The 10 Best Aquarium Sand – Reviewed by Aquarist

Dogzily.comAquarium sand is one of the substrates in the art of decorating an aquarium or aquascape. Sand serves as a medium for growing plants and purifying water. Sand is also considered as the cheapest medium for decorating an aquarium compared to soil, wood and stone.

In this article, we will explain how to choose good aquarium sand for you. Various types of sand for aquariums, such as Malang sand, Bali sand, and Yamaya sand appear in our recommendations. This article has also been reviewed by our aquarist, Albert Deil. 

Best Aquarium Sand

Aquarium Sand Function

Before choosing aquarium sand, you should know in advance the function of sand in the aquariumSand is one of the foundations of the aquarium or substrate other than soil (soil) and gravelSubstrate is a medium for growing aquatic plants, a place for plants to stick, a provider of nutrients for plants, and a place for root development.

As a medium that is placed at the bottom of the aquarium, sand has the following functions:

  • As a growing medium for aquatic plants
  • As a medium for growing good bacteria
  • In the world of aquascapeaquarium sand serves as a beauty decoration that can beautify the aquarium

For freshwater aquarium needs, you should not choose sea sand. Sea sand contains mineral salts which can cause the death of aquatic plants, even fish. We recommend that you use sand that comes from fresh water or river waters. You can also use lava sand or kinetic sand as your aquarium substrate.

Collaborating With Experts: How to choose Aquarium Sand

There are several things that you should pay attention to before deciding to buy aquarium sand. You should check the character of the color, grain size, and the type of sand that is suitable for your tank. Check out the explanations one by one below, OK!

① Set the color according to the character of the aquarium

Choosing the color of sand for the aquarium is one of the things you should pay attention to. Wrong choice of color will make the aquarium look less pleasing to the eye. In the market, sold various types of sand with a variety of colors. Some of the color choices of aquarium sand are:

  • Black

This color makes the aquarium seem natural with natural soil colors. Sand is also very easy to find in the market. Black sand is usually a type of lava sand because it is taken from cooled lava. 

  • White

White color will make the aquarium look clean and look bright. Bright sand will highlight the color of your fish in the aquarium. With white sand, you won’t be confused looking for fish hiding because fish will be easy to find. However, you also have to frequently clean the aquarium, because the white base color will easily look dirty.

  • Other colors

Other colors will make the aquarium look personal. You can choose colors other than black and white for the aquarium. For natural sand, you can choose yellow or red. Meanwhile, for kinetic sand, the available colors are more varied. With kinetic sand, you are free to choose the color you like. However, make sure the color chosen matches the character of your aquarium.

② Pay attention to the dimensions of the sand, make sure the grain size is 1–3 mm

When choosing aquarium sand, pay attention to the dimensions of the granules. Choosing the wrong size of sand can make your aquarium dirty, it can even wilt the plants. Here’s an explanation.

  • If you choose aquarium sand that is too fine, chances are your tank water will become cloudy. This can happen because sand that is too fine will become a suspension in the water.
  • Aquarium sand that is too coarse will make the plants easily detach and float in the aquariumThis happens because the plants are not firmly anchored to the less dense sand. Plant roots are also less able to grip tightly in sand that is too coarse.

Choose aquarium sand that is not too fine and not too coarse. You can choose 1–3 mm sand because it’s not too small and not too big. Sand of this size is very suitable for use as a planting medium.

③ Know the characteristics of sand by type

There are several types of aquarium sand based on the origin of its formation. There is lava or liwa sand, quartz or silica sand, and kinetic sand. The types of aquarium sand have different characters. To find out more details, please refer to the following presentation.

Lava sand, derived from volcanic eruptions, is rich in nutrients

Lava sand or Liwa sand is formed from lava or lava from volcanic eruptions. In Indonesia, most of the lava sand sold comes from Malang, East Java. The lava sand is known as Malang sand.

Some of the advantages of lava sand are:

  • Rich in nutrients so it is good for plant growth and can be used as an aquarium substrate without additional fertilizer.
  • Its use as an aquarium substrate can give a natural impression. This is because lava sand is usually solid black in color, although some are brick red in color.

The disadvantages of lava sand are:

  • Not suitable for growing media in aquariums. The reason is, this sand has a relatively light weight with a hollow and uneven shape. So, the roots of aquatic plants are less able to grip tightly and can be pulled out by themselves due to the less dense construction of sand.

If you still want to use lava sand as a planting medium, combine this sand with other types of sand.

