Black sand -- Are there any hidden cons I haven't considered?

Discussion in 'Freshwater Substrates - Gravel, Sand' started by f2002, Aug 3, 2015.

  1. f2002Valued MemberMember

    I have false julii cories and kuhlis so I must have sand. My current white sand is very fine but looks dirty all the time despite twice-a-week water changes. I'll be upgrading from my 20 gallon to a 60 gallon tank in a month and I was thinking of switching to Estes Stoney River sand.

    However before I switch I'd love to know if there's any hidden "cons" I haven't considered. For example, based on my online research and personal brainstorming...

    -- Some say black sand makes tank look smaller. Is this true?

    -- Will black sand make fish poop hard to see and therefore I'm less likely to siphon it up? Will this be a problem if I use purigen? Will fish poop eventually become inert or will it start growing harmful viruses and bacteria?

    -- Will the estes black sand change my ph? Or is it neutral?

    -- What's the difference between   and  ? I saw both for sale on, but the Estes Marine Sand is so much cheaper (especially when you take S&H into account).
  2. TexasDomerFishlore LegendMember

    I don't have experience with this particular type of sand, but I do have black sand in my tank. You can still see fish poop on top of the sand, so you shouldn't have any trouble cleaning!
  3. CindiLFishlore LegendMember

    Hi. I had whitish sand (CaribSea Torpedo Beach) and it got grungy looking so I bought a bunch of the Estes Stoney River sand and I love, love it. Its a tiny bit heavier than the CaribSea's black. It wasn't even that dirty. I ended up mixing mine with the white so if you don't want the hassle of removing the white, I actually love the look of the two together. Both alone really show food and poop but the combination hides a lot more. I'll see if I can find a picture of my tank with both of them together. I have had black alone and I don't like how it looks all by itself, too dark, or maybe it does look smaller, not sure but something about it just didn't look right.

    My fish and cories and shrimp poke at the sand so much there is never any poop that doesn't make it to the filter in that tank. Even if it didn't, if your tank is planted it would serve as nutrients.

    When you put the Estes in your tank you can tap the pieces that float and they'll fall right to the bottom of the tank. Also, honestly I think they are the same sand because I've ordered the Marine sand but always end up with the same bags of Stoney River. It won't change your ph.

    Here is a picture. My particular white is coarser than the black so it ends up on the top more.

    ImageUploadedByFish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum1438622155.463036.jpg

    Close up

    ImageUploadedByFish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum1438622184.289050.jpg

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    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 11, 2015
  4. alinkWell Known MemberMember

    Responses in red italics. :)

  5. f2002Valued MemberMember

    Thanks! I hope it is the best of both worlds -- poop visible enough that I can clean it if I'm looking for it, but not so visible that it bugs me on an OCD level.

    CindiL! I was secretly hoping you'd stop by this thread. My choice of Este Stoney River was inspired by pictures you've shared with this forum earlier. It is great to hear that you're still loving it. You tanks look great! This picture you shared in your Estes review thread is just breathtaking:


    In the picture above, there's a beautiful cory cat in there with magnificent barbels. Has it remained that long in the Estes substrate or has it worn down? Also, where did you purchase your estes sand? They are not easy to find!

    Thank you so much for the great answers! You have really put me at ease about getting black substrate! Luckily I do have a tractor supply store within driving distance so I have considered Black Diamond as well. One concern I had though about Black Diamond is that in the youtube videos showcasing them they don't look extremely black. They look like there's a tiny mix of gray in there. I'm hoping to go for a very pure dark black look with my sand.
  6. alinkWell Known MemberMember

    No, its not pure black. If that is what you are looking for then dont get the Black Diamond. Personally, I like it not being so pure black because I have a painted solid black back wall. Having both be solid black would be too much! lol
  7. CindiLFishlore LegendMember

    I've ordered mine through Big Al's pet supplies. They have a variety of colors. They show the marine sand in the picture but pretty sure what I'm sent is the Stoney River. It comes within a couple of days usually.

    Yeah all of them have nice long barbels!

    I can't believe how much the black has sunk under the white in looking at this pic you posted. I might have to add another fine layer of black on top! Those dang cories stir it up so much lol

    Glad I wrote a review if it helped you.

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  8. GenavelleValued MemberMember

    Is that black diamond blasting sand aquarium-safe? Sorry I've just been trying to find a cheap substrate and I would really like black sand, but I thought I'd have to settle for like tan/white to save money. If I have snails, ghost shrimp, a betta, and plants, would this stuff be okay?
  9. alinkWell Known MemberMember

    Sure is safe! Lots of members use it in their tank, including myself. Its a little more course than your typical aquarium sand but it works fine in any setup that I have seen. $8 for a 50 lb bag. Wash it thoroughly to remove dust particles and floating stuff to keep it from clouding up your tank and you are good to go.
  10. BDpupsWell Known MemberMember

    I don't use black diamond brand, but I do use coal slag. The stuff I get is pre-washed in freshwater. So all I do is pour it in and fill up the tank. It's so nice not to have to clean substrate before using it.

    I also have tanks with white sand. And to be honest, if you are having problems with fish waste sitting on top of it, you are probably feeding too much, and you don't have enough circulation in your tank as well.
  11. f2002Valued MemberMember

    Since you have both white and black sand, you can help me out with a nagging question I have. I've read on several places people saying poop is equally visible on white and black sand. This doesn't make sense to me... I mean surely black hides it somewhat better right? What has your experience like?

    I think the circulation in my tank is kind of weak. I tried buying powerheads but couldn't use them because the neon tetras didn't like them.
  12. BDpupsWell Known MemberMember

    You can see fish waste on both black and white sand. I suppose it is a bit less visible on black. But any debris that is on top of a smooth bed of sand is going to stand out.
  13. CindiLFishlore LegendMember

    I agree, you can see poop equally on white or black sand as I've had both. Green snail poop really showed up on the black. Honestly I never see any on white/black combined. Not trying to sell you on it or anything ha ha, but its true. The mixed colors for some reason hides everything.

    Do you have a school of cories? They definitely will get the poop circulating and then picked up as they constantly are raking through the sand.
  14. ShortfuuzzeValued MemberMember

    I'm upgrading to a larger tank with sand, gonna get they stir up the sand enough where I will have to "groom" it now and again?

    Like they are gonna make holes? Might be a silly question haha

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  15. f2002Valued MemberMember

    Ha ha. I think your black and white mix looks beautiful. But personally my mild OCD will make it impossible to have a white and black mix. I would constantly want the mix to achieve some sort of perfect blend, and that would drive me insane!

    I do have some very adorable cories!

    I have false julii cories and they don't make giant craters. They just leave tiny adorable craters. They do it pretty much across the entire floor so it won't look weird. The pattern looks very even. It is actually very adorable. You don't have to "groom" the sand because of the cories. But you'll have to vacuum the top of your sand during water changes. I hope this helps!