04-15-2012, 01:10 PM
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Pool sand is often white, and that is not good for fish. It is available in black, in the USA I am told, and that would be fine. There are also specific aquarium sands in black and perhaps a couple other colours, but these are expensive.
Play Sand is what I use in 4 of my 7 tanks now, and I have found it a good substrate. It is a mix of tan/black/gray/white grains and looks darker dry than wet, but as it ages a bit it does darken in the aquarium, and with plants and bogwood this is quite acceptable. The sand in many streams in Amazonia is identical to playsand in colour and texture, so it is also very authentic for tropical aquascapes.
I use the Quikrete brand of play sand, available from Home Depot or (I believe) Lowe's. It takes a lot of rinsing to remove the fine dirt, but in the end it is well worth it. It contains no impurities that affect water chemistry or fish. Photo below is of one of my playsand tanks, the 33g forest lagoon aquascape, which has been setup this way for more than a year now.