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Sand & Gravel

Contents:

  1. black gravel
    by rg-at-atoll.cray.com (Rich Garrett) (2 Jun 92)
  2. Black Beauty Sand
    by larry-at-creative.net (Larry Frank) (Wed, 28 May 1997)
  3. Black Beauty Sand
    by Richard Contolini <Contolini-at-svg.com> (Thu, 29 May 1997)
  4. WARNING (was dark Sand Substrates)
    by Randy or Deb Carey <carey/spacestar.net> (Sat, 08 Nov 1997)
  5. White Silica Sand
    by IDMiamiBob <IDMiamiBob/aol.com> (Tue, 20 Jan 1998)
  6. cheap gravel
    by bae/cs.toronto.edu (Beverly Erlebacher) (28 Jan 98)
  7. should I tear the tank down and start again ?
    by "Mark Fisher" <mark.fisher/wombat.state.tx.us> (26 Mar 1998)
  8. Chemistry question/Calcium in water
    by Hoa Nguyen <nguyenh/nosc.mil> (Wed, 03 Jun 1998)
  9. RE: Hornwort and Calcium in gravel
    by "James Purchase" <jpurch/interlog.com> (Wed, 10 Jun 1998)
  10. Comments on carbonates in gravel
    by Dave Gomberg <gomberg/wcf.com> (Sun, 01 Nov 1998)
  11. ph, gravel, and filters
    by Mike & Diane Wise <apistowise/bewellnet.com> (Fri, 29 Jan 1999)
  12. Black Beach Sand
    by IDMiamiBob/aol.com (Fri, 29 Jan 1999)
  13. RE: Black Beach Sand
    by Mike Downey <windwalker/uky.campuscw.net> (Mon, 1 Feb 1999)
  14. RE: Black Beach Sand
    by Michael Meyer <mikeymeyer/sprintmail.com> (Fri, 12 Feb 1999)
  15. sand
    by Mike & Diane Wise <apistowise/bewellnet.com> (Sun, 18 Feb 2001)
  16. sand
    by Dennis or Karen Eichorst <fishnstitch/kcnet.com> (Wed, 28 Feb 2001)
  17. Sand in substrate
    by Wright Huntley <huntley1/home.com> (Sat, 26 Aug 2000)

black gravel

by rg-at-atoll.cray.com (Rich Garrett)
Date: 2 Jun 92

> > What I woulf love is a source of real black garvel, not
> >this painted stuff.  Like basalt, or some nataural stone.  Does anyone
> >have any ideas? 

I checked and the product name is 'Stanblast'
it is manufactured by the stanblast company in New Orleans, La.
They can be reached at (504) 341-0451 to find a distributer in your area.
I can get the sand from a local distributer for about $6/100lb,
Probably more expensive based on distance from New Orleans.

Rich Garrett
rg-at-atoll.navo.navy.mil

Black Beauty Sand

by larry-at-creative.net (Larry Frank)
Date: Wed, 28 May 1997

        I found a supplier of black beauty sand. He is trying to get rid of
the stuff and will sell it to me for $5 /100lb bag. This seemed too good
too be true, so I did some investigating to see if it will be safe.

        Black beauty sand is actually Metallic Slag from the manufacturing
of copper. It is described as  32-45% SiO2; 25-33% Cao + Mg0; 24-35% Fe0.

         Wondering if the FeO would be a problem, I put about a teaspoon in
a very small jar with some water, shook it up, then tested the Iron content
using a seachem test kit. The results of the first test was 1.0 ppm. I
repeated the test and got 2.0 ppm. This is about 10 to 20 times too much!

        Last week I put about 5lbs of the same stuff (purchased from a
local pet shop) on top of the existing sand of a 30 gallon tank with
discus. ( I know I'm doing things a little backwards). So far nothing has
died! (The tank tests about 0.01 ppm (but I did add fertilizer with Iron
last week also))

        My questions:
                Has any one been using this stuff?

                Is there too much Iron leaching out to use it pure as a
...              substrate?

