Great Tips for Keeping Your Favorite Fish Healthy and Happy

New aquarium owners need a little help to get their freshwater or saltwater aquariums off on the right foot. Even seasoned fishkeeping veterans can use some more helpful tips. With that in mind, Aquatech Aquarium Service has put together a few handy tips for aquarium maintenance and other fish keeping tasks:

Clean Your Gravel and Ornaments First

When starting a new saltwater or freshwater aquarium, always make sure to thoroughly wash the aquarium gravel. This should also be done periodically as part of regular aquarium maintenance. You should also clean any large rocks and ornaments you want to use before you place them in the aquarium. Never use any soap or detergents when you are cleaning gravel or ornaments. Cleaning solutions usually have chemicals that are highly toxic to fish. Try using a colander to clean your gravel instead.

Add your gravel to the colander and then run clean water over it. Stir up the gravel continuously so that any debris in the gravel falls out. Continue to clean the gravel with the colander, repeating the process until the water runs clean. Place gravel in the aquarium very carefully so you don’t scratch the inside of your custom aquarium.

Condition the Water Properly For Easier Aquarium Maintenance

Fish need to get oxygen from the water they swim in, similar to the way humans get oxygen from fresh air. Just like air, water contains many other chemicals other than oxygen. Clean water that is free of toxic chemicals is critical to the long term health of your underwater life. Unfortunately, ordinary tap water from the sink comes with countless chemicals that are toxic to fish.  Chemicals such as chlorine and fluorine are just as harmful for fish to breathe in as they are for humans. Just like dirty air, you must eliminate these chemicals from your water in order to support healthy aquatic life. To condition the water for your fish properly, you should add dechlorinating solution and other aquarium water supplements to any tap water you use for aquarium maintenance. These supplements are available at your local aquarium sales and tropical fish store.

Not Everything Green Is Good

Algae is no good for you or your aquarium fish and plants. Algae buildup in saltwater or freshwater aquariums causes green deposits on the inside of the glass. It also gives the water in your custom aquarium a dirty and murky look. Since algae is a plant, it competes with your aquatic life for oxygen in the water. This creates numerous health problems for your aquarium fish.

Your local fish store or aquarium fish supply outlet has a variety of tools to help fight algae buildup. You can use algae scrub brushes with long handles to reach all the way into the tank. You can also use aquarium algae magnets to scrape off excess algae from the glass. Make sure to clean up any algae that may come off the sides and  float down to the gravel of your custom aquarium.

Keep Notes for Your Aquarium Maintenance

It helps to keep a journal that details how often you perform regular aquarium maintenance. Starting at your setup date, make notes of all your water test results. Keep a list of any fish you purchased, and when and where you bought them. As you perform your aquarium maintenance tasks, keep a record of them in your journal.

If any issues should arise in your custom aquarium, you can refer back to your notes, and even show them to your aquarium sales or fish store. They can take a look and offer advice to you based on the information in your journal.

If a paper journal is too difficult to manage, you don’t have to worry! There are apps available for both Android phones and iPhones that allow you to easily document all your aquarium maintenance tasks from startup, as well the sea life you have in your custom aquarium.

Call the Professionals for Regular Aquarium Maintenance

If you still want the look and beauty of a custom aquarium, but don’t have the time or desire to perform regular aquarium maintenance, there is still hope! Call the professionals at Aquatech Aquarium Service in Los Angeles. Harold Weiner and his aquarium service staff have been helping people with their aquarium maintenance for over 25 years. They’re wizards at saltwater and freshwater tanks, and can even take care of your koi pond maintenance.

Top Five Fish for Saltwater Aquariums

saltwater aquariums-top 5 beginner fishFish keeping is fun for everyone, from young children the elderly. Keeping saltwater aquariums can be a great way to enjoy fish from all over the world’s oceans. It is relatively easy to keep and maintain a saltwater aquarium, although they may be a little more complicated than a freshwater aquarium.  Whatever extra effort is required to keep saltwater fish is worth it, however. You’ll be amazed at the how many different types of exotic fish are available for your saltwater aquarium. There’s a wide  selection of plants and other features, too. But what are some great aquarium fish if you’re new to saltwater aquariums? We’ve assembled a list of the Top Five Saltwater Fish for beginners.


