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Fishguy2727

Experiences With Sand Irritating Gills?

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Does anyone have any experience with sand irritating the gills of goldfish? Does anyone know of any cases of this?

If so:

What type of sand was being used?

What type of goldfish?

How large was the goldfish?

What indicated the gill irritation by the sand? (How could you tell?)

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QUOTE(daryl @ Feb 10 2005, 09:02 AM)

Sand is really not a good choise for goldfish. They are bottom feeders - they like to root around in the substrate for food and fun. A fine sand would be continually stirred up and you would most likely find that your tank was constantly cloudy with suspended sand particles. As the fish root, they take anything they find into their mouths. They would end up with a great deal of sand passing in their mouths and out their gills - an irritant, much like sandpaper on the gills. This is not very healthy.

This was an old post by Daryl back in 2005, but, Daryl is one of our "biggies," so I'd like to think she'd know. Maybe she can better advise whether this is from personal experience.

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People here do seem to take it as a fact that sand causes gill irritation... and it's easy to imagine that it is true. However, I haven't heard of anybody actually having issues with it. I am against using sand in fish tanks simply because it gets everywhere, and with my luck I would spill it in the carpet or clog the drain (I already suck up way too much gravel with water changes).

I'd love to see some evidence to clarify the issue, though it isn't a big deal to me.

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I have had sand in my tank for about 10 months now and have had no problems with it. If you rinse it out very well (for about half an hour) before you put it in the tank then you shouldn't experience cloudiness (found this out the hard way). All you do it dump the sand into a bucket, stick a hose in the bottom and run the water until the water flowing over the lip of the bucket runs clear, you'll have to stir it too. I have never had problems with the gills of my goldies and I've had one since I've had sand. Also, I think it looks nice. Eventually I will probably take it out because like A Penguin said, it gets everywhere. But if you're careful it's not that bad. I only lose about a tablespoon a week in water changes. If you are really worried about keeping it clean then you can just suck it up in the gravel vac and rinse it out during your water change. But I have found this is only necessary every once in a while because my goldies like to blow it around. I have never actually seen either of them pass it through their gills, they usually just spit it back out.

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But they sift through sand and finer substrates naturally. This is a very natural behavior for them. I have had mine on sand the entire time I have had them and never once seen a single hint that it was irritating. Yes, theoretically it could be, if it didn't make since people wouldn't keep saying it. My issue is that it seems that in the real world it is nothing close to the risk that it could be theoretically.

I use Estes' Marine Sand and it sinks very quickly. I have had it in with goldfish, cichlids, cories, different loaches, plecos, axolotls, newts and toads, and many other things. It always settles very fast and never causes any issues. I do believe that many of the issues that people seem to blame on sand have more to do with the type of sand than it just being sand. Things like it taking so long to clean (Estes' requires no cleaning, I know from experience, it is not just a hype claim they use to sell their product). Being light, stirred up, and damaging filters is also not necessarily an issue (Estes' is heavy and I have never had this problem, to be extra safe I keep all intakes at least halfway up the tank). Some talk about how you have to stir it all the time to prevent toxic anoxic pockets from developing. Malaysian trumpet snails will prevent this, but even in tanks without them I have not had anything close to these pockets develop.

I also assume that goldfish know what they are doing and can feel. I find it hard to believe that if sand was the irritant it is made out to be that my goldfish would continue to sift through it. They may try, be irritated, and then stop. But mine, over a year later, still do it, A LOT.

It is just as easy to clean as bare bottom tanks. All extra food and debris stays on top. With enough flow in the tank it keeps moving until the filters grab it. Without enough flow you just hold the vacuum above the debris and it will be sucked up. I never have to do any vacuuming anymore because there is simply nothing to vacuum.

After seeing how much mine enjoy it I really do feel sorry for the ones denied the activity it provides and they seem to enjoy so much. I really think people need to take a second look at this topic and reconsider it. I do not think it is the risk many think. I just can't imagine keeping mine in a bare bottom tank.

