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Re: river sand (was Plant Aquariums)

> Date: Thu, 5 Jun 1997 21:41:32 -0400
> From: William.Glaze at po_cle.ab.com (William Glaze)
> Subject: Plant Aquariums
>      I am setting up a planted aquarium and I'm wondering if anyone has
>      used river sand as part of their substrate.  Any comments or
>      suggestions would be welcome.
>      Thanks

I have.  I used sand from the Rio Grande near Albuquerque and layered it
over a Texblast base.  The sand is mostly very fine-grained with a
"salt-and-pepper" color (caused by mixing light colored and dark colored
grains) and contains varying quantities of both small gravel and clay.  I
washed the clay out, and kept the fine sand and gravel.

Over the two years since I did this, the fine sand has settled through the
Texblast, leaving the Texblast and the small gravel visible at the
surface.  The fine sand reappears where and when I disturb the substrate,
then dissappears again over a period of a few weeks.

Some plants responded well to the fine sand.  Lileopsis, Val. Americana
and a Myriophyllum sp. seemed to improve.  For the most part, the plant
growth didn't change.  The trumpet snails seem to thrive.

"River sand" is hardly a well-defined entity.  My sand from the Rio Grande
is relatively uncontaminated by human input and (probably because I took
it from a channel where the sand was actively moving) it doesn't host an
obvious benthic community.  It is primarily quartz, but contains fragments
of volcanic material that can potentially increase the silica content of
the water (possibly encouraging diatom growth) and almost certainly
contains limestone fragments.  As my tanks already contain quite a bit of
calcium carbonate due to past generations of snails I wasn't worried about
the increased hardness and potential pH rise from the limestone fragments.

If you do use river sand, make sure it comes from uncontaminated areas.
You might also want to store it for some time (as I did) to allow the
various critters to die-off, then clean it before using it.  This is a
case where your mileage will vary (hugely) so procede with caution.

Roger Miller