Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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kattty 04-27-2011 10:46 AM

Pool sand

I've heard of people using pool sand in their aquariums.
I was hoping someone with experience using this could give me an idea of what to get/look for and what to avoid.
I'm looking at alternative options as buying tiny bags of sand is going to cost me a fortune if I go with the petstore route...unless someone has a disccount website that ships to Canada they can give me also.

I'm looking for preferablly black sand..not sure if you can get that in pool sand?or white.

I'm in Canada, so if anybody knows where to look for it, I'm filling up a 150 gallon.

Thanks a bunch.


sik80 04-27-2011 11:08 AM

I have pool filter sand. I bought 2 x 25kg bags from ebay for my 47g tank, which was more than i needed. Shipping was expensive but i couldn't find it locally. I'm not sure about different types but I got regular sandy coloured stuff, not sure the grain size - I've never seen black.

AbbeysDad 04-27-2011 11:51 AM

Pool filter sand is sold at just about every big box home improvement center as well as places like Walmart. Having heavy sand shipped would be silly.
Pool sand is, well, sand color - tan and as far as I know, is not available in any other color.

Byron 04-27-2011 01:16 PM

Your best option is the playsand from Home Depot. I have it in two tanks, you can see photos under "Aquariums" below my name on the left, look for the 10g Sand tank and the Amazonian Lagoon 33g tank. It is dark gray [a bit darker than what it appears to be in the photos], perfect for fish that like darker substrates (and they all do). It takes a lot of rinsing, and I mean a lot.

Pool sand may be silica based, and that can cause problems. It also may increase hardness and pH depending upon what it is made from or what is in it, and some pool sands have added substances. They are after all intended to be "healthy" for swimming water that kids will always drink.

AbbeysDad 04-27-2011 01:25 PM


I believe that pool sand typically does not have additives, however it is a very specific grain size with sharp edges, promoting better filtration. Matter a fact it needs to be replaced after a few years as the edges round and filtering becomes less effective (yes, we have a modest pool and matter of fact, I am replacing the sand in the filter this spring).

Btw, Your tanks in your photos are awesome - nice job!

Byron 04-27-2011 01:37 PM

Thanks. The sharp endges are a concern for many fish, not just substrate dwellers. If the sand is white it may well be silica sand, and that can cause cyanobacteria.

redchigh 04-27-2011 03:04 PM

It's a longshot, but call around roofing, landscaping, home improvement, and pool installation stores... Even try looking up 'aggregate' in the yellow pages.

Look for a product called (exact phrase), "3m colorquartz". S-grade is round sand, 1-2 mm in diameter, while T-grade is more the size of normal aquarium gravel.

It's a product made by 3m for flooring and lining pools.. It's totally inert, (ceramic covered silica sand), available in 16 colors (plus combinations), and the price varies from 12-25 dollars for a 50 pound bag.

Takes a lot of rinsing, and warm water helps. It has a warning label that says may cause cancer, but so does play sand, filter sand, and every other fine-grained material. No worries, it's only because of the particle size. It's got a LOT of dust, to the point where the water looks oily. It's just the dust though.

Google it and you'll be able to find pictures of people who used it.

TwinDad 04-28-2011 10:33 AM

I thought I read a few threads about people having that ceramic coating wear off and the silica just cause issues.

It sounds like the "sandpaper" substance that is mixed into pool walls.

Byron 04-28-2011 11:47 AM

Good point. Years ago I had "black" gravel that was obviosly coated; after about 2 years it turned blue as the black all came off. I've no idea what it was, but on principle I would myself avoid any "coated" substance.

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