(Answered!) How Much Sand Do I Need For My Fish Tank?

Are you confused about how much sand to use for your latest fish tank? Don’t worry; you’re not the only one.

We all want to make sure our fish tank has a healthy environment, don’t we? You might have a lot of questions about how much sand the aquarium needs. I made this short guide to explain what you need to know.

Adding sand substrate is an important part of setting up an aquarium. Of course, gravel substrate is a better option in case you’re getting a freshwater tank, but if you have a marine, saltwater, or reef aquarium, the sand substrate is what you really need. 

It makes your aquarium look so much more natural, unlike colored rocks and gravels, which are things of the past, to say the least. Sand is also much easier to maintain and clean. And guess what? Many fishes eat sand! Yes, that’s right. Sand is quite good for their digestion. 

How Much Sand Do You Need In Your Aquarium?

Generally speaking, you can find out the amount of sand needed in your tank by multiplying the length and width of your tank, and divide it by 10. This would get you the amount of sand needed in pounds for a 2-inch deep sand bed.

If you are like me and find Math boring, do not worry. Here’s a table with common tank sizes and their usual dimensions, and the amount of sand you’ll need for 2 inch depth:

Tank Size (Gallons)DimensionsSand Needed
16″ x 8″ x 10″12.59 lbs
1020″ x 10″ x 12″19.68 lbs
2930″ x 12″ x 18″35.42 lbs
3036″ x 18″ x 12″63.75 lbs
4048″ x 12″ x 16″56.67 lbs
5548″ x 13″ x 21″61.39 lbs
6048″ x 13″ x 24″61.39 lbs
7548″ x 18″ x 21″85.00 lbs
12572″ x 18″ x 21″127.50 lbs
How Much Sand Do I Need For My Tank?


Okay, so figuring out the exact amount of sand your fish tank requires needs some simple calculations. Here’s how you calculate the right amount of sand for your aquarium by yourself. 

Let’s take, for instance, a 55-gallon tank. Say its dimensions are 12.25 inches in length and 48.25 inches in width. For a 1-inch-deep sand bed, you need 24 pounds of sand.

Hence, if you need a 2-inch-deep sand bed, you will have to multiply 24 by 2, which will give you the required quantity of sand for your tank. In this case, the sand required is 48 pounds, multiplying the two numbers above. 

Another way of calculating sand for a 2-inch depth level is:

  1. Multiply the aquarium’s length and width: 12.25 x 48.25 = 591
  1. Divide the result by 10: 591/10 = 59.1 pounds

Hence, the sand quantity that your fish tank requires for a 2-inch depth is 59.1 lbs.

You can also divide this result by 2.2 if you want to convert the result into kilograms. The result will be 26.86 kgs.

What Does The Sand Quantity Needed For Your Fish Tank Depend On?

First of all, the amount of sand you need in your tank depends on what kind of aesthetic you want to go for, and what sorts of plants you want to put in it.

Another thing to consider is the height of your tank. If you have a 18-inch tank and you’re going for a 5 or more inch sand bed, that would be too much sand.

For most tanks, a minimum of a 2-inch sand bed is good. But depending on the shape and size of the tank, as well as the type of sand you’re using, the amount of sand needed can be really different.

What Happens If There Is Too Much Or Too Little Sand?

From what I’ve observed, the major problem of having too much sand in the tank is that it can occasionally float above the water and proceed to suck itself up into the pumps and filters. This is sure to damage them.

Too much sand also creates problems for the live plants in the tank since it doesn’t provide any nutrients to plants. 

Now what if there is too little sand?

Well, that too is bad. Sand is important because it helps to circulate the oxygen throughout the tank.

If you can’t get enough sand in your tank, it can lead to some serious problems like bacteria & ammonia buildup. And just so you know, ammonia is toxic to fishes. 


What kind of sand is best for my tank?

If you’re looking for a cheaper option, I would highly recommend using play sand. This sand gives a very natural look, and it’s also easily available in most hardware stores. If you need more consistent sand, I’d say go for blasting sand. It is well refined and may suit your taste if you don’t like coarse texture. Another option is the silica pool sand, an expensive option, but you can do more customization with this one.

What is the difference between dry and live sand?

Live sand comes wet with living bacterial organisms, which are helpful for your tank. Dry sands are used when you want to naturally grow your own bacteria for your tank and fish.

Wrapping Up

With this guide, I hope that now you have some idea on how much sand your new fish tank will need to thrive like a thing of beauty. These calculations and information on sand substrate for your aquarium will make it easy for you to maintain the aquarium and give you days of utmost joy with your new water buddy.