Will Sand Ruin My Filter ?


I have not had sand before but I really like it better than gravel. However I'm really worried its gonna ruin my fluval canister filter. Fluval tech support said that they do not recommend using sand because it can ruin the impeller. So I was wondering if anyone had this happen before and is it something that is definitely gonna happen if I use sand ?

I was gonna buy sand at petco and it seems to be a slightly bigger grain so i'm hoping it will settle down to the bottom.

Another, I hear is easier to clean, but i'm wondering about this because if all the fish poop sits on the top of the sand and its easier to vacuum up isn't that a bad thing because of the beneficial bacteria needs the fish waste for food in order to survive ? Where as gravel it will fall down between the gravel and decay and become food for the beneficial bacteria. Sand might be too clean?

Isn't gravel good for the beneficial bacteria because it can grow on it more than gravel ?


I use pool filter sand that I picked up at Home Depot for 5 bucks and change for a 50lb bag.I ran 2 Fluval 305s and a Fluval FX5 with the intakes about 4" up from the bottom and never had a problem with sand getting into the filter.I sold the 2 305s and I am installing another FX5 tomorrow on my tank.The sand looks better IMO then gravel so if you want it go for it.


Never had problem with canister either. Pool filter sand and aquarium sand used w/ Aquatop and Filstar canisters.

The only problem I could see is if you used a heaver sand like playground sand or keep the intake too close to bottom.

Usual recommendation is 4 inches above sand or substrate.


I agree with the above comments. I have sand in my Fluval edge and the only thing I would recommend is to get a pre-filter intake cover and wait until the sand has completely settled before turning the filter on.
And when you are cleaning with a gravel cleaner, you only need to "hover" over to pick up debris ( or better yet use a turkey baster instead ) and try not to kick up any sand ( make sure your filter is off when cleaning )


Good morning,

Here is a link on cleaning sand substrate. Give the video a minute to load and then hit play:



Hello; Interesting thread in that it would seem risky to go against the manufacturers caution with regard to sand. I have read post describing impeller damage from sand and have seen such wear on impellers myself.
That said, in response to using sand I do have two suggestions for your consideration. The first is to dry sift the sand thru a screen of some size.
I have made such screens from window screening material or have used colanders, it depends on the amount of sand to be sifted and the size of the fine particles you wish to eliminate. By dry sifting the very fine material can be removed and discarded. In my experience this fine material is more likely to cause issues in a tank and is somewhat easier to remove by dry sifting as opposed to wet cleaning. After dry sifting the sand is rinsed well before being placed in a tank, this rinsing seems a bit easier with pre sifted sand.

The second thing discovered from dry sifting is that I can determine the size of the sand particles, to a large degree, that I wind up with in a tank. Please note this experience applies to sand such as construction sand which has a wide variety of particle sizes. I have not used the bagged sands, such as pool filter sand, which may be more uniform in size.
I have found that construction sand has particles ranging from very fine dust to nearly small pea sized particles. It is possible to wind up with essentially small gravel sized sand substrate down to dust.
Another note is that such sand can be inexpensive. I bought a ton (2000 pounds) of construction sand three years ago to bed some drain pipes for $20.

One final comment. I have used both sand and gravels over the years and now only use gravel. Either can be made to work with sand being somewhat more difficult and potentially harder on equipment. The single biggest deciding issue for me has been the need to have fine sand layers of only an inch or so in order to avoid the potential for toxic pockets to build up. I understand the fix is to stir the sand up every week. I like to have a lot of live rooted plants and like a deep substrate. I also have found that rooted plants seem to do well in substrate four or more inches deep.
In the end we each get to run our tanks any way we wish. It is perhaps a question what we want and how much trouble it is to get it. Good luck


My experiences with Sand:

I have had nothing but success as I use Black Diamond Sand (Sand Blaster type) and HTH Pool Filter Sand. Both have not remotely put wear or tear on my filters. I do turn them off while doing ANYTHING to my substrate. I am very careful with anything I pursue via fish tanks, etc.

I know a lot of us have different experiences with all things concerning fish tanks, but I highly recommend sand as a substrate, as long as caution is used and you know what you're doing while performing any duties (cleaning, stirring, etc).

On top of what I've mentioned above, most fish seem to like sand better (key word - most). Even better, certain fish will digest sand easier (if a few granules are swallowed). If it's gravel in a fishes mouth or system, it can easily cause some issues and even be fatal.

So, in a wrap up, that is my opinion on substrates and it's handling, etc.

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