A clownfish is probably the most popular fish for beginners. Their bright, striking colors make it a classic marine fish. Clownfish are relatively inexpensive, and quite hardy. Although clownfish can be somewhat territorial, they’re usually not aggressive towards other fish. There’s one very unusual aspect about clownfish. If you place two or more males together in saltwater aquariums, the largest, most dominant fish can change its gender to female! They may even begin to breed in your tank.

Blennies and Gobies

These fish are bottom dwellers, and are usually a very hardy fish. Most are relatively small, usually reaching no more than a few inches in length. The fish have a lot of personality, and feature very striking colors. They do prefer an aquarium with a lot of places like rocks and crevices where they can hide. However, blennies and gobies are always a great addition to saltwater aquariums.


These are very pretty, peaceful fish to add to saltwater aquariums. They tend to do very well with other fish. Firefish are commonly considered to act as a barometer of sorts for your saltwater aquarium. If the quality of water in your tank is decreasing, these fish are usually the first to sense it. If everything is OK, their dorsal fin will stand upright. When the fish is feeling stressed, due to poor quality water or overcrowding, the fish’s dorsal fin will lay flat against its back.


Cardinalfish are really great beginner fish for new keepers of saltwater aquariums. They have a very striking color pattern and body shape, which makes them very interesting to watch. They make an especially captivating display as they swim in a school. Cardinalfish are hearty, eaters, and generally are very peaceful towards other fish.

Crabs and Shrimp

There’s no reason to restrict the type of sea creatures you place in your saltwater aquarium to fish alone. Adding crabs or shrimp to saltwater aquariums adds variety and excitement to your underwater environment. They’re relatively hardy, and they get along great with most other fish. There are many different types of shrimp and crabs to choose from.  They each have their own shape, color, and personality. It is fun and interesting to watch these creatures interact with other fish in your aquarium.

Setting Up Saltwater Aquariums

In their natural environment, most saltwater fish tend to live close to corals, rubble, or sea plants.   They use this natural cover to quickly dart to safety if the need arises.  Some fish live in burrows in the sand, usually near rock outcroppings. In saltwater aquariums, your fish will thrive if they have the same types of hiding places. Rocks, coral skeletons, or sea plants are all great additions to make your fish feel at home.

Fish Need Elbow Room, Too

So how many fish should you put in your tank? A good guideline is to keep two fish for every ten gallons of water. Of course, this is not an exact number. Larger, more active fish produce more biowaste than smaller fish. Smaller, slender fish or passive bottom dwellers tend to put less load on the filtration system. It is still important to perform regular aquarium maintenance, however.

Get To Know Your Fish Better

You’ll be amazed at the large number of saltwater fish and invertebrates available for saltwater aquariums at your local fish store. You can skip a lot of trial and error by learning from people who have cared for aquariums for a long time. That way, you’ll have fewer problems and be able to simply enjoy the ever-changing glimpse of the ocean that saltwater aquariums provide.

Top Five Fish for Freshwater Aquariums

Freshwater aquariumsfreshwater aquariums top fish are inexpensive and fun. If you’ve never had an aquarium before, you’ll have to learn a little about aquarium design, equipment, and maintenance. Once you’ve determined where to place your aquarium, you’ll have to stock it with sand or gravel, plants, and all the equipment needed to keep the water clean. It’s only then that you’ll come to the part that’s the most fun: choosing your aquarium fish.

