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Desert Sand?

10381 Views 15 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  liz1888
I started a new planted tank a while ago (~6 months) and I used this sand:

does anyone have any experience with this stuff? My pH is sitting at about 8, which is higher than my other tanks and a kH of 5-6. I can't keep anything alive in here but pond snails! MTS won't live!!!!

I did research using terrarium sand for an aquarium and I made sure that there were no 'additives' in it.

This is frustrating!!!!!!
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Doesnt it have a ton of calcium and other stuff made for reptiles in it?
I checked. It stated that it was collected from a desert, with nothing added. Desert---->bag

perhaps I'm wrong?
ah ha ha, how does one do that? All I have is an API master test kit and KH test kit.
From what i know, sand has a ton of minerals in it. Even in nature. This includes heavy metals, etc. I suspect this is your problem since desert sand is not silica based.
desert sand is not silica based
Depends on the desert. Sand from any source is rock that has been weathered by wind or water to become sand sized particles. Whatever the parent rock was (limestone, quartz, other) that is what the sand is.

I would put some of this sand in a separate container, with some tap water or RO water. Test the water before you start and test every few days for a week, then weekly for as long as you want to run the test.
GH, KH, pH with aquarium test kits.
TDS with a meter
There are salt tests and hydrometers, but I would not get either just for these tests. The TDS meter is a good investment, though. They can be found on line for about $20.

If you have other things in the tank, such as rocks, test each of these separately.
Should I use tap water treated with prime? Or just straight up tap water? I tested my tap water for pH last night and it's at about 7.6.

Just as a guide, what are normal levels?
7.6 out of tap is quite normal. Mine is about the same. My tap is:

PH: 7.5
GH: 5
KH: 2

I was looking through what the desert sand is comprised of earlier, and heavy metals was one thing mentioned.

Im thinking your best bet is to simply redo your substrate to something more plant and fish friendly. You have a ton of options.
Interim update on the experiment.

I've been testing the lace rock since Aug.14

pH started at 7.8 has DROPPED to 7.5 and holding
gH started at 11 and has risen to 14
kH started at 7 and has risen to 12

I don't quite understand how the pH can remain stable if the kH is climbing but that's just me.

The black sand hasn't been going for very long, only a couple days.

pH 7.8
kH 7
gH 13

I asked about exo-terra black desert sand on the forum in my province and someone else is using it without problems.

However, I did a water sample of the tank last night:

pH 8.8 that's as high as the API test kit goes!
Kh 6
gH 12

all other parameters were normal. My TDS meter hasn't shown up, usps tracking is... special.
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I think it's the lace rock, probably isn't even lace rock lol. At least I won't have to rip up all the plants!
Materials like lace rock and other limestones have other things besides carbonates, but carbonates are the main buffer.

When the water is acidic more of the rock dissolves. This releases more carbonate and minerals, and the GH, KH and pH rise. (Usually- I see your test when the pH went down)
When the water is more alkaline less of the rock dissolves. Whatever is removing the carbonates from the water can get busy doing that, and the pH comes down.

Each type of limestone (including lace rock) tends to stabilize the pH at a different value. Almost always in the mid 7s to mid 8s. It is the combination of whatever minerals are in the rock, and how they interact in the water. When they are all doing whatever they do, but in some sort of balance, that is what is called equilibrium. The reactions are still going on, but one is balancing the other, and the tank chemistry is stable.

The relationship between carbonates and pH is not cast in stone. The pH can vary, even going down when the carbonates are rising. There is simply something else in the water that is also altering the pH, and the equilibrium is somewhere between the two materials.

Anyway, interesting to see the test results.
What are the values of the tap water? (Does not matter if it has Prime or not, but don't bother to add it) GH, KH, pH.
If you test the tap water after it has sat out overnight, perhaps 24-48 hours, does the pH change?

How about trying this:
Rinse the 'desert sand' really well, then see if it still has the same effect.

Do you have that lace rock in any other tank?
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Sand has a ton of minerals in it. Even in nature. This includes heavy metals, etc.
Then perhaps a poly-filter pad would help.
Then perhaps a poly-filter pad would help.
I don't see how that would help with dissolved minerals in the water.
I don't see how that would help with dissolved minerals in the water.
It is suppose to help draw out metals in the water.
I'm using this product as well and everything is staying alive except for my snails
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