Play sand as substrate
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.
Yup, that's how it's done... the more rinsing the clearer your water will be quicker. Play sand is always dirty... just lots of fine particles. You still have to rinse the expensive stuff but I suspect not as much.
Welcome to the sand box.:-D
a thread I made a few years back on how to wash sand correctly
I've never used play sand, but I prefer PFS or pool filter sand as it doesn't compact as easily. I've read that it's also cleaner. I use Caribsea's Torpedo Beach sand in my tank, which is actually a very fine white gravel.
I had to clean playsand for my 125g tank. It was a multiday process but I did it exactly as you described. You forgot to mention all the weird looks you'll get from your neighbors when they see you washing sand out in the street :twisted:
Now for the little bitty secret:
don't use a filter or circulation and the stuff will settle down in a couple of days.
Here's water I do.
I use 1" of canadian spaghum peat moss (1'x1'x3' plastic cube $11), 1" of play sand, 1" or pc select (baked clay used for infields 40 pounds $7). each layer filled with water leveled and the tank cleaned.
After the final layer and before adding water, plant all the plants. Then fill the tank with water poured over a saucer).
that results in a tank that is almost totally clear immediately after setup and is crystal clean in a day.
But it took my a few tanks with very cloudy water for the first few days to figure all that out.
oh yea--the peat moss is to keep kh and gh in line.
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