                Does it have any potential as a gravel additive?

                Should I remove the 5lbs from my discus tank and do a water
...              change
as soon as possible?

                Thanks
                Larry


Black Beauty Sand

by Richard Contolini <Contolini-at-svg.com>
Date: Thu, 29 May 1997

Gee, I can't believe they sell this stuff in a *pet shop*.  I have a bag at 
home
that I use for sandblasting (which is what it's normally used for).  Since
there have been a few posts about it lately, I decided to take a close look at
the stuff.  First, the particles are *really* small (finer than regular masonry
or play sand).  Second, I don't think I'd like the looks of it in an aquarium. 
Third, since it's used for sandblasting, the particles are *sharp*.  Fourth,
since I knew it was slag, I figured it was high in iron, and, sure enough, it
is.  So I don't consider it inert.

I remember seeing some gruesome data on Black Beauty recently, so I
searched the APD.  In case anybody missed it, here's the post from Jon
Wilson made on Mon, 17 Mar 1997:

>I used a black sand called something like Marvel black beauty.
>It was very high in Fe and was highly magnetic. It was also very
>sharp. A little piece stuck to a magnetic scraper would scratch
>the glass. It also found its way into small crevices in plants
>and damaged them.
>
>I finally quit using it after an autopsy showed it had shredded
>the inside of a fish. Other than the sharpness and magnetism,
>it was great.

It just doesn't sound too appealing.  I think I'll stick to quartz.

Rick

WARNING (was dark Sand Substrates)

by Randy or Deb Carey <carey/spacestar.net>
Date: Sat, 08 Nov 1997
To: Erik Olson (e-mail)

Erik Olson wrote:
> 
> On Sat, 8 Nov 1997, Randy or Deb Carey wrote:
> 
> > I have been able to purchase a pitch-black substrate called "Black
> > Beauty."  It is a sand blasting material which is inert and comes in
> > various fine grades.
> 
> Uh oh, that name triggered something I remember archiving, so I looked it
> up. (full text in [this very thread - Editor])
> 
> Randy, have you noticed anything similar to these? ...
>    - Erik
> 
<snip>

I checked the site and found the comments interesting.  I'm in no
position to dispute the statistics, but I've yet to observe a problem. 
I had assumed the stuff was inert.

In two sizeable tanks I have used a good amount of it mixed with the
painted black gravel.  I have never noticed a problem with these tanks
for the three or four years since I added it.  No rust, do discoloring
of the water, no abnormal pH readings, no mysterious deaths, ...no known
problems.

As for the "sand" that I had, I only used it for a display at an
aquarium show.  I've never used the really fine stuff for any length of
time.

The pitch-black can be rather stark, but I like it for the couple of
tanks it is in.

I was "enlightened" to this substrate by a knowledgable pet store which
has been using it for years.  So how bad is it?  I'm not going to remove
what I've been using, but I'll keep an eye out.

--Randy



White Silica Sand

by IDMiamiBob <IDMiamiBob/aol.com>
Date: Tue, 20 Jan 1998
To: apisto/majordomo.pobox.com

In a message dated 98-01-19 17:30:14 EST, Leo writes:

<< I would like to know from
> experienced Apisto keepers and breeders if white silica sand is suitable for
> use in a planted community tank and also in Apisto breeding tanks. >>
>>
Im my experience, white gravel makes Apistos "paranoid"  I had a friend in
Welland who had two trios of A. borrellii in tanks with white sand.  There had
been no spawning activity after a considerable time, even though he had
acceptable water conditions and feeding regimen.  I took one trio home and got
a spawn in about a week over a black substrate and with the back of the tank
painted black.  While I have seen little difference between painted and clear
backs, the substrate color seems to play a significant role in whether the
fish are willing to settle in.  The darker the better, it seems.


