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Austin 01-21-2014 12:54 AM

Black substrate?
I'm considering upgrading my 50 gallon aquarium to a 75 gallon aquarium. Currently I have black eco complete substrate. I was doing some tests on my water and I noticed that the dGH was 15 in my aquarium while it was 12 from the tap, and I had just done a water change a few days ago. Anyways, I feel like the eco complete could be raising my hardness? So I'm considering using something else when I upgrade. What do you all use as black substrates? I want to keep plants as well. Thanks :)

rsskylight04 01-21-2014 01:04 AM

One option is to use a cheaper substrate on the bottom and cover it with your black sand . Just a thought.

Austin 01-21-2014 01:14 AM

I think I would mess it up, and the sand may settle to the bottom eventually. I'm always moving stuff around, and I have always wondered how people layer different types of substrates without mixing them up!

By black sand do you mean the eco complete? Or do you have any suggested products?

I have been considering:
Black Diamond Blasting Sand (Coal Slag) which apparently many people use with success according to my research. It's cheap but idk where I can find it around here.
Petco Black Sand - I just went out and looked at it tonight and it seemed extremely fine. Won't it compact?
Tahitian Moon Sand - apparently this is the same as the coal slag almost...
Plain black epoxy coated gravel...
or keep the eco complete and see. I may run some experiments.

I've used play sand in a planted aquarium with some success (it's hard to tell how successful, it was only a 5g that was set up for a few months). However, that sand is much bigger pieces than the petco black sand, and other sands I've seen. I do have MTS to stir the sand, though.

Chesh 01-21-2014 01:32 AM

Austin!!! *woots for the 75g*

I have no experience with eco complete, so no help to you there. But Tahitian Moon sand is the stuff I use in Becoming - and I love it! It doesn't affect the water parameters, and my loaches have no barbel issues in the nearly 2 years I've had them. The sand isn't nearly as fine as playsand, but I've had no issues with compacting or filters or anything! I do have MTS and my tank has many deeply rooted plants. The Petco brand is similar, from what I've read - but I've never used it.

Hope that helps?

sandybottom 01-21-2014 06:29 AM

ecocomplete is supposed to be inert,at least it is in the 2 tanks i have it in.there are two types of tahitian moon sand.the regular caribsea is not guaranteed to be barbel friendly,while the caribsea naturals is guaranteed barbel friendly. if you go for the blasting sand,get the 1st generation stuff and not the recycled stuff,as it contains metal shavings. it can be found at the big box home improvement stores. there is also flourite black sand.

Flear 01-21-2014 07:34 AM

foundry sands, would be more expensive than play sand or pool filter sand, but ... you could get sand that is round to sub-round (which is good for your fish) ... i'd also stay away from anything "slag"
Spherical Ceramic Sand for Foundry - Opta Minerals CERABEADS®, a cost effective replacement for zircon sand.
not black, but i would be pretty sure it's density will garantee it stays ontop, ... maybe other companies offer simular products in darker, or even black colors

i don't know the densities of any foundry sands by heart
i have considered ceramic beeds

coal slag, being 'angular' isn't that going to be rough on any fish or critters that deal with the bottom of the tank ?

i've played with the idea of glass bead sandblasting media - but it's clear, ... it should take on the color of whatever is underneath it

for black, i would recommend chromite, if only as it's not as abrasive

i would keep looking for alternatives if your concerned about cost, i'm sure foundry sands & sand-basting sands to use for substrate caps are more on the expensive side, ... oddly still cheaper then what you get from the LFS

i have no idea about densities, for anything other than the cerabeads (ceramic beads, rather fine sized from that company) are expected (personal guess) to remain above whatever else you use for a substrate.

that only solves where things are as you move & rearrange your tank on an (ir)regular basis (your choice, not what i would do), it does nothing for color, where i would again recommend looking for other companies that may have it in darker colors

i like for it's options, a search for low density foundry sand, "yay" they have black, ... $350-400 per ton, ... i don't think anyone here needs a ton of the stuff, and if everyone pitched in, i'm sure there would still be surplus.

jaysee 01-21-2014 07:40 AM


Originally Posted by rsskylight04 (Post 3769410)
One option is to use a cheaper substrate on the bottom and cover it with your black sand . Just a thought.

As long as the substrate underneath was finer than the black sand on top. Otherwise, the black sand will eventually make it's way to the bottom.

Chesh 01-21-2014 06:56 PM


Originally Posted by sandybottom (Post 3769978)
the regular caribsea is not guaranteed to be barbel friendly,while the caribsea naturals is guaranteed barbel friendly.

Thank you for clarifying this, Sandy! I've always been confused by the 'bad for barbels' reviews. I've always used Super Naturals. . .

sandybottom 01-21-2014 07:26 PM

i am going to get some dojo loaches.i must have read about 200 or so reviews on black sand.

jaysee 01-21-2014 07:42 PM

But then some people have problems with erosion on pool filter and play sands and others have no trouble at all with the TMS, so I think there's just more to it than just what substrate is chosen.

I know I never had problems with Corys or kuhlis on the TMS.

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