Lake sand as a substrate?
Hi - total newbie here.
Just acquired a 100 gal tank, planning on taking it slowly to build a planted community tank!
I've read through a number of threads on substrates and the relative advantages/disadvantages of sand v gravel etc. I favor sand.
Now, I've seen recommendations for pool filter sand, play sand, black sand et al.
I have easy access to a man-made lake, some 50 years old, which has sandy shores. Fish seem to thrive in the lake! Are ther any potential problems with using 2" of this sand in the bottom of my tank?
i use sand in my tanks and love the ease and cleanliness of it. the only problems i can think of is the bacteria and parasites it can harbor.
First I would be cautions about using sand from a lake or river. Its going to harbor things that you might not want in your tank. Plus any contaminates in the water could be in the sand. Which would not be good in a closed system such as a tank. There is cheap alternatives to buy sand such as playsand and some look pretty natural.
Second and I have to disagree with newtchaplin here. Plants do absolutely fine in sand.I have never had a problem with root root because of it being packed to tightly. I have used anything from playsand to multi purpose sand.
I agree with Boredom.
Plenty of folk's (me included), Manage to grow plant's in sand. (Have three such tank's now).
Also agree that unless one carefully clean's item's taken from river bank's,lakeshore,that very real possibility exist's that unwanted thing's like fish lice,gill flukes,anchor worm's,could be introduced to otherwise healthy tank/fishes. Not to mention chemical residual's .
Cheap playsand can be purchased for $8.00 per 50 lbs in my neck of the wood's.
Hey, Texan! Welcome to TFK!!! 100g, huh? Sounds like FUN ^.^
My preferred substrate is sand, also - it's just so much easier to keep clean! My tanks are all pretty well planted, and right now 4 of them have sandy bottoms, some are plant-only, and I've had no problems with root rot.
As for wild-caught sand, that sounds like fun! I think it's neat to be able to utilize nature in a tank. As the others have said, you can get play sand from the hardware store for around $3ish a bag (here), but if you want to use collected sand, I'd suggest that you collect it from a dry area (to limit the types of bacteria/pathogens that could potentially be carried home). I tend to err on the side of caution with such things, so would go so far as to pop it in the oven to ensure that it is well and truly "dead" and rinse it thoroughly before adding it to the tank.
You also might want to consider doing a bucket test on Ph, just to make sure there isn't anything in the sand that will alter the Ph in your tank water - or at least to know how much and how quickly. If, for example, there were fragments of crushed shell in the sand, it could raise your Ph, and you might end up with water that was harder than what you originally intended for the creatures that will live there.
I'd suggest that you also check the laws in your area, I have found that in some places (state parks, etc) it can be illegal to remove anything from a natural environment.
Best of luck with your tank setup! Please be sure to keep us updated on how this tank grows! Can't wait to see - and happy hunting!
If you are removing sand from a public place, you may wish to check local and state regulations.
As mentioned, parasites are a potential issue. A large pot, an outdoor flame, and boiling the sand for a few hours can deal with that.
If the lake is treated with any chemicals, or there is runoff from lawns, houses, or industry, boiling will not take care of that. Sometimes carbon added to the filter will... sometimes not.
If you really love the look of the local sand, solutions do exist for most problems.
If you are looking to save a few bucks, local sand will cost you more, even without counting the time spent gathering.
Pool Sand is common, so is play sand. Crayola even makes colored sand.
If Black is what you seek, Northern Tool and Die Black Diamond blasting media, size 20/40 is what you seek. $6.99 for 50 lb at your nearest Tractor Supply. 20/40 is the correct size for plant growth... you can even vac it without sucking up the sand with a gravity fed 1/2 inch hose. 30/60 is fine enough to cloud up and grind your filter gears.
Hey all - thanks for all the useful replies!
Part of the lake shore is on my property so I have no concerns about contravening regulations.
I had originally been thinking of using sand (and possibly plant life) from the lake because I thought it might provide some beneficial ingredients over plain sand. However in view of your responses, which suggest the need to boil/clean the sand anyway, I think I'll just go and buy it instead.
Again, thanks for the feedback. I know I'll have plenty more questions before progressing much further.
Is there a certain kind of sand most use or can I use play sand?
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