Best Aquarium Sand – Which Options Are Right for Your Tank?

Best Aquarium Sand

Many accessories are often purchased by aquarists who are in the process of setting up their aquarium.

Just like aquarium salt, the type of sand that is used is highly influential in how inhabitable the environment is and how well your fish and plants settle.

It is important to ensure that the sand delivers all of the necessary benefits once it has been added to your aquarium. 

Best Aquarium Sand

Finding the right aquarium sand is crucial. Introducing the wrong type can have detrimental effects on the aquarium.

There are many factors to consider from the quality, the size of the grains, and its suitability for your aquarium.

If you are new to owning an aquarium, finding the best products can be daunting. We have done the hard work for you and browsed the market selecting and reviewing our top 5 picks of the best options available.

Below, we have also included a handy buyer's guide where we have outlined our top tips for selecting the best sand for your aquarium. 

OUR TOP PICK

Caribsea Super Naturals Aquarium Sand, 20-Pound, Sunset Gold

The Caribsea Super Naturals Aquarium Sand imitates the feel of the natural world from the confines of your aquarium.

A great thing about this sand is that it is available in different colors and consistencies to suit the aesthetic that you are hoping to bring to your aquarium. 

This sand comes in a 20 pound bag but is also available in 5 pound or 50 pound quantities so that you can choose the amount that you require.

Opting for the 20 pound bag will ensure that you have a sufficient amount available to treat a 20 gallon tank.

Impressively, this sand has been manufactured without the use of paints or dyes, and it is also pH neutral so you can be sure that it is going to be safe for use inside your aquarium.

It will also reduce any further carbon hardness.

The smooth and small grain size ensures that this sand is safe for use inside your aquarium.

A great thing about the size of these grains is that they are resistant to the collection of detritus or fish waste, which makes your aquarium much easier to maintain. 

Pros

  • Made in the USA, you can be confident in the source of your purchase.
  • As pH neutral sand, it is safe for use inside your aquarium without posing potential risk.
  • It can be purchased in a range of colors to suit the look that you are hoping to achieve with your tank.
  • It looks natural once it has been added to your tank. 
  • It is suitable for freshwater aquariums, as well as marine and cichlid aquariums.

Cons

  • It requires thorough cleaning before being introduced to your aquarium.

EDITORS CHOICE

Nature's Ocean No.0 Bio-Activ Live Aragonite Live Sand for Aquarium, 10-Pound, Natural White

As fine particle sand, the Nature's Ocean Live Sand can have many benefits for your aquarium. This sand is white and this ensures that the environment remains clean and healthy. 

It is also effective in removing nitrogenous waste that is known to have harmful effects on your fish and other life inside your aquarium.

An impressive feature of this sand is that it is naturally formulated and contains marine bacteria that stabilize your tank.

The benefits of adding this sand to your tank don't end here. It contains many helpful bacteria that encourage the correct inorganic balance. 

Impressively, after adding this sand you don't have to wait for a long time for it to settle. Simply place the sand inside the tank before adding the water and then adding your fish. 

Once your filtering system has been set up, you should then allow the sand to circulate. 

This sand enters the market at an affordable price so you don't have to break the bank to have a healthy aquarium.

It is also marketed in a generous 10 pound quantity and can be used in saltwater aquariums and is suitable for all stages of life. 

Pros

  • This aquarium sand removes nitrates and ammonia from the inside of your tank.
  • The white color of the sand maintains a clean environment. 
  • It is affordably priced and great value for money. 
  • This sand supports a healthy Ph balance inside the tank.
  • It is suitable for use at all stages of life.

Cons

  • As fine sand, it can add a cloudy appearance to your tank.

BEST VALUE

Are you looking for sand that is going to make a statement once it has been added to your aquarium?

As black sand, it is bolder in color but still delivers many benefits. It is available in two different quantities, including a 5 lbs option and a 30 lbs option, and this allows you to select the necessary amount to suit your needs.