I really do want to hear about any issues people have had. I especially want to find out what sand it was that caused the issue. But with so far no cases demonstrating any true risks I see no reason for so many to avoid it and for SOO many to be so against it.

Edited by Fishguy2727

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This is an interesting thread :)

I think that very fine sand would be an issue, like 'beach sand' that gets into everything, you stir that up a little and it stays in the water forever. The problem then wouldn't be so much from the goldies sifting for food as them simply 'inhaling' it accidently. I think most aquarium sand is much larger grained that that.

PS...Fishguy, I spent a while searching for goldie papers this morning, found a few interesting ones I'll post in another thread later, mostly related to nutrition

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Yes, fine and light sands are not good options for aquariums.

Please share that information, sounds like it could be good. Not to ask you to do more work, but maybe a paper with a works cited would be most helpful, rather than just posting the articles or summaries. If you are not looking for that much work I would do it, after I finish my paper for Ecology class that is.

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Maybe I could help... I could take some time tomorrow to run a search at my university's library.

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I printed a bunch of info (started a goldie binder :P ). When I get a bit more time I'll try and synthesize it, and a works cited is no problem :)

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I googled 'gill irritation goldfish sand' and the first two hits were my posts. Found this on another forum:

"> >those posts really surprized me.

>

> >that sand was not only NOT a good idea for

> >goldfish in the tank but also was not good for them at all? It was stated

> >thast the sand Irritated the gills?

>

> I don't know who invented the gill irritation story but I know it's

conjecture

> at best.

> Every pond in the world gets dirt in it and the result is multi sized

grains of

> "sand" on the bottom.

> Fish gills are a marvel dealing with the elements found suspended in

water.

> I can say that the finer the sand, the better the bottom stays clean and

> watching my fish forage in it, they suck up lots of sand and blow it out.

Never

> a problem, after many years of sand.

Oh that is great to hear! I live in Chicago and go to the Shedds Aquarium at

least 2 - 3 times a month. I was there today and asked a number of people ,

whom I have to say some laughed at the very question. And basically told me,

unless the sand is contanimated, sharp objects, washed with soap or not

rinsed there might be a problem, but for the probelm to be caused by the

sand they never heard of.

My fish seem to love the sand! One used to be in a tank with gravel, then a

bare bottom now and for some time sand, and I can really see the difference

in him!"

It makes sense. Their natural habitat is slow moving water, the substrate of which would be very fine (sand, silt, mud, etc.). They naturally sift through the substrate. With so far ZERO cases showing indication of this sand issue being real at all it seems like we can just let it go. All evidence indicates that it is just a continually regurgitated myth.

I hope people will really think about this and reconsider their view if they feel it is so risky. It really does provide a whole new element to the tank. It gives them something to do and they seem to love it.

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I use sand in 2 of my tropical tanks. I know my CAE sucks it up all the time and he's fine, but personally I wouldnt use it for goldies. My CAE does make a mess of it though, it ends up completely uneven, piled up in little hills, bare areas and it ends up on all the decorations cuz he's always digging through it, but I still like it. I do not however like it in the tigerbarb tank because that tank has a major algae problem and with the sand its just a pain to try and clean it off, it looks kinda like a green carpet 2 days after cleaning.

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I've walked on sand at the beach and on concrete and it can be downright irritating on my feet; you can feel the sharpness of it, so I can imagine what it could do to sensitive little gills. I guess my bottom line is that I'm not willing to take the chance. I'd rather take the stand of better safe than sorry. I have, what I would call, coarse sand or fine gravel in my tank. Each grain measures around 1mm more or less. This is small enough that the fish don't get it stuck in their mouths and big enough that it won't get in their gills. They love rooting through it and take up big mouthsful and spit it out. I love this size substrate. But even with no evidence, my goldies aren't up for experimentation and I'm just not willing to take the chance of even the possibility of this issue of sand being true.

