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How To Clean Pool Filter Sand
by Cichlidaphilia

Okay, everyone always wants to know how to use sand properely. Myself having need to add more sand and a digital camera handy, I decided to shoot a few pics to help everyone out.

First off, I purchased two 50-lb. bags at $5.92 each from Home Depot. The sand's stock number is 098444200209 at my Home Depot (in Virginia). I've included it in case it's the same throughout Home Depot's range.

The photo on the right is a closeup of the brand, company, phone number and address. Foster Dixiana Filter Sand P.O. BOX 2005 Columbia, SC 29202 (803) 794-2872. Perhaps you can order direct from them, but doubtful.

We're outside now. CAUTION: It's really cold here. You MUST NOT clean your sand and then dump it into your tank if it has fish in it already! The sudden drop in temperature can kill your fish! My sand is clean and in the house for an overnight warm-up to ambient room temperature. Here is the "bucket brigade" setup and the two bags of sand.
 

  1. Fill your buckets about half way up with water BEFORE you add the sand, this will aid you in suspending more of the fines with your initial addition of sand. Now pour an equal amount of sand into each bucket, DO NOT fill more than half the bucket with sand! After pouring in your sand, the buckets will look like the picture above.


  2. Ok, now get your hose (I used mine without a nozzle on the end) and tilt the bucket to one side, just enough to have the sand about an inch from the edge of the bucket, and at the same time drown the sand in the bucket with water. You want the bucket tilted to allow the suspended particles to flow out rather than have a chance of sinking back down to the bottom if you leave the bucket upright. At this point you will have a bucket with dirty sand / water and it will look like the picture below.

  1. Keep flushing the sand with the hose (remember the bucket is leaned to one side, right?) untill the water runs clear. By moving the hose around you can actually stir the sand without having to use your hands. And if you read and followed the above direction to use no more than a half a bucket of sand (the less the easier) it should take you less than 5 minutes per bucket (NOTE using pool filter sand, other sands will take longer) to end up with what looks like the picture on the right (above).


  2. Here is a side by side comparison of the first bucket clean, next to the second bucket which has the dirty sand and water from pouring the sand into it.
  1. When it comes time to add the sand to the tank, you can use a plastic kitchen strainer with very fine metal mesh in the center. Just scoop out the sand from the bucket allowing the water to drain off in the bucket, then slowly lowered the scoop into your tank. Unload the scoop once it's at the bottom. Your water may turn slightly cloudy after you've gotten all the sand in the tank, but it should clear within a few hours. This method causes a minimum of disturbance to the finer grains of sand, and can be performed with the fish still in the tank.


Please, please, please allow time for the sand to warm up before adding it to any tank with live fish in it. An alternative would be to fill the buckets with warm water inside your house to raise the temp of the sand. Make sure it is between 75 to 85 degrees, don't get carried away either direction!

Now you can add your sand to the tank. You will still get some particles floating around, but nothing the filters can't handle in short time.

 

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