My goldfish go CRAZY over foraging in this stuff, and cleaning it is the easiest of all the brands I’ve tried.
It won’t mess with your pH and is easy to clean and all natural.
The color is a great neutral shade as well.
What I love most about this sand?
How easy it is to clean!
As long as your suction isn’t too strong on your siphon, the particles gently lift into the tube and fall back down – but the waste continues to get sucked up.
This allows me to push the tube all the way to the bottom of the tank and get just about every piece of crud!
A cleaner tank = healthier, happier fish.
And unlike with gravel:
You get the benefits of something for the fish to forage in and enjoy without the hazards of choking and debris buildup.
It IS made of quartz.
And after struggling for about a year with a recurring brown diatom problem, I did end up switching this sand out because I got tired of purchasing Phosguard to remove the silicates and blamed my sand.
But even after removing all quartz-based rocks and sand from my tank and doing a 100% water change…
… The stupid brown algae returned. 🙁
So obviously it’s the silicates in my tap water causing this problem and not the substrate.
The difference is really in the grain size, which is slightly larger.
It is also made of quartz.
The larger crystals are very easy to clean.
Benefits of Sand for Goldfish
Sand has many benefits for goldfish.
Does not trap debris, requiring less maintenance
Provides natural sifting behavior stimulation for foraging goldfish
Prevents hydrogen sulfide pocket production common in gravel
Allows plants to root (unless your goldfish dig them up)
Enhances appearance of the aquarium
Will not cause choking in digging fish
The Cleanlier Option
If you’ve ever had gravel in your aquarium, you know firsthand how downright nasty that stuff can get.
It seems like you can clean for AGES and never get all the debris out!
Fishkeepers who switch to sand from plain gravel almost always heave a massive sigh of relief:
“It’s so much easier to keep clean!”
This is because the fine particle size prevents waste from settling down into cracks and pockets, where it would sit and pollutes the water until someone disturbs it.
And the best part?
The waste tends to gather in areas of the tank where the current circulates, making vacuuming up all that poop in one fell swoop as easy as falling off a log.
Natural Behavior Encouragement
Bare-bottom tanks are definitely the easiest to keep clean…
… But they deprive the fish of the delights they have in sifting through and picking at things at the bottom.
In captivity, goldfish will be happiest when they can do what they would do if they lived in their natural environment – a pond or slow-moving river.
This behavior comes so naturally to them and gets them moving around their habitat longer, meaning more exercise and stimulation.
Why not let them do what they love?
I think it’s always a good idea to think of different ways to enrich their behavior and mimic natural conditions, especially by providing foraging material for them to graze on throughout the day.
How to Wash Sand for Your Aquarium
Washing your sand can REALLY help to prevent issues with residual cloudiness.
This is how I do it:
Get a 5 gallon bucket and a strong water source (a hose on the “jet” setting is ideal, but a bathtub or laundry sink works too. I prefer to do it outside since sand can be a bit messy.)
Fill the bucket up about 1/4 way full with your sand.
If using a hose, blast all around the sand on the strongest setting until 3/4 full of water. Or if using a sink, fill up the bucket 3/4 with water and stir with your hand to suspend the sand particles.
Wait for the sand to settle for about 30-45 seconds.
Dump out the water slowly (NOT the sand).
Repeat this until the sand can settle with minimal cloudiness in under 60 seconds.
Set aside a chunk of your day for this project ;P
But it will be worth it to not be dealing with cloudy aquarium water for possibly weeks!
How Deep of Sand Should You Use in Your Tank?
This is a good question.
Honestly, it depends on what you are trying to achieve.
If it’s just there for the aesthetics and foraging?
My recommendation in general is not to use more than 1/2″ of fine sand at the bottom.
This prevents hydrogen sulfide pockets from forming.
(Nasty toxic pockets that can harm or kill your goldfish.)
So you need to worry about stirring it up each week like some fishkeepers do – since it’s not a deep layer.
With goldfish, a shallower substrate depth can be a bit annoying because they really like to dig.
And you might have to sweep the sand every week or so to cover up any bare spots they might create.
The current from your filter can also cause bare spots.
While this isn’t a big deal to me since I usually have my hands in the tank doing cleaning or maintenance each week…
… It is a bit annoying.
You can make the sand much deeper in your tank if you want to keep live plants that make deep rooting systems.
The roots help to aerate the substrate and prevent these pockets from forming.
(Interestingly enough, some aquarists use deep sand beds as a method of filtration! Here’s an article about that if you’re interested.)
Either way, I hope that helps clarify things for you.
Thoughts on Different Kinds of Sands
There are some other kinds of sand I steer clear of:
Some can have weird dyes or polymer coatings that can leach into your water over time.
I try to stay away from these.
The coatings are added to prevent the sand from influencing the pH (not a problem if you use Caribsea’s Crystal River).
White sand is a love-hate relationship for me.
It looks so clean and beautiful – at first.
The poop and any little speck of debris on the bottom stands out like a sore thumb. So it requires more vacuuming (and I’m lazy 😉 )
And if you have any problem with brown algae… you can forget about white sand for long.
Wrapping it Up
I hope you enjoyed this article.
Did you learn something useful?
Have you ever used sand for your goldfish tank?
I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments below.
An avid goldfish breeder and keeper for nearly 20 years, Meredith Clawson is the founder of the Pure Goldfish website and author of the book The Truth About Goldfish. Pure Goldfish has been featured in Wikihow, Wikipedia, The Aquarium Guide and more.