As I am starting my first reef aquarium (47.5 Gallons) , planning on getting 2 clowns, several small hermies and maybe a couple of pink malu anemone, would silica sand be ok to use? any known problems?
Silica sand is inert. Many people use it. It has a drawback in that it willl not act as a buffering agent like crushed coral or aragonite does.
Herefishy is correct that using a terrestrial based sand does nothing for the tank. Aragonite is made of all the good stuff we want in our tanks, CA, MG strontium, traces of iodide, etc.. As it slowly breaks down it releases these minerals back into the environment. It also does an excellent job of reacting with the parameters of the water helping to stabilize the PH above 8.0.
There is an old debate that the powder from silica sand causes huge outbreaks of algae and diatoms, diatoms feed upon silicates. Many claim that if you rinse it first you minimize the risk. Others say that once the "bloom" is over it never comes back. Some say that as powerheads keep the sand in motion it is always breaking itself down and feeding algae.
For me it's to risky to EVER put in my reef tanks. Period. Even though I had to buy 800 lbs of aragonite last year NEVER would I have considered anything less. Not to mention it doesn't look right. There is no silica sand in the reefs, it's all crushed coral.
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