Black Sand Comparison: Spectraquartz, Ceramaquartz, Black Diamond Blasting

troyvsc

I put this post together for those who have been searching for cheaper alternatives to LFS black sand such as Tahitian Moon Sand. I thought it would nice to have all the info the alternative substrates in one post. Any feedback would be great or if you know another substrate that could be used so I can add it to the lists.

This is a comparison between cheaper alternative black sands that can be used in aquariums. I DO NOT claim that any of these are safe for use nor do I claim any preference. This is merely to give information for those who want to use black sand who are looking for cheaper alternatives. I will try to provide cost, where can find, and what the product is (MSDS if possible)

First I would like to thank Estes, Fairmount Building and ATI for their samples they sent to me. The first photo is all the products together next to each other to show the general size differences.

comparing all.jpg


The next 4 pictures are of the Estes Ceramaquartz S & T grade (equivalent to 3m Colorquartz) & HP MCD & HP Super Trowel-Rite. Ceramaquartz is color coated vs the the other two the coloring is in the process.
Cermaquartz is roughly $.50 per lb/HP $19.25 for 50lbs/HP Super Trowel-Rite $23.45 for 50lbs.
Here is their distributor list I called to find out that I could not get Ceramaquartz local but was able to find the other two.

Estes Ceramaquartz 1.jpg

Estes Ceramaquartz 2.jpg

Estes Ceramaquartz 3.jpg

Estes Ceramaquartz 4.jpg

The next 3 photos are Spectraquartz F, Q grade and two larger Q grades. Spectraquartz is quartz with color added using a process. (I would call it staining the quartz). I found this locally for $17.45 for 50lbs for both grades. I called this number to find a local distributor 800-255-7263.
Here is the MSDS sheet for Spectraquartz The 50lbs of Spectraquartz that I am using washed pretty easily with a little clumping and floating. Water ran clear after a short time.

Spectraquartz F.jpg

Spectraquartz  Q.jpg

two larger Q grades.jpg

The next three pictures of Black Diamond Blasting Grip. Black Diamond is Coal Slag (The bi-product of coal burning. Inert and should not have any heavy metals in it). There are alternatives of this same substance like Black Beauty. You can find Black Diamond for $7.99 for 50lbs.


Black Diamond Blasting Grip.jpg


Black Diamond Blasting Grip 2.jpg


Black Diamond Blasting Grip 3.jpg

Play Sand and Pool filter sand for comparison.

play sand.jpg

pool filter sand.jpg

I will also try to get a sample of Tahitian Moon Sand, will post a pic when I do. Spoke to a rep and they said that TMS consists of "Washed Amorphous Silica" in other words black quartz yet it is double the price of some of the sands mentioned above.
 

retlaf

I just wanted to say that Tahitian Moon Sand looks suspiciously like the Black Diamond Coal Slag. I would bet confidently that it's the same stuff re-branded.
 

troyvsc

I just wanted to say that Tahitian Moon Sand looks suspiciously like the Black Diamond Coal Slag. I would bet confidently that it's the same stuff re-branded.

Just got off the phone with a rep from CaribSea. They said that Tahitian Moon Sand is "Washed Amorphous silica" It is quartz sand. it is amazing they get charge double the cost of similar quartz products listed above.

They are going to email me the MSDS sheet.
 

cichlidman

I use 20-40 coal slag myself great for the price
 

Akari_32

Just got off the phone with a rep from CaribSea. They said that Tahitian Moon Sand is "Washed Amorphous silica" It is quartz sand. it is amazing they get charge double the cost of similar quartz products listed above.

They are going to email me the MSDS sheet.

Slap "Aquarium" on it and they can charge 3x more
 

JustKeepSwimming

I use the #20 coal slag. Beautiful and cheap.
 

Junne

This is great info, thanks for posting it - I am going to bookmark it for future use. I love the Tahitian moon sand and never knew it was the same as the black quartz. I had bought some to fill up a bottle and the stuff was very $$$.
 

troyvsc

This is great info, thanks for posting it - I am going to bookmark it for future use. I love the Tahitian moon sand and never knew it was the same as the black quartz. I had bought some to fill up a bottle and the stuff was very $$$.

Your welcome. This is exactly why I did this. I was so confused after hours of searching.
 

APColorado

Thanks for doing this! This well help members choose what substrate they want because of this thread.
 

Tonia

Thanks for taking the time to lay out all these different sands and other possible substrates! It really helps to see them side by side.
 

aylad

Very cool. Maybe sticky-worthy?
 

Jahnikar

I stumbled across this on TSC's website and thought I'd point it out as another possibility. I have no personal experience with it, but thought it might be worth comparing also.
 

troyvsc

I stumbled across this on TSC's website and thought I'd point it out as another possibility. I have no personal experience with it, but thought it might be worth comparing also.

