Best sand substrate for price? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-03-2020, 12:10 PM Thread Starter
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Best sand substrate for price?

Any suggestions on what the best sand substrate is for the price? I haven't used pool filter sand but I have heard so many things about it. There is a hardware store near me that carries the HTH brand for about 12 bucks. I have used Caribsea Sunset Gold in the past and really enjoyed it and recently found a deal on amazon for only 16 dollars a bag so I picked up some. But for the price of 45-60 dollars that I would need, I wonder if it would just be worth it to try the pool filter sand? The only thing I'm not a fan of is the color. Seems too bright. I could be wrong, but when I think of a natural looking sand I think of a tan/brown color.



I have also used Black Diamond Blasting sand and though it does look nice, it looks terrible once it becomes covered in algae. Even worse than when lighter substrate does IMO.
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-03-2020, 01:11 PM
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I've only used BDBS so far, just started a tank with pool filter sand. It definitely looks more natural than BDBS. But I would say it is a bright tan though for sure. If you have both in hand you could try like a 50/50 mix in a small dish and place it under water in bottom of tank and see how you like the color and test to see if the mix looks really great or really bad.

Cordially,

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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-04-2020, 01:01 AM
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I got my PFS from Lowes and it is pretty light in color, while at my local hardware store the other day I noticed the PFS they carried was much more of a brown coloration so it might pay off to check different sources in your area.
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-04-2020, 01:19 AM
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Hi @Blackheart,

At the AGA (Aquatic Gardener's Association) Convention last spring we used HTH Pool Filter sand for the Aquascaping workshop. Local Ace Hardware locations have it for about $9 per 50# bag. What I liked is the white color, consistent size, and the fact it is made from Quartz so no pieces of shell to effect pH and hardness. If you don't like the HTH you could always use it for the bottom layer and then top with your preferred sand.

A display tank put together with HTH pool filter sand

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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-04-2020, 02:23 AM
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I use the sakrete commercial medium sand and I like it. $10-12 for 100lb bag, very uniform in size, hardly any dust.

It is kind of bright at first but once the BBA and algae stuff get a foot hold it darkens for about the top half inch or so. Even if you stir it up in my experience it will color back up pretty quick.

Last page in my journal has both my tanks pics with this stuff.


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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-04-2020, 02:35 AM
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I've been using the Lighthouse Brand of pool filter sand for a long time. It's sold at Leslie's Pool Supply. One thing you should decide if you go with pool filter sand is that it shows everything. So it will have to be surface vacuumed. Shrimp don't help, they poop too. So if that's a problem go with BDBS.


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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-04-2020, 02:46 AM
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I use Quikrete pool filter sand from home depot.
Out of the bag it has this grey color, but under my lights it has a light grey/whiteish color.

Here it is in my setup, link.

Edit:

As far as the color fading/changing goes, it is still the same color as the day I setup the tank.
I run a UV sterilizer for 6 hours a night that keeps everything clean on top of the sand so your experience might be different.

For the weight of the sand, I really like it.
As you can see from the image I have a pump blowing right along the bottom and the sand is heavy enough to not get blown around.
Yet it doesn't compact and go anaerobic like some of the previous pool filter sands I've used.

Overall if it weren't for the color I would say that it's a 10/10, but since the color isn't really ideal I would say it's a 6-7/10.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-04-2020, 03:53 PM
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I mixed HTH pool filter sand with Safe-t-sorb. I found this worked very well for me because the safe-t-sorb is much darker and ends up looking a bit like pebbles mixed into the sand. Also hides any poop, tends to just blend in. The safe-t-sorb is much lighter then sand so even when evenly mixed in, after about 6 months it tends to come to the surface. I have bottom fish so they move it around and create clear areas of just sand. Looks very natural.

Here is a picture:




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