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Cories & Quikrete Play Sand
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beachkrazd
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Joined: 07 Jun 2010

PostPosted: 2010.06.07(Mon)14:24    Post subject: Cories & Quikrete Play Sand Reply with quote

I'm setting up a 75 gallon tank that will include a school of cories, probably Corydoras sterbai. Since 3M Colorquartz is unavailable I'm looking for an alternative cory-safe sand substrate. I would really appreciate some opinions on the substrate in the pictures below (see links below). I am referring to the fine sand below the dime.

In the tank I plan to have a 0.5-0.7 inch layer of sand to help prevent anaerobic pockets. There will be plants on driftwood and maybe a few potted plants as well; the sand will likely be unplanted.

I want to mention that I read an old post by someone who examined pool filter sand vs. play sand in a microscope. They saw that the pool filter sand had very jagged, needle-like/sharp edges and the play sand was more rounded, with irregular shapes. That evidence steered away from using pool filter sand.

Based upon information from old forum posts, today I bought Quikrete Premium Play Sand (silica) from Home Depot (about $2.46 for 50 pounds, on sale!) and sifted a small sample by hand using a kitchen sieve. This revealed a very fine sand substance by separating slightly larger particles (located above the dime). The fine pieces are irregularly shaped, not completely round but not noticeably sharp either. The fine sand particles are so tiny that it feels very smooth overall despite the irregular shapes.

I put the sand in a wine glass with some water. The fine sand seems to be easily kicked up but it seems to settle right away. I like the natural, tan color versus bright white sand. It doesn't appear as if it will readily become compacted unlike CaribSea Moonlight Sand, which is even more fine with a flour-like consistency and seems very prone to compacting.

I think I might sieve the entire bag and use this fine sand as my substrate. It'll be a lot of work, but this stuff is so cheap that I think it might be worth the effort.

Would it be reasonable to try this fine sand substrate? I would greatly appreciate any other opinions or experiences that others may have with regard to Quikrete Play Sand as a substrate for cory catfish. This is an important decision so I'd like to have some piece of mind by discussing it with others. Smile Thanks!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/50942003@N03/4680445921/in/photostream

http://www.flickr.com/photos/50942003@N03/4680446329/in/photostream
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katienaha
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Joined: 18 Dec 2009
Location: British Columbia, Canada

PostPosted: 2010.06.07(Mon)14:53    Post subject: Reply with quote

seems like a good idea to me in regards to sifting the sand. lots of work, but money saved! I understand that you can have about 2 inche of sand though. Hope I am not mistaken. Why do you not want to plant into the sand?? I think if you are going for a more natural look, that would be the best way to go. Add some root tabs under the plant bases and it would help them root out and grow well.
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beachkrazd
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Joined: 07 Jun 2010

PostPosted: 2010.06.07(Mon)15:41    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for your quick response Katienaha! Smile

I also love the natural look of plants growing in sand, but I'm reluctant to have a deep sand bed (more than 1 inch) due to a bad experience I had with CaribSea Moonlight sand in a 10 gallon tank. Plus, I found pictures of 2 tanks that inspired me to try a shallow sand bed (see links below).
http://www.aquahobby.com/board/viewtopic.php?t=50464&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=70
http://www.aquahobby.com/board/viewtopic.php?t=50659&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=10 (See bottom picture posted by CoryWink.)
(The look of these tanks depends heavily on unique pieces of driftwood. I think finding similar pieces will be the hardest part of decorating my tank.)

I had Vallisneria growing very well in a 1-2 inch depth of CaribSea Moonlight Sand, but I lost 8 C. habrosus in that tank. They were my first attempt at keeping Cories. When I re-did that tank with flourite I noticed black/dark gray areas in the white Moonlight sand. I figured that was due to anaerobic activity. (I had even made the effort of occassionally stiring around the sand so I was disappointed and surprised to see the gray/black anaerobic area.) It was a nightmare losing all of those cute Cories and not knowing why it happened (probably a combination of things).

