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Does sand have high CEC?

Discussion in 'Sediment / Substrate' started by aman74, Sep 11, 2010.

  1. aman74

    aman74 Prolific Poster

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    Wondering about the CEC ability of different sand. I've heard that Flourite Black Sand has a high CEC, but not sure if that's the case or not.

    More importantly I'm wondering about the CEC of cheaper alternatives. Zeosand or Zeolite, pool filter sand and the one I'd really like to know about as it's cheap and looks good is 3M colorquarts black. I believe it is now spectraquarts.

    I'm guessing the grain size would also affect CEC?

    Thanks,

    Anthony
     
  2. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    Yes. Heck Yes! And Heck No!

    Hi Anthony,

    Yes, Flourite Black Sand has a high cation exchange capacity (cec), Zeolite and I assume Zeosand are even higher cec. :)

    Pool sand should have almost no cec. :cool:

    Smaller grain size in that there is more surface area.

    Biollante
     
    #2 Biollante, Sep 11, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 11, 2010
  3. aman74

    aman74 Prolific Poster

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    Can you clarify the last part? You are saying that smaller grains give more surface area right? What I'm wondering though is there must be other factors since PFS has almost no CEC, but other substrates with larger grain sizes do. I imagine whether the surface has tiny pits, etc... would factor in and the material itself may not be conducive to having a high CEC regardless of it's surface area. Those are wild guesses, just trying to clarify.

    Any thoughts on the 3M sand? Seems like a good inert substrate in general and if it has a high CEC it would be perfect as far as inert substrates go.
     
  4. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    Colloids?

    Hi Anthony,

    I am not sure we are talking about the same things. :confused:

    A cation exchange capacity (CEC) is a measured milliequivalents per 100 grams, meq/100 g and measures the quantity of negative charges on the surfaces of organic matter and clay.
    Note: CEC is also expressed as centimoles of charge per kilogram of dry soil, cmolc/kg.
    meq/100 g = cmolc/kg

    CEC and total exchange capacity (TEC) are used to describe the ability of a soil to store minerals and nutrients.

    Sand for instance has a CEC less than 1 meq/100 g. Clays tend to be over 30 meq/100 g.

    I think I recall natural zeolites are around 100 meq/100g. :)

    Organics, humus is around 250 meq/100g

    By their nature and our definitions, clays and silts are very fine particles; these materials have incredible surface areas, Montmorillonite for instance provides something like 4.5 acres per ounce (18200^2 m/28g). :gw

    Biollante
     
  5. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    Dsb

    Hi Anthony,

    As far as sand I like pool sand, good structure, rounded, few sharp edges, generally cheap. :D

    For the smarter-than-average, good-looking, patient aquarium keeper 3 inches (7.6 cm) of pool sand can be a marvelous multi-decade filter/ highly enriched substrate. :)

    I am not familiar with 3M sand, aside from some abrasives. Generally in the aquarium we want smooth materials and for the planted tank we want something that allows for root growth.

    Biollante
     
  6. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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  7. aman74

    aman74 Prolific Poster

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    Not sure. You had brought up surface area, and my thought in the past was that maybe surface area was related to CEC and when you brought it up I thought that's what you were referring to. Maybe I made the assumption since I had the thought previously and you brought up surface area while also talking about CEC.

    It's all a bit over my head, but I'll look at the article you referenced.

    I think that 3M product is an abrasive as I think it's a blasting material. People have had success with blasting materials, but that doesn't mean it's ideal, since, as you say, a smoother surface is preferred. It is black and cheap though :)
     
  8. shoggoth43

    shoggoth43 Lifetime Charter Member
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    Just a thought... Cheap aside, do you really want to place a known highly abrasive material IN your tank? Assuming you take care to never get it stuck between glass and cleaning rag/scraper you're probably ok. Having gotten flourite stuck between magnet scrubber and glass I can tell you that does a VERY good job of scratching glass. You may want to try some experimentation on a tank you don't care too much about first, just in case.

    -
    S
     
  9. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    Cheap to Expensive : Simple to Complex

    Hi Anthony,

    My reference to grain or particle size was my attempt to answer/understand your question (that I presumed honest) in your post #1 above; I did not bring it into the discussion randomly. :gw

    As shoggoth43, that amorphous, protoplasmic abomination :eek:, points out there are problems with abrasives in the tank. In addition to what the aforementioned amorphous, protoplasmic abomination cites the issue with living things that wish to root around in the substrate. Even play sand can wreak havoc on impellors and other moving parts. :(

    Everything we do can be complex or simple. Cheap as in no or very little cost to monstrously expensive and though I am a monster, I advocate the cheap end of the spectrum. :)

    Think of cation exchange capacity as a nutrient/mineral bucket.