This sand is suitable for use inside freshwater and saltwater aquariums and encourages the growth of beneficial bacteria to create a healthy environment.

As a result of the growth in healthy bacteria, waste is broken down and as a result, your aquarium is going to be easier to clean.

Your fish are bound to love the addition of this black sand to your aquarium as it imitates the feel of a natural environment. The elimination of debris also creates a more pleasant environment for your fish. 

The different size quantities cater to the needs of different individuals and the size of their aquariums. It also retails at an affordable price which is ideal for aquarium owners who are on a budget.

Pros

  • The size of the grains is ideal for the fish and plants inside your tank.
  • It can be purchased in one of two different size quantities.
  • It is an effective and bold addition to your aquarium.
  • It is suitable for use in freshwater and saltwater aquariums.
  • It creates a healthy aquarium thanks to the growth of beneficial bacteria.

Cons

  • The sand is dusty which can make it difficult to work with. 

RUNNER UP

CaribSea Arag-Alive 20-Pound Fiji Pink Sand

The CaribSea Arag-Alive Fiji Pink Sand has a biological and mineralogical formula that encourages the growth of beneficial bacteria.

You can be sure that it is safe for use inside your fish tank as it enhances biological filtration. 

Impressively, this sand helps to maintain a healthy pH without the constant need for chemicals inside your aquarium.

While the pH may not be suitable for all types of fish, it can have a positive impact on coral growth.

This formula also helps to suppress the ammonia levels by creating a healthy, biologically balanced environment inside your tank.

This sand comes in a 20ib sized bag but can also be purchased in multiple quantities to cater to the requirements of your aquarium.

It is also easy to use and can be added to your fish tank without the need for rinsing beforehand. Once added, it will begin to cycle your aquarium immediately.

The subtle pink shade of this sand adds a warmness to your aquarium and each of the grains measures around 0.5 to 1.5mm. 

Pros

  • It is an aragonite substrate that is suitable for all types of marine aquariums.
  • The pH of this sand supports coral growth. 
  • It can be bought in multiple quantities if you require more for your aquarium.
  • It is easy to add to your aquarium and begins to cycle instantly.
  • The pale shade adds a natural look to your aquarium.

Cons

  • When this sand is first added to your aquarium it can cause the water to become cloudy.

RUNNER UP

Flourite Black Sand, 15.4 Pound (Pack of 1)

Specifically formulated for use in naturally planted aquariums, this black sand is packed with all of the beneficial nutrients that can aid with plant growth.

Although it is recommended for use in a planted aquaria it can be used inside a freshwater aquarium if necessary. 

A good thing about this sand is that it will not alter the pH once it has been introduced to the water and so it is going to maintain a healthy environment.

It is most effective when used alone, however, if you choose you may use it alongside another type of gravel if necessary.

Setting up and adding this sand to the water follows a fairly straightforward process.

Despite being prewashed, similarly to most sands of this kind, it is likely to require rinsing before introduction to the tank to help prevent the development of dusty and cloudy water.

This sand provides a very cost-effective option. Once added to your tank it is suggested to last for the life of your aquarium without needing to be placed.

As a result, you aren't going to find yourself needing to invest in new aquariums and regularly.

Pros

  • It helps to prevent detritus from gathering at the bottom of your tank.
  • This sand helps to promote healthy sand growth.
  • It doesn't need to be removed and will last for the life of the aquarium.
  • It is easy to introduce to your tank and maintain.
  • This product has been manufactured in the USA.

Cons

  • It requires thorough rinsing before being added to your tank or it can become quite messy and dusty.

Best Aquarium Sand Buying Guide

We would advise you to consider many factors before purchasing your aquarium sand.

There are many types available with offerings from different brands. Before browsing the market it is important to ensure that you are fully aware in regards to what you are looking for.

Below we have identified criteria to consider before making your purchase along with our top tips for selecting the right sand for your aquarium.

