fish tank sand

Should I Use Sand In My New Fish Tank?

Before you decide to use sand in your new fish tank, you need to learn a little more about it.

Why choose sand?

Well, sand is great for live plants. They’ll root very nicely in it. Sand doesn’t shift as gravel does and the plants will not get loose.

Some fish – such as Eels – like to bury themselves, so sand is a great option if you have fish like that.

Sand can give your aquarium a tropical look.

Let’s begin with the different types of sand you can choose from:

Play Sand

A lot of people use play sand or silver sand, fine white sand used in gardening. Play sand is cheap. However, it might create excessive algae growth in the tank

Silica Sand

This is what we know as pool filter sand. Some people say it stays better on the bottom. This is the one I recommend.

Aquarium Sand

This is typically silica sand that can be artificially colored. Aquarium sand is just a little thicker than silver sand but it costs a lot more.

Marine Sand

Marine sand is usually made up of crushed corals or crushed seashells, and this kind of substrate will alter the pH of your aquarium, and it’s really not recommended for most tropical fish. However, marine sand is suitable for fish that require high pH such as African cichlids. Do not use it for freshwater setups!

Beach Sand

The sand you can freely find on a beach contains a huge amount of salt in it and it’s almost impossible to get rid of it completely. You could use beach sand for marine setups but remember that many beaches are polluted in some way and that could end up being very damaging to your aquarium. So unless you can get it from a pristine beach in the middle of the ocean, I wouldn’t recommend it.

Never use building sand in your aquarium since it might have chemicals added to it to help with creating mortars.
Whatever sand you use, make sure you read the labels to check for added chemicals. Some brand of sand sold in big home improvement stores comes sterilized and totally inert.

How much sand do I need?

If you have live plants, I would cover the bottom with a minimum depth of 1″ and a maximum of 1.5″ of sand. If you don’t have live plants 1″ or less will be perfect. If you put over 1.5″ you can cause anaerobic bacteria to build up in pockets and create toxic gasses like methane and high levels of CO2, which might be deadly to your aquatic life. To avoid this, stir the sand a couple of times a week. You can use your fingers gently, or a very thin object, always watching out for the roots of your plants. You can always add some critters to keep your sand free 

of uneaten food. You can have scavengers such as a sea cucumber.

What kind of filter do you need?

A UGF will not do. In just a few days the filter will become useless. A canister filter is safe, as long as the filter intake is at least 1″ above the sand. In any case, you have to use a very good filter, maybe one stronger than the one required for your tank capacity, at least 3 times the power.

You must turn off the filter on your tank when you first start to use the sand. It always starts very cloudy and you have to give it time to settle.

Keep in mind that sand might be a little tricky to clean. Always maintain the siphon at least one inch over the sand. Once you get the hang of it, it should be very easy, since the debris does not get buried in the sand as it does in gravel. Now, since the debris does not get buried, it’s much more visible, but with the right setup of filters and pumps or powerheads, you can have all the waste get pushed away behind a rock or back in a corner.

Once you get your sand, make sure you rinse it thoroughly until the water comes out clear.

Also, do some research to decide what fish will thrive with a sand substrate and which won’t do as well.
Sand can be used in salt and some freshwater tanks. Don’t use sand with Goldfish, for example, because they will just grab mouthfuls of it when looking for food, and obviously, that’s not good for them.

Some sands, like marine sand, can change the PH in the water, so make sure the change your particular will create will not be harmful to the fish you want to keep. You can get away with coral sand in an African cichlid tank because coral sand will raise the pH naturally and freshwater African cichlids actually like that.

Setting up a new tank with sand is easy if you follow the precautions about the filter, the siphoning technique and you research the kind of fish you want. But it’s also possible to convert from gravel to sand in an already established tank, it’s only a little bit more complicated since you have to take out plants, decorations, and fish to do it, but once done, your tank will look so beautiful you will forget all about the hard work.

