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Homesthetics

11 Best Aquarium Sand Of 2021 [Reviewed & Buyer’s Guide]

Defocused bottom of the aquarium with white sand and artificial decorations. Artificial algae, stones, corals and underwater plants.

Disclaimer | This article may contain affiliate links, this means that at no cost to you, we may receive a small commission for qualifying purchases.

Collecting exotic pet fish and a beautiful tank isn’t enough. You also need to consider what to add as a substrate.

Although most people typically use gravel, colored pebbles, rocks, or soil in their tanks, sand can be the most beneficial choice. This is because sand is easier to clean as it does not contain large cavities, which are prone to filling with waste and dirt. 

If you are thinking about using sand as a substrate in your aquarium, it’s an excellent choice. However, finding the correct type of sand can be challenging. 

Fortunately, we have curated a comprehensive list of the best aquarium sand you can consider. Furthermore, we have even included a short guide to help you choose the right one according to the type of fish you own. 

So without further ado, let’s begin, shall we?

Top Aquarium Sand 

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IMAGE PRODUCT DETAILS
Our Top PickOur Top Pickhstcstbl-table__imageCaribsea Super Naturals Aquarium Sand 8479008404
  • pH neutral sand mix
  • 20-pound bag
  • Ideal for bottom-dwelling fish
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hstcstbl-table__imageRoyal Ram White Marble Sand
  • Medium grain size
  • No color or dyes
  • 100% natural sand
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hstcstbl-table__imageCaribSea Arag-Alive Fiji Pink Sand 792
  • Contains specially selected marine bacteria
  • 20-pound pack
  • Compresses ammonia cycles
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hstcstbl-table__imageStoney River Premium Aquatic 6607 Sand
  • Primarily contains silica
  • 5-pound bag
  • Non-toxic coating
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hstcstbl-table__imageEstes Gravel Black Marine Sand 346001
  • Ideal for both saltwater and freshwater tanks
  • Black colored sand
  • Environment-friendly product
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hstcstbl-table__imageSeachem Flourite Black Sand 3525
  • Porous sand texture
  • Ideal for freshwater tanks
  • No chemical coating
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hstcstbl-table__imageU.P. Aqua Aquarium Sand D-550
  • 4.4-pound bag
  • Made of tiny granules of clay
  • Contains trace minerals
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hstcstbl-table__imageNature's Ocean No.0 Live Sand 20731
  • 10-pound bag
  • Balances pH level of the tank
  • Ideal for saltwater aquariums
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hstcstbl-table__imageSeachem Onyx Sand 3505
  • Pre-washed sand
  • Dark gray color
  • 15.4-pound bag
VIEW LATEST PRICE →
hstcstbl-table__imageAquaNatural Oolitic Aragonite Sand ARAGO010
  • 10-pound pack
  • 98% pure calcium carbonate
  • Stabilizes pH and K.H. levels
VIEW LATEST PRICE →

spot garden eel in aquarium sand

  1. Caribsea Super Naturals Aquarium Sand 8479008404

Do you have soft-bellied fish in your tank? If yes, then you need to consider getting soft-grained sand which will be comfortable for them. Well, the Caribsea Super Naturals Aquarium Sand is one of the best soft grain sand to consider. It is available in the most natural shade that helps you recreate an ocean environment at home.

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Caribsea Super Naturals Aquarium Sand, 20-Pound, Crystal...
  • Create a supernatural experience by re-creating the natural...
  • grain size reduces built up detritus

Why Did We Like It?

One of the most important things you must know about this aquarium sand is that it can be used with both freshwater and saltwater tanks. This is an excellent characteristic that enables any aquarium owner to use the sand safely without worry. 

Moving on, the brand offers several size and color options to choose from. You can opt for a 5-pound, 20-pound, or 50-pound bag. Moreover, the beautiful colors are fun to look at and entirely safe for use since they don’t contain harmful colors and dyes. 

Another excellent thing about it is that it is entirely pH neutral. You don’t need to worry about the finely balanced pH level of the tank getting altered, or disturbing your fish in their comfortable habitat. 

