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Re: Tex-Blast or RMC Lonestar "Lapis Lustre"

Dan P wrote: 

I'm driving down to Southern California next month and was thinking 
about picking up some Tex-Blast or "quartz gravel". The problem is that 
I'd have to wait a whole month before I could set up my tank and I'm a 
little impatient. Is the Tex-Blast or the "quartz gravel" worth the 
wait? How much of a pain is the Lapis Lustre? I remember reading on the 
list that RMC makes a "shell-less" version thus obviating the need to 
look for dirt during my vacation. I hear that the Lapis Lustre also 
looks nicer...If Tex-Blast or "quartz gravel" is indeed the way to go, 
can anyone tell me where I can get either one in the LA, Orange County 
area (especially the "quartz gravel").


I'm in the process of getting another tank going and like you, had to 
decide what to do about the substrate. I live in Northern CA (bay area) 
and after searching and asking around, concluded that Tex-Blast is 
simply not available around here. I doubt that its available down in 
southern CA either--it does not seem feasible to truck that stuff over 
to the west coast, especially when there are major local 
suppliers/competitors such as RMC Lonestar around (though please correct 
me if I'm wrong). None of the sandblasting companies, masonry supply, 
hardware stores or rock quarries had ever heard of the product. Everyone 
knew what Lapis Lustre was, however.

RMC Lonestar does not produces a shell-less version of their Lapis 
Lustre; at least not by design. Examine their coarse sand sizes: #1 thru 
#4 (#4 is also called "Aquarium Gravel") all contain shell fragments *in 
varying amounts*. What I found with shell fragment content was that #4 
gravel was *loaded* with large #4 size shell fragments. The gravel size 
was too large for my taste anyways. However, the smaller you go in size, 
the smaller the shell fragments become. #3 Lapis contained a *very* low 
amount of shell, perhaps because at this grain size the shell frags are 
small enough that they are pulverized either during processing, 
cleaning, or shipment (I believe Greg Tong noted this way back). 

Upon noticing this, I decided on the #3 Lapis (approx. 1-2 mm grain 
size, $6.59/100lbs.). I tested portions with muriatic acid and observed 
very little fizzing, if any. I washed the sand thoroughly, and as I laid 
down the substrate, ammendments and all, gleefully noted a finite amount 
of shell. I'm extra paranoid as the Lapis is being used in a tank for a 
pair of discus, and even I decided to use it <grin>. What shell is 
evident is extremely small and thin in size--tiny slivers--and will 
probably "weather" away relatively quickly in the tank. There is too 
little shell to have a noticeable effect on the water (approx. 80 
gallons, using very soft water) regardless of whether weathering occurs. 
It is probably safe to assume that dense planting (and vigorous growth 
of faster growing species) will end up knocking back rising pH and GH 
(if any) by absorbing the small amounts of calcium carbonate produced.       

If the shell still bothers you, you can use dilute muriatic acid as you 
clean the gravel. This will dissolve the small amounts of shell, 
rendering the sand inert. Though as I mentioned earlier, there was far 
too little shell to even warrant doing so.  

Good luck, hope that helped...

Erik Leung
San Francisco

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