Black Diamond Substrate - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 38 (permalink) Old 11-08-2020, 02:11 PM Thread Starter
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Black Diamond Substrate

Has anyone ever had metal bits in this? I opened my first bag, took a magnet to it and there are very tiny metal pellets coming out of it. Does that mean this bag isn't safe to use, or I just sit here for hours taking the metal out with a magnet? The picture is a paper towel with the bits picked up with a magnet in the first cup out of the bag. The 2nd pic is a magnet up close with the pieces which were sifted through twice and still magnetized. Thank you
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post #2 of 38 (permalink) Old 11-08-2020, 06:46 PM
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Has anyone ever had metal bits in this? I opened my first bag, took a magnet to it and there are very tiny metal pellets coming out of it. Does that mean this bag isn't safe to use, or I just sit here for hours taking the metal out with a magnet? The picture is a paper towel with the bits picked up with a magnet in the first cup out of the bag. The 2nd pic is a magnet up close with the pieces which were sifted through twice and still magnetized. Thank you
Are you putting livestock (bottom-dwelling fish) in the tank?


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post #3 of 38 (permalink) Old 11-08-2020, 07:03 PM Thread Starter
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Are you putting livestock (bottom-dwelling fish) in the tank?
Just nerites as far as I know and a betta
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post #4 of 38 (permalink) Old 11-08-2020, 07:08 PM
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Then you will probably be fine.
Personally, I never use coal slag in any aquarium with fish-- but, I am an island against a sea of those who will- without hesitation.

So, take my opinion with a grain of salt.
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post #5 of 38 (permalink) Old 11-08-2020, 07:31 PM Thread Starter
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Then you will probably be fine.
Personally, I never use coal slag in any aquarium with fish-- but, I am an island against a sea of those who will- without hesitation.

So, take my opinion with a grain of salt.
Not taking it with a grain of sand , but always like to know the why's. Keep in mind that I am redoing my substrate, trying for a black look, don't want sand per say, and don't want it to alter my water. I could leave stratum in but will likely end up back in this same spot six months from now. Always open to opinions, and then deciding for myself. PLUS: I am really open to opinions after sifting through this for 3 hours to get the metals out and nowhere near done.
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post #6 of 38 (permalink) Old 11-08-2020, 07:59 PM
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Not taking it with a grain of sand , but always like to know the why's. Keep in mind that I am redoing my substrate, trying for a black look, don't want sand per say, and don't want it to alter my water. I could leave stratum in but will likely end up back in this same spot six months from now. Always open to opinions, and then deciding for myself. PLUS: I am really open to opinions after sifting through this for 3 hours to get the metals out and nowhere near done.
This is a topic that has been extensively discussed on this forum. If you put Black Diamond Blasting sand in the google search box you will get all the opinion that you could ever want. The forum consensus ( of which I dont agree) is that using this material in your aquarium is entirely safe in all circumstances.

Myself, however? --I would not use it with fish for what to me seems obvious-- 1. the coal slag itself has sharp edges- not rounded like other safe substrates like sand. 2. the coal slag often contains bits of metal (of which you have discovered), 3. Long-term exposure leads to secondary bacterial infections in bottom-dwelling fish.



Now, in your case you are not adding fish that spend a lot of time on bottom of tank. But, I would still be concerned that fish take these sharp particles of metal up by accident while eating of the bottom. Or, as anyone that has had fish for any time will attest to, they sometimes rub their bodies on substrate. Even when they dont have parasites that are of a concern- many things can irritate the skin of a fish, they will rub up against surfaces to alleviate this. Metal bits in substrate will be harmful to skin and gills.
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post #7 of 38 (permalink) Old 11-08-2020, 08:25 PM Thread Starter
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That's my problem, I've read too much. I feel like I'm at a political debate with all of the opinions. One thing I need to say, I have only sifted through 5 lbs so far. I'm a bit OCD, sifting slowly 1/2 cup at a time. Sifting and resifting five or six times until nothing sticks to the magnet. Yes, overkill but I won't be comfortable if I find metal.
On that note; my last betta did sift through the eco complete more than my nerites.
With my hand as I sift through it, the eco complete feels sharper to me than this does. I guess using a nylon against them might show which is sharper.
I'm done sifting for the day, so I'll revisit this tomorrow. I like the look of the fluval stratum, just don't like that it wiped my KH out and wacks my PH levels. And yes, I listened to too many people who told me it would just lower my PH some.
I'm not looking for a miracle, but gosh I thought choosing a substrate would be easier than this
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post #8 of 38 (permalink) Old 11-09-2020, 02:47 PM
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Are those bits of metal, or is it magnetic mineral?
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post #9 of 38 (permalink) Old 11-09-2020, 02:56 PM
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Leave half a bucket worth of water out for 24 hours, test parameters.

