Playsand and Quikrete processing
I talked to a Quikrete rep today and had him send me the process that they use for the play sand. I am not going to contact all sand producers but here is the scoop on this one. He was good to call me so soon after I sent the email, last night... I almost didn't expect a response, at least not so quickly.
Dear Mr. Moodie,
It was good speaking with you. I am glad that I could eliminate any concerns. Here I repeat our discussion so that you may share the information.
Sand is packaged at the same facility and on equipment used for other products. Before Play Sand is processed, the equipment is emptied and cleaned. As a second cleaning step, tons of mortar sand are swept through the equipment (for later use in mortar). Finally the equipment is inspected. Play Sand is specially washed and dried. When the run of Play Sand is begun, the first 2 dozen bags are inspected, then further bags are inspected throughout the packaging. We take special care with our packaging of Play Sand. It has been safely used for decades.
Having said all that, I also read the ingredients and process that cement goes through before being mixed with sand products for use as ready mix or other types of concrete. Even if the sand were just cheap sand that had been run through equipment recently used for cement products, I am certain that the rinsing process that we undertake would eliminate all of the cement components.
Even if it did not, based on how cement works, it would go through all of it's chemical processes due to the presence of water and become next to inert shortly thereafter.
Now, I didn't get into the fish side of things as I am sure that he would not comment due to it not being used for it's intended purpose, after all, we were assuming that playsand would be clean and safe for children to play in, we all know that it doesn't just stay on the outside. By default, this would make it reasonably fish safe.
BTW, I'm about half way through my first bag of sand rinsing. Just doing a bit here and there over the course of the day. It's not going to turn out too bad at all.
I recently took a dive into sand myself. I washed two bags (50lbs) for my 75 gallon. It is a pain washing it but the look it gives a tank is like nothing else. I'm actually thinking about putting it in some of my other tanks as well.
I changed over to sad about a year ago and have complaints, i love the way it looks in all my tanks :-)
I definitely agree its totally filthy to begin with and takes forever to wash though XD
I have an experiment with play sand I'm going to start soon...
Essentially, I'm going to find buckets, fill them with sand, add sugar mixed with aquarium water, and encourage anaerobic stinky "bad" bacteria to take hold.
Why you ask?
Because anaerobic bacteria will stain substrate black. After it's thoroughly 'stained', I'll sterilize it, rinse/wash it thoroughly, and use my homemade black sand.
I'll let ya'll know how it goes :-D
Kudos to you for taking the time to investigate this.
Thanks for your efforts.
I like the look of dark sand and was considering buying some dark aquarium sand to mix with the play sand. Two things changed my mind though, besides the extra cost.
1) the sand is darker when wet and I expect under the aquarium lighting it may appear darker yet, shade from plants and what not. Low light tank.
2) the sand will accumulate detritus and mulm (basicly both the same thing, fish ****e and leftovers) and will darken on the surface nicely.
My plan is to not be able to see a side profile of the sand, that cutaway look of sand against the glass, so it will be shallow at front and sides going to deeper (by how much I don't know) to the rear and off centre. This will serve to show only the sand surface and mulm that stains the sand. I am looking to break up some leaves to drop in as well, (I hear loaches love them), so the sand will certainly not be the centre point of the tank... I have this large cool driftwood piece that will nicely provide gradient to the sand so it will look as if it were protruding from underneath rather than just sitting there. I think adding the sand wet will work better than putting it in dry and then adding water. Messier but that's how it works in the rivers.
I add sand wet usually, but sometimes it works to add sand dry, add a little water, stir the sand well, then plant.
"dry" spots would probably be bad for the substrate.. Thats why no matter what I use (like soil), I add it wet, cover with dry sand, (only to absorb moisture from the soil) then add damp sand on top. (the layer of drier sand makes the wet sand easier to spread)
We'll see how it turns out.
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