Pool Filter Sand vs Play Sand: Which Is Best for Aquarium?

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Aquariums are great for decorations in many places like homes and restaurants; they can also be a hobby for some people. The main concern when preparing your aquarium can be the substrate you will use for the aquarium; there are many different substrates for aquariums, such as pool filter sand and play sand.

Aquarium Sand vs. Play Sand vs. Pool Filter Sand: Which Is Best for Aquarium?

Here is the answer:

Play sand is designed to remove harmful bacteria and any debris that can be harmful to the health of the fish; aquarium sand can be either natural or artificial substrates, so they have more minerals.  The pool filter sand is designed for big pools; they are used for any debris found in the water like fur/hair, oils, and dirt.

Removing this debris helps in preventing the water from getting contaminated. Because of the differences in preferences and taste, the play sand can be preferred over natural aquarium sand due to the play sand is formed from a bright artificial substrate mixture. You have to choose the suitable sand for your aquarium because the type of sand can affect your tank’s health.

Aquarium Sand

  • Cleanliness
    The aquarium sand is known to be clean, which means you can use it directly without the need to clean it, unlike the play sand, which needs to be clean before dumping it in the tank. 
  • Size of Particles
    The size of the particles of the aquarium sand is larger than the size of the play sand particle. In addition, the texture of the aquarium sand particles is rougher than the texture of play sand.
  • Nutrition
    The aquarium sand is rich in minerals, unlike the play sand, which is more used for cleaning the tank from harmful bacteria and debris and not used for nutrition like aquarium sand. For example, coral sand is rich in several minerals, such as calcium; the coral sand is extracted from the corals found in seas. The corals are formed from the CaCO3 “Calcium Carbonate,” which results from the bones of dead fishes and stony plants; therefore, the coral minerals are very beneficial for the fish’s health. 
  • Usage
    The Aquarium sand can be used in both fresh water and marine water, unlike the play sand, which is only used in tanks with fresh water. 

Play Sand

  • Cleanliness
    The play sand has to be cleaned before usage or dumping in the tank, the play sand can be found in sealed bags in stores, but they need to be cleaned anyway and sterilized, unlike the Aquarium sand, which can be used directly and you don’t have to clean it. 
  • Size of Particles
    The size of particles of play sand is smaller than the particles of the aquarium sand because the play sand is designed to remove unwanted and harmful debris and bacteria from the tank. When the size of the particles when gets smaller, this increases the surface area of the sand, which makes the bacteria work more efficiently. The aquarium sand is not used to clean the tank, but it is used to nutrient the tank, so they don’t need to have a small size or larger surface area.
  • Nutrition
    The play sand is not designed for nutrition purposes; they are not as rich in minerals as the aquarium sand; however, they have minerals. They consist of inert substrates that don’t chemically react with the water in the tank. Some species can feed on the sand found in the tank, so the play sand is an excellent option for these species due to their small size. 
  • Usage
    The play sand can be only used in tanks with fresh water; it can not be used for marine water tanks like the aquarium sand, which has some types that can be used in marine water tanks.

Pool Filter Sand

    • Cleanliness
      The pool filter sand needs to be cleaned and sterilized before being used in any aquarium tanks; the pool filter sand has initially designed for aquarium tanks. They are used in large pools to remove the debris found in the water, like fur/hair, oils, and dirt. This keeps the water from getting contaminated and affects the health of people. 
    • Size of Particles 
      The pool filter sand has a variety of sizes; the particles can have large sizes and come in smaller sizes; the most suitable size for aquarium tanks is a 20-grade size.
    • Nutrition 
      The pool filter sand is not used for fish nutrition because they don’t contain any minerals. You have to be careful when choosing pool filter sand for your tank because not all the pool filter sand can be used in aquariums; some types can contain substances that are used in pools, such as chlorine; chlorine is poisonous to fish and will kill the fish if found the sand. It would be best if you used a type that is silica-based or labeled quartz; this type has no other additives that can harm your fish.
    • Usage
      The pool filter sand can be used for marine or freshwater tanks; they can also be used for lizard habitats or terrariums; the pool filter sand is ideal for tanks containing bottom-feeding species such as snails or shrimps.