Our only advice to you would be to rinse the sand thoroughly before adding it to the tank. Otherwise, you may notice some cloudiness.

51FfnlTjGyL. SL500

What Could’ve Been Better?

It is best to have bottom-dwelling fish like shrimp or invertebrates that can frequently move the sand around. Otherwise, you may notice some discoloration. 

Also, this sand does not support plant growth. If you plan on adding plants (living, not artificial) for your fish to hide in, this sand may not be ideal.

Pros
  • Variety of colors and sizes available
  • Softest quality sand
  • Easy to clean and maintain
  • Ideal for freshwater and saltwater tanks
  • Small grain size reduces build-up of waste
Cons
  • Does not support plant growth
  • May get discolored if the fish do not move the sand around
  1. Royal Ram White Marble Sand

Moving on to our next recommendation, we have the Royal Ram White Marble Sand. Similar to our previous item, this sand is also available in a variety of colors. However, we will be reviewing the white marble shade for this guide. Here is all you need to know about it.

Royal Ram 2 pounds Natural White Marble Decorative Real Sand...
  • 100% Natural white marble sand.
  • Natural crushed marble sand, not coated with any color.

Why Did We Like It?

First off, we loved the natural, soft texture of this sand, which was easy to handle and even easier to pour into the tank. Since it is a 100% natural sand mix, we were not too worried about adding it into various freshwater and saltwater tanks to observe how the fish liked their new home. 

Fair warning – the 2-pound bag of white sand is not enough for most tanks, even nano tanks. It fills only about 3 cups, so it is best to get a couple of more packs if you want to fill a larger tank. 

Moving on, we liked the medium-sized grain and texture of the sand, which made it relatively easy to clean. That said, this sand requires frequent cleaning; otherwise, it may start to look dirty because of its pristine white shade.

The natural sand is completely safe to use for aquariums with all types of fish. Furthermore, it doesn’t contain any artificial dyes and colors, so you can use it without worry.

31SiuoqhtNL. SL500

What Could’ve Been Better?

Although this natural white sand looks excellent in most tanks, it is prone to getting dirty. As such, you need to be mindful of how regularly you clean the sand to keep it looking clean and new. 

We also recommend mixing the sand with other substrates for the best results. 

Pros
  • Enhances the appeal of any aquarium
  • Safe to use for all types of fish
  • Easy to clean
  • No artificial colors and dyes used
  • Variety of colors available
Cons
  • Needs to be cleaned frequently
  • One packet is not enough for most tanks
  1. CaribSea Arag-Alive Fiji Pink Sand 792

For our next recommendation, we have the CaribSea Arag-Alive Fiji Pink Sand. Don’t worry if you’re having a hard time pronouncing the name, so did we! However, this sand is one of the top-rated ones, boasting glowing reviews from almost all buyers. So, if you’re curious to know if this sand is suitable for your aquarium, read on.

CaribSea Arag-Alive 20-Pound Fiji Pink Sand
  • Functional and beautiful aragonite substrate for all types...
  • Contains millions of beneficial marine bacteria to enhance...

Why Did We Like It?

Few other brands can compete with what CaribSea has to offer. For starters, their sand is filled with millions of live marine bacteria that help deal with the ever-annoying “new tank syndrome.” Moreover, they are excellent for suppressing ammonia levels and preventing the recurrence of continual ammonia cycles.

More importantly, the live bacteria are beneficial for the tank as they assist biological filtration naturally. Doing so also prevents the growth of unnecessary algae and other fungi, which can be annoying to clean and make your tank look dirty even when it is not. 

Another excellent aspect is that the sand contains carbonates and calcium. These essential elements aid the growth of corals, which are fantastic elements in a live tank. This allows it to create a very natural environment for fish.

What Could’ve Been Better?

Overall, this sand is an excellent purchase for saltwater tanks. However, its high concentration of minerals can alter the pH level of the tank, which particular species of fish may not find comfortable to thrive in. 

We recommend using this sand for saltwater tanks only, as it is not very well suited for freshwater ones. 

