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Is play sand safe????

Discussion in 'New Hobbyists' started by nattybug33, Dec 18, 2006.

  1. nattybug33

    nattybug33 New Member

    I need to buy I alot of sand, but I don't want to pay $20 for 15lbs. Can I use play sand? Does it have to be Silica free and is it harmful if it has Silica in it?
  2. fbm

    fbm New Member

    If it has silica in it it will produce a ton of diatoms. You are better off forking over the cash for live sand in a bag.
  3. boozzbro

    boozzbro New Member

    the stuff that is calcium (carbonate) based is perfectly fine
  4. ncprowler

    ncprowler New Member

    I used play sand in my 55 gal. and i have got no problems I Bought sand from homedepot. My fish tank has been going now for about 3 months and I haven't lost any fish. I did have a diatom bloom in the beginning but they said that it is supposed to happen when you first cycle your tank. It went away within a week.
  5. catawaba

    catawaba New Member

  6. nattybug33

    nattybug33 New Member

    well i would use crushed coral , but i hate it. I have it in another tank, and i have to vaccum it. Is there a sand out there that is silica free?
  7. boozzbro

    boozzbro New Member

    it is impossible to have sand that is silica free.
  8. fish-man-t

    fish-man-t New Member

    mason sand is the safest sand you can get outside of the reef sand you buy in pet stores (fact)
  9. bang guy

    bang guy Administrator Staff Member

    Wow, there's a whole lot of misinformation in this thread.
  10. fish-man-t

    fish-man-t New Member

    Originally Posted by Bang Guy
    Wow, there's a whole lot of misinformation in this thread.
    i hope your not talking about me??? i did my research!!! and i say mason sand for 2 reasons 1 no silica and 2 all mason sand is wached and washed and washed and washed and washed like 5 times !!! i am a brick mason and the reason they wash it so mush is to take out all the iron and any other elements that are in the sand 2 reduce the mortar from leaching out rust and other things down the bricks in time :))
  11. fish-man-t

    fish-man-t New Member

    if im wrong plz tell me
  12. scsinet

    scsinet Active Member

    The thing that needs to be understood about sand as it applies to marine aquaria is that the sand plays a key role in the water quality. Crushed Coral and Aragonite are all mostly calcium carbonate. This material slowly dissolves as it ages in the tank, buffering the water, driving up your akalinity, and keeping pH stable.
    Play sand is not always the same type of stuff. Even if it was, you can't be sure of what is in it. It is manufactured for a different purpose, so no controls are in place to ensure the purity of the sand.
    Furthermore, the size of the grain is important. Sand that is too fine can trap hydrogen sulfide and dead pockets within the sand bed, waiting to unleash a veritable death bomb when disturbed by a gravel cleaning, etc.
    The buffering is the huge key though. You may be saving money up front, but the problems that you'll have with your pH is going to really make you wish you had spent the money. Again, even if you find sand that is calcium carbonate based, you have no way of knowing if there are various nasties left in the sand that could cause all sorts of problems.
  13. bang guy

    bang guy Administrator Staff Member

    I'll start at the top.
    "If it has silica in it it will produce a ton of diatoms."
    Diatoms do not use Silica. Diatoms require Silicates.
    Silica is Silicon dioxide, the primary ingredient in Glass
    . If Silica caused Diatoms then glass tanks would be a very bad idea.
    "the stuff that is calcium (carbonate) based is perfectly fine."
    This is a good statement. The only change I would make is the word "based". It should be pure. Pure Silicon dioxide or pure Calcium carbonate. Impurities are unavoidable but the fewer impurities the better. The sand should be bright white.
    "I used play sand in my 55 gal. and i have got no problems}{My fish tank has been going now for about 3 months and I haven't lost any fish. "
    This is great news and I hope you never have problems. I just don't think 3 months is a good timeframe to judge by and fish are generally immune to the types of impurities that can be found in some types of sand. Corals and other inverts are not.
    "No"
    If the playsand is pure Calcium carbonate then it's fine.
    "it is impossible to have sand that is silica free."
    I have 2500 pounds of Silica free sand in my system. It's pure Calcium carbonate.
    "mason sand is the safest sand you can get outside of the reef sand you buy in pet stores}{i did my research!!! and i say mason sand for 2 reasons 1 no silica and 2 all mason sand is wached "
    Mason sand is washed repeatedly and screened well for fine grains. It's about 98% Silica. It's the 2% that's not Silica that worries me. It depends on the grade. If it were pure white I would agree with you. Mason sand is usually tan colored and the coloring comes from impurities. Impurities may or may not be a problem, it depends on what they are. High copper or Zinc content and there's a big problem for a reef tank. A high Magnesium content would be safe for example.
    Appropriate sand is pure aragonite or pure silica, small sugar sized grains, round smooth edged grains. If it's not pure white then it's not pure. Pool filter sand is the right size and purity but it has sharp edges so it shouldn't be used.
  14. michaeltx

