Quartz vs. Silica - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-11-2012, 10:22 PM Thread Starter
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Quartz vs. Silica

Is there a difference? One of my LFS has repackaged "Quartz" which looks exactly like Silica sold at a fraction of the price at Lowes & Home Depot. Please help
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-11-2012, 11:01 PM
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Basically quartz = pool filter sand, and silica = play sand. It's pretty much up to you on what you like, and price wise. I've used both in different tanks, I just go with what I have on hand at the time. My 55 gallon MTS tank is capped with play sand right now because it's what I had on hand.

If you like the quartz look then go to a pool supply store to get pool filter sand, normally around $5 for 50lb bag.

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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-12-2012, 07:03 AM
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I would recommend the PFS as it cleans VERY VERY easy. It also does better with syphoning the substrate surface as it doesnt get sucked out as easily. It also really keeps its color and doesnt get algae easy.

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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-12-2012, 04:07 PM Thread Starter
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So I checked with all the Pool supply places in town & the only PFS available locally is Target brand #20 Silica sand. Is this the kind of PFS you use?
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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-12-2012, 06:34 PM
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Quartz is silica. The two aren't synonyms but quartz is a form of silica. Silica sand and quartz sand are the same thing.

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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-12-2012, 07:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Hoppy View Post
Quartz is silica. The two aren't synonyms but quartz is a form of silica. Silica sand and quartz sand are the same thing.
Agree. Most sands are silica sand, and some pool filter silica sand is labelled as "quartz-based", which is what I use.
PFS and 'play' sands are both generally silica sands, but play sand is usually much dirtier, grittier, and dustier, finer-grained and less dense. This makes it much more difficult to clean initially, and to keep clean. It's finer grains and lesser density causes it to readily flow up into the water column when disturbed, and clog up filter assemblies/impellers. It's also very easily siphoned out when vacuuming, unlike PFS which isn't, due to it's density.
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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-12-2012, 07:30 PM
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only complain I have against PFS is the diatom on the substrate is very noticeable. that's not even a big thing tho but it was rough on my eyes for a few weeks hehe
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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-12-2012, 08:10 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you for clarifying Quartz is Silica. I had my sneaky suspicions...
So Lane Mountain #30 Silica 100 lbs for $7.97 is the best price in town. Looks like I'll be doing a lot of rinsing this week. Anyone use similar sand in a freshwater deep sand bed? I'm sold on DSB due to my experience with my old reef tank. My DSB was awesome in it
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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-12-2012, 08:19 PM
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Not familiar with Lane Mountain brand. It may even be PFS.
If it is, you'd be lucky, and you'd find it much easier to clean (very little rinsing needed) than if it's play sand.
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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-12-2012, 08:24 PM Thread Starter
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It's white, but definitely dusty. Not as dirty as the 'play sand' offered locally. I didn't open the bags! I swear!
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post #11 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-12-2012, 09:06 PM
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Thank you for clarifying Quartz is Silica. I had my sneaky suspicions...
So Lane Mountain #30 Silica 100 lbs for $7.97 is the best price in town. Looks like I'll be doing a lot of rinsing this week. Anyone use similar sand in a freshwater deep sand bed? I'm sold on DSB due to my experience with my old reef tank. My DSB was awesome in it
One thing to remember. Is in a reef the sand has life, there fore you don't get the pockets of bad gas in the substrate. In a fresh water tank It's different. I wouldn't go over 3" deep and then I would get some mts to help keep the sand bed active. Just my opinion anyhow.

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post #12 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-12-2012, 09:15 PM Thread Starter
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Certainly MTS, also live california blackworms & planaria are all on my 'need to hunt down at no cost' list. Do you have a reason for the 3" depth limit? Just curious, trying to gather as much info as possible before I take the plunge...Seems like I see some very deep slopes in Amano style aquariums...
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post #13 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-12-2012, 09:29 PM
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Difficult to be specific about depth of sand which may induce the formation of gas pockets. Depends a lot on how fine-grained it is and how much it compacts.
Generally speaking though, it seems the experience of many aquarists is that sand less than 2" or 2.5" deep gets enough oxygenation to preclude anaerobic pockets from forming, whereas sand over 3" deep has a much greater incidence of this occuring.

3" or less seems to be a reasonable safe point in this regard, while still providing sufficient depth for plant root development and growth. But the larger the grain size, the less heavy compaction, and the more oxygen will reach the greater depth of the sand.

BTW Wendy, where are getting your white sand - what type of store ?
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post #14 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-12-2012, 09:32 PM Thread Starter
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They have it at Lowe's & Home Depot around here. The cheapest I could find PFS was $13/50 lb bag and I figured since it's silica too I might as well save a few bucks
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post #15 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-12-2012, 09:57 PM
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Yes, but remember - you get what you pay for - usually the lesser the cost, the lower the quality, and that applies to sand for sure.
Spend a few extra bucks on the PFS and it'll be well worth it, believe me.
Far less 'headaches' - unsatisfactory experience and frustration, not to mention possibly less natural coloration imo.
$13. for a 50 lb. bag is very inexpensive cost for a good substrate.
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