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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I've had it in my mind for a while that I was going to buy a 20 pound bag of Petco black sand ($19) to use as a dirt cap for my new 10 gallon tank, but I'm reconsidering whether or not to stick with this. If I could get black diamond blasting sand in my area, I would go with that option, but it doesn't appear that there are any retailers in my area that sell this product. I'm considering going with PFS instead after looking at some pictures of user tanks that have it. A 50 pound back of PFS only costs $13 at my local Ace Hardware store, so I get 150% more sand for less than 70% of the cost. If the dirt and sand experiment work out well for me, then I'd have enough sand left over for my 20 gallon in the future.

At any rate, I'm just wondering what people think about using a natural looking sand as opposed to black sand and vice versa? Thanks.
 

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The Home Depot sand and the Quikrete sand examples may, or may not be, true pool filter sand.
Many sands sold have a lot of dust, dirt/silt & grime in them & need a ton of rinsing - and many are very fine, not very dense, and not uniform in size, so you never know what you're getting.
PFS on the other hand, usually obtained only at pool supply or spa stores, is dense enough (get #20 or #30 grade) not to flow up into the water column when disturbed, needs little or no rinsing, is easily vacuumed using a regular aquarium vac tool, and will not get into filter intakes & clog things up - and grows plants well too.

PFS is silica sand, but there are different types of silica sands - pay a little more than other sands, but get true quartz-based silica PFS.

I prefer the white, and have been using it in all my tanks for years - wouldn't use anything else.
To give you an idea of the look, here's an album of pics of a combination royal ruby red and snake skin discus in one of my tanks, which includes a full tank shot:

http://s1105.photobucket.com/albums/h357/discuspaul/redrubys
Click on the first pic to enlarge, then click on/follow the arrows for the rest of the photos.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the response. Has anyone tried the Home Depot Quickrete sand? If no one has, then I may just go ahead and go with Ace PFS since there are a couple of reviews from people who used the sand in their aquariums.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
After doing some research, it appears that the Quickcrete commercial sand has been used by other aquarists successfully, so I think I'm going to give it a shot.
 

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After doing some research, it appears that the Quickcrete commercial sand has been used by other aquarists successfully, so I think I'm going to give it a shot.

I use this stuff all the time, prepare yourself for a long evening washing the $%^##$ out of it, it is full of clay, but if you want to save yourself some money it is worth it. I recently got a 180 and used Quickcrete as the substrate, I ended up getting enough sand for my entire tank for around $8, compared to the nearly $450 it would've cost to get the pure white sand I really wanted, I'll get that one day but needed other equipment that was more important than sand. Here are a couple pictures. The last picture if a tank I set up years ago using the same type of sand, it just so happens that same fish is all grown up now and lives in the 180.

As for color it all really depends on what kind of fish you are going to be keeping in there, the background color, and the kind of plants if any that you want, but the main thing is what you LIKE. I have has white and black sand, and have always though of getting a mixed sand for a setup but haven't yet. I personally like black sand if you have a background that is a color other than black, but if you have a black background white sand seems to add more depth to the setup. The photo of my 180 looks like the background if blue but it really is black, that is just the blue LEDs make it look that way, the previous owner had a nice saltwater set up with live corals.







 

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With my Quickrete pool filter sand, I only had to rinse once and it was good to go in the tank. You could rinse it by putting a bunch in a bucket, then shoving a hose down to the bottom and letting the water fill up and over the bucket lip. Just don't turn on the water too fast or you risk blowing your sand out the top.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
^^
Thanks for the info. I'm not getting the same sand though. I'm getting the medium grit commercial sand, and according to the research I did, it isn't as fine as the play sand and needs minimal washing. I do plan on going with a black background, so it looks like the lighter color sand should complement it nicely.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
With my Quickrete sand, I only had to rinse once and it was good to go in the tank. You could rinse it by putting a bunch in a bucket, then shoving a hose down to the bottom and letting the water fill up and over the bucket lip. Just don't turn on the water too fast or you risk blowing your sand out the top.
Did you use the play sand or the commercial sand?
 

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With play sand you will have to rise it more than once in my experience. Or you could try the soda bottle method, but I haven't seen anyone try and use that with this style sand, I would be interested to hear the results.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
With play sand you will have to rise it more than once in my experience. Or you could try the soda bottle method, but I haven't seen anyone try and use that with this style sand, I would be interested to hear the results.
I Googled the commercial sand, and saw posts about it on other sites as far back as 2004. Someone on this site actually posted about it in 2006 and vouched for it. I'm surprised more people haven't used it given how readily available and cheap it is.
 

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I agree you don't hear enough about using alternatives sadly. I have swapped over one of my aquariums from Fluval to SunSun can couldn't be happier, I used Fluval exclusively for almost 5 years, I also got rid of all my Koralia water pumps and replaced them with SunSun wave makers and have been extremely pleased. I will be replacing most of my "name brand" equipment with SunDun and Jebao, these are very popular brands offered in Asia and they are a fraction of the price as brands most are familiar with, and to me they are the same if quality but seem to our preform models I have had in the past from Fluval.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I bought my 50 pound bag of Quikrete commercial grade sand. It is lighter colored and the right size (#30 grit). I'm sure it'll work out nicely in my tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Finally put the sand in my 10g tank. It's being used to cap about one inch of Target organic potting soil. It's a nice natural looking color, and the grains are evenly sized and don't appear to be too big or small. The sand is pre-washed, so I didn't bother rinsing again. There wasn't any dust at all as I poured the sand in, so I'm hoping that the water won't be too cloudy when I plant the tank tonight and flood it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Just wanted to give an update on my sand. I planted and flooded my 10 gallon tank this past weekend. I didn't wash the sand. I only misted the sand as I planted to keep the plants moist. After flooding, there was very little dirt that rose to the surface. I actually didn't have to skim the top at all. It's still early, but I think we have another alternative especially if PFS or BDBS isn't readily available in your area. $6 for 50 lbs. is a pretty awesome deal if you're looking for a natural colored sand that doesn't require washing.
 
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