Quartz sand, denser and stronger to stick water plants

Quartz sand or silica sand is a quartz rock whose structure collapses. The sand structure collapses into small grains due to erosion and abrasion for a long time. This sand is easy to find on the banks of rivers, lakes and seas.

Here are some other things you need to know about silica sand.

  • Silica sand is widely used as an ingredient in glass, construction materials, personal care products, and electronics. In Indonesia, the silica sand that is sold comes from Bangka Belitung, Lampung, Tuban and Palangka Raya.
  • For planting media, silica sand is usually used to beautify aquariums because its shape is similar to beach sand. The construction of quartz sand is also denser than lava sand, making it suitable for growing media for aquatic plants.
  • The use of silica sand for aquariums requires fertilizer because this sand lacks nutrients. This sand can also cause the growth of brown algae which can spoil the view.

As additional information, crystal white or yellow quartz sand that is widely circulated in the market is called Yamaya sand.

Kinetic sand, more free to choose colors

Kinetic sand is manufactured sand. So, this sand is different from lava sand and silica sand which are natural sands. However, kinetic sand is available in a variety of colors. You can choose sand in blue, green and other colors that cannot be found in natural sand.

With this sand, you can more freely determine the color that matches the character of your aquarium. One of the well-known brands of kinetic sand in the market is KANDILA. As a planting medium in aquariums, this sand can be used as an alternative because of the many color choices.

In addition to a variety of colors, the sand made by this factory is guaranteed to be clean, so you don’t need to wash it first. However, this sand does not contain the nutrients found in natural sand. Therefore, you need to add fertilizer so that the plant’s nutritional needs are met.

10 Recommendations for the Best Aquarium Sand

Next, we will recommend the ten best aquarium sand products that we have determined based on how to choose above. These products are carefully selected by considering product quality, buyer reviews, and the level of trust in the seller. 

1. Malang Black Sand

This lava sand also comes from a volcanic eruption in the Malang area, East Java. Malang sand is very popular and is the most sought-after aquarium sand in several marketplaces.

The deep black color of the sand will make your aquarium look more natural. In addition to the bottom of the aquarium, you can also add fertilizer on top. This will enrich the nutrients in the aquarium.


  • Easy to find and has a relatively affordable price compared to other sand
  • Quite rich in mineral content that is useful for plant growth


  • It needs to be washed before use because there is usually fine dust that can make the water cloudy

2. Silica Sand

Choose this sand if you want a bright aquarium bottom. White sillika sand has a crystal clear color and at a glance it looks like beach sand. With a crystal white base, your aquarium will look bright and luxurious.

The construction of this sand is denser than Malang sand, making it suitable for media for sticking aquatic plants in aquariums. However, don’t forget that you need to add a separate fertilizer because this sand lacks nutrients.


  • It is inert, will not undergo structural and chemical changes so it is safer when used as a planting medium
  • It’s not hard to get because many sell it
  • Can function as an Aquascape filter, making water not easily cloudy


  • Minimal nutrients needed by plants, need to be added basic fertilizer
  • Can cause the appearance of brown algae in the aquascape

3. Balinese Sand

Want to have a bottom aquarium that looks bright? Bali sand can be the right choice. This aquascape sand comes from the island of Bali. Its slightly brownish white color can make the bottom of the aquarium look bright.

The shape of Balinese sand is finely rounded and accompanied by shell fragments which can enrich the aquarium ecosystem. Of course the appearance of the aquarium will be more attractive with this sand at the bottom!


  • Gives a bright and bright appearance to the aquascape, usually used in seawater aquariums


  • Minimal nutrient content, basic fertilizer needs to be added so that the nutritional needs of plants are fulfilled

4. Malang Red Sand

Malang sand that is sold in the market is mostly black. However, besides black, there is also a red color, you know. This red sand comes from cooling magma or mountain lava in the Malang area, East Java. In terms of nutrition for plants, there is no doubt about this sand.

Apart from being rich in nutrients, this one material is porous, which means it can transmit water. This can make aquarium water more sterile and less prone to mold. Thus, the clarity of your aquarium water will be better maintained than using other types of sand.


  • Not easy to grow moss and fungus
  • It has a beautiful and natural color, can beautify your aquarium
  • Available in smooth and rough textures, can be selected according to needs


  • Makes the Aquascape look a bit darker

5. Pancawarna Sand

You may get bored with the same sand color. As an alternative, you can use Pancawarna Sand. As the name suggests, this sand for Aquascape has various colors mixed together.

The color of this sand is a mixture of natural black, white, yellow, red and gray sand. With this sand, the aquarium will appear more lively with a non-monotonous base color.


