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Old 06-30-2004, 05:29 PM   #1
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silica vs. argonite

I know I asked this here once, but I didn't get much of a response, so let me reword my question.

Basically, in my area, there is NO cheap argonite based playsand. So my only option is paying at least $1 per pound at hte LFS or PetSmart.

I've had people tell me 'silica sand is fine, don't worry about using it, its safe'
Others tell me 'silica will get you no where'
Then my 2 books, which everyone agrees are good books both say 'silica sand has no place in the marine tank'.

So, as expensive as 50lbs of argonite might be, if its what I need for success....it's what I need.

So, chime in with your personal experience on using silica sand, please
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Old 06-30-2004, 05:46 PM   #2
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I;ve only used silica sand in a FW tank, so I can't really comment on SW silica personal experience.

here's a sum-up of what I consider to be "the facts"

Silica is not bad for your tank. It will NOT release silicates as some say, they are two different things.
Silica, on a microscopic level has sharp edges. These sharp edges deter some mico-fauna from growing in your DSB, thus limiting sand bad bio-diversity.
Silica sand provides no Ph buffer capacity. Again, this is not bad, it is simply neutral.

Argonite sand is good for your tank
On a microscopic level there are no edges but each grain is actualy a small rounded ball.
Argonite Sand is Calcium Carbonate based and provides for Ph buffering of your water.

so either sand "will do" but you are of course better off with argonite sand.

it's up to you if you wand to pay the extra. Of course... if you want... buy few bags of CC and find a way to break it down into sand, like a giant rock tumbler. Thats all argonite sand (and the reef floor in general) is... CC thats thats washed back and forth billions of times and worn small and smooth.
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Old 06-30-2004, 05:48 PM   #3
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I tried setting up a tank with silica sand about 6 months ago, and the sand never settled, even after a month. Hence, I took all the sand out of there and replaced it with argonite, crushed coral, and livesand.

Some people do ok with silica sand however. Crushed coral and I think argonite buffers the calcium as well, if I remember correctly, so that's an added bonus.
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Old 06-30-2004, 05:51 PM   #4
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I have silica sand mixed with live sand in my SW tank and I have had no problems really except the buffering capacity. To fix that problem I just drip kalk 24/7. Hope this helps
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Old 06-30-2004, 06:42 PM   #5
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I should have mentioned that I"m considering using tap water, which here is 7.8ph, 8degrees KH, 11dGh.
I"m gonna get an analysis from the water company, since my tests show no nitrates or phosphates in city water...just chloramine/chlorine. If it's not high in any metals or other 'bad' things, I think I might use 50/50 tap and R/O, which means I'd have 4dKh worth of buffering.
I'll keep watching for more comments.
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Old 07-01-2004, 09:38 AM   #6
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if you use it for top offs then you'll want to watch the water for Ph and KH, but if you're doing a water change then your salt mix should balance your Ph and other parameters. The biggest thing to watch when using tap water are heavy metals, chlorine, nitrates and phosphates, as you already know.
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