Skip to Content

Black Sand Vs White Sand Aquarium: The Advantages Explained!

What’s the difference between black sand and white sand? Which one should you choose for your fish tank?

Black sand is a type of rock found in tropical areas around the world. It has high iron content and is often associated with volcanic eruptions.

White sand is formed from crushed shells or coral rubble. Both types of sand are suitable for aquariums.

However, black sand tends to contain higher levels of iron and other minerals, which can cause problems for plants and animals living in the aquarium.

We take a look at the differences between black sand and white sand for your aquarium.

What’s Black Aquarium Sand?

Black aquarium sand is commonly specially designed gravel that is often used for natural plant aquariums.

Black sand is used as an ingredient in many different products that we use every day. But you can also use black sand in your aquarium.

There are several benefits to using black sand in your aquarium. The first benefit is that it looks very different from your average aquarium sand.

Black Sand Vs White Sand Aquarium The Differences Explained

Adding this type of sand to your aquarium will give it a unique look and feel.

You can also use it to create a “rock” effect in your aquarium. Adding this type of sand to the top of your aquarium gives it a rugged appearance.

It is also beneficial because it provides a natural habitat for small aquatic creatures like shrimp, worms, snails, and crabs. These little creatures help keep your water clean by eating algae and bacteria.

Another advantage to adding black sand to your aquarium is that it helps reduce the amount of light that comes into your tank. This can be more beneficial for some aquarium animals.

What’s White Aquarium Sand?

White aquarium sand is made up of crushed shells or coral rubble. It is usually sold in bags or buckets at local pet stores.

This type of sand is great when you have a lot of plants in your aquarium. You can use it to cover the bottom of your aquarium so that the roots of your plants don’t get covered in sediment.

In addition, white sand is specifically made for absorbing a large amount of waste from the fish and plants in your aquarium.

Differences Between White And Black Aquarium Sand

Although it is often said that black and white aquarium sand are the same, there are some basic differences.


Differences Between White And Black Aquarium Sand

The biggest difference between these two types of sand is their appearance. White sand is much lighter than black sand.

Black sand makes your aquarium look much darker, which may be more suitable for some aquarium inhabitants.

In addition, it makes the colors of fish stand out better, if there is little plant growth in your aquarium.

In comparison, white sand reflects light very well, making your aquarium look bright and inviting. 

Another consideration when it comes to the appearance of the sand in your aquarium is that black sand can hide any algae and fish dirt much better than white sand.

Advantages For Fish

Fish need light to survive. So if you want to give your fish a more natural space, then you need to make sure that you use the right sand which resembles their natural habitat.

Some fish are more used to a light environment, which means that you better use the white sand.

Other fish may prefer a darker environment with heavy plant growth which means it is best to add black sand.

Both of these types of aquarium sand will contribute to the growth of aquarium plants.

While they do not act like a water filter, they can also absorb fish waste and other toxins that float to the bottom of the tank.


One of the most important things to consider when choosing sand for your aquarium is cost as you may be going through a large amount of sand over time.

If you are on a budget, then you should choose the cheaper option. If you are looking for something special, then you might want to spend more money on a higher quality product.

One of the main reasons why people buy white sand is because they think it costs less.

However, both types of fish tank sand are relatively cheap, so when choosing your aquarium sand, then it is likely more about the other factors.

Size And Texture

One of the main differences between white and black sand is their size and texture.

When choosing sand for your aquarium, make sure that you buy the right type. For example, if you plan on using black sand, make sure that it is not too fine or small.

White sand is usually larger than black sand. It is recommended that you use at least 1/2 inch of sand per gallon of water.

In addition, the texture of the sand is slightly different. Although both can be very fine, black sand tends to have smaller particles than white sand.

This is because black sand is generally produced by crushing shells.


Both of these types of sands are very durable as long as they are cleaned regularly. The biggest difference here is that the white sand will turn darker over time, even with cleaning.

On the other hand, black sand does not change color which makes it look more appealing for a much longer period of time.

Personal Preference

The final factor that you should take into account when choosing sand for your fish tank is what you prefer.

Consider your fish tank design and how well matched either of these two aquarium sand types are with your design.

In addition, you may also want to try different options and ask an expert at your local pet store. They may be able to advise what is more suitable for the fish and plants in your aquarium.


There are many different types of aquarium sand. 

Although white aquarium sand is still a firm favorite with many, black sand has similar advantages and it can make colorful fish stand out more.