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Pool filter sand is not the first thing that you think of when you are setting up an pool filter sand aquarium. There are a fair number of things then you will have to buy once you plan to set up your first aquarium. One of the most important and pricey components of an aquarium is the sand made for the aquarium.  

Sandy-bottomed tanks are in trend recently, and the aquatic sands can cost you a few dollars as well. Many budget-minded folks wish to use pool filter sand in their aquarium tanks instead and want to know whether it is safe to use it or not. Let’s take a look at the benefits and disadvantages of using pool sand in your aquarium.

Role of Sand in Pool Filter Sand Aquariums

Before we tell you about the pros and cons of using pool filter sand, it is important to understand the function of the substrate and the role it can play in maintaining the aquarium’s health. It is a key component in your tank’s appearance, as your choice of substrate can have a direct impact on the water chemistry, and the potential plant growth. The well-being of the animals in your tank could also be affected by the type of sand in the aquarium.

Substrates help with the growth of the “good” aquatic bacterial colonies and it also helps to regulate your tank’s Nitrogen Cycle. It can also help to break the toxic ammonia and makes it safer for use. Pool filter sand aquarium can prove to be a good substrate as it provides an anchorage for live plants. It also supports root growth and can uptake some vital nutrients and minerals.

Challenges of Using Pool Filter Sand Substrates in Aquariums

Sand can be trickier to manage as the substrate as compared to using aquarium gravels for a few reasons. Gravel is considered ideal for most freshwater tanks, especially for planted aquariums. It doesn’t leave a compact down as much as sand, and could also cause a few implications for your tank.


It takes more sand than gravel to fill your pool filter sand aquarium to the desired depth. This could also increase the costs of starting up your tank unless you look for less-expensive pool filter sand. Gravel can help with the water movement by using the substrate since the particles are larger


Sandy tanks can have problems with hypoxic dead zones, and this could lead to algae blooms. It is also bad for the health of plants and animals. Gravel provides better support for live plants because it makes the water flow and delivers nutrients that carry away toxins that lead to the stunt of growth.


Unlike gravel, the fine sand particles can also be sucked up by your aquarium filter tube while you are vacuuming your gravel during routine maintenance. It is a great idea to use the best filter for a 10-gallon tank because you will only discover later that sand has infiltrated and caused damage to the motor.


If you choose a sandy substrate, then you will have to protect your pool filter sand aquarium by using a pre-filter sponge tip. You could also use a gravel vacuum with a finer screen, as this will allow you to avoid losing the substrate during water changes.


Benefits of Pool Sand as Aquarium Substrate


While a pool comes with a set of challenges as a substrate, it can also provide a few benefits that make it the best choice to use in some aquariums. A layer of sand can also help to keep your tank tidier because debris doesn’t sink in through the fine particles. They collect on the top of the sand instead which leads to clean water. It also becomes easier for your filtration system to catch up with any debris as it helps with the removal of them before they begin to decay.


Pool Filter Sand vs. Aquarium Sands


There is a wide variety of generic products that you can find in stores. Each type of product has its ups and downsides when it is used for the pool filter sand aquarium substrate. Let’s compare pool filter sand to some other type of aquarium sand.


1. Pool filter sand


Pool sand is used in large swimming pools and spa filters. They help to screen out dirt, hair/fur, oils, and other debris that leads to contaminate the water. There is also a range of products available for swimming pool filters, but not all types of pools are safe for use in the aquarium.


Some products are made with chlorine or other additives as they are beneficial for swimming pools. However, they could poison your tank and can kill your fish and plants. Pool sand is a perfect option for many tanks with bottom-feeding fish, shrimp, and snails. It is also safe for schooling and shoaling fish.


2. Basic sand 


If you choose inexpensive pool sand as a substrate, then you must look for products labeled as quartz or silica-based sands that have no additional additives. You can also find it cheaper to buy directly from your local pool supply shop because they sell the basic pool sand for just a few dollars. If you tell them that you are using it for an aquarium, then they will confirm that the products are safe as well.


3. Inert pool sands 


Inert pool sands are identical to the more-expensive plain aquatic sands. They are used in terrariums and reptile habitats and offer the same benefits and disadvantages in your tank. Pool filter sand comes in a range of sizes, but the ideal size of the sand in an aquarium is the #20 grade.


It is coarse enough to avoid clumping and will provide a fine texture and appearance in your tank. The sands are usually white or a shade of beige, and is easy to coordinate the color with your fish and decor.




Pool filter sand is not more challenging anymore to use than any other plain aquarium sand. It is also a lot less expensive, so you don’t have any reason to spend more on a branded product for fish tanks. Unless you are looking for a specialty substrate for your plants or coral reef it is best to go for a pool filter sand aquarium. For new and casual fish keepers, pool sand could be a reasonable and budget-friendly option. You can also check premium quality pool filters and other products from Poolking.

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