Set Up Your First Fish Tank

I still remember every minute of the day I got my first fish tank. Of course, I said I wanted to start small, so I got my 10-gallon tank with 3 small Goldfish… and I found out 10 gallons is waaaay too small for 3 Goldfish. Six months later, I had a 75-gallon tank with 9 Goldfish, and then I found out I should have had more than 7… but one learns The reason I tell you this is because, if you don’t want to repeat the whole process very soon, I would recommend getting the largest tank that you can accommodate. It’s actually easier to clean a bigger tank than a smaller one. Small tanks and bowls require a lot more maintenance, believe it or not, plus, no fish should be kept in a tank of less than 5 gallons, and that is for a very tiny fish, or maybe a Betta. You can find more information about all that throughout the site.

For now, let’s hope that this guideline can help you set up your fish tank. As I said, you can start with a 10, 20, or 30-gallon tank or bigger, made of glass or acrylic. Glass is traditional, but the advantages of an acrylic tank are many. It’s a lot lighter, seamless, and the clarity is unbeatable. Just remember to buy cleaning tools for acrylic and not glass.

You can buy a complete setup without ornaments for a low price, and this is a great beginning. You also need a stand that can hold the tank. Remember it’ll be very heavy once you add the water. Start out with plastic plants, and plastic or resin, maybe wood, stone or ceramic decorations. Be careful, not every rock or toy is good for your tank. Some have toxins that can kill your fish. Remember, a larger tank is easier to maintain than a small one and it can hold many more fish, which will lead to a more pleasant experience of fish keeping.

Once you have the equipment, the rest is easy. Choose a good place to set the tank and it’s stand in your home.

Once it’s filled you won’t be able to move it without emptying it first and you don’t want to do that try not to put it under the direct sunlight of a window or a very hot area, since heat makes algae grow faster, which means, cleaning will be harder, and high temperatures can actually harm some fish.

Rinse the gravel or sand well and spread it so you get an even layer. You always have to rinse everything very well before putting it in the tank.

If you have a hanging heater, hang it off the back, where you can still see it and tell if it’s on. 

A submersible heater should go near the bottom of the tank because the heat rises.

Powerheads are great for aquariums, but some species, like Goldfish, can’t tolerate the currents very well. Powerheads draw water from under the UGF and pump it out of the power head, creating water movement as well as delivering oxygen to the fish and the beneficial bacteria that live in the gravel (substrate).

It’s important to have filtration in the tank. You could use an under-gravel filter (UGF). These sit on top of the glass at the bottom of the aquarium. Lift tubes are inserted into the risers at the rear of the filter, and then the under-gravel filter is covered with gravel. If you have an underwater filter, find a location for your air pump and put your airline and air stones in. You will also need a gang valve for the airline, which will let you run two lift tubes off of a single outlet air pump. Run a piece of air line from the air pump to the gang valve. Run another air line from the gang valve to each of your lift tubes. Read the instructions for your filter to see exactly how to attach the air line to your particular air stones.

There are also mechanical filters on the market. I prefer and use a power filter with a Bio-Wheel. The Bio Wheel is a paper like cylinder that rotates as the water is returned to the tank. Beneficial bacteria live on the wheel and help increase the biological cycle.

Now place your ornaments in the tank and see where you want them before you get your hands wet. Expect some ceramic or plastic decorations to float or tip over as you put water in the tank.

Once your decorations are in place, you are ready to add water. You can just pour tap water into the tank and since you have no fish, plants, or a biological filter to worry about, add the treatment after the tank is full. Be careful that the water doesn’t dig a hole in the gravel as you pour it in.

You can use a good conditioner like Prime, and your water will be ready to add fish.

Then you’ll be ready to start the biological cycling process.

Acrylic Fish Tank

Choosing a Glass or an Acrylic Fish Tank

What are the benefits of acrylic fish tanks?

Using acrylic to make fish tanks changed the aquarium-keeping hobby for everybody. In the 1800s, fish tanks were mainly metal boxes with one side made out of glass. Aquarists could only keep fish from their own region because they were the only ones available, and they had to be freshwater fish because salt water corroded the metal frame that held the panes together.

