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Sand shopping for a new tank




For all reef tank enthusiasts here comes the clarification to frequently asked questions on sand bed for reef tank. The substrate part of the tank is not to left undecided when it comes to establishing a new tank. Live sand and dry sand are usually the confusing part for most newbie. The only difference between the two is the bacteria and other critters that come with live sand that are favorable for biological filtrations and nitrification cycle. Dry sand can also be made live by adding a small quantity of live sand from old tank and letting the bacteria multiply. There is nothing to worry if you don’t have live sand for activating dry sand. Once the nitrification cycle begins, your sand will themselves convert into live sand. The advantage with live sand is that you don’t have to go through the long process of nitrification. Patience is all you need to work with dry sand. Live sand are costlier too compared to dry sand and there are chances that some unwanted creatures might come uninvited with it. However that is not the case with cured live sand.

If you have live rock that you can add to your new tank, there is no reason why you should not use dry sand. The bacteria on the rock will eventually coat the dry sand and there you have live sand in your reef tank. Now the question is what type of sand to buy. There are many types available but the best ones are  sand of coral origin, such as coral sand, reef sand, crushed coral, or aragonite. Some may have silicates that are an absolute no for algae-free aquariums. If you are going for live sand Carib Sea Arag – Alive Saltwater Florida Crushed Coral is the best one and the most popular yet. Cycling and seeding is rapid with this sand and comes with heterotrophic, autotrophic, and chemolithotrophic bacteria bacteria in spored state. Carib Sea Arag – Alive Saltwater Florida Crushed Coral has calcium, strontium, magnesium, carbonate (buffer), potassium, and is lowest in phosphate and has no silica. It also has molybdenum, barium, boron, selenium, beryllium, and other essential ocean trace elements.

Carib Sea Arag – Alive Saltwater Florida Crushed Coral 20 lb

You can use them in two ways:

1. Use 100% of the live sand to fill your tank depending on its size.

2.Use 50% live and 50% dry sand and allow the seeding to cover for a few days.

With dry tank you have to rinse them thoroughly before adding to the tank. Do not make the lives sand bed too thick as that will give way for uneaten substances to sink below and rot. Also the days for coarse sand are gone. There are sources claiming that use of coarse grains enable better respiration to bacteria. The fact is with coarse grain sand there are crevices for uneaten food to get trapped and give birth to algal growth. Always go finer sand weather live or dry. If you already own a tank with live sand and want to set up another one you probably don’t need to purchase live sand. A few scoops of the good old sand added to dry sand will begin the cycle soon. The best source of dry sand is Carib Sea Aragamax Select Saltwater Sand. They come in good quality as well as good size. They are ingestible and have low resistance to burrowing, with superior diffusive flux properties and good porosity.

Carib Sea Aragamax Select Saltwater Sand

When you are adding live sand to a tank, do it slowly to avoid clouding of water. If you are using live rocks in the tank, you should never pour the sand over or on top of it. The sand will cover and choke the live rock and can cause oxygen depletion. Add the substrate only after you are done with aquascaping and elevating the live rock, or any other large sized decorative non-living corals or rocks you are going to use. There must be janitors to stir and sift the sand regularly.

Another FAQ is about ways to determine if it is actually live or dry sand that you have purchased or about to purchase. The best way to assure that live sand is actually alive is to get them from a good and reliable source. Shipping must be faster so that they have less time to suffer the unfavorable condition that may lead to dying of some of the useful organisms. The faster the shipping the better is the source for buying live sand. is the most reliable in this aspect. Another pack of sand that you can get from is Seaflor Special Grade Reef Sand. They are treated to suit reef tanks and will very conveniently work on all tanks. They are also cheaper and the quality and size is no doubt perfect.

Seaflor Special Grade Reef Sand


Janitors may do the cleaning part but still some amount of siphoning is necessary periodically. This will make certain that no decaying matter is left below ensuring healthy tank in the long run. TOM Aquarium Maintenance Gravel Siphon is just the thing you need for keeping the sand bed cleaner and debris free. They are ideal for all type tanks and easy to use. They work wonders in keeping the sand bed healthy and clean.

TOM Aquarium Maintenance Gravel Siphon