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Fish/Sand or gravel?


Hi, I currently have a 55 gallon tank with about 10 african cichlids in there and I have gravel in it right now I was thinking about switching to sand specifically silica first question is how would I clean the sand and second would silica sand work for a cichlid tank and would it mess with any of the ph levels?

You can clean any type of sand or gravel with a "gravel van" type syphon system. Let me know if you need more info on the product or how to use it.

I always use washed aragonite for african cichlids because it is very similar to their natural bottom, looks good, and maintains pH and water hardness right where they like it.

As for the silica; I have never tried it myself so I won't say yes or no yet. It's pretty much S3O3(OH)3 from a chemical standpoint. The Hydroxide ions will likely decompose into the water giving it the nice basic quality, however it will not be as effective due to the electronegativity vs bond polarity of the existing water and hydrogen ions.
Aragonite is nice because both the OH- and CaCO3 readily decompose into the water giving it the hard, basic parameters those cichlids like.

When it comes down to it, you can use any sand, gravel, or bare bottom you'd like if you're willing to watch the parameters and use buffers as needed. I prefer to pick a good sand/gravel because it can largely do that job for you very well while minimizing other compounds to block up you carbon filter.

Let me know if you have any more questions or I was unclear about something.


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I can answer questions relating to the scientific aspect of the hobby (fish ecology, biology, genetics, etc. ), aquacultural and breeding aspects, and have experience with nearly all "brackish" fish in the trade. I also have lots of experience breeding fish, like angelfish, tetras, cichlids, and various livebearers. I also have lots of experience with many freshwater fish, especially "monster" fish, like stingrays, arowana and Saratoga, cichlids, catfish, etc. Please ask questions about anything except for true saltwater (reef) tanks.


Too much to fully list, but I will never have never enough to satisfy myself.

River Watch of Colorado Monster Fish Keepers USA Canoe/Kayak

Student, but I've been involved in many projects involving aquaculture and fish biology. I'm currently helping design a massive stream improvement project on the St. Vrain river. I am studying fisheries ecology, techniques, hatcheries, and management practices for north american freshwater systems.

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