank?! Could be the solution!

Regards
G!
 

shangman

Member
Joined
13 Jul 2020
Messages
324
Location
London
Yeah it's a great way to make life easier and make a beautiful aquarium! I'm definitely trying it myself in my new tank.

I'm afraid I can't remember the thread, but a user here uses this technique, and every few months hoovers up all the sand and replaces it with fresh to keep it extra clean which can be another benefit.

Good luck with your tank, <you should make a journal here about it when you do>! And if you haven't already, <check out the featured journals> for extra inspiration.
 

mort

Member
Joined
15 Nov 2015
Messages
1,568
Completely agree with Rosie, I quite recently swapped out my substrate and went for a substrate for the plants in the back with silver sand in the front for either cories or dwarf cichlids (not decided which yet). Silver sand is very fine and it's great if you want a really shallow sand bed (it's also cheap, £6 for 25kg is what i paid) but you can go for a coarser sand if you want it deeper. I've used this with cories and bottom dwellers for a couple of decades and never had any health related problems.

The only thing to consider with the barrier method is that sometime boisterous fish can mix the two substrate with their activity, so either a thickly planted edge or some tidying up is required.
 

Gadget

Member
Thread starter
Joined
17 Apr 2021
Messages
50
Location
Sheffield
Thanks again. This has been very helpful... Lots of food for thought....

I will try and catalogue the tank progress as it develops. It actually is due to arrive tomorrow, so busy trying to source all the other components so I can get things going asap. Going to pull the filter out the back and put in a cannister (probably the Oase 600 or 850), just to give a bit more volume and remove that unsightly box at the back. Will be good to be keeping fish again once setup!

Cheers
G!
 

Gadget

Member
Thread starter
Joined
17 Apr 2021
Messages
50
Location
Sheffield
Another question if I may? I had been looking at the Unipac Nyasa sand, which I believe is 0.8 to 1.2mm grains... Its probably a little larger than I would have normally liked, but can anyone tell me if its smooth or jagged grains?
Regards
G!
 

shangman

Member
Joined
13 Jul 2020
Messages
324
Location
London
Another question if I may? I had been looking at the Unipac Nyasa sand, which I believe is 0.8 to 1.2mm grains... Its probably a little larger than I would have normally liked, but can anyone tell me if its smooth or jagged grains?
Regards
G!
I think if you want to keep sandsifters like cories that might be best avoided, just found <this thread with another user asking about it, their cories barbells were infected>.

Your tank plans sound great! It's a love large tank, it'll be great to see what you do with it :)
 

Gadget

Member
Thread starter
Joined
17 Apr 2021
Messages
50
Location
Sheffield
Ok, so the take away is pool filter sand (or Unipac Silver sand) around front, Tropica around the planted areas (possibly with a substrate under), and a barrier/terrace to keep them separate.... I'm looking forward to getting this going!

Thanks for all the help...
Cheers
G!
 

shangman

Member
Joined
13 Jul 2020
Messages
324
Location
London
Sounds awesome! Just a note, I think that pool filter sand is different (can be bigger) than playsand, which is sand for children's playpits. Both very cheap though :)
 

Gadget

Member
Thread starter
Joined
17 Apr 2021
Messages
50
Location
Sheffield
Yes there are finer grades of filter sand. I used to get pretty fine filter sand a few years back (albeit in South Africa), though I have always been cautious of playsand as heard all sorts of mentions of random impurities in there that you don't want in a fish tank, however I am still considering it.

Cheers
G!
 

Gadget

Member
Thread starter
Joined
17 Apr 2021
Messages
50
Location
Sheffield
Well, I guess we'll see if the finer version is available here or not? AS I say this was back in South Africa probably about 10 years ago. I used to go collect it straight from the 'factory' if you can call it that?!

I'm sure it must be available somewhere, though the silver sand does look nice!
Cheers
G!
 
Top