Black Fury (30-60) is Black Diamond, each size of Black Diamond has a different name such as Twisted Sister (20-40). The photograph is up there under the Black Diamond section.

Thanks for thinking about other items though as I know there are more out there than I have come up with.
 

troyvsc

Just washed 50lbs of Spectraquartz and it was pretty clean. I did have some clumping and a little bit floated to the top but overall water ran pretty clear after a very short time.
 

Eienna

Is the black diamond stuff sharp? I don't want it to hurt my bottom dwellers.
 

troyvsc

Is the black diamond stuff sharp? I don't want it to hurt my bottom dwellers.

To be honest it's a lot sharper than the fine grade sand. That being said many many people use it with out problems. I live in SoCal so Black Diamond was not an option and Black beauty was nearly as expensive as the stuff I ended up getting.
 

Eienna

I researched and I can't find it either xP so it's a moot point. Thanks for the info, though. I'm sure it'll be useful to someone else.
 

frampy

Just put in black diamond it looks great.
 

Jim

Just as a point of info, my cories have no problem with Black Diamond.
 

AquaLady

Whoo black diamond looks sharp lol
 

BrokerTamara

Great posts. I purchased the premium Caribea sand supernatural and wonder if anyone has used it. Thanks so much Tamara
 

Mims

Thank you so much for doing this, it is a huge help!!! Not to mention a huge money saver!
 

BrokerTamara

My black sand is Caribsea. Anyone use it or have any problems?

I am hearing hard to hard look clean?
 

troyvsc

Great posts. I purchased the premium Caribea sand supernatural and wonder if anyone has used it. Thanks so much Tamara

If it is the sand, it is just quartz and should be fine. As far as cleaning goes I have heard a old pillow case works well for cleaning. Just do a web search and you can find instructions on how to.

Thank you so much for doing this, it is a huge help!!! Not to mention a huge money saver!

I appreciate the feedback. Your Welcome

Just as a point of info, my cories have no problem with Black Diamond.

I would say that most people who I have read about have had no issues with it at all including bottom fish such as loaches, cories, pleco etc...
 

Silod

Oh, man, thanks for doing all this research and sharing it with us! I've always used gravels, but I was thinking it would be cool to try a black sand this time around. Now I have something to go on!

The coal slag looks awesome, where can you get it? Is there someplace specific you need to order it from or do some LFS's carry it?
 

troyvsc

Tractor supply is the easiest, if you have one near you.
 

AquaLady

I don't have a tractor supply store near me
 

troyvsc

I don't have a tractor supply store near me

Me neither bit then again if I did I would not have found some of the other great alternatives
 

Dolfan

I'm sure there are other places near you that would carry black diamond blasting sand or something similar. Check Home-Depot maybe. Also, try googling it and put your city name in the google search, I'm sure something may pop up. It's used for removing paint and refinishing things like old metal etc. Maybe call a restoration company and find out if they know where you could get some. They use it on the TV show American Restoration sometimes, you see them sand blasting old metal work to get down to the base metal. So a similar company that restores old things may know where to get some.
 

AquaLady

Me neither bit then again if I did I would not have found some of the other great alternatives

That's true too.

I'm sure there are other places near you that would carry black diamond blasting sand or something similar. Check Home-Depot maybe. Also, try googling it and put your city name in the google search, I'm sure something may pop up. It's used for removing paint and refinishing things like old metal etc. Maybe call a restoration company and find out if they know where you could get some. They use it on the TV show American Restoration sometimes, you see them sand blasting old metal work to get down to the base metal. So a similar company that restores old things may know where to get some.

That's a great idea with calling restoration companies. I tried googling various sands and all that came up was play sand and crayola colored play sand. The other thing I have trouble figuring out is, is it sharp? I have TMS and my cories barbels are worn. I know this because the one at Petsmart are nice and long while my cories have little stubs. I feel bad for the little guys.
 

troyvsc

That's a great idea with calling restoration companies. I tried googling various sands and all that came up was play sand and crayola colored play sand. The other thing I have trouble figuring out is, is it sharp? I have TMS and my cories barbels are worn. I know this because the one at Petsmart are nice and long while my cories have little stubs. I feel bad for the little guys.

I don't think TMS should cause barbel erosion. Neither should coal slab as there are a lot of users of it that have bottom fish. Also depending on your area they may not use coal slag for sand blasting. Most of the companies in So Cal that do sand blasting use copper slag out here because it is cheaper than shipping coal slag.

If you are really worried about the sharpness I would recommend spectraqurtz or cermaquartz. They are both based out back east just call them and that's how I found a distributor 30 minutes away.
 

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