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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So over the past couple of months and I am sure even farther back than that.... I have noticed there are a lot of questions regarding sand and using it as a substrate. So I decided to put together a thread based off of information I have read, heard, gathered, and overall practiced. This information is put together from my own experience; here goes.

Types of Sand

There are 3 major types of sand you can use. I break them down in these categories because that is how I perceive it.
-First you have your major aquarium sand. This includes Tahitian Moon sand, Flourite, Aragonite- and all the other "Arag" brands.
-Then you have the widely talked about playsand that you can purchase form home depot, lowes, hardware stores, etc.
-Lastly there is pool sand. This you can also purchase at a hardware store, bigger stores like walmart and target and then obviously from the LPS (Local Pool Store) haha- I thought that was funny when I first read that.

Advantages and disadvantages
Major aquarium sand:
Good: Very quality in terms of plant growth.
Good: Sand like Tahitian Moon will bring out the natural and beautiful colors of any fish.
Bad: Very pricey and that varies from store to store.
Bad: I have noticed that it conveniently comes in smaller increments than other sand.

My take on it: This is the sand you go with if you have a heavily planted tank or at least have serious plants in the tank. There have been plenty of people to have a successfully planted tank not using this sand. On the other hand it is also good when you have extra cash and you dont know what to spend it on..... nowadays I know that does not include me.

Play Sand:
Good: Quantity vs price, you can not beat it. IT is the cheapest of all sand options.
Good: Easy to use and certainly easy to find.
Bad: Promotes an eventual algae bloom and makes the tank look like butt. This can be avoided but proper care and maintenance is a must.
Bad: Takes forever to settle and can eventually ruin filter mechanics.

My take on it: This sand is for you if you are crazy strapped for cash. It is also good if you have a fish tank and you have some fish and all of the sudden you decide, "ehh I think I want some sand and not gravel." Playsand is a quick alternative and looks great at first. Just wait till it stirs up and waste gets under that very top layer.

Pool Sand:
Good: Looks amazing!!!!!
Good: Relatively cheap.
Good: Settles faster than it gets stirred up
Bad: Generally speaking, different colors are hard to find.
Bad: This sand comes from a niche market so it may be a bit more difficult to find.

My take on it: This is the best sand overall. It is only a couple of dollars more than playsand and it is about 100 times better. It is cleaner, it settles faster, it is more uniform in shape and does not have any sharp edges, and it is more dense than any of the other sands- therefore the crap that hits the bottom of the tank doesn't get lodged in between a couple inches of sand. I have also seen success in planting a tank that has a substrate made of pool sand. This sand is the way to go.

For the next part I am going to include a little section on how I get a tank ready for sand and the best method I have found to clean and use the sand. The pictures that follow go accordingly with the steps described.

Equipment needed:
2 large buckets
1 pillow case
running water
and a beer

Step one:
Gather all of the materials and place the pillow case inside the one bucket. Take the sand and empty about half of the bag into the pillow case.
Step two:
Close the pillow case and fill the bucket with water. You want enough water to cover the top of the sand.
Step Three:
Next massage through the sand making sure to rinse thoroughly. Then you can also "dunk" the pillow case in the water as well.
Step Four:
Take the drained and cleaned sand from the pillow case and dump it into the other bucket. This makes for easy transporting of clean sand to the tank.
Step Five:
Proceed to dump the clean sand in the tank and continue rinsing sand as needed.
A good rule of thumb- I read somewhere that the guideline is 1lb per 1 gallon. This is a good estimate; obviously it becomes personal preference but that is what I did. 150 gallons- 150 pounds of sand
Step six:
Make sure the filter, heater, powerhead, etc are all in place and smooth out the sand.
Step seven:
Fill with water at the desired temperature and sit back and gaze at your new setup


A few notes:
You can see in some of my pictures that the sand does not get stirred up at all even when filling the tank. This is what I was talking about with the pool filter sand. It is designed to endure a constant flow of water inside of a huge pool filter. Therefore, in the tank it remains basically "calm."

I have also included pictures of the type of sand I used and some information about it.
 

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that was a lot of work. nicely done!
 

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Fish Whisperer
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Great post, very informative.

If I ever decide to go with sand pool filter would be my choice aswell unless I want black then it's Tahition moon sand.

Thanks for doing the homework for us
 

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do you have any comments about ordinary rivr sand that you can pick up from the river? pros if any, or cons?

do plants grow directly on the pool sand or do you hav to put soil in pots?

tnx, any new info would be gret for me
 

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would it be just as easy to keep the sand inside of the pillowcase to transport it to the tank? you could place the pillow case inside the tank and turn it inside out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
would it be just as easy to keep the sand inside of the pillowcase to transport it to the tank? you could place the pillow case inside the tank and turn it inside out.
You could do that but I didnt want to drip a water path from my driveway through my house and to my tank. If you dont care or its close enough then yeah by all means eliminate that step.
 

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would it be just as easy to keep the sand inside of the pillowcase to transport it to the tank? you could place the pillow case inside the tank and turn it inside out.
You could do that but I didnt want to drip a water path from my driveway through my house and to my tank. If you dont care or its close enough then yeah by all means eliminate that step.
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i left the pillowcase in the bucket, poured out the water, and stood the bucket up on the corner of the tank and had someone hold it. really smooth transfer, no mess at all. thanks for all the info, it was extremely helpful.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I bought mine at a pool supply place. It may be a bit more difficult in winter months but you get the idea.
 

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United Federation of Awesome
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this is a great post
good job
 
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