Cheapest way to buy sand substrate!! - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-01-2012, 08:38 PM Thread Starter
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Cheapest way to buy sand substrate!!

I've been saving up supplies to start my South American cichlid tank. When it came time to buy the sand for the substrate i ran into some unreasonably high prices for aquarium sand at petsmart. Being that i have no other LFS in my area, they seemed to be it for my. Until i did a little research and came across a blog that suggested using pool filter sand. It mentioned that it would be cheaper and my God was it ever!! One thing you have to look out for is making sure that you buy silica sand and not some sand that includes calcium because the calcium will cause unwanted shifts in PH. At my local petsmart they sell a 20lbs bag of regular sand for $26.99. At the pool supply place near me they have a 50lbs bag for $12.00!! I bought 150 pounds for $40 bucks as opposed to $150+ if i went to petsmart. then again, i'm setting up a SA cichlid tank so i dont need the African cichlid sand that buffers for high PH.

This is the stuff i bought for $12-50lbs bag

this is the $25&up for a 20lb bag at petsmart!

Last edited by aquatickid; 09-01-2012 at 08:40 PM. Reason: misspelling
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-01-2012, 08:49 PM
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I don't think pool filter sand would be anything but inert silica because you don't want to use anything that can affect the pools' chemistry like ph and kh.

The brand varies by pool store, the one by me is Leslie's branded or Lighthouse. The Lighthouse was like $12.

The only downside of the sand is that it's very light in color. If I wasn't cheap, I would pay for the 2nd sand in your pic.
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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-01-2012, 08:55 PM
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the second sand though, if it's for african cichlids it probably does contain calcium...
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-02-2012, 02:02 AM
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Is that pool filter sand really white or is it a tin color?
I'm looking for something new, thought about buying the white pool sand for my discus tank.
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-02-2012, 04:44 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by In.a.Box View Post
Is that pool filter sand really white or is it a tin color?
I'm looking for something new, thought about buying the white pool sand for my discus tank.
I havent added it to my tank yet but from the looks of it, it doesnt seem to be super white. Its got more of a tint to it like a very suttle brown color. It's very light though. I'm unsure if it will look different once it's in the tank.
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-02-2012, 10:32 PM
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Pool filter sand will vary. It will be whatever is local; shipping sand is very expensive. Go to your local swimming pool supply places and see what they have. There are often broken bags.
Ask about places that sell to contractors, too. The 'contractors' stores near me will also sell to anyone, but they do not advertize like the 'homeowner' sorts of stores.
Yes, the hardware stores are also getting into selling this sand.
While you are looking into swimming pools, also ask about Pebble Tek products. This is a quartz material that is added to the finish inside a pool to make it look different colors. Some of them contain shells, so avoid those. You just want the quartz material. It is a lot like sand, and is very dense. Easy to clean in an aquarium.

Also, look in rock yards, masonry stores and so on. Sand can be packaged in bags and graded in many sizes.
For darker sand look for blasting grit (One name is Black Diamond)
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-03-2012, 03:53 AM
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50lb bag of Silica sand at Menard's cost less than $6.00. It's white, heavier and easy to clean/rinse.
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-03-2012, 08:20 AM
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If the sand is graded so most of the pieces are the same size, about 20-30 mesh is good, and coarser is OK, too, then go for it.
The problem sand is the product that has so many fines that the water clouds every time a fish digs a little or you move a plant.
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-03-2012, 09:48 PM
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newbie question.....
in watching a lot of videos of planted tanks I see them layering substrates with the courser stuff used to buld up areas and then the finer sands on top of that. Then I see other comments ons how the corse stuff will work its way up to the top?
I was going to put a base down of miricle grow organic, then layer my course sand from an old salt water tank(rinsed clean of salts of course) to build up the bottom thean put a fine sand over that.
how out of wack am I on my plan here?
so confused and any help most welcome...thanks
Meg
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-03-2012, 10:24 PM
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If the sand is calcium based and you're not keeping African cichlids then I would not re-use it.
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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-04-2012, 12:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Meganne View Post
newbie question.....

I was going to put a base down of miricle grow organic, then layer my course sand from an old salt water tank(rinsed clean of salts of course) to build up the bottom thean put a fine sand over that.
how out of wack am I on my plan here?
so confused and any help most welcome...thanks
Meg
Welcome Meg. The tank will eventually be the finest particles at the bottom (dirt) then a layer of the finest sand, covered my the smaller pebble/sand. Doesn't matter what kind you buy, it's a gravely issues not a sand type issue.

I'm using Sakrete brand all-purpose sand. It's used in construction. Imy tank you can clearly see the layer effect. In sand that is more uniform in size like PFS it's not as noticeable, but it is happening to a lessor extent.

Dirt will always end up on the bottom, fine sand will be next, the tiny pebble grain sand on top.
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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-04-2012, 02:16 AM
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ok, thanks
of course more questions...
I have no idea what PFS is as I am clueless to the aquari acronyms!

so then using the miricle grow orgainic soil is ok for a base substrate? as I understand sand has no nutrients to it.

and how to know if the course sand I was planning to re use is calcium based ?
it was what ever they sell spacifically for salt water tanks, to heavy to syphon up when doing matainance.
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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-04-2012, 02:28 AM
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Meganne - ok, thanks
of course more questions...
I have no idea what PFS is as I am clueless to the aquari acronyms!

>>>Swimming Pool Filter Sand = PFS

so then using the miricle grow orgainic soil is ok for a base substrate? as I understand sand has no nutrients to it.

>>>Yes, there are many threads about it on the Substrate Sub-Furms


and how to know if the course sand I was planning to re use is calcium based ?
it was what ever they sell spacifically for salt water tanks, to heavy to syphon up when doing matainance.

>>> If it's for Salt water or African cichlids, it will be calcium based to buffer the water
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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-04-2012, 02:39 AM
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well ther you have it, I am sure it must be calcium based then. My son had gotten it for his salt water set up he had during high school. I saved it when he took it all down. shame i cant use it.

I was hoping to build up one back corner higher than the rest, do you think this is achievable with a soil base topped with sand? I had seen on build where they used plastic berms to suport the hills.

thank you for your patients! I would hate to do all this work and find things out the hard way
Meg
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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-04-2012, 02:57 AM
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Meg - On yourtube find the Green Machine aquascaping videos. Lots of great ideas there.

I don't like going more than 2" of dirt and 2" of cap.(max). You could use a pc of Foam under the Dirt & sand to build height. I fill a woman's nylon with pea gravel to build a base. The "granny" support hose work very well but regular nylons are fine. The Wal-Greens has calf length for .59. They are also a great temp filter intake cover to protect Fry & baby Shrimp.
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