Play Sand in Marine tanks..+ or - ?

Discussion in 'The Sump' started by jacoc, 14 Mar 2011.

  1. jacoc


    Posts: 622
    28 Apr 2010
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    Pls... I’m not sure if this is a general topic.

    Play sand good or bad. As it contains silica... and this is how I understand would lead to continues leach of phosphates and silica substances... after a while it should settle down if ever...and will continue to leach nitrates/ phosphates and never run out of reserves...which causes for one bad algae (red slime; bubble; hair algae) and more problems in the short and long run...

    is this true...? as I see some newbie’s being advised to make use of this sand as sub-strate or in there dsb’s... is it because it is readily available and cheap or good...I don’t know??

    Why I would like to let us discuses this is it is to me a waist to start with something only to later have to change the set-up in order to maintain water start a marine set-up today is not cheap and so many people want to enter this field but is scared as so many start and after a few months just pack-up...:1:
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  3. FransSny


    Posts: 5,697
    16 Oct 2008
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    Jaco, I think it has been discussed before but just to set your mind at ease...nothing wrong with playsand. Actually most sand contains silicon dioxide (silicon) , geologists correct me if I am wrong.

    Silica is also the main ingredient in glass, so if your playsand were to leach so would your tank :p

    Hope this helps
    Quintonv likes this.
  4. Neil H

    Neil H Moderator MASA Contributor

    Posts: 2,795
    11 May 2008
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    Hi Jaco

    First off, aragonite is far superior to playsand, but it also comes at a far higher price.

    Playsand is certainly a compromise for a host of reasons.

    1. Silica, Frans is correct when he says that glass is made of silica and is further correct is saying that playsand is composed almost exclusively of silica, both should be innert, glass definately is and silica sand is to a lesser degree, let me explain

    2. Shape .... Aragonite is made of concentric layers of calcium carbonate (in the polymorph of aragonite), the outside is smooth and is suitable for bacterial colonization and easy for sand shifting organisms to process. Playsand may or may not be crushed down to its correct size, thus the surfaces may or may not be round and in addition the breaks may or may not be fresh.

    Some studies have shown a liklihood of silicates to be leached out of freshly broken silica rich rock (read playsand crushed to size), the same studies however indicate that this leaching is very rapid, and that something like 90% (dont quote me here ) is leached out in the first week.... so by a) cleaning the playsand properly and b) letting it stand in a bucket of RO water and agitating it a couple times, you should have incredibly minor ......... so as to be on the point of unmeasurable silicate leaching ......

    Playsand is definately a compromise, but with a hobby so expensive, i would reccommend this as a money saving option for reefers on a budget any day
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