Beach Sand in a Saltwater Aquarium: Is it Safe?

There are a lot of hidden costs that go into building your own saltwater aquarium. From the chemicals that make up the water composition to the mechanical systems that help your setup run, you’ll be buying more than you might’ve initially thought. This is why many beginner hobbyists often consider saving a bit of green by finding some of the materials near their home—namely, the sand. But incorporating beach sand into a tank is more complex than just bringing it home in buckets. Read on to learn whether it’s safe to use beach sand in a saltwater aquarium and a few important things you should consider before doing so.

Beach Sand vs. Store-Bought Sand

Beach sand is classified as any form of the resource that can be found along shores and areas with large quantities of water. Containing ample amounts of algae, bacteria, and even a few smaller organisms, this material is just as alive as the ecosystem below the surface. Unfortunately, it’s also for this reason that beach sand is likely to have higher concentrations of pollution.

Store-bought sand, on the other hand, can be purchased in large bags and is specially screened to only contain the beneficial bacteria for tank life. This means that even by using live sand, you’re only getting organisms that’ll help your aquarium’s ecosystem operate correctly. As such, you won’t need to worry about there being any toxins present in your water that could harm your fish.

Additional Considerations

Other factors to consider when determining the safety of using beach sand in a saltwater aquarium are the overall grain size and composition of the material. Though all sand might look the same to you on the surface, there are actually two different types of beach sand that vary in these characteristics. Depending on which one you acquire, your tank life might not be able to sift through it in an effective way. Very fine sand will scatter up into the water and take longer to settle back down to the bottom, making it more difficult for you to keep the tank clean and healthy.

So, as you can see, using beach sand in a home isn’t without its share of risks. This is why our team at World Wide Corals suggests using store-bought varieties. We find that it’s easier to control bacteria and chemical levels this way, and corals, like our red montipora, will have a better chance at thriving. For more information about our stock of aquacultured specimens, give us a call or visit our website.