The 8 Best Aquarium Sands

video play icon

This wiki has been updated 13 times since it was first published in August of 2019. Sand that’s rich in minerals and nutrients will foster a healthy environment for the fish, plants, and other marine life in your aquarium. Its small grains provide more surface area than gravel, which helps beneficial bacteria to colonize and, in turn, keep the tank thriving and clean. It’s also great for catfish, snails and other creatures that like to burrow into the substrate. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. CaribSea ACS00050

2. FairmountSantrol AquaQuartz

3. CaribSea Arag-Alive Bimini Pink

Editor's Notes

August 27, 2019:

Benefits of opting for aquarium sand over gravel include its more natural look, which better mimics the bottoms of the lakes and rivers that are the natural habitat of fish. It also needs to be changed less frequently than gravel, since its smaller grains tend to keep particles from sinking in, where things can rot and decay. Some of the selections featured here are touted for their good bacteria that will enhance the overall health of your aquarium.

One such choice is CaribSea Arag-Alive Bimini Pink, which contains millions of beneficial bacteria that enhance biological filtration, including by breaking down dangerous ammonia that tends to build up in some environments. Its an effective choice for cycling the tank immediately upon entry.

For a plant-heavy tank, look to Seachem Flourite, which is packed with nutrients to help plants grow, with a composition that ensures the roots have adequate air. Many satisfied customers proudly share before-and-after photos of how their plants have doubled in size after adding it to their aquariums. It’s a good value for the price, at around $2 per pound at this time.

If an affordable selection is what you’re after, check out FairmountSantrol AquaQuartz, which is designed primarily for pools but used in countless fish tanks. It’s nothing but 100% natural sand, which is chemical-free as well as easy to comb and clean. It’s a low-maintenance solution available at a fraction of the cost of many others.

Special Honors

Custom Aquariums Sand Substrate The grains of this sand are small enough to prevent organic matter from penetrating deep down into your tank. Its neutral colors make detritus and algae less noticeable. It comes in a plastic pail that makes it easier to pour into your tank than when you’re using a plastic bag. It’s from a company that has sold products to major zoos in America, including the San Diego Zoo, Columbus Zoo, Bush Gardens, Sea World, Six Flags Animal Kingdom, and more.

4. Royal Ram 2 Pounds

5. Seachem Flourite

6. Nature’s Ocean Bio-Activ

7. Activ Betta White

8. CaribSea ACS00222

Karen Bennett
Last updated by Karen Bennett

Karen Bennett lives in Chicago with her family, and when she’s not writing, she can usually be found practicing yoga or cheering on her kids at soccer games. She holds a master’s degree in journalism and a bachelor’s in English, and her writing has been published in various local newspapers, as well as “The Cheat Sheet,” “Illinois Legal Times,” and “USA Today.” She has also written search engine news page headlines and worked as a product manager for a digital marketing company. Her expertise is in literature, nonfiction, textbooks, home products, kids' games and toys, hardware, teaching accessories, and art materials.

Thanks for reading the fine print. About the Wiki: We don't accept sponsorships, free goods, samples, promotional products, or other benefits from any of the product brands featured on this page, except in cases where those brands are manufactured by the retailer to which we are linking. For more information on our rankings, please read about us, linked below. The Wiki is a participant in associate programs from Amazon, Walmart, Ebay, Target, and others, and may earn advertising fees when you use our links to these websites. These fees will not increase your purchase price, which will be the same as any direct visitor to the merchant’s website. If you believe that your product should be included in this review, you may contact us, but we cannot guarantee a response, even if you send us flowers.