Pros
  • Live bacteria that effectively prevents ammonia cycles
  • Contains a free bio-magnet clarifier
  • Helps recreate any marine environment
  • Aids rapid cycling of the aquarium
  • Suppresses “new tank syndrome.”
Cons
  • Not ideal for freshwater tanks
  • May increase the pH level of the aquarium
  1. Stoney River Premium Aquatic 6607 Sand

The next product we want to introduce to you is the Stoney River Premium 6607 Aquatic Sand. It comes in a small 5-pound bag, making it ideal for small tanks like nano tanks. Its beautiful white shade is ideal for most saltwater fish as it creates a very natural habitat for them to thrive.

Stoney River White Aquatic Sand Freshwater and Marine...
  • Will not affect PH
  • Safe for use in freshwater aquariums

Why Did We Like It?

Those looking for the ideal substrate for their nano tanks will appreciate the small 5-pound bag offered by Stoney River. This aquarium sand comes in a beautiful white shade that efficiently recreates most fish’s natural habitat and sandy underwater environment. 

Moving on, this sand is made primarily of silica, which makes it pH neutral and very balanced. You can use it in both freshwater and saltwater tanks without the fear of altering the pH level and affecting your fish. 

Furthermore, the sand contains a non-toxic coating which is excellent for almost every tank. It does not contain any harmful chemicals or ingredients that may affect your fish or their habitat, making it an extremely safe option. 

Keep in mind that if you wish to use this sand for larger tanks, it is best to purchase a couple of packs. Fortunately, the manufacturer offers several combination packs, which enable you to purchase more quantities for discounted prices. 

What Could’ve Been Better?

Overall, this white sand is excellent for most freshwater and saltwater tanks. That said, the white color of the sand seemed to wash out our bright, colorful fish. Although this does not affect their general health or happiness, it is a small observation and something you should know about before purchasing it. 

Pros
  • Does not alter the pH level of an aquarium
  • Safe for saltwater and freshwater tanks
  • Several combination packs available
  • Does not contaminate the water of a tank
Cons
  • The white shade of sand can wash out the bright color of fish
  1. Estes Gravel Black Marine Sand 346001

We are excited to introduce you to our next recommendation; the Estes Gravel Black Marine Sand. At first glance, this pack may look like premium-quality gravel. However, if you look closely, it is high-quality black sand that looks extremely classy and appealing in any aquarium.

Estes Gravel Products AES06606 Este Marine Sand Black for...
  • Great for marine and freshwater tanks
  • Safe and non-toxic

Why Did We Like It?

A lot of aquarium owners often prefer the look and appeal of gravel or pebbles. However, these substrates are not the easiest to clean and maintain over time. 

If you are considering switching to sand but are looking for color options, you won’t be disappointed with the Estes Gravel Black Marine Sand. We tested the black color offered by this brand and loved how it looked against our colorful aquarium and bright fish. 

Moreover, this sand is entirely environment-friendly and non-toxic, making it safe for any aquarium. Since this sand is excellent for both saltwater and freshwater tanks, it is an ideal option for all tank owners who own different types of fish. 

Another excellent aspect of this black sand is that it effectively anchors down plants in your tank. This enables you to place different plant varieties, recreating a realistic and safe environment for your beautiful pet fish.

51uaTb7EW0L. SL500

What Could’ve Been Better?

The sand contains quite a bit of dust, so we recommend rinsing it thoroughly before putting it into your aquarium. Also, avoid scrubbing the sand, as it may strip off some of the black color from the grains, even though the sand does not have any dyer or coating. 

Pros
  • pH neutral black sand
  • Non-toxic and safe mix
  • Beneficial for aquarium plants
  • Black color enhances the appeal of an aquarium
Cons
  • Need to rinse the sand thoroughly before placing it in an aquarium
  1. Seachem Flourite Black Sand 3525

Our next recommendation is the Flourite Black Sand which is extremely easy to use, manageable, and does not require much maintenance. As it is entirely natural, it will not add any artificial, harmful chemicals or dyes to your aquarium. As such, it is safe to use for freshwater tanks without worry.

Flourite Black Sand, 15.4 Pound (Pack of 1)
  • This product is easy to use
  • This product adds a great Value

Why Did We Like It?