    Rather than your cart-before-the-horse approach may I suggest you say what you want from a planted tank, then folks can assist you in coming up with a reasonable goals with a high probability of success.

    Biollante
     
  10. aman74

    aman74 Prolific Poster

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    Yeah, I was being honest, just trying to understand how surface area related to CEC.

    The nutrient bucket is a good analogy and it's how I think about CEC allowing the substrate to hold nutrients.

    I've heard of issues with some substrates being too abrasive for bottom dwellers and possibly scratching glass. I just hadn't heard of any of those issues with the 3M, I would have to look into that I guess if I consider using it.

    Not really putting the cart before the horse. Just examining the different styles of tanks and the methods used. The substrate can be one of the main components that dictates style of maintenance. Also, like I had said in the past, I want to experiment with different styles as well. Some methods will work better for different goals, like you implied. I can propose one type of goal if you like though.

    How about this:
     
  11. aman74

    aman74 Prolific Poster

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    Not sure if it's my PC or the forum, but after I type a certain amount the text keeps bouncing up and down and I'm unable to finish. Hopefully I can here:

    -black, inexpensive substrate

    -no, to low dosing

    -long lasting substrate

    -low tech type setup (low light, possibly DIY C02 or excel as it will be a small tank and should be feasible)

    Many of my questions have been geared towards those ends, with some thrown in that are more general and geared towards an EI setup. I don't think that's so bad as I want to do both eventually.

    If I was going for a water column dosing setup I wouldn't put as much emphasis on a long lasting soil. That's why I had asked if I could get AS to last, etc... as I was trying to avoid having to mess with mineralizing soil.

    Then from what I gathered reading it seemed that I'd have to do some kind of an MTS soil to achieve those goals, but then saw conflicting info about how long AS lasts, how long WC soils last, etc... Hard to achieve my goals without the answers.

    Another style of tank I thought I could do was something middle of the road as we can have a high margin of error with low light and not too ambitious of goals for the flora. For this tank I thought I would just find an inexpensive substrate option, but something with a high CEC. Getting most of the nutrients from the fish, but possibly some low maintenace dosing like osmocote. That's why I was also asking about inert substrates with a nice CEC. The sand happens to be both black and cheap, but not sure about CEC and now worried about it's abrasiveness. Also, wanted to use it as a cap for the MTS method tank. Are there any dark grey or black sands around that wouldn't be abrasive and are cheap?

    Another style would be the more common AS or similar substrate and EI.

    Having a bit of trouble finding out some answers to the MTS style soils as well. Tom had said that potassium doesn't uptake through the roots right? So, is the Muriate of Potash not necessary? Why would soil last a decade and WC's only a few years? Is the wetting and drying in the sun required or boiling just as good besides the fact that there won't be any bacteria to start with that will grow in the tank anyhow?

    Maybe I ask a lot of questions, but not without reason. I trust the information here a lot more than other sites, but that leads to conflicting info and I just want to get it right.

    If I could afford 30-50 bucks and up for substrate on each tank some of these, but not all, issues would be mitigated.

    Now, even PFS seems iffy if it ruins impellers. Not a first choice because of the color, but if I had to for financial reasons it seems even it might be out of the running.
     
  12. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    Good Something To Work With: Cheap is good!

    Hi Anthony,

    Now we have something to work with. I like the patient, long-term approach. If you can remain disciplined in your choice of plants and critters for the first year or so you are going to be successful. :)

    You say small tank, I will assume 2.5-80-gallon tank for now.

    1. What kinds of space to you have?
    2. What size would you prefer?
    3. How nice looking does it need to be?
    4. Is there a significant other to keep happy?

    You want low light, good idea. :cool:
    Depending on your housing arrangement, where you live, ambient lighting or changing some area or task lighting may be enough. All kinds of lamps and shop lights are available, depending on your do-it-yourself skills, access to tools all kinds of things are possible.
    Same thing for heaters and such, where you live, how you live and what you want to keep dictates the heater arrangement.

    {For the record, I have never purchased a commercial substrate. I personally believe they are overpriced and ridiculously over-hyped.}

    The simplest substrate and the longest lasting, as in decades, is sand, as I said earlier, pool filter sand is my favorite. For black substrate, three inches (8 cm) of sand covered by half-an-inch (1 cm) of black gravel or whatever. :)

    Over the last year or so, I have become a fan of enriched soils, muck really, for root-feeders. For sheer experience though, 50 plus years of sand, sand is still my favorite. :p

    Within a year, a deep sand bed will be very rich and any root-feeders can be kept in pots. Stick to basic non-root feeding plants for the time being.