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cheap gravel

by bae/cs.toronto.edu (Beverly Erlebacher)
Date: 28 Jan 98
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria.freshwater.plants

In article <34CF2CD7.F9EC042D-at-netrover.com>,
L. Brinkman <jbcltd-at-netrover.com> wrote:
>
>Fish373 wrote:
>
>>need to know good source for cheap gravel.  Need about 120 lbs. small grain,
>>its going into a plant tank. (Dutch if i can afford)   Any suggestions welcome.
>
>Go to a local farm feed supply store and buy what they call chick grit.  It is
>granite.  Usually comes in two colors - red and white.  You can get this for $5 for
>a fifty pound bag here in Canada.

Composition of poultry grit depends a lot on where you are.  It's heavy,
so expensive to ship, so is usually made nearby.  Here in Toronto, I can
buy a really nice turkey grit which appears to be 100% dark grey dolomite,
probably from the Niagara Escarpment, a 400 million year old coral reef
just to the west.  This would be great stuff for a rift lake or brackish
tank, but a disaster for a tank intended to have soft water..  So check
out the stuff before you buy it!

Incidentally, you can get bird grits of all sizes.  Cage bird grits are
small, ranging from finch through canary, budgie and cockatiel.  Then
there are poultry grits for different sizes of chickens and turkeys.
Cage bird grits are often quartz, but any grit may have limestone or
shell added as a calcium supplement, especially for laying hens or breeding
cage birds.  If you look around, you can get big bags of cage bird grits
at stores that cater to serious breeders.


should I tear the tank down and start again ?

by "Mark Fisher" <mark.fisher/wombat.state.tx.us>
Date: 26 Mar 1998
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria.freshwater.plants

The terms "sand" and "gravel" are sometimes interchanged by aquarists.  In
my case, Texblast #2 is actually sandblasting "sand", about 1/16" diameter,
but many aquarists use it as their "gravel" of choice.

Technically speaking, "sand" is a particle size description, and soil
scientists classify any grain size between 0.05-2.0 mm diameter as "sand". 
Texblast #2 does indeed qualify as "sand".  I believe the next largest size
is "boulder", which is any particle over 2.0 mm.

I add PMDD to the water column, not the substrate, but as it is
phosphate-free, it does not cause algae blooms. Phosphate does get into my
tank via fish food and water changes, but since all the other
macronutrients (CO2, NO3, and K) are in excess, and I have good plant
growth, my tank is phosphate-limited, just as Sears and Conlin describe.
-- 
Replace "wombat" with "tpwd" to reply

Alan Silver <alan-at-consultancy-services.ferret.com> wrote in article
<ldC$vfAKRkG1Ew58-at-consultancy-services.com>...
> Mark Fisher <mark.fisher-at-wombat.state.tx.us> wrote ...
> >I didn't wash my gravel.  It was about 3 years old, full of humus, and
had
> >a nice bacterial colony I didn't want to get rid of.  The new bottom
layer
> >is a 50/50 (volume) soil/vermiculite mixture, and is about 4 inches
deep. 
> >I used
> >fertilizer tablets from Delaware Aquatic Imports, and shoved them all
the
> >way to the glass bottom, spaced out, using the recommend dosage (1
> >tablet/10 gallons).  I then overlaid the soil with about 1 inch of the
old
> >gravel (Texblast #2, about 1/16" diameter).
> 
> Didn't you put sand on top of the gravel ? According to most of the info
> I've read, this seems to be needed to stop nutrients leaching into the
> water column and allowing algae to grow.



Chemistry question/Calcium in water

by Hoa Nguyen <nguyenh/nosc.mil>
Date: Wed, 03 Jun 1998

I would like to thank Roger, Paul, Raj and anyone else who responded to my
question on neutralizing gravel using acid.  I sent this message to the
list last week but it did not appear somehow, so I'm posting it again.  I
took the liberty of enclosing Raj's message to me, because I think it is
probably useful to others on the list.

In short, I soaked the Cambria gravel in diluted swimming-pool Muriatic
acid three times, emptying the acid solution everytime the bubbling
stopped, and adding a new solution.  When I could not get it to bubble
anymore, I drained and rinsed the gravel well several times.  The amount of
acid it took to get to this point was about 1/3 the volume of the gravel,
similar to what Raj found for his beach sand.

I then soaked the gravel in water overnight, then tested that water in the
morning.  The pH was 7.0 (neutral).  That was a surprise for me.  I had
expected to see 8.1 since my tap water pH is around 8.1.  Maybe I hadn't
rinsed well enough and there was still some acid left?

Anyway, the new gravel has now been in my tank for almost a week (a new
beach in the aquascape), and everything has been fine.

Thanks again,
Hoa


RE: Hornwort and Calcium in gravel

by "James Purchase" <jpurch/interlog.com>
Date: Wed, 10 Jun 1998

And Bob Dixon wonders if some of us are crazy....

> I have lived and kept fish in Western NY, San Diego, Baltimore,
> and now Boise.
> I have kept fish on and off for almost 30 years and have NEVER
> seen, found,
> dug out, or otherwise disclosed any amount of shell material in
> my gravel.  I
> have tested commercial gravels with muriatic acid and never gotten any
> positive indication for carbonates in any form.  Either y'all are talking
> about something other than the remains of small hard-shelled
> animals, or you
> guys aren't buying your gravel at pet shops.
>
> I know I'm not nuts, and I'm (reasonably) sure you guys aren't
> either, so what
> am I missing here?

Bob, I grew up in Nova Scotia, on the East coast of Canada. Pet stores were
few and far between and those that were around found that shipping costs for
something as heavy as gravel was expensive. So as a result, most of what was
available for sale (other than the hideous coloured stuff) was locally
sourced. Nova Scotia is full of limestone and there is some marble there as
well. The sand that is available comes either from an ocean beach or from
crushed limestone or marble. Believe me, it produces hard water, neither one
of us is crazy.

Here in Toronto the geological situation is probably different but last year
when I went looking for 400 lbs of gravel for my big tank I quickly realized
that I wasn't going to be buying it from a petshop (not at the prices they
want for it). So I turned to local building supply companies and I had to
look long and hard to find one which sold gravel of the proper size and
color that was made from crushed granite rather than from crushed marble. I
found it but not everyone might be aware that quite often people selling
gravel and sand have no idea what types of rocks that it is actually made
from. I got quite a few funny looks with my bottle of muriatic acid and cup
for testing what they had available.

Commercial gravel (as sold in a pet shop as opposed to a building supply
depot) should be clearly labelled as to whether it is meant for freshwater
(no carbonates) or saltwater tanks (carbonates O.K.). But a short review of
the posting on this digest will show that as a group, we tend to be bargin
hunters and will look for the cheapest place to buy things for our tanks - a
Home Depot type store will generally win over a petshop when dealing with
something like gravel.

If you live in an area where the local rock does not contain carbonates,
then I guess that your local gravels would be carbonate free.

James Purchase
Toronto, Ontario


Comments on carbonates in gravel

by Dave Gomberg <gomberg/wcf.com>
Date: Sun, 01 Nov 1998

At 01:18 PM 10/31/98 -0800, a digest reader wrote:
>>i must have missed something.  what's the difference with the carbonate
>>bearing gravel?  what is the harm of carbonate gravel?

Karen replied:
>It will increase the hardness of your water.

Dave asked:
>What confuses me is if your water is already very soft, wouldn't a little
>shell in the gravel be a GOOD thing?   Doesn't the desirability of shell
>depend on what's in your tap?

Karen explained:
Much of the country (if not most) has water that is already TOO hard.  I'd
rather deal with too soft water as a separate issue than setting up the
substrate.  You can always add hardness, it's impossible to solve the
problem if you've got too much calcium carbonate containing material within
the tank.

------------------------------


ph, gravel, and filters

by Mike & Diane Wise <apistowise/bewellnet.com>
Date: Fri, 29 Jan 1999
To: apisto/majordomo.pobox.com

Walter,

Dave at Valley Pets bought his black sand from ME about 10 years ago when I was
in pet supplies wholesale. I sold it in various sizes, but it was withdrawn by
the supplier after a year or so.