Don’t worry if you’re not sure which fish to choose from the hundreds of species available at you local aquarium store. Fish for freshwater aquariums are very adaptable and easy to care for. Here’s a list of the Top 5 Fish for Freshwater Aquariums:


Guppies are the perfect fish to get your new aquarium off on the right foot. They are very hardy fish, so they’ll be likely to thrive when introduced to a new aquarium. They’re also a very peaceful fish. That’s an important consideration when you’re setting up freshwater aquariums for the first time. Beginners should avoid flashier-looking fish like Bettas because their aggressive nature makes them less than perfect neighbors for the other fish.

Guppies are easy to breed, so you can end up with a fully stocked aquarium by starting with just a few fish. The males are especially colorful with big, iridescent fins that shimmer as they swim by.


Tetras come in several species, but they’re all great fish for freshwater aquariums. They really stand out when you turn on your aquarium light because they’re so brightly colored and like to swim in a school. Tetras are timid, but they get along well with other community fish. Choose at least six to get the most vibrant display. Tetras like aquariums with  a lot of plants that they can hide in when they get nervous.

Cory Cats

Cory Cats aren’t exactly beautiful, but they sure are fun to watch. They have a broad snout and feelers, and they love to spend their time rummaging around the tank’s bottom cleaning up scraps. That makes them ideal fish for first-time aquarium owners. They’re always active, making them fun to watch, and they get along with all the other common species you’ll find at the fish store.


Danios are similar in size and temperament to tetras. They feature bright colors in striking horizontal stripes, making it exciting to watch them swim past. Like tetras, they get along great with other fish. Buy a half-dozen Danios so they can swim in a school. Danios are often chosen as the first fish in a new aquarium because they’re so hardy. They’re not fussy about the type of flake food they eat, making it easy to keep them happy and healthy.


Plecos are like Cory Cats. They’re not beautiful, but they’re useful and fun to watch. Plecos are much larger than Cory Cats, but they have the same catfish snout and feelers. They love eating algae, so they’re great at keeping your aquarium clean. These fish attach themselves to the glass and scour it all day long. They’re very slow and peaceful, and get along with all the other fish in your aquarium.

Easy Freshwater Aquariums

If you want to make it easier to care for your fish, ask your aquarium store to help you select fish that get along with others and prefer the same type of fish food. That will cut down on the amount of time you spend with chores, and increase the amount of time you spend enjoying the endless parade of colorful fish as they swim by. You’ll also find that it’s better to introduce each species separately so they can become acclimated to the new aquarium before a new type of fish appears.

A Plethora of Possibilities for Perfect Plantlife

java fern in aquarium
Java Fern

Everybody loves the look of real plantlife in freshwater aquariums, especially newbies who are just getting their feet wet (pun intended!) in the hobby. But the big question is this: What kinds of plants are best suited for the beginning aquarist?

One can find a wide variety of plants at your local store, but which ones are best?

Well, here’s our take on things. The following five plant species are fairly simple to grow and maintain, and can make even the most rank beginner’s tank look like a miniature ocean forest with a minimum of expense. Plus, if you stick to these five, you likely will avoid wasting money on plants that just won’t work.

Best plantlife bets for beginners

The Java Fern (Microsorum pteropus) tops our list, largely due to the fact that it does not require gravel or sediment, or even high-intensity light to grow. In fact, for this species, less is more when it comes to light. You could even make your entire tank a java fern forest, if that suits your taste. This species is sometimes seen attached to driftwood and rock in planted aquariums. One issue though is the Java fern’s slow rate of growth, so you will want to plant it first, before you put any other plants around it.

Another great low-light plant with which beginners will find success is Wisteria (Hygrophilous difformis). Wisteria needs to be planted in gravel or sediment, though it can survive if not planted. A very fast-growing plant, wisteria is well-equipped to out-compete algae, as it reproduces at a relatively fast rate and usually requires regular pruning to keep it from overtaking your aquarium.

