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I didn't rinse. Not because it was going to ruin it but because I paid extra for live vs dry sand I figured I'd follow directions (clearly states do not rinse) and maximize whatever benefits I'm suppose to be paying extra for. Took days if not a week to clear completely WITH mechanical filtration but I was in no rush. You do need mechanical filtration IMO to move things along with clarify (floss, filter cartridge, sock etc).