I am setting up a new/old tank and decided I am going to use play sand as substrate. I felt so smart paying less than $5 for a bag of play sand vs. $30+ for aquarium sand at the pet store!
Here is what I learned today.
1. Don't think your naked eye can determine whether a bag of play sand is "clean." I thought it "looked clean," put it in the tank, and began adding water - to quickly discover it was actually very dusty. This reminded me of a fact about fishkeeping:
****there are no shortcuts you won't pay for*****
2. Taking wet sand out of an aquarium isn't very fun.
3. Before adding the sand to the tank, clean thoroughly with water. Use a clean bucket and fill it about 1/3 full with sand from the bag. Take it outside and spray it with the hose, preferably with a spray nozzle. I can't imagine how much longer it would've taken without a spray nozzle. If you can't go outside and do it in the bathtub, be aware that you will lose some sand down the drain.
4. Did I mention this is not a quick process?
5. Don't try to clean too big of a batch at one time - it just takes longer.
6. Continue spraying the sand, periodically pouring off the water, until the water runs clean.
Now it's ready to add to the tank.