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  #1  
Old 01/02/2008, 11:11 AM
Nht8134 Nht8134 is offline
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Cheap sand bed alternative

Hey guys. Im setting up my 120 and I was wondering is there a cheap sand that I can purchase? Ive looked at Caribsea aragonite and I really like their reef grade sand, but its a whopping $40 a bag! Ive heard of south down play sand at Home Depot but is that fine sand or coarse?

Any other ideas? What have you guys used in the past?
  #2  
Old 01/02/2008, 11:21 AM
Logzor Logzor is offline
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I have seen the fine play sand used in a tank and it can work great. It looks very unnatural and gets very dark and ends up looking like mud from far away. That I just my opinion. Going with play sand is a cheap alternative to getting reef sand.

As I understand it you already have the 120 gallon tank. Please do not take offense but going with a smaller tank and using higher quality sand, rock, and equipment is going to be best in the long run.

Keep in mind I have no actual experience with the play sand, I have only witnessed successful tanks using it.

The sand I bought for my tank was just dry reef sand, I remember it being pretty cheap, although I only needed two bags for my tank.

Try first by asking local reefers for sand, sometimes you can get buckets for really cheap.

You could always do a bare-bottom reef, those can be really neat looking.
  #3  
Old 01/02/2008, 11:23 AM
webbstock webbstock is offline
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I had southdown sand and really liked it as far as color and appearance. My only complaint is that is is a fine grain sand and blows around a bit. I'm not sure if it is available anymore (home depot used to sell it).

I have also used standard play sand, which I washed well to remove the dust and it worked fine. It is a silica based sand, but I *think* that the amount of buffering that aragonite gives to a system isn't that great and the argument that silica sand leads to diatom blooms is also questionable. Therefore, I would look for a play sand that is the grain size/color that you like.

Alternatively, since you are in Houston, You could grab a couple of buckets and head down to the beach and grab some dry sand from above the surf zone (I'm not saying from the dunes, but that is where the cleanest sand should be ) If you go to High Island (eastern part of Bolivar Peninsula) and head east on Highway 87 through the barricade ( not sure if barricade is still there - parts of Hwy 87 washed out years ago) you should find some nice isolated places that should have pretty good clean sand.
  #4  
Old 01/02/2008, 11:51 AM
thor32766 thor32766 is offline
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I have seen many many people use silica sand (Play sand) without any problems.
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  #5  
Old 01/02/2008, 11:57 AM
Pea-brain Pea-brain is offline
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The problem with silica sand is that it is abrasive and can wear down sand burrowers (though it can be argued that it won't. Depends on what experts you ask). The buffering power of aragonite is useless-it doesn't start buffering until 7.6. Everything would be dead in a reef tank at that point (though in some cases such as anaerobic zones it may help). Also some corals such as palythoas incorporate sand in their tissues....It's a kind of on the fence thing. I'd go with dry aragonite to be safe, but I'm a huge fan of burrowing fish and inverts...

Dan
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  #6  
Old 01/02/2008, 12:03 PM
splateee splateee is offline
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I am using pulverized limestone. I got it at Home Depot. They carry it in the garden section. It is made by Pavestone and i belive it came in a 50lb brown bag with blue writting. I haven't had any problems with it. There are a few threads on here about it. The only drawback was it is really dusty and required alot of rinsing, i eventually gave up on rinsing and just added it straight to the tank. I get a few small sandstorms now and then when my snowflake eel decides to go and move to a new cave.
  #7  
Old 01/02/2008, 01:48 PM
seapug seapug is offline
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Don't bother buying the overpriced bagged "live sand". I use a 50/50 mixture of dry sugarfine aragonite and dry coarse aragonite and it works great. It'll become "live" after a few weeks of sitting in the tank with the live rock.
  #8  
Old 01/02/2008, 02:02 PM
reefsponge reefsponge is offline
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My only problem with the silica sand is when cleaning the glass with a mag float close to the surface of the substrate, it is very easy to lift up some sand that may lodge between mag float and glass. Tiny scratches are the result, just clean slowly and with more care if you choose silica.
  #9  
Old 01/02/2008, 02:48 PM
stingythingy45 stingythingy45 is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by splateee
I am using pulverized limestone. I got it at Home Depot. They carry it in the garden section. It is made by Pavestone and i belive it came in a 50lb brown bag with blue writting. I haven't had any problems with it. There are a few threads on here about it. The only drawback was it is really dusty and required alot of rinsing, i eventually gave up on rinsing and just added it straight to the tank. I get a few small sandstorms now and then when my snowflake eel decides to go and move to a new cave.
+2

But I rinsed it very well first.
It's extremely white and looks great in the tank.
It also foamed like crazy with vinegar.
  #10  
Old 01/02/2008, 02:50 PM
badpvtdan badpvtdan is offline
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Stay far away from the sand in Galveston. That is by far the most polluted beach/water on the Gulf Coast.
  #11  
Old 01/02/2008, 08:04 PM
Chihuahua6 Chihuahua6 is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Pea-brain
The buffering power of aragonite is useless-it doesn't start buffering until 7.6. Everything would be dead in a reef tank at that point.

