How To Clear Up a Fish Tank That’s Cloudy From Sand

Keeping a clean fish tank can be more challenging than you think. Even without fish in your tank, sand can make your water cloudy, which can be pretty unsightly. It’s important to keep your tank as clean as possible but sometimes, this can be pretty difficult.

Here are a few things you can do to help clear up the water from your sandy fish tank:

  1. Wait for the debris to settle.
  2. Run the water filter.”
  3. Add water clarifiers.
  4. Wash the sand.”
  5. Change the water.

These tips can help you troubleshoot your cloudy fish tank. I’ll walk you through the options from easiest to hardest, so you can decide the best way to help clear up your tank.

1. Wait for the Debris to Settle

Cloudy water can be caused by dust and sand that is supposed to lie at the bottom floating around in the water. When you add sand or water to your tank, it can easily get mixed up, but gravity will help settle things eventually. If you are not in a rush, you can wait it out. The sand should all sink to the bottom of the tank in a few days, clearing up the water.”

If this does not work, or you want to clear it up faster, check out the next few steps.

2. Run the Water Filter

All fish tanks need a water filtration system. If you’ve just begun to set up your tank, adding sand and water and nothing else, it might take longer for the sand to settle and clear out of the water.”

Making sure you have an effective filter set up and running is the next step to cleaning up your tank and keeping it clean. Filters work by drawing in water and debris from the tank, running them through a series of filter materials like floss and sponges that will trap dirt, dust, and debris.”

Then the filter recycles the clean water back into the tank. Running the filter will help clear up your tank by filtering out any sand that does not sink.””

If this is not working, you may want to change your filter floss or sponges to ensure your filter is functioning effectively. If this isn’t enough, try one of the following steps.”

3. Add Water Clarifiers”

If your aquarium is very cloudy, you may need to take even more steps to help clear up the water. There are chemicals called clarifiers that you can add that will help by causing particles to clump together. This will make them heavier and fall to the bottom, making your water less cloudy. The clumps can then be easily filtered.

These are pretty easy to find at the pet store, or you can order them online. API ACCU-CLEAR Water Clarifier (available on is an example of an easy-to-use at-home clarifier.”

If patience, filtration, and clarifiers still aren’t doing the trick, you may need to check out the next few steps.”

4. Wash the Sand”

One reason you may have cloudy water problems is that you did not wash the sand enough before adding it. For any substrate that you add to a fish tank, you should try to wash it thoroughly. Sand will have dust and dirt in it when you buy it, so you want to run it under water multiple times until the water runs clear.”

If you did not wash your sand enough before adding it to the tank, you can empty the water out and clean the sand at the bottom. Then, add the water back carefully.”

Hopefully, the washed sand will not make the water as cloudy, but you may still have to wait for it to settle again to be completely clean.

5. Change the Water

If all of the above steps fail, there is a chance that the sand itself does not cause cloudiness, and another problem exists. Fish tanks need a delicate balance of good bacteria to help keep the water healthy for the fish, but bacteria can over-grow. It could be that some disturbance has released a lot of nutrients from the sand into the tank, causing an explosion of bacteria.”

Sometimes the only way to treat problems with your tank’s bacteria is to cycle the water out of the tank, replacing it with new, treated water.”

Changing the water in your tank can be a big undertaking, and it is important not to disrupt the healthy tank bacteria or pH balance when you do. Therefore, you should only consider this step if all other measures have failed and you have waited several days.”

Final Thoughts

Clearing up a cloudy fish tank can be as easy as doing nothing or can be a very involved process. What interventions you choose to take will depend on whether or not there are fish in it already and how long you are willing to wait.”

The most important thing is to put the health of your fish first. Following these steps should help you choose what to do to clear up the sand from your fish tank.”


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