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I have had a cichlid tank previously, that has been sitting empty and dry for the last few years. The sand is still in there, and i am considering starting it back up again. The previous tank had a huge number of malaysian trumpet snails in it, which are surely dead and rotting at this point. I just used washed play sand previously, but now am wondering if i should splurge for aragonite sand for the supposed buffering capability. I'd rather just thoroughly wash and reuse all this sand i already have to remove all the dead snails and detritus. What i'm wondering is will the remaining snail shells help buffer the new water due to their calcium content similarly to the crushed coral/aragonite sands? Obviously i would clean the sand well, and let the tank cycle for a while before starting things to remove any remaining ammonia and decaying material, but wondering if there would be benefit of keeping the sand with old snail shells in it to help with the buffering of water in the future. Or should i just spend the money and get aragonite sand or go again with washed play sand?
 

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Any shells will help with buffering. But I would not buy aragonite substrate, if I wanted something I would buy crushed coral for the filters.
 

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Crushed coral does the same job for a tenth the price and minerals dissolve better in the filter with the water flowing over the material.

I have a lot of aragonite substrate and have had it for over 10 years, it was my first substrate. I like the much cheaper and easier to maintain pool filter sand better.
 
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