The only reason Java Moss (Vesicularia dubyana) isn’t at the top of this list is because it is a challenge to grow for even the most experiences freshwater fish hobbyist. It does not require substrate or high intensity lighting, but once it has established itself and is flourishing in your tank, it can become obnoxious and take over your tank. Java moss requires continuous maintenance in the beginning, allowing you to create a lush garden in only a few months. It is a great plant for hiding aquarium equipment in the tank, too.

Here’s one every beginner can grow: Anubias (Anubias nana). It does require you plant it in a gravel bed, but it doesn’t require high-intensity lighting or any specific water conditions. It can, in fact, even prosper out of the water. Anubias prefers water movement around its rhizomes and it is highly susceptible to beard algae, a brownish/greenish algae that takes over the leaves. The biggest negative for this species is its slow rate of growth. So you should prune lightly and only when you absolutely have to trim.

Also known at “turtle grass,” Anacharis (Egeria densa) is a low-light plant that can either be free floating or planted in the gravel. The invasive nature of this species makes it a difficult find in hobby stores, but if you do find it, take heart in knowing that it grows relatively quickly compared to anubias and java fern.

All this plantlife will prosper in a aquarium that has a pH range between 5 and 9. CO2 injection is not required and most of these plants can be found in any local pet store. Follow this list and your new aquarium will look amazing!

New Aquarium Buyer Mistakes to Avoid

father and son with fish for new aquariumSo you want to get your first aquarium! But you’re not quite sure where to get started. Like any hobby, there are pitfalls to watch out for when purchasing your new aquarium. Here are some helpful questions to keep in mind as you get started in this great hobby:

How big of an aquarium should I buy?

The instinct here is to start small, but how small is too small? For beginners, choosing a small aquarium can be a recipe for disaster. The smaller the volume of water, the more sensitive that environment is to very rapid change. That means you have a preciously small margin of error.

The recommendation is to avoid tanks smaller than 20 gallons until you have some experience. The bigger your tank, the better chance your fish have of surviving a mistake.

When should I add new fish?

Perhaps the biggest mistake new aquarium owners make is adding fish too soon, sometimes the same day they set the tank up! Bad mistake … the water has not had time to stabilize; gasses, minerals, heavy metals and chemicals add by local water treatment plants all have an adverse effect on the tank’s ecosystem. And that can harm your fish. The water in your new aquarium should be allowed to stand for at least a day to allow those dissolved gasses to escape and the pH to stabilize before introducing your fish to the new aquarium.

How many fish should have in my tank, and how many can I add at one time?

Let’s answer the second part of that question first, since it ultimately will have an impact on the first part. The idea is to add fish to the new environment slowly so the bacterial colonies have time to become fully established; until then, your aquarium cannot support a full population.

As for the total population, general wisdom says one should calculate the number of fish by using the inch-per-gallon rule: one inch of fish for every gallon of water in the tank. So if you want to have six fish in your tank that grow to a maximum size of two inches, you will need 12 gallons of water to support them.

Which fish should I select for my new aquarium?

Well, aside from personal choice of colors and interesting shapes, one must be attentive to which fish get along with which, and which fish can exist together in which water conditions. Careful research before you make your selections will help you avoid choosing incompatible species.

How much/how often should I feed my new fish?

This is, by far, the biggest mistake new aquarium owners make. Fish are feeders of opportunity; that is, they will eat when the food is there, regardless of need. So the first thing to watch is the amount of food you make available to them. Give them no more than an amount that can be consumed in five minutes. As you are starting them in their new environment, feed them no more than once per day, and as the ammonia and nitrates levels rise, withhold feeding them for a day or two to allow the amount of waste being produced to drop. Fish can go several days without eating.

What about the water? How often to I change it? How often to I test it? What about filtration?

The water is the single most important element in your aquarium, and requires the most attention. Let’s start with filtration/. Your aquarium filter should filter all the water in the tank through it at least three times per hour. If it doesn’t, it is too small.