The Type of Sand

It is important to consider the type of sand that you require for your aquarium. There isn't simply one type of sand available.

The particle sizes of some are large while others are more minute. The type of sand can differ depending on its texture and consistency, as well as its contents too.

It is paramount to ensure that your sand of choice is going to be compatible with the requirements of your aquarium. 

The Color

Aquarium sand can be purchased in an array of colors, some a little plain and others which are brighter and bolder.

It is important to consider the type of aesthetic that you are hoping to achieve through the look of your aquarium.

While some may wish for their tank to appear natural with the addition of subtle colored sand, others may opt for a brighter color that is going to bring vibrance to their aquarium.

When browsing the market, you are likely to find that some have glowing qualities too, which can be seen when the sand is subject to particular light conditions.

The color of the sand you choose allows you to venture with the creativity and overall look of your aquarium.

Tank Suitability

Cruciality comes in ensuring that your sand of choice is suitable for your aquarium. You will find that some options are suitable for freshwater aquariums and others are suitable for saltwater aquariums.

There may be some options that are suitable for use in both and others that are formulated for one type of tank in particular.

Ensure that your sand meets the requirements of your aquarium as this will ensure that it doesn't cause any harm to the fish and plants inside.

You will find that the specifications of the product will state the tank suitability so you can select the right option for your fish tank.

The Ph Level

The Ph Level of a fish tank is super important and any sudden changes can result in disastrous consequences. You should opt for a sand type that has a neutral Ph level.

Opting for sand of this type will provide you with assurance that it can be added to your tank without the fear of causing any issues.

The Size of the Grains

The grains of the sand that you choose is going to depend on the size of your aquarium and the type of fish that are contained inside it.

Some fish prefer thicker sand that they can burrow into, while others prefer sand with a thinner grain. As expected, larger grains of sand are going to be much easier to clean and maintain as they are not so fiddly.

However, on the other hand, smaller grains of sand can be very beneficial too. They tend to be more effective in supporting plant growth. 

The Price

There isn't a set amount that you are expected to spend on your aquarium sand. The market offers options that retail within various price ranges and this is likely to differ between the brands too. 

You will find that there may be more affordable options that offer all of the nutrients and benefits that are found in more expensive options too.

Of course, before making your purchase it is important to ensure that the sand type meets your requirements to ensure that it is suitable for your aquarium.

Those that are too cheap may lack in quality and therefore affect how effective they are inside your aquarium. 

The Brand

When browsing the market, you may find that a particular brand has a greater reputation than others and this is likely because they are recognized for producing high-quality products that perform well when added to your aquarium.

Essentially they have gained a reputation for being one of the best in their field.

Purchasing a product from a well-known brand is likely going to be reflected in the quality of the product.

However, it is also necessary to note that there are many affordable options from brands that are less known that are considered to be just as effective. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is aquarium sand hard to maintain?

Despite what is suggested by common beliefs, cleaning sand is a relatively straightforward process that isn't much more complex than the process that is required to clean gravel.

How often should you change aquarium sand?

It is recommended that you change the sand inside your aquarium within a 2 to 5 year time frame.

This is because the sand can cause a build up in nitrates inside the aquarium and over time they can become harmful to the fish and plants inside your tank.

There are steps that you can take to maintain the sand in between replacement, for example, you can vacuum the sand at regular intervals. 

How long does aquarium sand take to settle?

You should expect it to take approximately 7 days for the sand to settle inside your tank. Of course, sand is light and therefore doesn't have a substantial amount of weight to hold it down.

Therefore it is going to float around your tank for roughly 7 days before settling onto the surface.

Does sand raise the Ph inside an aquarium?

Sand that is specifically intended for your type of aquarium shouldn't cause it to have adverse effects.

Most sand is unlikely to affect the Ph of your aquarium, if you are uncertain as to whether this is the case with your sand of choice, it is necessary to assess the product specifications from the manufacturer.

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