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There are many species of fish out there that we keep sand on, many even need it. From a wide array of marine species, to freshwater rays, loaches, etc. People simply underestimate how well the gills are at dealing with debris in the water, in their mouth, and through their gills. The gills are adapted to allow debris like that to pass right through without damaging them at all. The actual gill filaments are arranged in a way that prevents them from catching anything, they run parallel to the flow of water. I think these animals are tougher than we give them credit for.

If it was a case of 'usually it is fine, but every once in a while a goldfish has an issue with it', it would be one thing. But without a SINGLE case to show that it even is a risk, you can't call it a risk.

It sounds like you already have sand, although a somewhat course type. Big goldfish could pass that size through their gills with no problems and I would be surprised if you watched them closely and carefully that they aren't actually passing any through their gills. Any pics of your substrate?

Edited by Fishguy2727

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Ok so maybe its not sand in general that can irritate goldfish gills, but more about what sand is used. To be honest I personally wouldnt want to take the risk with my fish trying out different sand, just incase one type irritated them. I think I will take Lyndas view, and best to be safe than sorry. I know many people do use sand with no problems.

Myabe because I have been told so many times not to use it, I have it in my head now that it is bad!!

I have found an article: http://www.aquarticles.com/articles/plants..._substrate.html (Author: Rajendra Kumar G. G., 2001, Aqua articles)

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Yes, but without any information to back up the statements in that article it does not mean much. I know it is regurgitated over and over and over. All I am trying to do here is let people know that it does not seem like there is any information to support not using it. And with the benefits of it I say use it.

I always specify Estes' Marine Sand. That is what I use and have never had any issues with any of the animals I have ever kept in it. It is the only sand I use and is in all of my tanks. It costs about as much as gravel, so if you can afford gravel you can afford it. But many want to save as much money as possible and will buy sands not made for aquarium use. I think this is why so many have issues with sand. But even with so many people using non-aquarium sands no one seems to have any actual experience with it irritating the gills.

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I think this might be one of those case by case issues.

If I noticed irritation in my goldies gills when I first introduced sand then I would most likely have taken the sand out.

If, however, now I were to notice something (after 10 months of it being fine) I probably would look somewhere else.

So if someone were to notice something irritating gills and by process of elimination all other variables were excluded then I would probably suggest "go ahead and take out your sand."

Like I have said, I have never experienced anything wrong with my goldies. I have never even seen them pass it through their gills! But as this forum likes to say over and over (with good reason because it's Oh So True!) all goldies are not the same! They have specific needs that vary from breed to breed and from fish to fish. Some breeds may be more sensative to sand, some fish within a breed may be more sensitive to sand.

Ultimately it is your choice what you want to use. I recommend sand, but I do cite that many people have told me it causes problems. Until I see problems that are due 100% to sand, I will continue to use it.

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Exactly. I just think some people can be a little less pushy about it given the evidence.

Mine sift through it all the time. They blast it right out their gills, no issues. If it irritated them I would assume they would have stopped, not continued to do it for over a year.

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this had been a very interesting thread and I still have not made my final decision as of yet, but the sand that I am planning on using can be seen here, " http://www.caribsea.com/pages/products/super_nat.html " and the kind that is already in the tank I plan on using for my fry when they get an inch long is the "Tahitian Moon" one. Its in a 20 Gallon tank with corys and mollies at the moment. The tank is already cycled and would be an easy transport. But if I need to take the sand out and have a graveless tank then I will...has anyone used Super Naturals Aquarium Gravel before?

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I have used a course play ground sand (about $5 for 50 lbs @ builders supply) as a thin substrate layer about 3/8ths inch thick on my tank bottoms for 20 years.

My GF spend about 25% of their time foraging in it for left over food they may have missed at feeding times.

My GF are fat/happy/healthy & appear to enjoy it being there.

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