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Aquarium sand, particularly live sand, is the most common aquarium substrate for a reef tank or saltwater aquarium.

Considering live sand vs dry sand? Live fish tank sand ships wet with living bacteria on it that helps quickly cycle a new aquarium. Live sand also includes micro organisms like copepods that consume waste and clean the sand bed. However, live aquarium sand is more expensive, and dry sand turns live over time. Many hobbyists mix live and dry fish tank sand.

A shallow sand bed (up to 2 inches) converts ammonia into nitrite and nitrate. A deep sand bed reef tank also slowly converts nitrate into nitrogen gas. For a shallow bed, use our sand bed calculator or buy about 1.5 lbs sand per gallon for an average rectangular tank.

Aragonite sand slightly boosts pH, unlike black aquarium sand.

Aquarium sand comes in different sizes: sugar sand (fine), special grade reef sand (medium), and crushed coral sand (coarse). Most reefers use fine or medium grade sand.

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