Dump in a pile of the sand, wait 24 hours and test again.

99% sure it won't change the parameters and it should be safe.

What the magnet pulled out doesn't really look like metal to me.

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post #10 of 38 (permalink) Old 11-09-2020, 04:25 PM
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I'm going to second what Quagulator said. That looks more like a ferrous mineral ore, not metal. What it is exactly, who knows.

I would take his advice and check water parameters before and after introduction. I know Discusluv is an experienced aquarist, but at the risk of sounding like I'm arguing, I wouldn't be worried about it. Thousands and thousands of people use BDBS. If there was a danger to your fish, I would think there would be more people out there sharing stories of how their BDBS killed their fish. Seeing how that doesn't appear to be the case, I'm thinking it's safe.

PS. I'm biased here, because I've used BDBS for years with no ill effects. My results are merely anecdotal, and YMMV.
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post #11 of 38 (permalink) Old 11-09-2020, 04:31 PM
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Originally Posted by fishie777 View Post
That's my problem, I've read too much. I feel like I'm at a political debate with all of the opinions. One thing I need to say, I have only sifted through 5 lbs so far. I'm a bit OCD, sifting slowly 1/2 cup at a time. Sifting and resifting five or six times until nothing sticks to the magnet. Yes, overkill but I won't be comfortable if I find metal.
On that note; my last betta did sift through the eco complete more than my nerites.
With my hand as I sift through it, the eco complete feels sharper to me than this does. I guess using a nylon against them might show which is sharper.
I'm done sifting for the day, so I'll revisit this tomorrow. I like the look of the fluval stratum, just don't like that it wiped my KH out and wacks my PH levels. And yes, I listened to too many people who told me it would just lower my PH some.
I'm not looking for a miracle, but gosh I thought choosing a substrate would be easier than this
In my experience, it hasn't caused any issues with bottom dwellers like cories.

No harm in being cautious. Big box stores sell black sand as well, likely smoother, if you'd like to walk on the more cautious side.
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post #12 of 38 (permalink) Old 11-09-2020, 04:43 PM
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FWIW I've watched my goldfish sift through it for hours on end, in the mouth out the gills, and they never show any distress.

Purely speaking on experience here, but I've never had issues with neo shrimp, ammano shrimp, snails, rasboras, tetras, cichlids, goldfish, rainbowfish, plecos, otos or rosy minnows.

Nothing wrong with not wanting to use it, it's not labeled as aquaria specific so it's a risk we take, up to you if you want to take it or not.
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post #13 of 38 (permalink) Old 11-09-2020, 04:55 PM Thread Starter
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Are those bits of metal, or is it magnetic mineral?
Have no idea, but definitely magnetic. I would assume mineral, but some others are shiny.
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post #14 of 38 (permalink) Old 11-09-2020, 05:00 PM
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Have no idea, but definitely magnetic. I would assume mineral, but some others are shiny.
I have seen reports of having bits of metal in BDBS, but haven't seen it personally. This makes more sense to me. I'd guess it is a mixed iron oxide like magnetite, which isn't terribly surprising if there was an iron impurity.

Very interesting, thanks for the pictures and observation.

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post #15 of 38 (permalink) Old 11-09-2020, 05:05 PM
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FWIW I've watched my goldfish sift through it for hours on end, in the mouth out the gills, and they never show any distress.

Purely speaking on experience here, but I've never had issues with neo shrimp, ammano shrimp, snails, rasboras, tetras, cichlids, goldfish, rainbowfish, plecos, otos or rosy minnows.

Nothing wrong with not wanting to use it, it's not labeled as aquaria specific so it's a risk we take, up to you if you want to take it or not.
Interestingly enough, if you scroll through the Q&A, the company actually says it's safe for aquariums and they suggest rinsing it until the water runs clear. https://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/pr...s?cm_vc=-10011
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