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Can I sterilize sand? From a used tank?


cathys

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  • Regular Member

I wasn't sure where to post this so please move if this isn't correct place.

I have some sand that came with a used tank I bought a few years ago.

It's been sitting around because I was afraid to use it.

I have not idea what kind it is. It's a light greyish white with some black in it.

I was going to just dump it in the garden but my daughter thought it was worth keeping.

Is it possible to sterilize this and use?

:help:

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Yep. Rinse it thoroughly with boiling water and then bake it on a cookie sheet. Bake it at 180 degrees F, stirring it up occasionally until it is all dry and there are no clumps. This can take awhile, especially if you have a thick layer of sand. The minimum time it should be baked for is at least 1/2 hour.

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If this came from a healthy tank and has been sitting around for years, particularly if it has been dry, I see no reason to sterilize it. Just wash it and use it. The only aquatic organisms that might survive are those that form cysts or spores, and these are very hard to kill. I would have more concern about the unknown organic compounds you make by cooking used sand than I would have for the presence of pathogens/parasites.

Has the sand/gravel you buy been sterilized? I don't know the answer, but when I try to search for sterile gravel, I get nothing. However, baking for a half hour isn't sterilization. Dry heat sterilization requires 1 1/2 - 2 hours for small solid objects, like medical instruments, that heat through rapidly. For that to be adequate for sand, you would want it no more than a 1/4 inch layer. Spores love being boiled. You can kill them in a pressure cooker, however.

My recommendations on substrate is if it came from a healthy tank, wash it thoroughly and use it. If it came from a sick tank, discard it.

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I have seen reputable advice that equipment stored dry for more than a month is safe to use. That's why I said sand that had been stored for years should be safe. I would not hesitate to use it.

I really do not believe that the partial disinfection methods people have recommended to you are any more effective than washing the sand until the water runs clear. The word "sterilize" is used very loosely among fish people. "UV sterilizer" is the biggest joke. Even the people who call their product a sterilizer only say that it "controls" microbial growth. To sterilize means to kill everything.

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