Dan
Actually this is incorrect. The above statement is true for calcite sand. Aragonite does have excellent buffering ability.
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  #12  
Old 01/02/2008, 08:22 PM
Swanwillow Swanwillow is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Pea-brain
The problem with silica sand is that it is abrasive and can wear down sand burrowers (though it can be argued that it won't. Depends on what experts you ask). The buffering power of aragonite is useless-it doesn't start buffering until 7.6. Everything would be dead in a reef tank at that point (though in some cases such as anaerobic zones it may help). Also some corals such as palythoas incorporate sand in their tissues....It's a kind of on the fence thing. I'd go with dry aragonite to be safe, but I'm a huge fan of burrowing fish and inverts...

Dan
now THATS a new argument. The old argument against it was that it released siliates into the water, which is impossible without serious chemical reactions.
90% of the earths crust is developed from silica types of rocks. I LOVE burrowing animals, and none have had issues with silica sands.
If you like nice, crisp, white looking sand, find sandblasting sand. If you like the look that you can find on natural beaches (at least no oceanic beaches that is) any bag of playsand will work.
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  #13  
Old 01/02/2008, 10:45 PM
jennmac415 jennmac415 is offline
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I used 150 lbs of pulverized limestrone from HD also.. about $4 per 50 lb bag...It stated on the bag that it is calcium carbonate, if I am not mistaken. I stupidly did not rinse it so it did take awhile to clear up and like the above poster said, I do get a milky sandstorm every now and then, but it clears up very fast now. It IS a really beautiful pure white sand and I am happy with it overall.
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  #14  
Old 01/02/2008, 11:10 PM
bigtex52 bigtex52 is offline
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I'll echo the Pavestone pulverized limestone.I used 200 pounds of it and it looks great, the sand sifters love it and it buffers great. I agree with the "wash it really good" statement. The stuff I washed out of it looked like cream.
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  #15  
Old 01/03/2008, 12:19 AM
jennmac415 jennmac415 is offline
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yes, I truly wish that I had rinsed it first... oh well, eventually all the "dust" will be skimmed out as it gets kicked up at various times...
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  #16  
Old 01/03/2008, 10:44 AM
Nht8134 Nht8134 is offline
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I might consider the Pavestone limestone. Is it fine or coarse? Im looking for something comparable to the REEF GRADE Caribsea aragonite. What department in Home Depot is it under? I know that using aragonite made specifically for aquariums is the safest bet but you guys are CERTAIN that there are no long term effects with using pulverized limestone right? I just want to have the peace of mind going into this.

Last edited by Nht8134; 01/03/2008 at 10:51 AM.
  #17  
Old 01/03/2008, 10:54 AM
jennmac415 jennmac415 is offline
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I found mine outside in the garden dept.....it is VERY fine...jawfish would like it I assume and my cucumber has no problems with it....it says on the bag that it is calcium carbonate, no other things listed, so don't think it is a problem... haven't heard of anyone having any problems with it.
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  #18  
Old 01/03/2008, 11:00 AM
LobsterOfJustice LobsterOfJustice is offline
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http://archive.reefcentral.com/forum...4#post11360784

What it comes down to is that silica sand does dominate most beaches around the world - but not the tropical ones where our livestock comes from. Sand isn't that expensive... it's a one-time purchase and there are always local people giving it away or selling it super cheap. IMO, just get the aragonite.

The pulverized limestone is interesting... I have not heard enough about it or had experience with it, so I can't say either way as far as that goes.
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  #19  
Old 01/03/2008, 11:05 AM
LobsterOfJustice LobsterOfJustice is offline
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Regarding the limestone, I found this:

http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_...(mineral).html

It seems "limestone" is a very generic term and that label along does not give enough information as to what it really is. Just out of curiosity, was there more specific information on the bag other than limestone or calcium carbonate?
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  #20  
Old 01/03/2008, 11:21 AM
jennmac415 jennmac415 is offline
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wow, that article from encarta makes me glad that i used this stuff and I feel even beter because it was so cheap...
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  #21  
Old 01/03/2008, 11:22 AM
stingythingy45 stingythingy45 is offline
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It's was called'High Dessert play sand".
The sign above it said"Tropical Play sand".
It very white and fizzes like crazy under vinegar.
And it you think sand is NOT expensive then you must be made of $$$.
Because for the price they ask........it is definitely not worth it.
BTW...Florida live rock is nothing but limestone dumped into the ocean for a few years.
  #22  
Old 01/03/2008, 11:24 AM
stingythingy45 stingythingy45 is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by jennmac415
wow, that article from encarta makes me glad that i used this stuff and I feel even beter because it was so cheap...
Same here.
Oolite sand for $5 a 50# bag.
What a bargain,I'm going to pick another bag up today if there's any left.
I'll get my Dow and Mag flake at the same time.
  #23  
Old 01/03/2008, 11:27 AM
jennmac415 jennmac415 is offline
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yep, I need to go get that too... especially mag flake. Oooo... I love a bargain!!! Did you read in that article it even talked about marine anilmals using the limestone for building their skeletons? I am sold...my upgraded tank, where I am using the limestone has been up since mid August and I have had no buffering problems at all... wonder if the limestone is responsible for that too...
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  #24  
Old 01/03/2008, 11:37 AM
jennmac415 jennmac415 is offline
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mine is by pavestone and is called "pulverized limestone"... here is a pic, scroll down to see the bag...

http://www.austinreefclub.com/index.php?showtopic=2288
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  #25  
Old 01/03/2008, 11:47 AM
stingythingy45 stingythingy45 is offline
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Mine was by Pavestone also.
But it was in a bag marked High Dessert.
I've read a post from another thread where they said it was silica.But,this is definitely not silica.Here's a thread I found from way back.

http://archive.reefcentral.com/forum...5&pagenumber=1
 

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