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Studman0143 07-07-2012 06:41 PM

Wanting to try sand
I want to try my hand at a sand substrate and would appreciate some guidance. I know there are several threads in here that can help me out and I plan on doing some research, but sometimes asking for a comment or two is quickest.

I am setting up a 10G half moon tank in my entry way with a small LED fixture (it's a PetSmart tank I've had awhile). I plan on plant low-light plants, mostly java fern, dwarf sag, & anubias but I want to make sure I still have a healthy substrate but something good looking and in case I ever upgrade the light.

I'd prefer a lighter sand cuz it'll have a few guppy's & tetras in it (it's the wife's tank, so she gets to choose). I have organic miracle-gro or a flourish substrate I can put below the sand but the ultimate question is....What kind of sand should I look to get?

If you have any links I will take them, if not I can easily search brand names if you provide them.

Thanks for the help!

Fdsh5 07-07-2012 07:59 PM

1 Attachment(s)
I use pool filter sand. It's not messy and if you disturb it, it settles right down without creating a dust storm. Plus my cories love picking through it. I have some mts in the tank to burrow in and stir it up.

DogFish 07-07-2012 08:28 PM

Just a matter of how you want it to look.

PFS is very white, Black Diamond Blasting media is (you guessed it) very black, both are pretty clean and don't need excessive rinsing if any. Both are very uniform in size.

To my eye they both look completely un-natural.

I used to use construction grade sand from a local sand pit. Very natural looking, variety in side of grains & pebbles. But, very dirty, lots of rinsing.

I just capped a rank with Sakrete all-purpose sand $4.99 for 40#s. Not terribly dirty, some variation in grain size. Pretty natural looking, not as good at the local stuff in appearance but, much easier to deal with.

Sand Caps work over dirt because the dirty is finer in size and settles to the bottom. I don't know how sand works with gravel size substrate.

Eldachleich 07-07-2012 08:52 PM

I very much appreciate my caribsea sand. The black has a really nice sparkle to it.
For white though I would probably go with PFS... Courser and thicker but nice and white.
PFS is much easier to keep clean as well.

150EH 07-07-2012 09:03 PM

Any sand will work and if you use Java ferns, Anubias, and mosses these are all plants you can attach to wood or rocks anyway so you don't need any substrate under the sand. Just remember sand gets dirty so only put down a thin layer so you can either vacuum it out or add more on top, I know some say they vacuum lightly and have no problems but others are frantic trying to keep it clean, good luck.

smokaah 07-07-2012 09:10 PM

I have become a fan of Black Diamond. Its cheap and it looks good.

steveg89 07-07-2012 09:18 PM

Sand has done well in my tank. I do tab ferts and liquid since the sand is basically useless for nutrients. As for's a problem for a little while but mine settled down after a few weeks. My only issue with it is how visible all the waste is. You'll definitely clean more often

josolanes 07-07-2012 09:22 PM

I'll be using PFS in my next tank :)

Hoppy 07-07-2012 09:51 PM

Pool filter sand isn't necessarily white, or any other color. It is whatever color the reasonably local non-carbonate sand quarry produces. Mine is multi colored, sort of light tan in overall look. Some months ago someone reported that their local pool filter sand was black flint sand, as I recall, but black in any case. And, some newer pool filter sands are made of zeolite, some of which is a sickly green color.

somewhatshocked 07-07-2012 10:19 PM

Here's my favorite pool filter sand.

AquaQuartz - High Rate Grade:

Typically available at Home Depot and pool supply centers.

pandamonium 07-07-2012 11:07 PM

i am using sand now. i originally had the sakrete sand from HD (great deal btw) but i was worried about it compacting. so i redid my tank, left the sakrete there and put some 1-2mm sand over it. basically this kinda irregular larger grain. it doesnt compact as much, and flow through it is much better.

DogFish 07-08-2012 01:49 AM

On construction type sand/ Sakrete. In my tanks with this sand all the very fine grains will settle in a thin layer between the MTS and the larger grains ofd sand.

I don't use any facing sand in my tanks so you can see the layers. Even people that keep non-planted tanks are amazed and interested when they see it.

I feel with a 1" sand Cap over 2" of MTS there is no compaction issues. MTS snails travel at least to the top of the MTS layer. This can actually be seen. I've also syphoned off a Black Diamond Cap and observed MTS emails in the Dirt below the Cap.

I believe that the thin layer of fine sand between the dirt and the rest of the larger grain sand cap material when I use Const. sand may be part of the reason I am able to use higher levels of Organic material in my Dirt mix and not see all the problems that are expected.

Studman0143 07-08-2012 02:58 AM

I don't think I want to use pool sand just because it isn't natural and kind of plain in color. At my LFS today I saw they carry Caribsea and there were two color combinations that I would consider.

What is this sakrete all-purpose sand you mentioned DogFish? Can you purchase it at a store or only online? Would you recommend it over CaribSea sand?

And where is PFS found at? From comments, it is sounding like it's easily found at Home Depot? I think I want to go check it out to see if it looks anything like the AquaQuartz posted above.

To clarify I will dose liquid ferts and probably purchase root tabs. And I don't care if the sand it pure white, I just want something lighter in color.

steveg89 07-08-2012 03:15 AM

My only advice on that is that sand is sand.there's no good reason to pay the huge rates LFS's charge just because it's marked for an aquarium.

Studman0143 07-08-2012 03:19 AM


Originally Posted by steveg89 (Post 1933585)
My only advice on that is that sand is sand.there's no good reason to pay the huge rates LFS's charge just because it's marked for an aquarium.

Great point, I think that is why I'm leaning towards what Home Depot has cuz it is at a reasonable price. And I really have nowhere here to gather it myself. Unless I went to the Great Salt Lake, that'd be interesting.

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