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I only just found this thread, and haven't had the time to read all previous posts, but here is my experience with 3M Color Quartz.

I found Tahitian Moon Sand outrageously expensive, and since the Black Beauty is essentially a waste product, you just don't know what you are getting. Maybe my background in chemistry makes me over-careful, but I am not convinced that some batch of it couldn't leach toxins into the water. Even a trace of heavy metal salts could kill off your fish in no time.

I found the Color Quartz to be a perfect solution - less than half the cost of Tahitian Moon Sand, and a carefully engineered product that's guaranteed to be chemically inert. Not even regular sand offers the latter!

Following the advice of others on this forum, I rang a raft of pool and tile shops in my area, but none of them had ever heard of 3M Color Quartz. I ended up calling 3M at 1-800-447-2914 (the phone number is on their web site burried in the FAQ about Color Quartz at http://authoring.3m.com/cms/US/en/2-125 ... view.jhtml). I was very lucky in that the 3M distributor of Color Quartz for 5 States happens to be located only about 30min drive from my home, and I bought the Color Quartz directly from them. Unfortunately they charged $22 for a 50 pound bag of black T-grade Color Quartz, which is slighly more than people have paid elsewhere in the US, but I still found it well worth the money.

For those of you in or around NE Ohio, the distributor is N.T. Ruddock Company, 26123 Broadway Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44146, Tel: (440) 439-4976, Fax: (440) 439-8728). Either 3M (anywhere in the US) or this distributor (around NE Ohio) should be able to point you towards a store where you can buy the stuff.

When I bought it, I also saw the S-grade Color Quartz, which is finer grained and has rounder granules. The T-grade looks and behaves like sand, I definetely would not call it gravel, but it is a comparatively coarse sand - not sharp though. The S-grade is very fine, more like a powder, and feels very very smooth, due to the round particles. For pool applications, I believe they use S-grade if you want a very smooth surface. The T-grade is used where you want a bit of grip; eg on stairs. Both would probably work well as substrate, but I thought the T grade would look more natural - if that's possible with a black substrate.

The 3M distributor where I bought the stuff had a sample box with little test tubes full of different types of Color Quartz in all the different colors. They also had a similar product for roofing applications that was just a notch coarser than T-grade. I forgot the name, but it would probably act like a very very fine gravel. You might want to try and find a store in your area that has the stuff and check it out yourself. That's the only way you can find out which of the different options you prefer.
 

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I was wondering why 3M hasn't gotten the message that they are missing out on a good market.
Can you imagine how much money they could make if they started to package their Color Quartz in smaller bags and sold it through the large pet store chains? Could be millions of $ for 3M. Unfortunately I haven't figured out a way to progress this issue in a way that part of this money would come my way ;-)
 

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I finally heard back from NT Ruddock. It's $21 for S grade, and $25 for T-grade.
Wow - I paid $22 for the T-grade a few weeks ago, and I thought that was expensive because everybody else claims to have gotten it for $18 (not from Ruddock though). Seems they charge whatever they feel like on a particular day :?
 

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I just thought I might give an update after having had the black T-grade color quarz in my 29G for close to a year. I am still very happy with it, and I believe part of it's success is due to the fact that the particals are all fairly even in size - virtually no fine powder in there like in regular sand - and heavy enough that they stay on the ground. My UGJ system does a great job in preventing mud to settle on the substrate, and if there is any, it is a breeze to vacuum off. I haven't had any problems getting substrate into my filters (Eheim 2217 and Aquaclear 301), but the largest fish in my tank are Bolivian Rams, so it's not like I have large fish spitting huge quantities of it around. The black substrate makes the colors of light fish really pop - especially the rams and my neons look great over it! If I set up another tank, it's going to be color quarz as substrate for sure.

BTW - you can click on my avatar to see more pictures, some of which show my fish over the color quarz.
 

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I'm not sure why it doesn't trap the gasses as easy as the silica/PFS sand. The sand is like mini ball bearings and I believe the uniformity of the grains may have something to do with it.
I find the same thing with the T-grade, which speaks against the uniformity of the grains being responsible (T-grade grains are anything but uniform). I think it might the be coatings on each and every single grain, but I certainly agree with Featherfins finding. The stuff just doesn't clump together like regular sand does. You couldn't built a sandcastle out of Color Quartz :lol:
 

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I just bought four sacks of T-grade black Color Quartz for my 240G from the same place from which I had purchased the stuff last year for my 29G (N.T. Ruddock Company, 26123 Broadway Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44146, Tel: (440) 439-4976). I was pleasantly surprised that the price had dropped significantly from $22 to $17.65 per 50 pound sack. Just thought people might find that useful to know when making price comparisons.

BTW - after an extensive search I finally also found a great place to buy aquarium suitable rocks in the Akron area. I ordered a ton :eek: of rock from Ohio Beauty Cut Stone Inc. (40 W Turkeyfoot Lake Rd, Akron OH 44319, (330) 644-2241). If you are looking for rock in the Akron area, that's the place to check out!
 

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Colored playsand is widely available here in NE Ohio, but all the places where I inquired about it assured me that it would not be a good idea to use it near a pond, let alone in a fish tank, because it would color the water. Naturally I never tried it after receiving this advice, but you might just want to put a small amount in a glass of water and see what happens. If it's safe for kids, I agree that it's unlikely to be toxic.
 

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I agree, 50 pounds (1 sack) should be plenty for a 55G, unless you are after an unusually thick substrate layer. I used about half a sack (25 pounds) for my 29G, and 4 sacks (200 pounds) for my 240G (8'x2'x2').
 

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I paid $20 per bag, which is a lot more than you would pay for poolfitersand, but cost of the substrate was still insignificant compared to the total cost of setting up a show tank. At $50 per bag that would no longer have been true, and I doubt I would have bought thet stuff for that money. I had a hard time anyhow deciding on a light or dark substrate. $5o per bag would have made up my mind for me :D
 
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