When silicone adhesive appeared in the picture in the 1960s, metal frames ceased to exist and gave way to glass and people were able to keep saltwater fish in their aquariums.

Then came acrylic. Acrylic is greatly flexible and made aquariums break-proof, unlike their glass counterparts. With glass fish tanks there is always the danger of shattering the glass if stroked with a heavy object, creating a big mess of water and fish all over the place. Acrylic tanks don’t run this danger

The possibilities of design with acrylic are endless. You can turn anything from an old television set to a gumball machine into a fish tank.

Acrylic fish tanks are very lightweight. Especially if you compare them to glass tanks, acrylic tanks are very light. Of course, when you put the water in it, the tank is going to be very heavy, but the transportation of the tank will be much easier. Acrylic tanks are also very clear. The visibility of the fish will be much better than with glass.

Another advantage of acrylic tanks is the variety of shapes you can find! Bow-front aquariums are my favorite. They look so much nicer than regular rectangular tanks. You can get the tiniest tank for your favorite Betta fish or a gigantic aquarium for your wall. I personally like to buy everything separately, but you can purchase a starter kit that has everything from gravel to plastic plants, lights, and filters. Obviously, acrylic aquariums also have their problems.

Acrylic can scratch easier than glass. You have to be very careful when cleaning your tank and use only supplies made especially for acrylic. Scrubbers have to be made of rubber or plastic and never metal. Be very careful not to pick up a piece of gravel with your sponge and scratch the surface of the tank with it.

However, if you accidentally scratch your acrylic tank, there is no need to despair. Acrylic tanks can be repaired. There are acrylic repair kits available. When you get the occupants for your new tank

Only make sure to buy your fish from reputable specialty fish stores. Fish bought at regular pet shops normally carry diseases and won’t last you long. And, it’s always good to be able to ask questions about their care from someone knowledgeable. Look at the tanks. There shouldn’t be any dead fish floating around. Choose the most energetic fish you see and have the employee give you the one you choose.

Fish Tank Set Up Tips For Beginners

A fish tank is not just an aesthetic aquarium accessory, but an integral part of your home. With the right maintenance and set up, a tank can become a living ecosystem where your fish live in harmony with one another and their surroundings. In this post, we’ll outline the basic fish tank set up tips for beginners.

1. Choose a tank

First things first, pick out the right aquarium. This can be tricky, considering that there are so many different types of tanks available on the market. There are tall tanks, short tanks, round tanks and square-shaped ones. They come in all kinds of materials: glass, plastic and acrylic. Some even look like flower pots! It really goes without saying that you’ll want to find something that suits your living room décor (and budget).

2. Maintain Balance Before Adding Fish to a New Aquarium

When you are trying to add a new fish to your aquarium, it’s important to make sure that the tank is cycling before you introduce one or more new aquatic pets. Not only will this prevent the spread of parasites and disease, but your fish will be able to adjust to the new environment without feeling stressed and uncomfortable. In order for your aquarium cycle to begin, you need a combination of algae, bacteria and ammonia. These three elements need to be exposed to one another to start the cycle, and if they aren’t exposed, the cycle can’t begin.

It is important to make sure that your aquarium is cycled before you introduce a new fish or other aquatic creature. This will prevent disease, stress and the spread of parasites. It’s also important to give your fish plenty of hiding places and cover in an effort to make them feel comfortable.

3. Decorate Your Fish Tank

Adding decorated rocks and plants to your fish tank is a great way to make it look both pleasing to the eye and an attractive home for your aquatic friends. Of course, you can decorate the tank in any way that you see fit. You can even paint it! We’ll go over some ideas below on how you can get started with decorating your fish tank.

As a general guide, it’s recommended that you don’t add plants or decorations in the same room that your fish are housed in. This is because it can create a temporary state of stress for your fish, as well as encourage the growth of algae in your tank. This also makes it more likely that you will notice when the tank needs to be cleaned and carries an increased risk of damage to your fish.