Should I Use Pool Filter Sand In My Aquarium?

Yes, when you are not planning to buy an expensive branded product, you can use the pool filter sand for your aquarium; they are no different from other plain sand used in aquariums. The pool filter sand is suitable for casual or novice fish keepers; however, it can not be used in an aquarium with plants or coral reefs because they don’t provide any nutrition substrate.

 

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Which Sand is Safer For Fish?

Many types of sand can be used for aquariums, but few have beneficial value for fish. Some sand types have essential bacteria and minerals, and some have fewer nutrition benefits, for example:

  • Fine Texture Play Sand
    The play sand goes through purification and sterilizing to remove unwanted bacteria and debris before being used in aquariums; the fine textured play sand is beneficial for fish and safe after purifying. 
  • Beach or Deep-Sea Sand 
    The beach sand has the required microorganisms for the health of fish, but when going deeper into the sea, the sand will be perfect and suitable for the aquarium, the sand found at depths from 30 feet to 60 feet is usually the most suitable one for fish. The sand collected from offshore or the shallow parts of the sea has less quality than the deep one; it can contain unwanted components like crushed corals, shell grits, and harmful chemicals
  • Limestone Sand
    The limestone sand is rich in calcium which is essential for the health of the fish and the pants in aquariums; the calcium is very vital for the bone formation and development of any creature. 
  • Fluorite Black Sand
    The fluorite black sand is inert, which means they don’t chemically react with the water; therefore, they don’t change the pH of the water; the fluorite black sand is collected from the stable clay soil. 
  • White Marine Sand
    The white marine sand is very soft and gentle, which protects the bodies of the burrowing fish and other species such as loaches, goldfish, and cichlids; they look for food between the sand particles. 

Which Sand is Best For Aquarium? – 6 Types

After deciding on the safest sand for the health of the fish, you can also decide which sand is better for your aquarium. Some sand decreases the water hardness, while other types are used for the looks of the aquarium, for example:

  • Black Quartz Sand
    The black quartz sand is very suitable for aquariums because they don’t change the water parameters; the only downside of black quartz is that it increases the hardness of the water, unlike the snow-white sand. 
  • Marine Sand 
    The marine sand is perfect in keeping the debris of fish or shrimps on top due to their perfect small size; they also allow the oxygen to get to the sand bed inner areas; however, the good marine sand is hard to get because they are available at the deep area of the sea ( 30 feet to 60 feet). 
  • Live Sand 
    Live sand is one of the best sand that can be used for aquariums because it can contain several live organisms when they are being extracted; live sand is found at the natural coral reel in the ocean; in addition, the live sand doesn’t need to go through the drying process, therefore, the water balances faster. 
  • Coral Sand
    For brackish or salty tanks, you can use the coral sand, which is rich in calcium because it consists of fragments of limestones of marine organisms. 
  • River Sand
    In the river sand or the builder sand, the oxygen can get through all the areas of the river sand, which helps the aquarium’s ecosystem because the oxygen can perform its cycle. When using river sand or builder sand, you have to ensure that the sand is free from clay.
  • Blasting Sand
    Blasting sand is used in aquariums for its looks; it has a very natural look due to its consistent grain size and color, unlike the play sand, which can look a bit artificial. 

Conclusion

To sum up, to know which sand is better for your aquarium play, pool filter, or aquarium sand, you need to know the characteristics of each sand and compare them. Play sand is designed to remove harmful bacteria and any debris that can be harmful to the health of the fish; aquarium sand can be either natural or artificial substrates, so they have more minerals.

The pool filter sand is designed for big pools; they are used for any debris found in the water like fur/hair, oils, and dirt. Removing this debris helps in preventing the water from getting contaminated. Because of the differences in preferences and taste, the play sand can be preferred over natural aquarium sand due to the play sand is formed from a bright artificial substrate mixture.

You have to choose the suitable sand for your aquarium because the type of sand can affect your tank’s health, aquariums are great for decorations in many places like homes and restaurants; they can also be a hobby for some people. The main concern when preparing your aquarium can be the substrate you will use for the aquarium; there are many different substrates for aquariums, such as pool filter sand and play sand.

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