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Old 07-19-2006, 06:37 PM   #1
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Sand Substrate

at the cost of sounding like a cheapskate,

i spend quite a bit of time up at lake erie and was wondering if it was possible to take the sand from the lake beach, boil it and use it as substrate.

or do you think the bacteria from the lake would be too harmful even if boiled?

i know i could pick up enough sand for $10, but when you are on a budget, every bit helps.

TIA!
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Old 07-19-2006, 07:55 PM   #2
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I don't see any problem with this, just poil it for five minutes or so and it should be fine. There may be particles that will float in your aquarium though.
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Old 07-19-2006, 08:59 PM   #3
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I would worry about chemicals, fertilizer run off, oil spills etc. A whole lot of stuff winds up in large bodys of water like that. I would not use it.
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Old 07-19-2006, 09:04 PM   #4
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I have to agree with Rich there may be many contaminants that can't be easily boiled away that can cause harm to aquarium fish.
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Old 07-19-2006, 11:01 PM   #5
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OTOH lots of people use play sand or pool filter sand from HD & the like without problems .... These are just ordinary sand that had been washed .... so I don't think it is any different form you collecting the sand & really washing it well. <Come to it, aquarium sand/gravel all have to come from some natural source .... so as long as you can mimic the treatment these get, you should be fine.>

Just to be safe, however, I would collect stuff for the aquarium as far upstream & away from civilization as possible (eg Lake Superior would be much cleaner than Erie) .... as long as you wash it really, really well (and may be leave it out to weather in the sun for a few weeks or months) you would be fine. The only thing I would worry about is pesticide residue, some of these last for years & had been known to kill fish in ponds.

The final decision is up to you. There is a risk, but it can be minimized.
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Old 07-19-2006, 11:24 PM   #6
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I would think, the companies that sell those materials have access to better technologies to prepare and clean the sand than the average home aquarist. I also doubt they get the starting materials from the shores of the great lakes.
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Old 07-20-2006, 12:24 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rich311k
I would worry about chemicals, fertilizer run off, oil spills etc. A whole lot of stuff winds up in large bodys of water like that. I would not use it.
I'm with Rich. Even boiling it will not get rid of all the harmful chemicals. It doesn't take much to seriously hurt your fish.
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Old 07-20-2006, 02:52 AM   #8
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I agree with Rich. There are WAY to many pollutants to feel safe using this.

I use pool filter sand in my 29 planted and I love it. Iy cost me $12 for a 50 lb bag, so it is very cheap. Oppose to gravel that builds up a lot of waste underneath, sand does not IMO. It helps to build a slope from the back to the front so it's easier to gravel vac.

I would not even attempt to boil sand when you do not know what is in it. For whatever it is worth, I had this same idea a while back.

Good Luck
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Old 07-20-2006, 08:50 AM   #9
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yeah, i guess i never thought of chemicals, i switch my opinion, i agree with rich, sorry, i made an oooops
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Old 07-21-2006, 01:42 AM   #10
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That is ok Waterpond, that is what AA is all about. It happens to all of us!
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Old 07-21-2006, 11:39 AM   #11
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Thanks for the info and replies. i thought it was a bad idea, but i figured i'd run it by you guys (the experts), in hopes of the off chance of saving a few bones. of course, the fish are the highest priority and PFS isn't that expensive.
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Old 07-22-2006, 03:15 AM   #12
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Is it really that impossible to wash sand?

Sure, boiling only kills bacteria, but washing gets rid of chemicals. Like, if you didn't just rinse it, but actually used dish soap in it, then just kept rinsing it till the bubbles went away ... there just couldn't be much left to hurt your fish.

I guess it depends how touchy your fish are. I mean, there ARE fish that live in Lake Erie. Of course, I'd stay as far as possible away from Cleveland. The stuff they put in the water could probably kill anything.

If you're going to spend a bunch of time cleaning it, though, you might as well just get pool filter sand anyway. Your time has to be worth something.
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Old 07-22-2006, 05:41 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tostada
If you're going to spend a bunch of time cleaning it, though, you might as well just get pool filter sand anyway. Your time has to be worth something.
Excellent point. Washing sand for a few hours will drive you to drinkin'.
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Old 07-22-2006, 08:30 AM   #14
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IMO, just buy the pool filter sand. It's cheap and reliable.


Better to be safe than sorry. I wouldn't trust lakes like those where pollutants run high.
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Old 07-22-2006, 08:54 AM   #15
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FWIW, lake erie is nortoriously polluted.
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Old 07-22-2006, 11:47 AM   #16
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if you want to save a couple extra bux, go to a brick, rock or lanscaping company instead of a hardware store. i got my sand from a brick place and it was only 6$ for 75Lbs. the stuff i got was called "baby sand", and was pre-rinsed, too. i still gave it a good rinse but hardly any residue came off it, so they must have done a pretty good job!
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Old 07-22-2006, 04:50 PM   #17
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Just in case you didn't know, Lake Erie is the most polluted of the Great Lakes. Cleveland has dumped so much pollution into the Cuyahoga River (which goes into Lake Erie) that the river itself caught fire three times, in 1936, 1952, and 1969.
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Old 07-22-2006, 06:28 PM   #18
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I was there in 69 (as a child), and it wasn't pretty. The Cuyahoga Falls looked like someone was pushing jello down the river - looked like you could just walk across. Of course, the cleanup efforts since then have been dramatic (so I've heard).
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