As for testing the water, you will need to monitor the nitrogen levels, which means you must test constantly at first, then keep tabs as the environment settle in. For example, before introducing your fish to their new environment you will need to test the pH, hardness, ammonia, and nitrite levels to establish a baseline. During the start-up cycle it is also important to test the ammonia and nitrites often. Once the tank is well established, monthly testing will keep you on top of any unseen problems that may be brewing. If fish suddenly die, be sure to test the water to see if anything has changed.

Lastly, you will need to change the water in your aquarium on a regular basis. Wastes build up in the tank that can only be removed by vacuuming the gravel, removing some of water and replacing it with fresh water. Failing to change the water will not kill your fish on its own, but it will greatly contribute to their overall poor health. Poor water conditions will stress your fish and make them more susceptible to disease, and this often will shorten their life span.

A Nano Reef For You

Nano reef aquariumMaintaining a nano reef tank has become a growing area of interest for those who like to keep aquariums as part of their home or work environment. The special attraction of live coral has a strong appeal for those who love having aquatic life around them.

The beauty of live coral can draw an aquarium aficionado to the possibilities of keeping a live mini-reef. But for the beginner in this niche of fish-keeping, there are some key things to learn before spending the money on live coral.

Just What Is a Nano Reef Tank? 

A reef tank is a saltwater or marine aquarium that contains live corals specifically, along with other marine invertebrates. It can include such fish that help maintain the environment of a tropical coral reef. This type of aquarium will need proper lighting, a very stable water chemistry, and continual water movement. The selection of which reef animals to include must be done carefully, to make sure that they will thrive together in the same environment.

A nano reef should not be regarded as a toy version of an ocean reef. A well-kept nano reef is a full-fledged marine habitat, that has to be carefully maintained. None of the tasks involved in keeping a tank reef are difficult, it is just that they must be performed on schedule. The environmental balance needed to keep your coral alive has to be watched over.

Getting Started 

The first thing you need to select when planning a nano reef tank is what size of aquarium you want to use. Typically, anything under 37 gallons would fall into this category. Some good starter sizes are considered to be a standard 10 gallon, 15 gallon or 20 gallon tank. Because of the growing popularity of reef-keeping, the beginner may actually be able to find product packages that include the compact high intensity lamps, specialized filters and smaller water pumps the reef tank would require. Choosing the proper equipment will keep your nano reef habitat in the most viable condition.

Challenges in Keeping a Nano Reef 

A nano reef will not take care of itself. In fact, because it is a smaller sized aquarium, the keeper will have to pay greater attention to the basics of the water quality in the tank.  You may have to check the water chemistry twice a week, even changing the water once a week. There are many chemical levels that have to be checked, in order to keep your coral thriving. Even slight changes in temperature can have an effect on your nano reef.

Given the smaller size of the tank, and the fact that it is a marine environment, the choice of inhabitants needs to be carefully considered. The smaller sized fish, such as clownfish or gobies, are a better choice. But in any case, you need to be certain that the inhabitants can get along well in the limited space. Get the advice of an expert on which species should do well in the presence of the coral.

Something Fishy: Freshwater Fish For Beginners

Goldfish in an freshwater fish aquariumWhen a beginner decides to enter the world of fish-keeping, one of the biggest questions involves the choice of what type of fish to keep. There are the obvious questions about the size of the first tank, if it will be freshwater or salt water, and whether or not it will be a cold water or heated water tank. Even that matter might surprise a beginner, for most people do not think about the salinity and temperature of a water environment.

Choosing Freshwater Fish

Choosing a heated aquarium would allow the beginner to select from more varieties of fish. But one of the most familiar types of freshwater fish for beginners is a cold water fish: the Gold Fish. So selecting the animal you want to be spending time with will affect the temperature of the habitat the fish will live in, as well as determine any additional residents you might choose to add.

Warm Water Fish

There are several options for the beginner who chooses to have a warm water aquarium. A broad selection of such fish could include Danios, Black Mollies, Black Skirt Tetras, Kuhli Loaches, Platies, and Swordtails.

