Best Sand for Turtle Tank

When you decorate your turtle’s tank, you probably want to know what the best substrate option for your turtle tank is. All turtles don’t have similar habitat requirements. Therefore, when setting home for an aquatic turtle, you must pay attention to proper lighting, adequate heating, clean water, a correct diet, and the perfect substrate.

Carib Sea Premium Aquarium Sand ~$14

Carib Sea is my favorite sand for turtle tanks. It has a very pretty white color, and is all natural without any dyes or preservatives.

Sand is a great option if you have an aquatic turtle, but choosing the best sand for a turtle tank can be tricky. Therefore, I’ve put together a list of the top sand for turtle tanks.

5 Best Sands for a Turtle Tank

The best sand for a turtle tank is the Carib Sand, Petco Aquarium Sand, Nature’s Sand, Zoo Med Vita, and Reptile Sciences White Natural Sand.

Carib Sea Premium Aquarium Sand

When you bring aquatic turtles home, you must understand that they love to spend most of their time in the water. Therefore, you need to choose a sand that won’t mess up the chemical makeup of the water. That is why it’s important to choose an all natural sand, such as the Carib Sea Sand.

It has a fine texture that most turtles like. Another thing we love about this sand is its neutral pH. More importantly, the substrate is easy to use and maintain. Finally, the product comes in a natural white color which will give your tank a cool beachy feel.


  • Looks great in the aquarium
  • The fine texture makes it safe for turtles
  • Help stop the spread of algae in turtle tank
  • It’s free from chemicals and dyes, and has a neutral pH level


  • The sand is very small and granular, so a lot of movement can cause it to make your tank cloudy

Regardless of what sand you choose, it is important to put it into your tank correctly. You can learn how in my YouTube video below.

Petco White Aquarium Sand

This is another high-quality substrate for a turtle tank. It helps promote the growth of healthy bacteria that helps to break down the waste. More importantly, it makes the environment healthy for turtles by reducing the amount of unhealthy debris in the water. This is a great option if you plan on adding sand for a 75 gallon tank.

Moreover, it doesn’t make any changes in the pH level of water. This white aquarium sand would be great for a SpongeBob themed aquarium.


  • Great value for the money
  • Comes in a big 20 lbs bag
  • Well suited for large tanks
  • The product comes completely pre-washed
  • Its natural white color doesn’t fade quickly


  • It’s sometimes out of stock on amazon

Nature’s Ocean Black Aquarium Sand

If you want to switch up the color, I reccomend this black, Nature’s Ocean Aquarium sand. It helps filter the water in the tank and increases the surface area for nitrifying bacteria to colonize. However, it sometimes clumps together.

When you put it in the tank, you’ll see air bubbles which might cause the sand to float. However, the air bubbles should disappear in a couple days. If you want to prevent the residue, ensure that you soak it before putting it in the turtle tank.


  • Easy to clean
  • Great if you have plants
  • Black color brings a different look to the tank


  • It can make the water cloudy if you don’t rinse it beforehand.

Best sand for land turtles and tortoises

If you need a sand substrate to put on land in your turtle tank, you should check out the Zoo Med Vita White Sand and Reptile Sciences White Natural Sand.

Zoo Med Vita White Sand

Sand for turtles

If you want to put sand substrate on land, this should be your top pick.

Zoo Med is one of the top brands when it comes to products for reptiles and turtles. It’s Amazon’s choice for many reasons. First of all, it’s made of all-natural calcium carbonate. Secondly, it’s free from all additives and chemicals. Thirdly, it’s available in 6 different colors.

It contains vitamins and beta carotene which are beneficial for your turtle. It’s also free from fat-soluble vitamins that can be toxic for turtles.


  • Easy to clean
  • Great value for the money
  • Enhances the look of a tank


  • Some buyers claim that it is very dusty
  • Better for desert tortoises than aquatic turtles

Reptile Sciences White Natural Sand

Before we review this product, let us tell you bad news. Due to its massive demand, it’s frequently out of stock. It’s made of 100% all-natural orbicular grains. Grains are silica and phosphate-free. Moreover, it contains 100% digestible calcium carbonate which is healthy for your turtle.

It’s made of high-quality materials; therefore, it lowers the risk of impaction and throwing up in reptiles. Finally, it creates an all-natural environment and has a natural odor. The best approach is to replace this sand every 5 to 6 months to prevent dust and debris build up.


  • It prevents the tank from getting messy
  • It’s made of all-natural ingredients
  • It helps neutralize odors
  • It doesn’t cause any digestive problems if swallowed


  • Frequently out of stock

What to Look for in a Turtle Tank Substrate?

When you are choosing a turtle tank substrate, make sure it is safe, natural, and

  • Safe

When choosing the substrate for the turtle tank, ensure that it’s soft and safe for your pet. It shouldn’t pose any risk to your pet when placed at the bottom. You should avoid small rocks, because your turtle might eat them. To learn more, check out my article on the best rocks for turtle tank.

  • Natural Appearance

When you decorate a turtle tank, ensure that it looks natural. Therefore, it’s essential to choose a substrate that doesn’t change the color of the water inside the tank.

  • No Chemicals or Artificial Additives

When the substrates contain chemicals, dyes, or other additives, they might make the substrate look beautiful, but they can harm your pet. Therefore, it’s essential to choose an all-natural substrate for your turtle tank.

  • Avoid Dangerous Materials

Cat litter, walnut shells, and newspaper shouldn’t be added to the turtle tank. All these substances contain harmful ingredients, and they can be rough for your turtle’s skin. Therefore, the substrate should be free from these substances. 

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