September 24

5 Best Types of Sand for Freshwater Aquarium

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Living things like fish need substrate where they can reside. Substrates can be biotic or abiotic depending on the organism (plant, fish, fungus) that lives on them.

Using Sand in Freshwater Aquarium

For fishes in the aquarium, there are many forms of substrates you can choose from. Nevertheless, the most popular form of substrate is gravel. It has its respective characteristics, benefits, and features that make it the top choice of most fishkeepers.

But lately, sand as a substrate for freshwater fishes is also taking the spotlight. It has become as popular as gravel over the last years. Most fishkeepers are considering white aquarium sand as the best substrate.

If you are considering or already using sand as a substrate, then this is the perfect guide for you. Take note of the steps on how to clean aquarium sand. Find out as well why white aquarium sand is being chosen by most aquarium keepers.

Sand vs Gravel 

Sand is a better natural bedding material than gravel. It best imitates the characteristics of lakes or riverbeds which serve as fishes’ natural habitats. Freshwater aquarium sand makes it easier for fishes to burrow, create pits or sift food, as compared to how they do in gravel. Another benefit of sand is that it is not as rough as gravel which is more harmful to fish’s soft body parts.

Aquarium sand for plants is also a practical option both for fish and plants since its size is more fitting and appropriate for plant roots.

Moreover, having sand as natural bedding helps fishes to eat more conveniently since food and plant matters can stay on top longer. Thus, this can prevent plants and food remnants from decaying and stinking in the bottom of the bedding.

Aquarium sand, on the other hand, has limitations you also need to consider. Since it is lighter than gravel, there is a greater tendency for it to cause clogging through filters.

You can also make your aquarium more colorful with gravel as compared with sand that has limited colors. Gravels can be used if you want to customize your tank to complement your fish colors too. These are the minor factors when you reflect on sand vs gravel.

Concerns Regarding Sand Use 

Aside from it is monochrome and may cause clogging, another risk when using sand is its element of hydrogen sulfide. This element can be toxic and harmful for your fish. Dead zones can be created out of these small grains which may cause a lack of oxygen among fishes.

Though aquarium sand seems ideal at most times compared to gravel, there are instances it cannot be the right option. For example, if you are keeping goldfish, they can accidentally ingest sand and this puts them suffering from intestinal blockage. Since gravel is a bit bigger, this can be a better option for it.

To clean aquarium sand is more difficult than it does in gravel since the smaller particles will be easily picked up by the nozzle. But you can manage to present this if you just vacuum above the bedding rather than going down the sand.

Things to Consider when Using Sand For Freshwater Aquarium 

If you are transitioning to using sand, you may want to start with freshwater aquarium sand. Since it is silica-based, it can produce brown algae, but it is not as harmful as they seem.

The grain size is also an important factor to consider when you are shopping for aquarium sand. You need to match it with the size of the substrate to prevent remnants like food, fish waste, and debris to fall between the grains. It should also be equal to prevent dead zones and cultivate oxygen.

Make sure that the sand causes your PH level to stay at a deliberate level. The ideal type of aquarium sand should be one that lacks movement to keep the water level less risky.


    Recently, aquarium manufacturers have been designing aquarium tanks that consider fish behavior and needs. It’s better to complement it with a substrate that is gentler for your type of fish. You do not always have to use aquarium sand if gravel is better for your aquarium.

    Process of Using Sand In Your Freshwater Aquarium

    To make your aquarium more efficient, keep the depth of sand for at least one inch. You can also maintain live plants by making your substrate’s height for at least two or three inches.

    Learn how to clean aquarium sand as well before you using it to fill your tank. You can do so by adding water into a bucket full of sand until it is almost full.

    Sift through the sand with your hand and drain the water from it. Repeat this until you see that the water is clean already. Placing a dish on top of the sand will also prevent water to force debris as you fill the tank.

    Most of the process on how to rinse aquarium sand is similar to how it is being done in gravel, so if you are already familiar with how you do it in gravel, using and cleaning sand in a fish tank can be manageable for you.

    Looking for Sand for Freshwater Aquarium

    Here are some of the best and most popular freshwater aquarium sands. Take a look at their pros and cons along with their materials. These reviews will help you decide which is best to use in your freshwater aquarium.

    Seachem Fluorite Black Sand Substrate, 7.7lb 

    If you are using a planted aquarium, then this black sand is made from obsolete, broken but stable clay. Since black sand is not chemically coated or treated, this is ideal to combine with other beddings or substrate types

    Since it has a very fine and light material, you may lose some of it when you rinse it. Thus, it can be costly in nature because you have to buy at least 3 packs to fill a ten-gallon aquarium.

    Carib Sea ACS00821 Tahitian Moon Sand for Aquarium, 20-Pound, Black

    If you are interested in increasing the contrast and elegance of your tank, the jet black color of Tahitian Moon sand can fit your tank well.

    It is also safe for your fish since the color is natural. Moreover, its PH is at a neutral level which is not harmful to water.

    Probably due to its extra jet black color, Tahitian Moon sand is oily in nature. This can cause suspension in water for longer hours which requires you to rinse aquarium sand longer.

    CaribSea Super Naturals Aquarium Sand 

    If you are keeping Kois or Betta fishes and you want to strike your aquarium with more color, then this Super Naturals sand is the right type of sand to use. Have the vibe of aquarium bottom while keeping the pH neutral. More so, keeping the water clean and safer for your fish as it does not use paints or dyes.

    However, due to its very fine size, CaribSea Aquarium sand can cause clogging through filters. You will also need to rinse it multiple times before you place it in the aquarium. Make sure to keep the bedding compact throughout the sand to avoid dead zones from happening.

    Stoney River White Aquatic Sand Freshwater and Marine Aquariums, 5-Pound Bag

    If you are looking for a more flexible option, then the Stoney River White sand is the top choice. It is designed to be used in all aquarium settings with its uniform grains in texture.

    It also boasts of its light-colored material that provides natural bedding. This feature brings out the beauty in the colors of darker fish.

    Similar to other types of aquarium sand, Stoney River White Aquatic Sand Freshwater also has a neutral level of pH. However, due to its lightweight size, it may also cause clogging in filters.

    UP AQUA Sand for Aquatic Plants 

    If you have aquarium plants that grow in sand, UP AQUA sand is the type to use. Its lower PH level in the water compared to other sands makes it ideal for plant-based aquariums.

    Another cool feature of this sand is it keeps the water clean for a longer time as compared to how other sands cause it.

    However, since you do not have to worry much about its ideal pH level and you can conserve more water when cleaning, the UP AQUA sand is more expensive than other brands. It also has a greater tendency to lose its color in a shorter period of time.


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