  • The colors vary, making Aquascape more attractive and not monotonous


  • It needs to be washed before use so as not to make the aquarium water cloudy quickly

6. Fine Moza Sand

If you’re looking for sand that’s safe for your pet fish, this product should be on your shopping list. Yes, Fine Moza Sand is claimed to be safe because it does not damage the scales and body of the fish thanks to its smooth shape.

In addition, the benefits of moza sand are that it does not drastically change the pH level of the water. So, the existence of this sand will not interfere with the growth of your pet fish.


  • Easy to wash, no need to wash it many times
  • Can be used as an alternative to the top substrate so that it is easy to stick plants in the aquarium


  • The color is dark, making the aquarium look dark

7. Tia Sand

Tia sand is also called tia sand or tiasen. Good sand for this aquarium has a shape that tends to be round with a natural brown-black and ivory color combination. With these colors, Pasir Tia is able to create a slightly fierce natural feel. 

Apart from being used for aquariums, this sand can also be used for growing media in pots. So, just choose this sand to decorate your aquarium while planting some plants in it. However, we remind you that this sand needs to be washed before use.


  • Can be used as a planting medium without the need to combine with other sand
  • The color combination gives a natural feel
  • Is a natural decorative sand, not artificial sand


  • It needs to be washed first so that the performance of the aquarium filter is not too heavy
  • Although it can be used as a planting medium, the addition of basic fertilizer is still needed

8. KANDILA Cosmetic Sand

KANDILA sand is an imported manufactured sand product. This kinetic sand color looks beautiful and attractive to complement your aquascape . It is not surprising that its use is widely applied to waterfall sand or the top layer of the planting medium.

In addition to aquascapes, we recommend this sand for those of you who have freshwater and seawater fish aquariums. The reason is, this product has the advantage of not easily fading even though it is submerged in water for a long time. Interestingly, this sand can be used directly without the need to be washed, practical!


  • No need to wash it first, it can be used immediately
  • The color is claimed not to fade easily even when exposed to water for a long time


  • Does not contain nutrients, needs to be combined with other basic fertilizers and sand if you want to use it as a planting medium

9. Aquariset Yamaya Sand

Yamaya sand is the name for yellow quartz or silica sand. The color of white silica sand on the market is too clear. As an alternative, you can choose this sand.

The yellow color can make your aquarium base more charming and luxurious. The shape of the sand in the form of fine grains looks like beautiful beach sand.


  • Can function as a sand filter, the cleanliness of the aquarium water will be maintained longer
  • Gives a bright effect to the aquarium


  • Only available in one packaging option

10. Arturo Multicolor Sand

If the natural color doesn’t match the character of your aquarium, you can try this kinetic sand. This sand has gone through the sterilization and washing stages so it is safe for fish and plants in your aquarium.

You can choose the bottom of the aquarium with various colors, either one color or a mix. With this sand you are more free to choose the color you like so that the aquarium will look more personal.


  • Having many color choices, you are more free to realize the aquascape concept you want to make
  • There is no need to wash it anymore because it has gone through the process of sterilization and washing
  • Available in 250 gram packages, suitable for those of you who have small aquariums


  • There is no nutrient content in it, its use is more suitable for aesthetic purposes only

How do You Clean Aquarium Sand?

Aquarium sand can be cleaned without having to lift it out of the tank. The trick is to use a sand vacuum. This tool is equipped with a hose to remove water and dirt that is sucked up. The large diameter of the vacuum will make the sucked sand rise and fall again. Meanwhile, lighter dirt will be wasted through the hose. 

However, it should be noted that cleaning using a vacuum is only intended for sand with a diameter of 3 mm and above. Sand with a size under 3 mm tends to be light so it will be sucked out too.

In addition, the cleanliness of the sand does not need to be paid too much attention to the aquarium with Aquascape. This is because the fish droppings that fall will be used as a source of nutrients for plants.


After reading this article, I’m sure you’ve found the right aquarium sand. Apart from paying attention to the color, you also need to pay attention to the type and size of the sand. After choosing the right sand, you can freely mix the contents of your aquarium.

Decorating an aquarium is a fun activity if you choose the right media. Aquarium will also look beautiful and pleasing to the eye. Hopefully you find the right sand according to the character of your aquarium.

5 Best Aquarium Sand Recommendations

  1. Malang Black Sand
  2. Silica sand
  3. Balinese sand
  4. Malang Red Sand
  5. Pancawarna Sand

Other recomendations: