View Full Version : cheap aragonite substitution

08/10/2006, 11:51 PM
i know im kinda getting ahead of myself but i figured i would start my search for a cheap substitution for aragonite sand. after everything ive read i dont think i am to worried about using silicate sand im just not sure where to find a nice white, sugar-size sand. the perfect subsititution seems to be pavestone pulverized limestone but i cant find it locally. im looking to purchase around 100-150#s and seed it with live sand. any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.


08/11/2006, 08:11 PM
I am using the kolorscape sand. It is bright white and a nice size. I've heard it is southdown but I'm not sure. I haven't had any problems with it and it's only about 3 bucks for 50lbs.

08/11/2006, 09:45 PM

there was a discussion on the forum a while back about using silica based sand and I didnt hear any good arguements against it. we seem to take it for granted that its not for reefs, but hey, lots of it flows from rivers and the land into the sea and reefs. seems to be inert. the only advantage of carbonate based sand is its abillity to act as a last ditch buffer in case of a severe PH drop. it will start to disolve, a little, at PH less than 7.8. but at that point , you've got bigger problems to fix.

I think lots of the myths about using a crushed coral ONLY for reef tanks is that in the early days of tank keeping, they didnt have calcium reactors, or two part, or other alkalinity addatives to maintain PH. so that meant lots of water changes instead.

then there is black volcanic basalt sand, like in Hawaii. seems to make nice reefs. and i guess its high in quartz and silicon. check wickpedia. our problem with disolved silica compounds in water is that it feeds diatom algea. but it has to be a soluable form i guess. so we use RO/DI to remove the disolved stuff from our tap water.

Ive seen some nice white sugar sized sand box sand, silica, at K-mart or Wally wurld. about that price. dont remember the brand name. because it is a bit larger grained than southdown, i think the silica sand will not pack up and will remain more pourous for waste transport than the southdown. and it is inert, but still great surface area for bacteria. what kind of sand do they put into fluidized bed filters? or Kents, rocker wet dry with the foamed glass denitrating block? (silica?)

Ive removed my southdown DSB's for now. may try some later in another fuge. but i have some extra bags of SOUTHDOWN if you want. I just found it too fine. or i didn't have the right set of stirrer critters to keep it from going aneroebic. aneroebic denitrating is a slow, sulphur mode, inefficient mode of converting nitrates to N2 gas. I prefer the plenum system to denitrate. Ive had much better luck with it.

want some southdown sand?

Hey fast5 , you can test your sand by dropping a pinch of it into vinegar(weak acid,weak fizz) or muratic acid(strong HYDROCHLORIC ACID,strong fizz) if you have some. if it fizzes away to nothing its carbonate like southdown, if it sits there and sparkles, its silica/quartz based. I'm betting its silica/quatz.

so if acid wont disolve silca sand , why would salt water??


08/11/2006, 11:21 PM
fast5ilter - ive heard of the colorscape and i know some people have said that it has actually passed the vinegar test. do you know if it is a year-round item at walmart or seasonal?

kaptken- if you happen to have about 150 #s laying around i will be more than happy to take it off your hands:D regardless of what type i use i think i want to use just one type and seed it with several cups of live sand(donations anyone?;) )


08/11/2006, 11:36 PM
Yes Sir!! Yes Sir!! Three Bags Full!! just say when.

08/14/2006, 04:44 PM
I bought my sand at kmart. It was outside in a fenced in area so I'm pretty sure it was just seasonal. I will try the vinegar test later myself. I have read where a couple people tried it and it passed also. I'll let you know what I find with the vinegar test.

08/14/2006, 04:58 PM
I just may try a sandbed with the kmart stuff. just to experiment. hoping it is the silica/quartz variety of white play sand. if it is inert and performs well without turning to a sulfide mess, that would be good to know. the particle size would matter ast to if it goes anerobic orstays a bit anoxic. Yup Ive seen a stack there too at one by the bear library. clearance sale. I bought a bunch of bags of lava rock there too for a future pond filter.

hmmm? now i wonder, would lava rock, nice and porous like live rock, cause any problems in a reef tank bio filter? I wonder how inert it is to disolving in high PH water? other wise its great bacteria media and would probably denitrate too. like calcarous live rock.

has anyone heard of anyone using it?