Thinking of going from playsand to pool filter sand...
So I have not been happy with the play sand. It may be due to me not cleaning it well or something, but I just can keep it from clouding up. I wil be heading back to pool filter sand, which I have had nothing but great things to say about it. Plus I just love the maintenance of it. I also like that it is a little more grainier than play sand. I will be using this for my planted tank, and I have an extra 50 lb. bag lying around. Will pool filter sand work fine with a planted aquarium? I am not too worried the brightness of the sand, like I was before, because I understand when and if the plants start to take off, I am hoping to barely see the sand!
I scored 7 bag of Play Sand for free last weekend.... now I'm wondering about it...!?
Going to follow you here on your thread till I hear more!!
I'm using pool filter sand, but don't have rooted plants (only floating) right now. However, since pool filter sand typically is a slightly larger grain size than many play sands, there's no reason plants shouldn't root and grow well in it.
Now on the flip side, depending on the play sand you have, you may already have a similar grain size and may gain nothing (except perhaps for better washed sand) ??
So, if your play sand is very fine grained, you may see an advantage. If not, maybe you just need to remove it and wash/rinse it better?
As far as the the comparison between grain size, the play sand is much much finer and could almost be considered a powder compared to the pool filter sand I use.
I was thinking, does Play Sand offer nutrients and minerals that Pool Filter Sand does not?
By it's very nature, no sand offers any nutrients for plants. You will need to use water supplements and/or root tabs (think hydroponics).
Unlike coarser sands and gravel, very fine powder or sugar sized sands compact and make it very difficult for plant roots to grow and spread. But not all play sands are created equally as Abbey had a sandbox in her play system - some is very fine, others are fairly coarse. The advantage of pool filter sand is that it is screened for a more uniform grain size that allows water to pass through. I think that makes it a bit more of a sure bet. Even so, others report great success with regular 'big box store' play sand.
Within reason, aquarium plants will grow in any substrate. But the crucial point is that "within reason." And there are two components to the substrate.
First, and most obvious, it is a rooting medium to hold the plants down. The roots must be able to anchor the plant. And in this aspect, the larger the grain size the more difficult it is for the plant roots to anchor. Pea gravel is about the largest grain size you want to use, and from my own experience which seems to confirm what many sources have written, some plants do seem to have some difficulty in pea gravel. Finer substrates seem to be less troublesome for plants. After all, many of the Echinodorus and Cryptocoryne species grow in clay, and you can't get any more compact than that.
But here we come to the nutrient and water circulation aspect which is essential to the health of the plant and indeed the entire aquarium. Water must be able to flow through the substrate, as it does in nature. The water brings the nutrients to the plant roots, at least those nutrients that are taken up via the roots [some are assimilated by the leaves, either entirely or preferentially, depending; I just finished commenting on this in another thread]. And the plant releases oxygen through the roots, which benefits the aerobic bacteria in the substrate. And bacteria colonize every grain of substrate. If the water flow is too unrestricted (in substrates comprised of large particles) it hampers this essential activity, and it also moves the nutrients too quickly past the roots so plants are negatively affected as well.
Some compaction of a part of the substrate is actually beneficial and necessary, as I point out in my article on bacteria. So a fear of compacting sand is rather groundless, provided one does not go overboard with too deep of a sand bed. Two to three inches is usually sufficient, with lots of substrate-rooted plants whose roots will work to keep the substrate non-compacted in most areas, assisting the bacteria and water flow.
To the pool sand, my objection to this is simply the colour. White is not a good substrate colour, and while you can partly mask it with wood, rocks, leaves and plants, it is better to avoid it. It does affect fish. And I mentioned this in my post in your [CinBos] other thread.;-)
I took a long look at some photos of my tanks and also my tanks in person, and I truly cannot see the big difference color wise between the different substrates. I will say I have seen some whiter looking pool sand that Byron mentioned, but then I have also seen some earthier looking pool sand as well. Thankfully the the pool sand I have recently seen at a pool shop near by is a bit tanner and earthier looking than the sand I had bought at first. I am going to give that a go, and we will see how it works out. I really want to change this before beneficial bacteria starts to build on the sand that currently have in there. Wish me luck everyone, I will be posting picks when all is said and done. Thanks for all the help and knowledge you all have expressed.
I suppose some can be white, but all I've ever seen is brown.
Come to think of it, I've seen white play sand too.
Also, I think, based on much I've read, I might have to disagree about compacted substrates. Some sands are so fine and can pack so tightly at some depths, that it would be like planting a garden in a parking lot. Again, I think the larger grain sized sands are best for either planted or non planted tanks....deep sand, or not. Just my $.02 :-)
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