I have been in the hobby for seventeen years. I have worked in the industry for twelve years. I started as an associate at a small local pet shop. From there I moved up to Freshwater Department Manager at a local aquarium store where within one year I moved up to Store Manager. I now own and run my own aquarium maintenance company. I have had and worked with almost every type of aquarium and fish available in the hobby. I am a Biologist and have been published in Aquarium International Magazine as well as Tropical Fish Hobbyist Magazine. I have multiple other articles accepted by and awaiting publication in Tropical Fish Hobbyist Magazine.
The information on this site is based on this extensive experience and knowledge. Some of it may be debated elsewhere, but the information is what I have found to be true.
Please provide any feedback you wish. This is always a work in progress and any suggestions are welcome.
I am also happy to answer any questions, no matter how small. Take a look around the site and if you don't see an article related to your question just email me. If you get any questions while reading any of the articles just email me.
Sand as a substrate has many advantages over gravel. Sand is more natural, easier to clean, and looks much better.
Almost all the fish we keep in aquariums are from waters that naturally have a flow much lower than would allow gravel as a substrate. Most will have a substrate of sand, some even silt or mud (which we can’t really have in an aquarium). Many fish like to sift through the substrate looking for food. This behavior is allowed for much better with sand instead of gravel. In addition, many fish like to dig pits. Sand is more natural for these species, as well as easier for them to do this. The piles and slopes they create with a smaller sized substrate are not as steep as they would be if they have a larger substrate such as gravel.
Sand is also much cleaner than gravel. There is much more space between pieces of gravel, enough to allow debris in. The debris can buildup which in time can breakdown, which increases nitrate and phosphate and lowers water quality. The space between sand grains is not enough for a significant amount of debris to get in. This keeps the debris on top. If there is enough flow in the tank the debris will keep moving until it is collected by the filters. This means less cleaning and a cleaner tank. If there is not enough flow then the debris collects in a few spots that are easy to vacuum out during weekly water changes.