To begin with, we loved the natural look, appeal, and texture of this black sand from Seachem. One of the best things about it is its ease of use. You can directly pour the sand into a freshwater tank, add water gently, and introduce your beautiful fish into them.

That said, we recommend rinsing the sand thoroughly before adding it; otherwise, you may notice some cloudiness in the water. Since this sand is completely natural, it may likely form a small amount of dust in the bag. To prevent this from entering the tank, ensure that you rinse the sand thoroughly and add water gently into a cup when filling the aquarium, rather than adding it directly to the sand. 

Lastly, it is packed with nutrients that support plant growth. As such, you can add most types of small plants to your aquarium without worrying about whether they will thrive or not.

31fyQ86OOWL. SL500

What Could’ve Been Better?

Our only gripe with this product is that it is suitable only for freshwater tanks. Adding this sand to saltwater tanks may be detrimental to the general health of your aquarium, so it is best avoided. 

Furthermore, this sand tends to get cloudy and dusty. We recommend rinsing it carefully before adding it to the aquarium. 

Pros
  • Supports plant growth
  • Easy to clean and maintain
  • Adds aesthetic value to a tank
  • Safe for freshwater tanks
  • Can be mixed with other substrates
Cons
  • Not ideal for saltwater tanks
  • Needs to be rinsed carefully before adding to a tank
  1. Imagitarium Black Aquarium Sand

We have reviewed several black sand brands; however, the Imagitarium Black Aquarium Sand is slightly different. This sand has a naturally vibrant black shade that enhances the colorful appeal of fish. Moreover, it allows natural bacteria to grow in the tank, aiding the breakdown process of waste. 

No products found.

Why Did We Like It?

The Imagitarium Black Aquarium Sand comes in a beautiful, vibrant black shade that instantly adds aesthetic appeal and class to your home aquarium. However, the primary benefit of using this black sand is that most brightly colored fish look extremely lively and vibrant against it. 

This sand is packed with nutrients that support the growth of natural bacteria in the tank. In turn, these bacteria promote a healthy, safe, and natural environment for your fish. Moreover, they assist in the breakdown of fish waste, creating healthy living conditions for freshwater fish. 

Moving on, this black sand is extremely fine and soft. It is ideal for those who have shrimp, invertebrates, or soft-bellied fish in their tanks. Furthermore, the sand promotes plants’ growth, enabling you to recreate a natural habitat for your pets. 

Lastly, we want to mention the ability of the sand to hold fertilizer tablets. This is beneficial for those who want to add live plants and fertilize them in the aquarium. 

What Could’ve Been Better?

If you are a first-time user, there may be slight challenges with this product. However, it should not be a significant issue as long as you follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

Take note that this sand may form small air bubbles that are typically coated with sand. This is natural and not a cause of concern, as it disappears once the sand is adequately wet. 

Pros
  • Excellent for soft-bellied fish and invertebrates
  • Promotes a healthy and safe environment
  • Ideal for adding fertilizer tablets for plant growth
  • Enables the growth of natural bacteria in the tank
Cons
  • Sand-coated air bubbles may form on the grains
  1. U.P. Aqua Aquarium Sand D-550

It’s time to move on to our next recommendation. This one is a beautiful dark-colored sand from U.P. Aqua. Although the product is marketed for shrimp, you can conveniently use it for home aquariums as well (depending on the type of fish you have). Curious to know more about it? Read on to find out.

U.P. Aqua Shrimp Sand
  • Small uniform grain sizes
  • Contains trace minerals vital for shrimps

Why Did We Like It?

The U.P. Aqua Aquarium Sand is excellent, soft-grained sand ideal for those who breed soft-bellied fish and invertebrates. Although the manufacturer specifies that this sand is ideal for shrimp, its features make it suitable for other fish species.

For starters, this sand has very fine, even texture and consistency. This ensures that bottom-dwelling fish and invertebrates can graze along the sand without scratching the underside of their bodies. Furthermore, this sand provides an ideal breeding ground for these fish species. 