As Ken mentions, it did have some bits of mollusk shell in it, ~10% in coarse
grades but much less in finer grades. The black grains are actually basalt
(lava). The green glassy grains were olivine, a common component of tholeitic
(oceanic) basalts. Basalt is relatively brittle (for a rock) so it disintegrates
quickly in nature. That's why you don't see very many black beaches around the
world. In an aquarium it is inert and should last a thousand lifetimes (yours,
not your fishes').

Mike Wise

Walter wrote:

> Valley pets in Colorado Springs has a few tanks with Hawaiian black beach
> sand in them.
>
> I don't know if they sell it but they may be able to tell you where they got
> it.
>
> There number is 719-475-9661
>
> Walter McCree
> USA.Net
> wmccree@usa.net
>
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> For instructions on how to subscribe or unsubscribe or get help,
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Black Beach Sand

by IDMiamiBob/aol.com
Date: Fri, 29 Jan 1999
To: apisto/majordomo.pobox.com

Peter writes:

> Is there anything special/recommendable about black beach sand ?

The bottoms of the Amazon biotope waters tend to be covered in leaves and
other dark stuff.  My Apistos are always less skittish when the bottom of
their tanks are black.  If it were available here, I would certainly try it.

Bob Dixon


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RE: Black Beach Sand

by Mike Downey <windwalker/uky.campuscw.net>
Date: Mon, 1 Feb 1999
To: apisto/majordomo.pobox.com

>Black Beauty sandblast abrasive is coal slag.  I am familiar with it as a
>sandblast abrasive,
>but had not considered what it might leach into an aquarium.  I'll look into
>it and post anything I find.
>
>
>Susan A. Drozdz
>

I use Estes Marine Sand in the black color. It does not influence pH . It
is too fine for UG filters. It can be purchased in larger commercial size
bags if you can get a masonary dealer to order it for you.  I get it in
aquarium bags (5#) and 6 to a box for about $1.50 per bag (#5).

I have it in under my West African dwarfs and corys. And also in the 30 gal
with my trio of apistos.
It does not hurt the corydoras barbels, as they dig for black worms all the
time.

MikeD




RE: Black Beach Sand

by Michael Meyer <mikeymeyer/sprintmail.com>
Date: Fri, 12 Feb 1999
To: "'apisto/majordomo.pobox.com'" <apisto/majordomo.pobox.com>

I have been using this material for about a year now.  I have it in about 
10 of my tanks and have not experienced any problems yet.  I'll pay close 
attention though.
Michael

-----Original Message-----
From:	Mike Downey [SMTP:windwalker@uky.campuscw.net]
Sent:	Monday, February 01, 1999 1:29 PM
To:	apisto@majordomo.pobox.com
Subject:	RE: Black Beach Sand

>Black Beauty sandblast abrasive is coal slag.  I am familiar with it as a
>sandblast abrasive,
>but had not considered what it might leach into an aquarium.  I'll look 
into
>it and post anything I find.
>
>
>Susan A. Drozdz
>

I use Estes Marine Sand in the black color. It does not influence pH . It
is too fine for UG filters. It can be purchased in larger commercial size
bags if you can get a masonary dealer to order it for you.  I get it in
aquarium bags (5#) and 6 to a box for about $1.50 per bag (#5).

I have it in under my West African dwarfs and corys. And also in the 30 gal
with my trio of apistos.
It does not hurt the corydoras barbels, as they dig for black worms all the
time.

