View Full Version : Play sand for substrate.

06-16-2007, 10:17 PM
I have heard people using play sand as their base substrate? anyone done this or heard about it?

06-16-2007, 10:55 PM

06-17-2007, 08:24 AM
It is fairly common to do.

People around here have also been using pulverized limestone by PAVESTONE. It can be bought at Home Depot in the garden section. Don't get the bag with a picture of a guy putting field stripes down--that stuff is powered. I used the Pavestone pulverized & it did fine for me for my reef tanks.

06-17-2007, 10:53 AM
You'll find a mixed bag of answers to this question. Regular silica based sands do little to buffer ph, plus the sharp grains may actually harm sand sifting critters.....The best sand is calcium or aragonite based sands such as is found in and around reefs (assumng were talking reef tanks here) Lots of folks have discovered Old Catle or Pavestones calcium based sands to work fine, and others like the lFS here has been burned big time by using them......

You'll find regular bags of sand ofr reef tanks called live sand commonly sold in 20# bags for ungodly sums of money to cost a small fortune to make yur sand bed......but in the ong run it may be the best bet. No real need to buy the bagged wet pack sand as odds are against it that not much if any of the so called bacteria in it is viable,, as this sand is normally sold well past its expiration date, stored in hot sunlight on store shelves, and left in tractor trailers n hot and cold climates during shipment and storage etc, so unless yu can assure its fresh stuff and properly stored and shipped its a crap shoot. Back to the el cheapo old castle and pavestone sands. These sands can be good, and they can be bad.....They may contain trace elements that contain heavy metals from the quarry / crushing/ mining operations. They are not intended to be usedin a tank so therefore they are not really baagged ina controlled sense to check for any kinds of contaminations. The lfs here had 2 pallets of the much sought after Old CAstle Sand sold by Home Depot for use in paver bedding and for play sand. Thjis lfs also sets up and maintains commercial fish tank displays in doctors offices etc. They used this old castle sand and after a few months they started to get strange discolorations in the sand beds and a jelly like masses forming here and there. Further checking revealed it was contaminations in the sand itself that made the problem..........Theyhad close to two full pallets of the sand left when I asked about using it, and they made me a deal. I could get all the sand they had left just to haul it out of their back room and get it gone. They lost a lot of time and money using it.....I used it under my patio blocks. right at 76 , 50# bags of calcium based sand free for the hauling. I have read other horror stories on using this type of sand n other saltwater fish forums, but on the other hand I have heard some good stories as well using this cheap normally about $3.50 a bag sand. Same for locally obtained sand fromthe beaches off the coast. Thats what I use a ot of, and never had a problem, yet there are many stories of folks that had a disater with the stuff.....Not afraid to take achance..use it. Rather bank on a sure thing, buy bagged regular reef tank sand.....

Reefin' Dude
06-20-2007, 08:35 PM
just to add a bit. you can tell araganite/calcium carbonate based sands from regular silica based sands by pouring vinegar on it. calcium carbonate sand will disolve in vinegar. silica will remain unaffected.

there actually seems to be little evidence that silica harms critters. this seems to be a myth pushed by the people selling the sand.

the biggest advantage/dissadvantage of calcium carbonate based sands is its ability to absorb phosphates. phosphates actually are absorbed by calcium carbonate. this is good if you plan on using for a limited amount of time then replacing it with new sand, say in 2 years. silica sand does not absorb phophates, so you will need to be on top of water changes and siphoning out the sand bed is a lot more important with a silica sand based substrate.

if you are just getting into SW then i suggest using a calcium carbonate based substrate. its ability to absorbe phosphates gives you a good safety margin for learning how the system works. once you get it figured out you can go BB when the sand has reached its usefull life in about 2-3 years.