Swordtails are a popular choice for beginners both for their dramatic appearance and because they are very hardy and do well in community aquariums, where they share the space with other types of fish. The name of this fish comes from the shape of the lower lobe of the male’s tailfin, which is elongated. The females tend to be larger than the males and lack the same length of “sword”. Although the wild form of the fish is an olive green, captive breeding has developed many colors and patterns. It is an omnivorous eater, meaning it will dine on anything, both plants and small crustaceans and insects.

Mollies are also easy to keep. For the beginning fish-keeper who wants a home-grown population, Mollies are prolific breeders. Although Mollies are generally compatible tankmates with some other fish, because of their energetic nature, they can be mildly aggressive and chase the other fish. They would certainly not be a boring choice for the aquarium of a novice.

Cold Water Fish

Another option for someone starting out with aquarium fish is to choose cold water freshwater fish. This choice would mean a little less work in paying attention to the temperature of the water, so if limited time for maintenance care is an issue, these fish are worth considering. Popular choices are White Clouds, Bloodfin Tetras, and the very familiar Gold Fish.

The hardy Bloodfin Tetras are usually kept in groups, most typically a school of five or more fish. They’re very sociable creatures and prefer the upper reaches of the aquarium. Their silvery bodies with their tailfins splashed with red make them very decorative in a tank. They do, however, like to nibble on the longer flowing fins of other fish.

And of course, how could anyone not consider Gold Fish? It was one of the earliest fish to be domesticated, so there is a long history of keeping Gold Fish. The history alone would be a source of enrichment to the novice who chooses to keep Gold Fish. This small carp has been bred into a variety of sizes, shapes colors and skin patterns. It would never be a boring choice. The one thing to be careful about with Gold Fish is that they are opportunistic feeders and will easily over-eat. But with a little care and planning this need not be a problem.

Keeping fish can be a soothing and relaxing hobby. If you consider adding an aquarium to your home, especially if you have never kept fish before, seek the advice of experts who can help you with the selection of size of tank and type of fish. Consult the team at Aquatech Aquariums and begin to enjoy the presence of an aquarium in your life.

A Filter to Maintain Clean Aquarium Water

An aquarium filterEvery aquarium owner should know the basics of aquarium maintenance.  A good working filter is important to any aquarium owner who wants to keep their fish happy and healthy. When the beginner fish-keeper starts out, they will find “filter” on the list of equipment to buy, and they will go along with that. But they may not understand just what the filter does, and what the options are.

What a Filter Is For

The primary function of an aquarium filter is to remove particles and chemical waste products that develop in a living environment. It is necessary to remove such substances to prevent the habitat from turning toxic to the fish. Additionally, clean, clear water is simply much more aesthetically pleasing. So choosing a filter that satisfies the basic needs is important.

Types of Filters

There are several types of filters to select from.

  • Air-driven internal filters
  • Undergravel filters
  • Internal power filters
  • Power filters
  • Canister filters
  • Wet/dry filters

Air-driven internal filters are suitable for small aquariums housing small fish. They work gently, and yet are powerful enough to keep the water conditions as they ought to be.  Because this type of filter is placed inside the tank, the aquarium can be placed close to walls, if space considerations are important. Internal power filters are a second type of filter suited for smaller tanks, like the air-driven internal filters. The provide good filtration and water circulation, as well as save space.

Undergravel filters are placed underneath a substrate of gravel. They pull the water through the gravel in order to do their work. They tend to be less expensive than other models. They rely on a powerhead or an air pump in order to work. They can be used for either large or small tanks, but are better if the fish population of the aquarium is small. In the case of such filters, the substrate needs to be positioned on a grid, to allow circulation through the filter.

The most common type of filter is the power filter. They deliver chemical, biological and mechanical filtration. They do hang on the outside of the aquarium, so the position of the tank has to accommodate them. Their external placement makes it easier to maintain the filter than other types of filters. It can also be used with a wide variety of fish.

