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my 140 gal buildis comming along nicely, but I gotta star choosing stuff for it.

first order is business is the substrate.

I'd like a dark colored substrate, I really like black, and what kind should be good? what about sand?

here's the livestock that I'm transfering for the 55 gal to the 140 once is ready:

one 10 inch bala shark
two 3 inch balas
one pink gourami
two gold gourami
two blue gourami
one calico fantail goldfish, 3 inch
six platties
one 5 inch silverdollar
one three inch albino pleco
one five inch regular pleco
two ten inch south american gobys (purple goby)

one other thing, tank is gonna have a combination of live and fake plants.

more than anything I want my fish to be happy.

I read about cleaning sand with a syphon, I think I won't have a problem with that, but the headstanders that i have in the tank (like the pink gourami) always keep the gravel in the 55 gal clean, but would they have a problem eating from the sand?
 

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Well..Substrate in a freshwater setup is mostly preference, however, if you are planning for live plants, that gets more involved, and actually would take more room than i have here to fully explain, there are several good articles online about keeping planted tanks, and we actually have members here who are quite successful at it, as is witnessed by their beautiful tanks in pics they have posted here. I would encourage you to contact our own Dmaaaaax here, and also browse our planted tank section. As Far as gravel cleaning, my Python is an invaluable tool, as you can deep vac your gravel to remove some very foul looking stuff from the substrate, if you choose to use gravel. However if you use a substrate for live plants this will become next to impossible to accomplish since the roots will be disturbed and harm your plants. So it seems you have some decisions to make, when youve decided what you want to actually accomplish, let us know :)
 

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i cleaned my sand with a siphon today it was easy but always mix ur sand up every now and then cause bad gases can build up under there
 

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The only fish in a freshwater tank that I know of that really has a definite problem with certain substrate is the betta. They cannot have substrate that is sand or sand sized like EccoComplete as they will eat it. The little gluttons think it is betta pellets and will stuff themselves on it. But as you do not seem to have any of them in your tank I would agree that it is a matter of personal preference.

I have heard of people sticking plastic drinking straws in the sand to help relieve the gases that build up under them but the easiest and most dependable method of having sand substrate maintained is to get a Trumpet Snail and let it do the tunneling through the sand to keep it mixed up and from building up the gases.

Rose
 
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