Best Aquarium Sand

There are a great many things that go into creating the perfect aquarium. From the water to the fish, to the possible corals, to the decoration, and all the chemical factors that go into keeping it healthy...all the way down to the sand.

You’d think that choosing the sand for your aquarium is easy right? Maybe you thought you could just scoop up a handful from a nearby beach. But in reality, choosing the right sand for your aquarium is a lot trickier than it seems.

To keep the fish comfortable and happy, you have to ensure the aquarium is as close to their natural habitat as possible, and that includes the type of sand you use. Especially if you have fish that come from sandy habitats!

There really is a lot to consider when purchasing the right sand for your aquarium, as you want to make sure it’s comfortable for your type of fish, and that it’s compatible with your aquarium setup.

And of course, you also want it to look good so that it fits in with the aesthetic you are creating for your aquarium! Not to worry, as there are many different options available in the market, so you’re guaranteed to find the right type for you!

However, finding the best options can be hard with so much variety, so we’ve done the job for you and have compiled a list with our top picks for the best aquarium sand!

In a hurry?

If you’re setting up your aquarium, you’re going to need to figure out which sand to buy and use. It can greatly affect the overall setting of the aquarium and can have a great impact on the fish, so it really is an important decision.

If you’re looking for the overall best possible option that covers all the necessary basics to a high standard, then we recommend you go for our number one top pick: the CaribSea Super Naturals Aquarium Sand. 

The CaribSea brand is an excellent choice, with its leading products within the market being some of the most popular and recommended for all types of aquariums.

The Super Naturals Aquarium, just as the name suggests, provides an excellent replica of a natural environment within your aquarium, so that the fish can feel right at home.

It’s hugely versatile and can be used with all aquarium systems, as the PH of the sand is completely neutral and therefore safe to use with anything.

The unique sand-sized grains it is made with are effective in reducing the collected detritus, helping keep the aquarium clean and the water crystal-clear. It is also paint-free and dye-free! Of high quality and effective for all aquariums, it’s the overall best choice. 

Here are the main features:

  • Reliable and leading brand - great value
  • Versatile use - safe for any aquarium
  • Completely neutral PH level
  • Unique sand-sized grains to reduce detritus - keeps the aquarium cleaner
  • Paint and dye-free

OUR TOP PICK

CaribSea is the leading brand in the market when it comes to aquarium sand, as they offer a wide range of options and types of sand that all reach the highest standards of quality and value.

They’re also highly accessible and budget-friendly, so they’re the way to go! This product, the Super Naturals Aquarium Sand, is perfect for recreating a natural environment within your aquarium.

It’s safe to be used in all aquarium systems, as it is completely PH neutral! It has been manufactured with unique sand-sized grains that reduce the amount of built-up detritus, as well as reducing the collection of fish waste and food.

This way, it’s a lot easier to maintain and keep clean. It’s paint and dye-free, contributing to keeping your water crystal-clear, which is the aim of any aquarium.

It matches the exotic and natural locations of tropical islands, so your fish will feel right at home at a VIP standard! (or should we say VIFish?)

Pros:

  • Reliable and leading brand
  • Versatile use - safe for any aquarium
  • Completely neutral PH level
  • Unique sand-sized grains to reduce detritus
  • Paint and dye-free

Cons:

  • May discolor over time

EDITORS CHOICE

The CaribSea Arag-Alive Fiji Pink Sand is another excellent product choice from the CaribSea brand that provides a great standard of quality.

It’s a blend of extremely functional aragonite substrate that is ideal for all types of marine aquariums, and it also looks really good and unique.

It’s most impressive feature is that it comes with millions of autotrophic, heterotrophic, and chemolithotrophic bacteria which help reduce the waste within the aquarium, keeping it as a healthy and clean environment to impressive levels of quality.

These bacteria also enhance biological filtration and overall help maintain the aquarium so that you don’t have to do as much work.

A good looking and massively helpful type of sand! This sand is also great at maintaining healthy levels of PH, so you won’t have to add any chemicals to keep the balance suitable.

It’s ideal for creating a natural environment in which fish feel comfortable, and it keeps the aquarium clean and working perfectly, as well as ensuring the water is crystal-clear!

Pros:

  • Reliable and leading brand
  • Aragonite substrate ideal for marine aquariums
  • Has millions of autotrophic, heterotrophic, and chemolithotrophic bacteria
  • Biological filtration and PH balance
  • Keeps aquarium clean and easily maintained

Price:

  • Not suitable for freshwater aquariums

BEST VALUE

If you have a planted aquarium and are looking for a type of sand that is designed to work for it the best, then the Flourite Black Sand is the product you need.

It is premium natural sand, with specially fracted stable porous clay gravel which is ideal for planted aquariums.

It isn’t chemically coated or treated, as it is all-natural, so it won’t alter the PH levels of the water, making it perfectly safe to use with any aquarium system.

It is designed to provide all the nutrients the aquarium plants need to grow and thrive, making it ideal for easy upkeep.