An important thing you should know about this product is that it is formed of tiny clay granules which have a consistency like sand. Plus, the trace minerals and acidic nature of the soil make it an ideal substrate for fish or shrimp that thrive in acidic environments. 

This is a vital aspect you must consider before adding the product to your home aquarium. Remember to research well and determine what types of fish do well in acidic environments before opting for this substrate.

What Could’ve Been Better?

Due to the acidic nature of this sand, we recommend using it only for shrimp or other fish that thrive in acidic environments. Moreover, using this sand may alter the pH level of your aquarium. 

Pros
  • Easy to clean and maintain
  • Even textured fine grains
  • Contains healthy minerals
  • Promotes breeding
Cons
  • May alter the pH level of an aquarium
  1. Nature’s Ocean No.0 Live Sand 20731

We are almost at the end of our list of recommendations. However, we still have a couple of products left for you. The next product we want to introduce is Nature’s Ocean No.0 Live Sand. As the name suggests, this sand is procured and made from 100% natural reef aragonite from the U.S.

Nature's Ocean BIO-ACTIV Live Aragonite 20 LB Natural White...
  • Superior to cultured live sand products
  • Contains natural live marine bacterial biofilm

Why Did We Like It?

Let us begin by telling you why this sand is ideal for coral reef tanks and saltwater aquariums. Firstly, Nature’s Ocean No.0 Live Sand is rich in magnesium, calcium, and other minerals, which are excellent for marine life. Moreover, the consistency of the sand is very fine, recreating a natural habitat for your saltwater fish. 

Moving on, this sand automatically removes most types of nitrogenous waste from the tank. This includes ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate, which can be detrimental to the tank environment and marine life. 

51Sh DDo8jL. SL500

Another fantastic feature of this product is that it contains marine bacteria, which is beneficial for your aquarium. This bacteria is formed via a patented process that is unique to Bio-Active Aragonite. It creates a safe and healthy environment that facilitates plants’ growth, sustenance of invertebrates, live fish, and rocks. 

What Could’ve Been Better?

All said and done; this sand is ideal only for saltwater tanks and marine fish. Although it is excellent for those with reef tanks, those with freshwater tanks cannot use this product, which is slightly disappointing. 

Pros
  • Ideal for creating a healthy living environment
  • Easy to pour and clean
  • Contains beneficial bacteria
  • Reduces harmful nitrates
Cons
  • Not suitable for freshwater tanks
  1. Seachem Onyx Sand 3505

Coming to our next recommendation, we present the Seachem Onyx Sand. As the name tells you, this is another variety of dark sand that is ideal for saltwater and freshwater tanks. Moreover, it enhances and supports K.H. levels for your aquarium, maintaining an optimal balance and creating a healthy environment for your live fish.

Onyx Sand, 7 kg / 15.4 lbs
  • Fracted Porous substrate for the aquarium
  • Specially fracted Porous substrate for the aquarium;...

Why Did We Like It?

This dark gray sand from Seachem is an excellent product that can be used in both freshwater and saltwater tanks. Its porous texture makes it ideal for most aquariums as it is easy to clean and maintain. Moreover, it is not prone to depositing waste and other toxic elements that can damage the tank environment, making it unhealthy for your fish to sustain in. 

Although most tank owners prefer to use this sand on its own, you may choose to mix it with other substrates. You can add gravel, colored rocks, and pebbles, other types of sand, or soil. 

Another excellent characteristic you should know about is that this sand is not artificially coated with chemicals. Furthermore, it is natural and untreated, so you don’t need to worry about how your aquarium will react to it. 

The sand quality is very fine and porous and extremely rich in carbonates. This makes it an ideal choice for most aquariums as it supports animal and plant life.

511dUrrRR7L. SL500

What Could’ve Been Better?

Although the manufacturer specifies that the sand is pre-washed and not chemically treated, we noticed some cloudiness when added to the tank. As such, we recommend rinsing the sand thoroughly before adding it to avoid fine dust and dirt from entering the tank. 

Secondly, the sand may slightly alter the pH level of your tank, as it is rich in carbonates. 