MikeD




sand

by Mike & Diane Wise <apistowise/bewellnet.com>
Date: Sun, 18 Feb 2001
To: apisto/listbox.com

Mike,

You're right about it being a byproduct of coal mining. It is called "canal coal
(sand)" by us old geologists. In many coal seams there is a layer of fine sand
laying above and below the coal proper. It is blackened by bitumens and other
coalified organics - and inorganics - that come from the coal. I would never use
this product until I've tested it for sulfide contents. You see, a lot of the
inorganic component is extremely fine grained pyrite (Fe2S) which can decompose
in a tank to form Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S), that rotten egg gas that is poisonous
to almost everything. I once collected some black argillite and used it in a
tank. After about a month the pyrite that made it black broke down, releasing H2S
into the tank. I lost a tankful of Florida Flag fish that way. Canal coal sands
can vary in their amount of pyrite. Those from low-sulfur coal beds will have
less pyrite than those Midwestern high-sulfur coals. Like I said, test it for a
month or two on some sacrificial fish first and check every day for that rotten
egg smell. But if you have poor tank maintenance habits, I guess it will be hard
to tell one way or the other.

Mike Wise

Mike wrote:

> I use BB in almost all my tanks.  I have not had any problems in the past 3
> years using it.  My understanding of the product, is it is a byproduct of
> coal production, but that may be a myth.
> Mike
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "David Sanchez" <apistogrammasetc@yahoo.com>
> To: <apisto@listbox.com>
> Sent: Sunday, February 18, 2001 12:28 PM
> Subject: Re: sand
>
> > Yes Randy that is the name, Black beauty couldn't think of it. I have bags
> > of it laying around it is so cheap. I have used it for years like Randy
> said
> > with zero problems. I have used it with all sorts of Apistos and spawned
> > tons of them and I am yet to have any problems from my supplier. I have
> > tested for changes in pH and conductivity and haven't seen any changes.
> >
> >
> > David Sanchez
> > Orlando, FL
> > ----- Original Message -----
> > From: "Merce" <M.LIEBANES@terra.es>
> > To: <apisto@listbox.com>
> > Sent: Sunday, February 18, 2001 12:00 PM
> > Subject: Re: sand
> >
> >
> > > I think that the name "Black Beauty" is used more as a generic name than
> > > as one for a specific product, I've heard of it in many parts of the USA
> > > and I can't believe that it's all the same stuff,  especially when I
> > > read on thekrib.com about people who have had problems with BB. I think
> > > that anyone would be wise to check their BB before adding it to an
> > > aquarium.
> > > C:-)lin
> > >
> > > -----Original Message-----
> > > From: Randy Carey <carey@spacestar.net>
> > > To: apisto@listbox.com <apisto@listbox.com>
> > > Date: Sunday, February 18, 2001 2:34 PM
> > > Subject: Re: sand
> > >
> > >
> > > >I've gone to a sand blasting supply company.  In my area (Minnesota) I
> > > can get
> > > >red flint gravel in many different sizes.  You can get it so small that
> > > it might
> > > >be too fine for an undergravel filter.  For black "sand," they have one
> > > product
> > > >called "black beauty."  (Someone once questioned its mineral content,
> > > but it
> > > >appears to be inert.  I have had black beauty in some tanks for years
> > > and with no
> > > >problems.)
> > > >
> > > >The sand blasting supply company is where several aquarium stores
> > > (around here)
> > > >get their natural-colored gravel that they use and resell.  I think it
> > > cost me
> > > >something like $6 or $8 per 100-pound bag for red flint.  And they have
> > > other
> > > >types of "gravel" available on display.  Just look in the yellow pages
> > > (or on the
> > > >'Net) under "sand blasting."
> > > >
> > > >--Randy
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >Brian Berggoetz wrote:
> > > >
> > > >> I'm looking for a darker substrate than the silica sand I have now.
> > > >> Good stuff but too bright.  Is there a pea gravel that is fine enough
> > > >> for the apistos too still dig in it?  Is there another alternative?
> > > I'd
> > > >> like to keep it more natural than the bare bottom tank.  I'm
> > > interested
> > > >> in natural behavior.
> > > >> bb
> > > >>


sand

by Dennis or Karen Eichorst <fishnstitch/kcnet.com>
Date: Wed, 28 Feb 2001
To: apisto/listbox.com

I first got onto black beauty over 12 years ago, using the same batch in a 40
breeder plant tank for apistos.  I've had apistos, checkerboard cichlids, and
black neons spawn in the tank so don't believe it is a problem.  However, it
does appear to be rather abrasive on corys.