Another idea to consider is decorating the sides or back of your tank. This will create an invisible border between your fish and any decorations, thereby encouraging harmony between all three organisms in the tank!

4. Add Aquarium Lighting

Adding aquarium lighting is a great way to make sure that your fish tank looks both colorful and inviting to its occupants. There are a number of different brands and types of aquarium lights to choose from, and all types have their advantages and disadvantages. You can also find special hanging fixtures for your fish tank as well as light strips with built-in aquarium lights.

The main purpose of placing lighting in your fish tank is to replicate the natural light that your fish get in the wild. The less light that your aquarium receives, the fewer natural fish behaviors you will see. This includes feeding, socializing and avoiding predators. A good rule of thumb when considering aquarium lighting is that two watts per gallon is sufficient to encourage normal fish behavior in your tank. Of course, the best method of ensuring that your fish are getting the correct amount of light is to regularly evaluate the light levels in your tank.

5. Filter Your Fish Tank

One of the most important aspects to consider when set up a new fish tank is ensuring that 

your filter is functioning correctly. There are many different types of fish tanks on the market, and not all of them are going to be able to use the same type of filters. If you’re ever unsure which type of filter would be good for your fish tank, contact your local pet store for guidance.

It’s also important to remember that the more surface area on your filter that you have, the greater the amount of nitrates and phosphates will be removed from the water. The more nitrates and phosphates that are removed, the cleaner your tank is going to be!

6. Set Up Your Algae Tablets

Algae tablets are a great way to promote algae growth in your fish tank. Algae is an important part of your tank’s ecosystem, and will play an important role in keeping the tank clean, hatching eggs and feeding your fish. Algae tablets are the most user-friendly way to promote healthy growth in your tank, and can be used alongside other types of aquarium decorations.

Of course, it’s important to remember that algae can be detrimental in some situations. It’s recommended that you don’t place algae tablets in tanks with more than one inch of fish or shrimp waste material at the bottom as this will only prolong the length of time they take to clear up.

7. Clean Your Aquarium Regularly

Cleaning your aquarium is an important part of keeping your tank in good condition. If you don’t clean your aquarium regularly, you’re going to see a decline in the health and the appearance of all of its inhabitants. You can clean your aquarium tank with tap water and a few teaspoons of salt. You can also use a specialized cleaning solution for fish tanks if necessary.


Aquariums are a wonderful way for you to get closer to nature and enjoy the beauty of an underwater world. A fish tank can be a great outlet for creativity, and also provides an excellent opportunity for you to watch your fish that live inside your tank. The tips included in this article will help you make the most of your new aquarium!

Pros and Cons Of A Bare Bottom Fish Tank and How They Work

A bare-bottom fish tank, also known as a “bare tank,” is a type of aquarium setup where the tank floor is left without any substrate or decorations. This setup has pros and cons, and it’s essential to understand how it works before deciding if it’s the right choice for your fish.


Easy to clean:

Without any substrate or decorations, it’s much easier to clean the bottom of the tank. This means less time spent scrubbing and more time enjoying your fish. When the substrate gets too dirty, it can be easily cleaned off with a sponge or garden hose.


A bare bottom tank offers more oxygen to the water, which helps keep the water cleaner for longer. This also means less need for live or fake plants, as the plants eat up oxygen in your tank.

Better water quality:

Without a substrate, there’s less chance for debris and waste to build up, which can lead to better water quality. This is especially important for tanks with sensitive fish or invertebrates. This means more oxygen and reduced stress, both of which are good for the health of your fish.

Many aquarists choose to leave their tanks bare-bottomed as it offers benefits that other setups do not, but there are also many disadvantages.

Most fish tanks will have a substrate (usually sand or gravel), decorations (plants or rocks), and water level markings. A bare bottom tank does not have these, so it’s only suitable for some types of fish or species. These tanks should be used only with fish that can adapt to the loss of such amenities.

