PLanted Tank - Knowledge and Tips

How to Properly Clean Cosmetic Sand in a Planted Aquarium

Cosmetic sand is becoming increasingly popular in aquascaping because it creates a clean and aesthetic look. However, it requires specific cleaning methods to maintain its beauty and the health of your aquarium.

Why Clean Cosmetic Sand?

Unlike natural aquarium gravel, cosmetic sand is lightweight and can trap debris and organic matter more easily. This can lead to poor water quality and the growth of harmful bacteria. Regular cleaning helps to remove debris and organic matter, keeping your aquarium clean and healthy.

The Cleaning Process

  1. Siphon out the cosmetic sand and organic matter.
  • Use an aquarium hose to siphon out the sand and organic matter.
  • Because cosmetic sand is lightweight, it can be easily siphoned out compared to heavier gravel.
  1. Replenish the cosmetic sand.
  • After siphoning out the sand, replenish it with new sand.
  • The speaker recommends using a substrate dispenser to add sand in increments. This helps to avoid overfilling the tank and disturbing the fish.
  1. Level out the cosmetic sand.
  • Use a substrate spatula to level out the cosmetic sand for a clean and aesthetic look.

Preventing Soil Leakage

And here are some important tips to prevent soil leakage from under the cosmetic sand:

  • Slope the sand at the boundary: Create a slope with the sand at the boundary where it meets the aquarium soil. This helps to prevent the sand from slipping into the soil.
  • Use a thicker layer of cosmetic sand: A thicker layer of cosmetic sand provides a stronger barrier against soil leakage.
  • Build a barrier with hardscape: When initially setting up your aquarium, you can build a barrier with hardscape, such as rocks or driftwood, to separate the cosmetic sand from the soil.


Following these steps will help you properly clean and maintain cosmetic sand in your planted aquarium. Clean cosmetic sand not only looks great but also helps to keep your aquarium healthy for your fish and plants.

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