Pros
  • Premium quality natural dark gray sand
  • Ideal for freshwater and saltwater tanks
  • Does not contain chemical or toxic coatings
  • Can be used alone or mixed with other substrates
  • Rich in carbonates
Cons
  • May slightly alter the pH level of the tank
  • Needs to be rinsed or taken through a mechanical filtration process
  1. AquaNatural Oolitic Aragonite Sand ARAGO010

Before we move on to the next section of our guide, we want to talk about one of our last recommendations – the AquaNatural Oolitic Aragonite Sand. This product is one of the purest sands in the market as it consists almost entirely of calcium carbonate (98%). Curious to know more about it? Read on to find out.

Sale
AQUANATURAL Oolitic Aragonite 10lb Aquarium Sand for Reef,...
  • Unsurpassed buffering capability - keeps pH at a stable 8.2
  • 98% pure calcium carbonate - no impurities like other sands

Why Did We Like It?

For starters, this pack contains oolitic aragonite sand that is naturally renewable and comes from a sustainable source. Not just that, this is the only brand that has procured a lease with the Bahamian Government to sustainably and legally harvest aragonite. 

An annoying characteristic of several aquarium sands is that they often alter the pH and K.H. levels of a tank. Plus, these natural sands are prone to developing a dusty layer, which creates cloudiness when poured into a tank. 

Fortunately, this oolitic aragonite sand does not contain any ingredients or elements which can alter the pH and K.H. level of your tank. It creates a well-balanced environment for your fish while maintaining the optimal pH level for their healthy sustenance. 

Lastly, the sand consists of natural beneficial bacteria, which efficiently reduce the levels of nitrate, nitrite, and ammonia in the tank.

41yGA9NhXML. SL500

What Could’ve Been Better?

Overall, the sand quality is extremely fine and lightweight, making it ideal for most tanks. However, its lightweight nature makes it prone to getting blown around easily, especially if there are powerheads nearby. 

Since it is pure white sand – dirt and fish waste also show up much faster on it. It is best to clean the sand regularly to avoid ruining the aesthetics of your aquarium.

Pros
  • Very fine and high-quality sand
  • Enhances the aesthetic appeal of the tank
  • Fish look more vibrant around the pure white shade
  • Not chemically treated or coated
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Can be easily blown around if kept near powerheads
  • Waste and dirt show up easily

Boat and sea shells on sandy tropical beach.

Aquarium Sand Buyer’s Guide 

In this section, we will be giving you some vital factors to keep in mind before purchasing the best aquarium sand. Let us begin!

  1. Freshwater Vs. Saltwater Aquariums

An essential factor to consider is the type of tank you have. In some cases, you may find substrates suitable for both types of tanks, but it is best to check before purchasing. 

  1. Color

By now, you must know that you have a variety of color options with aquarium sand. Although white and black are the most popular ones, you can explore other colors as well, depending on the interior décor and general aesthetics of your tank. 

That said, white sand may be slightly more challenging to care for since waste, dust, and debris shows up more quickly on it. Most white sands are also more expensive than their black (and other color) counterparts. 

  1. Grain Size

This is another crucial factor to consider when purchasing aquarium sand. As such, fine, small grains look better in an aquarium and support plant growth. However, they can be relatively tricky to maintain and clean. 

Larger grain sand is easier to clean and maintain over a long period. But, they do not support plant growth, so this is something to consider if you plan on having plants in your tank.

Corals in a Marine Aquarium.

Verdict

With that, it’s a wrap! 

We hope you enjoyed reading this guide and found the right aquarium sand for your tank. Before we take our leave, we want to reiterate some of our findings. 

Overall, Caribsea Super Naturals Aquarium Sand 8479008404 is one of the best products to consider. It contains fine-grained sand, which is excellent for soft-bellied and bottom-dwelling fish. That said, this sand does not support plant growth. 

Consider the CaribSea Arag-Alive Fiji Pink Sand 792 if you wish to grow plants in your tank and add a touch of color to it. You can also check out the Estes Gravel Black Marine Sand 346001, as it is ideal for freshwater and saltwater tanks. 

Let us know if you agree with our verdict. Until next time!

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