Sand substrate for cichlids

Mystic White sand in a bucket. Photo by author.

If you’re looking for a good all purpose sand for your cichlids, I recommend Mystic White II. This is a pool filter sand that you can pick up at your local pool supply store. You can also purchase it at Walmart and several online stores. My pool supply store sells this for WAY less than I can get it online or even at Walmart. Nonetheless, what makes this sand so good?

  • It’s cheaper (for me) than any other sand I’ve found.
  • It’s super clean. It generally takes me no more than about 15 minutes to rinse it clear.
  • It’s granularity is about perfect. It’s a bit more grainy than CaribSea or other aquarium-specific sand, but less grainy than play sand or even most other pool filter sands I’ve come across.

Bear in mind that Mystic White may not be the best sand for your situation. I posted about sand substrate decisions last year, so you might give that a read to help you decide what works best for you. After that post, I did an interview with Chris Carpenter, who is an expert on Tanganyikan shell dwelling cichlids. He doesn’t recommend black blasting sand because he claims it is abrasive and can do gill damage. I’m not sure if that only applies to black colored blasting sand or even all brands of blasting sand, but I (and many others) consider Chris an expert on shell dwellers. If he doesn’t recommend it, I wouldn’t use it.

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