Mr. Saltwater Tank Friday AM Quick Tip #146: How To Safely Increase The Depth Of Your Sand Bed

I prefer the look of sand in a saltwater tank and occasionally you need to add more sand to your aquarium. Here’s how to do it without making a mess including a bonus tip on how to keep your tank from potentially crashing.

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Comments for this article (20)

  • Mark H. says:

    Good tip Mark, how deep is your sand bed in your tank?

  • Laurie says:

    Hi Mark
    great tip as always, but as Mark H I would like to know how deep is your sand bed.

  • Matt says:

    Good idea. I think using an attached funnel to the topside(outside) of the pvc would alleviate sand from falling all over on the outside of your tank as well

  • Daniel R says:

    Genius! I’d been placing it in a container the lowering it to the bottom while covered whenever I’ve added sand, this method is clearly ( is this a pun?) ^^ better then the alternatives.

  • Chri says:

    Mark – What about changing out the sand? I need to move to a slightly heavier/course sand. The sand I have is too fine and I’m tired of my fish constantly kicking it up.

  • JasR says:

    very simple clever idea! no matter how I try and clean sand during water change/maintenance I always remove some– over time, it adds up. I love this idea as it is the answer as to how I can ‘rotate’ my sand bed over time. I think that sand acts as part of the ecosystem and balance to a stable system. But like a moving train, the quality of that contribution moves ‘down the line’ over time from functional to cesspool. removing small amounts and adding back small amounts is the remedy ( IMHO). Thanks Mark for another good practical idea. JasPR

  • Buddy says:

    Great tip Mark… I started with a 3-inch sand bed, got it all nice and level added the rocks, it all looked great. Then as time went I added a Orange Spotted Goby, Engineer Goby, and a Maroon Clown. Now my sand bed changes everyday… Some places the sand bed is 6 inches deep and other places it doesn’t even cover the bottom of the tank. I use to try to move it back to cover the bare area’s and keep it from piling so high but the next morning it would all be moved again, so I gave up on that idea.

    Now… I really like seeing how much it changes every morning. The Goby’s will sculpture a new sand bed formation every couple of days and because I used two different types of sand a darker red one with a slat & pepper sand on top I get this nice layered look of the sand bed. Amazingly the salt & pepper sand is always on top it never seems to mix. (Believe-IT or Not) Even if I stir the sand bed every now and then the Salt & Pepper sand will stay on the top of the darker sand. showing a geological like side view of the sand bed and how it changes.


  • Andy says:

    Thanks Mark & Derek for the great tip! These tips make us all a little smarter & takes the pain out of doing it the HARD way which seems to be how I have to learn! Lol… Not this time!!! Thanks again for the tip & Mark for all you do in helping us all!!!

  • Eric says:

    Great tip this week! I’m sure this will help avoid some clouds potential livestock harm.

  • Laurie says:

    What a great idea? No more sand mess and sand cloud.

  • Laurie says:

    now if I could just get my nitrates down I would be all set. Good thing my tank is fish and invertebrates.

  • Devin H. says:

    Mark- You and Derrick must have been reading my mind…I’ve been trying to figure out a way to add in a deeper sandbed over a month. Since I plan on re-aquascaping my tank, my immediate thought was to remove half the water and add in sand. My question is since I want to re-design the layout, would I need to remove all of my fish first AND…should I use live sand or dead sand to save on cost? I currently have live sand and live rock and planned on placing all of the new sand on top of the old sand to make a 3 1/2 in sand bed. If I take everything out, I was planning on adding all the sand at once. Any advice would be a huge help. Thanks

  • Thomas says:

    Excellent Mark!

  • Jimbo says:

    Thats a great idea i have always done it the other way that is kinda messy so i will use this quick tip in my maintence tanks as needed! And Mark is 100% right about doing it slow . (peace)

  • Devin…how deep is your sandbed currently?

  • Devin says:

    Mark- It’s approximately 1 1/2 – 2 inches. I have a 165 gallon bow front.

  • Pierre Bouic says:

    Great tip Mark, I’ve used a method like this one for sand & other things but with a different problem, that is when adding wet sand dead or live it tends to not go down the PVC tubing so easily so I keep a large funnel and duct tape it to the end of the tube, then get a bucket of tank water, add a scoop of the wet sand into the funnel then poor tank water in the funnel with a plastic jug. The other things I use the funnel and plastic pouring jug for are getting wet carbon into my media reactor (I have the type that has a threaded ends ) since the carbon has been rinsed many times over for dust removal. The last job I can think of that a funnel & jug are handy for is getting fine media reactor products into the device like Purigen or anything fine, moist or clumpy like Rowa phos remover. I’ve used this method for lots of situations when a wet and or fine product needs to be delivered precisely, but the last tip I have is that the finer the stuff easily clogs the funnel, so putting the fine stuff into the jug with water and pouring it while giving the jug a swirl works well as long as you don’t get too carried away, half fill the jug to be safe. The swirling is so that the water doesn’t go down without carrying some product with it. I’ve even use this method to top up my reef mud in my combo mud & caulerpa sump without making a mess.

  • Uli says:

    Hmmm..been wantig to add more sand.
    Is Live sand OK to put in the already existing aquarium ?
    Great tip, wont be making a mess

  • Uli says:

    OK new to Mr. Saltwar tank.. Buy it dead!

  • Jennifer says:

    Help!! I expressed to my husband over the holiday I would really like to add sand to my tank, and he surprised me by putting in a 20lbs bag all at once. What can I do to mitigate the damage to the reef and the corals??

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