Better visibility:

With no decorations or substrate, it’s much easier to see your fish and keep an eye on their health. Here’s an example:

You can see when the gravel gets dirty with a bare bottom tank, and it’s easier to clean than a substrate-riddled tank. However, the lack of decorations and objects can make it harder to set up your tank correctly (more on this in the “Setup” section), and any sudden changes in water chemistry can be difficult to clean up. This is especially important if you’re using submersible lighting.


Setting up a bare-bottom tank is often less expensive than buying substrate and decorations. This is because you already have the tank and its frame, which is much cheaper than buying a new tank, even if it’s slightly larger than the old one. It is also more affordable to purchase bare bottom tanks from online stores (such as Aquahobby). These bare-bottom tanks are usually sold for about half of what full-tank setup costs.

Better fish compatibility:

Most fish do particularly well in bare bottom tanks, especially when they’re young and small. This is because fish such as catfish or loaches can burrow into the substrate if they need to retreat to hide or if their habitat gets too dirty.


Limited options for fish:

Some fish, such as cichlids and other bottom dwellers, need a substrate to feel secure and comfortable. These fish will not do well in a bare bottom tank. This is because these fish need places to hide if they feel threatened or if the tank gets too dirty.

No hiding spaces:

Bare bottom tanks don’t offer any hiding places for fish. This means their home has less security, and it’s less fun for them to live in. It also means fewer plant options, which will be covered in the next section.

No natural look:

With a substrate or decorations, a bare bottom tank can look plain and interesting. Bare-bottom fish tanks have been described as “sparkling floor aquariums.” This is because no decorations make the tank more natural or attractive. The lack of a substrate or decorations can make it harder to make your tank look natural, but there are still things you can do. You can use rocks or plants at the bottom of the tank to help give a sense of depth, and there are many decorations you can use to add a natural look.

Not all fish will work without a substrate or decorations. You should add decorations if you want your fish to feel more at home so that they will stay healthy and happy. That said, if your fish has specific needs that aren’t being met in the tank, it’s best not to keep them in the tank, no matter how well it’s decorated.

No hiding spots:

Fish need places to hide and feel secure, and a bare bottom tank offers no hiding spots. Here’s an example of what this can look like:

No beneficial bacteria: Substrates can provide a home for beneficial bacteria that help to keep the tank’s water clean and healthy. Without a substrate, these bacteria will not be present in a bare bottom tank.

How it works:

A bare bottom tank is set up much like any other tank but without a substrate. The tank should be filled with water, and a filtration system should be installed. It’s essential to use a high-quality filter that can handle the size of the tank and the number of fish in it.

It’s also essential to properly cycle the tank before adding any fish. Cycling a tank means allowing beneficial bacteria to grow and establish themselves. Without these bacteria, the tank’s water will not be able to support fish.

Once the tank is set up and cycled, it’s time to add fish. As mentioned earlier, it’s important to choose fish that are compatible with a bare-bottom tank. Fish that need a substrate, such as cichlids, should not be kept in a bare bottom tank. Bare bottom tanks are best used only with fish such as catfish or other bottom-dwelling fish.

When cleaning a bare bottom tank, it’s essential to make sure any waste doesn’t fall into the gravel or decorations, as this can seep into the water and harm your fish. Filters should be cleaned regularly, and the tank should be cleaned periodically. Fish food should also be removed from the tank, so it does not rot in your aquarium.

Properly cycling a new tank ensures that your fish won’t develop disease or die because of poor water quality.

It’s also important to remember that a bare bottom tank will require more frequent water changes than a tank with a substrate. This is because, without a substrate, there’s less chance for debris and waste to build up, which can lead to better water quality.

In conclusion, a bare bottom fish tank has its pros and cons. It’s easy to clean, provides better water quality, and offers better visibility. However, it also has limited options for fish, no natural look, no hiding spots, and no beneficial bacteria. With proper maintenance, a bare bottom tank can be an excellent option for fish-keeping enthusiasts. Before setting up a bare bottom tank, weighing the pros and cons and choosing fish compatible with this type of setup is essential.

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