    michaeltx Moderator Staff Member

    I completely agree with bang I tried to use a cheaper version of the playsand from HD and all I got after a few months was a hair algae battle that never ended. I eventually broke the tank down and started over because of it. The only addition that was made was the playsand and a larger tank!!!! same lights-same rock-same stock-same salt NOTHING else changed.
    Mike
  15. nattybug33

    nattybug33 New Member

    WOw. No offense to anyone but I still really don't have a definant answer. I think we're just going to pay $17 for 20lbs, sounds the safest way to me. Oh but thanks so much for all the responses.
  16. michaeltx

    michaeltx Moderator Staff Member

    there is no deffinate answer if you KNOW that the sand you are getting is Calcium carbonate then you are fine but most of what is packaged for playsand will have a mix of stuff in it that will cause you more headaches then its worth. TO me I will never buy anything not labeled for marine or aquarium use.
    Mike
  17. murph

    murph New Member

    IME if South Down/old castle brand play sand is used there should be no problems. Rinse thoroughly before use. The bags now have printing that states "not for aquarium use" but I suspect this is to cover themselves from any litigation. This brand is usually available at wal marts.
    If the goal of all this sand is to provide a deep sand bed for nitrate conversion I would also suggest a combination of sand grades. I have experimented with a few different DSBs and have had good results with a mixture LFS aragonite and south down which is a vary fine grade of sand. About one third southdown and two thirds LFS aragonite. Four inch minimum depth.
    As far as impurities go I suspect play sand has to meet more stringent standards than the aragonite you get from the LFS. These standards would include the possibility that small children are apt to roll around in it. Hence the name "play sand".
  18. nattybug33

    nattybug33 New Member

    Ok good. So only Calcium Carbonate from anything besides Aquarium use. well i know how great a deep sand bed works, my LFS has a sea horse tank that the sand bed is a foot deep.
  19. chipmaker

    chipmaker New Member

    The name Mason sand is too vague as it varies all over variouis parts of the country since it is allobtained by various methods and its content is so varied. Mason sand merely means its suuitable to use with bricks or concrete, and in general its quartz or silica based as calcium based does not offer the strength, but in general most any sand can be used for masonary sand if its clean and free of dirt and debri which would hinder the strength it needs.
    I use 100% silica based Quartz) sands myself which contains a smathering of tiny shell fragments in it. I collect it as well as my water form the Gulf of Mexico, and its worke dfine for me for over a decade......never lead to any algae problems, its fine about the size of a grain of sugar, and its extremely white.
    Everyone takes for granted that South dwon or old castle is perfectly fine to use. It was not and never was intended to be used for aquariums. Its only shinin g attribute is its calcium based. It is not checked for metal content nor other things which would not be a problem if its used as its intended use is.....and that includes as a base for pavers, play sand etc etc....I was given a wholke pallet of Old CAstle sand by local shop here that used it at one time to sell and maintain commercial salt water tanks with and it ibit them in the back side pretty bad when it started to grow some gelatinous and oddball stains etc. They stopped using it totally, and it laid ouotside for a few years in bags and covered with a tarp. I used it this past summer to make a bed under an extension of patio pavers....as it was originally intended to be used for.
    For silica based sand to creat problems your ph and other parameters are gonna have to be pretty darn off, and if they are off that much sand is the least of your worries. While sand may play a part in water maintenance a shallow sand bed is not really all that significant of a player, as compared to deep sand beds. I'll put my naturally colled salt water and locally collected sand beds up against any aragonite or synthetic water tanks any day. If its good enough for momma nature I see no reason not to use it either.
  20. 1journeyman

    1journeyman New Member

    Originally Posted by chipmaker
    ... I'll put my naturally colled salt water and locally collected sand beds up against any aragonite or synthetic water tanks any day. If its good enough for momma nature I see no reason not to use it either.
    Non-Aragonite sand can be used, but it does not offer the buffeing capabilities of Aragonite. Aragonite sand begins to break down under 8.2pH and therefore helps to buffer your tank while adding a source of Calcium and other treace elements. You won't get that with other sands or CC.

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