It also doesn’t need replacing at all, as it can last the entirety of your aquarium’s lifespan, which is not only convenient but a lot cheaper as it’s a one time buy!

The size of the grains is great for the comfort of both the plants and the fish, and they’re porous enough to allow aeration to the roots of the plants, further helping them thrive.

The black color looks especially good and is favored for planted aquariums, but you can mix in other gravels if so desired. 

Pros:

  • Ideal for planted aquariums
  • All-natural, and doesn’t alter the PH levels
  • Provides all the nutrients needed for the plants
  • Doesn’t need replacing - long lifespan
  • Appealing black color 

Cons:

  • Needs thorough rinsing before use

RUNNER UP

The Stoney River White Aquatic Sand is a great and highly versatile product of aquarium sand that is ideal for both freshwater and marine aquariums.

It’s also completely compatible with any type of aquarium system, as it has a neutral PH that won’t alter the balance of your aquarium’s water.

It doesn’t have a toxic coating and is instead completely natural and therefore safe and comfortable for your fish.

This sand is also designed to work really well with any plants that your aquarium might have, and it helps with the maintenance and upkeep of keeping the aquarium clean and with clearer water.

Overall, it’s a great product that reaches excellent levels of quality and comfort for your fish, while also working well with any plants to upkeep the cleanliness of the aquarium.

The ability to be used in any type of aquarium makes it highly versatile and therefore perfect for anyone that wants to be on the safe side and ensure the sand is apt and suitable!

Pros:

  • Highly versatile - suitable for any type of aquarium
  • Neutral PH 
  • No toxic coating
  • Works well with aquarium plants to keep the environment clean

Cons:

  • Can cause cloudiness in the water

RUNNER UP

In case you still haven’t picked up on how much we love the CaribSea brand, here’s yet another product of theirs to make it into our list for top picks!

The Ocean Direct Substrates arrives in a bag lined with real ocean water so that all the live bacteria that it features are well preserved and ready to take action in your aquarium.

This is why the sand will feel damp when you first receive it.

These live bacteria that it includes are extremely helpful in keeping the aquarium environment clean and healthy, reducing nitrate levels, and helping deal with any algae that might try and grow in your aquarium.

It ensures an authentic and comfortable environment for your fish, as it is made with all-natural products and doesn’t have any chemicals or special processing.

This sand also uses a sea breathe technology, so you can be sure that it is alive, breathing and extremely beneficial to your aquarium.

In fact, this is aquarium sand that is often used in large public aquariums and recommended by experts. 

Pros:

  • Reliable and leading brand
  • Comes with well preserved live bacteria
  • Extremely beneficial to the environment of your aquarium 
  • Completely all-natural
  • Sea breathe technology

Cons:

  • Remains cloudy for a long time

Best Aquarium Sand Buying Guide

There are many different types of sand for aquariums, and different sands will suit different types of aquariums. It can be tricky to choose the right aquarium sand for you if you’re not very familiar with the concepts or requirements of each aquarium type and system.

There are many factors to consider when purchasing the sand for your aquarium so that you can ensure the safety and comfort of your fish and aquarium plants.

Different types of sand will also contribute to the upkeep of your aquarium and make your life a lot easier, so it really is worth keeping an eye out for the best features! To help you understand the basics, we’ve compiled this little buyer’s guide.

Type of aquarium:

The first thing you should check when buying sand for your aquarium is whether it is suitable and safe for yours. Aquariums can be freshwater or marine, and while some sands will be suitable for both types, others will have specific features to suit only one or the other. 

It’s also important to check if the sand is compatible with your aquarium system and whether it will affect the PH balance of your water. The best aquarium sands are all-natural with neutral PH levels, so those are the ones you should keep an eye out for. 

Live Sand:

Live sand is sand that contains live bacteria, in bigger or smaller quantities. This sand is extremely beneficial for aquariums, especially for those that have plants.

It helps maintain the aquarium environment clean and healthy and it’s the best option for achieving authentic environments for your fish. This type of sand also helps reduce waste and keeps the water a lot clearer, so it really does most of the upkeep jobs for you!

Appearance and authenticity:

When buying sand for your aquarium you want it to look as good as possible and for it to fit in with your overall aesthetic and scheme. A lot of sands can be mixed with other gravels to achieve an appearance you like.

However, far more important than the color of the sand is that it accurately replicates an authentic ocean environment for your fish to feel comfortable in. Look out for all-natural sands that are ocean substrates! 

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does aquarium sand take to settle?

When you put sand in an aquarium, it will initially cloud up the water and float around in a dusty mess until it finally settles neatly at the bottom and remains there.

How long it takes to settle can depend on how big your aquarium is or on how you’ve put the sand in. If you dump the sand in all at once, aggressively, it could take up to an average of around 3 days to fully settle.

However, it might also depend on the type of sand, as some aquarium sands have a bigger tendency towards clouding.