Dennis.

Mike wrote:

> I use BB in almost all my tanks.  I have not had any problems in the past 3
> years using it.  My understanding of the product, is it is a byproduct of
> coal production, but that may be a myth.
> Mike


Sand in substrate

by Wright Huntley <huntley1/home.com>
Date: Sat, 26 Aug 2000

> Date: Fri, 25 Aug 2000 18:20:54 -0700
> From: "Robert H" <robertpaulh@earthlink.net>
> Subject: Re:Sand in substrate

Robert wrote:

snip...

> One thing about sand I am curious about, sand that is mostly silica, would
> that have any affect on diatomes? I also found that most of the sand at
> least what is available around here is actually made of crushed coral and
> clamshell, and even mixed with silica sand, even if it makes no mention of
> it on the bag. I called the manufacturer of a common blasting sand that is
> sold in many aquarium stores around here, (the name escapes me) and was told
> that almost all sand sold commercially for blasting or pools actually
> contains at least some seashell. (he didnt mention "play" sand) This along
> with problems I experienced made me turn away from sand.

"Around here" could be almost anywhere in the world. Since you didn't do us
the courtesy of giving your location, I had to do considerable digging to
find you are in the South SF Bay area.

Having moved my aquaria there some 45 years ago, I'm slightly familiar with
the local sand and gravel business. [My father also used to produce blasting
sand for the shipyards of So, CA during the 40s and 50s.]

Blasting sand that contains more than a tiny percent of shells or coral
would be utterly useless, so I don't understand your comment on that part at
all. RMC Lonestar, who bought out Monterey Sand, does produce a lot of local
products that have a few (very few) percent of shell (but no coral) from
their facilities near Moss Landing, Davenport and Scotts Valley, etc.

Their "Lapis Lustre" aquarium-gravel line (from Moss Landing) is one of the
prettier gravels you will find, but it has about 2-5% (by visual guess) of
shell chips. They are the (attractive) really white flecks. That is only a
problem for breeders trying to maintain soft, acid tank water. The shells
tend to slowly dissolve at low pH and raise both GH and KH. In your water
that is not a problem. I used to soak it in pool acid, to create a "casing"
around the chips that rendered them more inert. [After killing some baby
fish when rinse was inadequate, I quit that hazardous habit.]

Most real sand-blasting sand in your area comes from the central valley, and
is produced by Silica Resources, Inc.  Home Depot and many other outlets
have "SRI Supreme" products, either under that brand or that of a repackager
in Sacramento. It is pure river sand that has no limestone component at all.
Centuries of exposure to pure Sierra snow runoff and glaciers assures that
it is very pure silica, and that it has the nicely rounded corners that are
also kind to our catfish's barbels.

Because of its low solubility, I would expect the silica sand to have no
effect on diatomes. The soda-lime glass of your aquarium is many, many times
more soluble than that sand. [One learns weird stuff running an optics
shop!]

Sand and gravel are low-price commodities and are thus highly local. What is
true for N. CA is not likely to be true for So. CA or AZ, much less GA or
NY. I haven't bought any substrate material from my LFS for about 10 years,
as the "Lapis Lustre" is available for less than US$0.10/lb at most of the
local sand and gravel distributors. The SRI stuff is similar, but I used to
have to go clear to Reno (Sparks) to get their "Coarse Aquarium Gravel"
since RMC has a local monopoly, based on shipping costs and the attractive
appearance of their "Lapis Lustre."

I've used very fine (30 mesh) sand in aquaria a few times, and have had some
serious compacting problems with it, so I'm more cautious now. I think using
it with an UGF causes trapping of gunk and resultant serious cement-like
hardening over time. [I've often helped it along, of course, by adding baked
clay balls to the substrate. :-)]

Wright

- -- 
Wright Huntley, Fremont CA, USA, 510 494-8679  huntleyone at home dot com

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This page was last updated 18 February 2002