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How accurate is the "vinegar test" really?

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How accurate is the "vinegar test" really?
Old 09-07-2011, 03:39 PM   #11
 
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Wow! I'm shocked and amazed! Get this-

I ended up just going with play sand. I was sick of the battle of trying to find my ideal substrate inexpensively. So after washing 75lbs of regular old tan play sand in 2 hours (including getting it into the tank), filling it halfway (for planting)... in only fifteen minutes the water is almost completely clear! I am SHOCKED and AMAZED! I don't even have a filter running, nothing. I expected it would need to settle overnight, at the very least. BUT ITS CLEAR!

At last, something pertaining to this cursed tank has finally gone right! I think I'm going jump for joy or do a victory lap or something!
Sorry, just had to share my elation!
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Old 09-07-2011, 11:48 PM   #12
 
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Happy to hear that you found something that worked, and that things are going well. It is always nice when things work out, and one less thing to have to worry about. Planning on changing out my substrate in the next few weeks. Planning on going from gravel to sand.
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Old 09-08-2011, 12:44 AM   #13
 
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Good luck! I hope your experience with sand will be as easy as mine!
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Old 09-08-2011, 06:49 AM   #14
 
Buyer beware. After a little research, it's clear that polymeric sand should never be used in an aquarium. It's great for pavers as it uses portland cement or some other chemical BINDER to bind the sand particles together making a stronger bond between pavers, less likely to wash out. Not something you want in your substrate.
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MinaMinaMina (09-08-2011)
Old 09-08-2011, 08:31 AM   #15
 
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Glad the play sand worked out for you. Back to mixing black sand with play sand for a moment.
I have not mixed those two together specifically, but I did mix some solid black sand with some African Cichlid sand (black with occasional white specks). The small amount of white in the mix was very noticeable when compared with the original black sand alone.

I agree the black sand is sold at a premium price, but it looks good. The play sand looks nice as well. I rationalize the expense of the black sand by remembering that sand won't ever really "go bad" and can always be washed out and used in other tanks down the road.
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MinaMinaMina (09-08-2011)
Old 09-08-2011, 11:24 AM   #16
 
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I just came to this thread, but I have a couple of comments. First, the vinegar test. It is not totally accurate/reliable; the household vinegar is too weak of an acid [after all, we do eat/drink it on foods] to be a certainty. A better acid to use is the Regent #2 in the API nitrate test, as it is stronger. But, if vinegar does fizz, it would mean that the substance is calcareous.

The paver sand is as AbbeysDad clearly stated, so avoid it. Obviously it is calcareous, plus the binding issue.

Mixing different substrates usually does not work. It "looks" artificial. Especially when dark colours like black or brown are mixed with anything.

I have Quikrete [or however it is spelt] playsand in my 115g, 33g and 10g now. It is inert, and although it is not as dark underwater as it is in air, it is still neutral. I reduce my lighting anyway, and have floating plants, and a lot of wood, rock, substrate plants--all of which help. It is almost identical to the sand in many Amazonian streams, particularly the Rio Negro basin. So for most corys it is like "home." I am truly pleased with the results.

Byron.
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Old 09-08-2011, 12:39 PM   #17
 
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Thanks for the help, everyone. I was originally looking for the type of sand that Byron uses. I had read through his previous posts and went hunting. The sand he uses is my ideal look, and I thought the paver sand was it. They're made by the same company and look identical. Though, in my defense, it is a non-binding paver sand. But in any case, boy, what a big mistake! Well, for a S.A. tank, anyway.

One of the things I dislike about the play sand is its light color. After mixing a small test batch of sands, I agree that mixing sand colors looks unnatural, DKRST and Byron. But, ultimately, I decided I'm okay with the light color of play sand because I think the leaf litter will darken the bottom enough to make my mid and upper strata fish feel comfy.

Plus, my Aquarium Assistant (my daughter) and I will have a great time oak leaf hunting this fall.

Thanks everyone!
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Old 09-08-2011, 11:27 PM   #18
 
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Yes, leaves are very authentic and will also be darker. I collected some fallen oak leaves in my back yard last fall, dried them, and they last for weeks in the tank. Let them fall naturally from the tree, and sit on the ground until quite "dead" to avoid any leaf juices remaining in the veins. Then lay them out on something to thoroughly dry, I used plywood (untreated/unpainted).
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Old 09-08-2011, 11:58 PM   #19
 
Sorry to high jack the thread but does it matter what kind of oak leaves or can it be any oak tree at all?
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Old 09-09-2011, 12:04 AM   #20
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by k19smith View Post
Sorry to high jack the thread but does it matter what kind of oak leaves or can it be any oak tree at all?
Oak leaves are safe when dried. Almond leaves are too, they are often sold in some fish stores. I believe there are other deciduous trees whose leaves are OK, but there are some that are not, they are toxic. I knew a cichlid enthusiast who used some leaves as spawning sites, and all was well for a few weeks, then suddenly all the fish died from the toxins secreted by the leaves.
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