    If you wish to elevate CO2, use a decent air pump and good glass or wood air stones. Do-it-yourself CO2 if you wish but depending on plant selection it is not required. :eek:

    With patients, any small pump to circulate the water 2-7 times the water volume will take care of filtration, few or limited water changes. Do not vacuum stuff. A few oak leaves can help.

    You have a two-decade tank. :gw

    Biollante
     
    #12 Biollante, Sep 13, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 13, 2010
  13. aman74

    aman74 Prolific Poster

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    Grrr, Text keeps jumping around, not sure what the issue is with quoting on the forum.

    Biollante and Shoggoth

    I spent some time researching sand and apparantly, silica, quartz and pool filter sand are all one in the same. Do you guys have any reason to believe the 3M stuff is that different?

    Biollante, I'll reply to your post thoroughly when I have more time.
     
  14. aman74

    aman74 Prolific Poster

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    Ok, tried to upload a pic, first time I've done that here, so let's hope it works.

    Here's a pic of the 3M stuff, a mix of the S and T grade. It doesn't seem that sharp to me. I found a 30 some page thread about the stuff on another forum and haven't gotten that far into it yet, but one poster mentioned that the fine grade version was smooth. He didn't have the T grade.

    Maybe an assumption was made about the 3M? Myself, I thought it was an abrasive as well, but I don't think this product is used for sandblasting.

    I hope this is a good option because it ticks all the boxes as far as an inert substrate goes, besides maybe CEC, but I have no idea how I would find that out. I can only assume it's low.

    Wouldn't PFS also be able to scratch glass as it's silica?

    2352_colorquartzc&#.jpg
     
    #14 aman74, Sep 14, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 14, 2010
  15. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    It Is All In The Shape

    Hi Anthony,

    I have never used the 3M sands. The only thing I have heard is that the “T” grade is course enough but that it is too sharp for bottom dwellers, such as Cory’s, I am a Cory fan. I just read a couple of blurbs by people I do not know who say there Cory’s do just fine with 3M “T” in there tank. :confused:

    All of the sands are going to have the same basic make up, the differences in sand is the shape, size and texture.

    Any of the silica can scratch glass; the shape determines the tendency for damage, how hard you have to work to make a mess with it.

    Compaction has to do with shape some sands are designed to compact.

    If you want some CEC lay done an inch (2.5 cm) of cheap kitty litter, Wal-Marts, Special Kitty. Rinse it well and let it soak for a week or three. Either lay it done as the first layer or mix it into the bottom two inches (5 cm). :cool:

    Biollante
     
  16. shoggoth43

    shoggoth43 Lifetime Charter Member
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    I've run across some sand blasting "sand" that you definitely wouldn't want anywhere near a tank. I think it was probably more of an aluminium oxide powder, but it came listed as "sand". If it says it's quartz or silica then you're probably good to go. Flourite sand is considerably less "sharp" than the flourite gravel, but whether or not any of the matters to corys is speculation. I haven't had any that are noticeably damaged by it. The flourite gravel scratched the heck out of my cube so you still want to be careful. I don't doubt the sand version could do a number as well, but it seems a little less likely when dragging my hands through it vs. the gravel. I just wanted to make sure that we were all on the same page as to what you actually had in there. From what you're saying you probaby don't have any real concerns.

    The PFS that I've had was pretty stable. It wasn't inclined to go through power heads in any way unless you had the intake right on top of it, so that's probably not too much of a concern for you. I'm not sure the "silver sands" wouldn't blow around, but I don't think you have any grains that small either.

    -
    S

     
  17. Pickled_Herring

    Pickled_Herring Junior Poster

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    3M no longer makes this product. Most companies have switched to "Spectraquartz" which is a comparable sand like product. It looks like they have distributors across the U.S. http://www.spectraquartz.com/

    Regards
    Larry
     
  18. aman74

    aman74 Prolific Poster

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    Yeah, at first I heard it was exact and now I'm hearing it's just similar.

    The thing about the colorquartz was that it has a ceramic coating. Supposedly makes it smoother and also heavier (less filter problems).

    The S grade is said to be very smooth and uniform. Sounds pretty good to me. As far as compaction I imagine we can only guess if that would be an issue? Anecdotal evidence suggests it's not.
     
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