Since it was a bad experience I do not want to repeat anything that I did in that tank. I feel like I should avoid using CaribSea Moonlight sand because I saw that it can readily become compacted. With the new 75 gallon tank I want to minimize the chance of sand contributing to an unhealthy environment, and a shallow bed seems like one of the best ways to minimize that risk.

Once I am able to successfully keep Cories for a long period of time, I may feel more confident about adding a bit more sand to plant directly into it.

I hope this explanation makes sense. Embarassed
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katienaha
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Joined: 18 Dec 2009
Location: British Columbia, Canada

PostPosted: 2010.06.08(Tue)3:30    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can see where you are coming from. However, growing roots can help aerate the sand. Also, I believe there is a type of snail out there that burrows in the sand helping to aerate it, but I am no snail expert and hardly know the difference between an apple snail and a rock that looks like one. Rolling Eyes

maybe someone can help in regards to reducing anaerobic areas??
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nikelodeon79
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Joined: 08 Nov 2007
Location: Wisconsin, U.S.A.

PostPosted: 2010.06.11(Fri)12:24    Post subject: Reply with quote

I did a post awhile ago comparing Tahitian Moon Black Sand (TMBS) with Silica Sand from Menards (similar to Home Depot). The TMBS was sharp and jagged and the silica sand was smooth and uniform. Smile

I recently set up a tank using regular old playsand... I had fully intended on straining it because previous bags I'd purchased for other purposes contained larger particles (like your first picture depicts), but when I opened this back it all of the grains were tiny and similar sized. Saved me some work!

The difference between the playsand and the one labeled "silica sand" (other than the warning about not breathing the dust on the bag of the silica sand) was that the playsand was a LOT "dirtier." I had to wash the heck outta the playsand, whereas the silica sand only needed 3-4 rinses. I bet I rinsed the playsand 10 times.

As far as the gas pockets... I made that mistake in my 55g. Because things were being kept stirred up naturally by the cories and the snails, I slacked off on stirring up the sand bed. Unfortunately... when I finally decided to change out the tank I discovered that underneath the harmless looking top layer of sand lurked sand stained GREY with dangerous gasses. Sad I lost all but 7 of my cories... and I bet I had at least 25 at the highest number. Habbies are super sensitive... only one survived in my tank and frankly I'm surprised about that. Five leucomelas survived and only one panda... and at one point in time I had a very nice breeding colony of pandas.

So, the moral of the story is, if you're going to stir the sand up on a regular basis (chopsticks work well), you could have it deeper, but if you think you might get lazy (like me), leave it shallow. You could put it a bit deeper where your plants are going (that's generally what I do), or alternatively use glass containers to plant your plants in, and then stick those in the tank. That way the sand around your roots can be as deep as you'd like.

Good luck with the tank!
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SeaNLand
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Joined: 16 Jul 2010
Location: Pittsburgh, PA

PostPosted: 2010.07.23(Fri)2:24    Post subject: More detailed question Reply with quote

Along the lines of this thread...
I am planning to do a 55 Gal with a school of Corys. I was hoping to do a "river" of CaribSea Instant Aquarium Tahitian Moon Gravel with some kind of Cory safe sand on both sides.
Is this safe?
Will the Corys skip the moon gravel and sift only the safe sand?

Thanks for any help!
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susankatomerit
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Joined: 09 Mar 2005
Location: Tulsa, Ok

PostPosted: 2010.07.23(Fri)3:44    Post subject: Reply with quote

No they will sift all over the tank. As stated above I wouldn't go more than 1 inch of sand in the tank. Even being diligent about stirring there will always come a time when you won't be able to.

Tanks with shallow sand beds look great and natural using wood and rocks to tie any plants to. If you want rooted plants like swords in a shallow bed you will have to find some way to anchor it till the roots take hold. I use some smaller landscape rocks for this
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SeaNLand
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Joined: 16 Jul 2010
Location: Pittsburgh, PA

PostPosted: 2010.07.23(Fri)8:37    Post subject: Reply with quote

A bummer, but I do appreciate the response!
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