Canister filters are larger than other types of filters. They can require more effort to maintain, but they provide exceptional filtering ability. They can provide superior filtration of biological, chemical and mechanical matter. Because they are multipurpose filters, they can be used for different types of aquariums, from freshwater planted aquariums to various saltwater types.

Wet/dry filters call for the most labor to set up, as the installation can be elaborate. They are great for aquariums containing only saltwater fish. They get their name from the fact that portions of the filter for the biological material are exposed both to the water and the air. This type of filter can be customized to the needs of a specific aquarium. They often are located under the aquarium, and require an overflow box.

Ask For Help

Any first-time fish owner can get aquarium maintenance advice and service from the knowledgeable experts at Aquatech Aquarium Service’s Los Angeles location.  We can help you select the best filter for the type of aquarium set-up that is desired. Although there are a variety of choices, anyone wanting to keep their fish alive will not skip the step of including a filter in their tank equipment.

Getting to the Bottom Sand of Aquariums

aquarium with sand bottomIn choosing what will go into the bottom of the aquarium, there are two possible ways to go for the basic substance: gravel or sand. For the moment, let’s just consider sand and the options available.

For many aquarium owners, there’s a feeling that sand looks more natural, but there are considerations that have to be weighed in making that choice. Because an aquarium is a small, closed environment, the owner has to take good care to make sure the selection won’t create more problems than can be dealt with. There are several different types that can be chosen, but the owner needs to evaluate whether a specific type will suit the fish that will be living with it.

Maintaining a Sandy Bottom

One of the first things the aquarium owner needs to consider when choosing the sands for the bottom is the matter of simple maintenance. The biological debris from the fish will settle on the bottom and can easily sink into a sandy base to decompose. This decomposition will release gases that can get trapped in the sand. A sudden massive release of methane into the water would not be good for the finny residents. So the substrate will need to be stirred and turned over from time to time. Consider how much time you have to give to this activity. There are various means for handling this task, but it will require time and attention.

Type of Habitat

Another factor in choosing the material for the tank’s substrate is whether or not there will be live plants included. If so, the plants need to be carefully selected, as many will not thrive with a sandy bottom. The weight of the substrate will prevent the roots from gathering nourishment. Learn as much about the requirements for the plants if you want to have them in your sandy bottomed aquarium.

Chemical Balance

Some sands will slowly leach chemicals into the tank water, even after the sand has been washed and prepared for the aquarium. The type of sand needs to be evaluated for such possibilities and whether the fish that will be living in the aquarium can tolerate the additional chemicals or not. These considerations are not about pollution effects, by the way, but rather the make-up of the sand itself. The calcium from a limestone sand, for instance, might be detrimental to some fish.

Tropical fish in a colorful aquarium habitat.Types of Sand

There are several types of sand which can be used in aquariums. The steps to prepare the different sands might not be the same, but they are not difficult to learn. Silica, which is also used for sandblasting, is considered the easiest to clean. Play sand, which gets used for playground sand boxes and construction purposes, is easily found at hardware stores. It is more work to clean, however, and is darker in color than the silica sand.

Black Beauty is also easily available, but has some special considerations to it. It is in fact iron slag and not really a sand. The small particles have sharp edges to them, so if you have fish that like to sift substrate and move it about, this is not the ideal selection. Plus, being iron, it will react chemically to the water environment.

Three other sands that are frequently used in aquariums are Coral Sand, Aragonite, and Black Tahitian Moon Sand. These are somewhat more expensive and mostly available through fish shops and stores that service aquarium owners.

Making a Good Fish Habitat

In the end (or at the bottom), the choice of whether to use sand or not and which type if the choice is “yes” depends on the fish that will live with it and your ability to do the maintenance work.  But once the choice is made, a sandy substrate can provide a lovely, natural look to the tank.  If you’re curious and want more information about designing your own aquarium, whether you have questions about tank substrate or any other aspects of aquarium design or installation, check us out on our website  — we’ll be happy to help!