Live Reef Sand


SKU: lrs Category:


We recommend this product for boosting the diversity in an established aquarium or seeding a new tank. 

Real Live Sand includes a diverse community of microorganisms, coralline algae, and even microscopic animals from the ocean. These communities cannot survive in a bag on the shelf in your local pet store. Unlike the bagged stuff, our Live Reef Sand is the real thing.

Our suppliers collect this material from the ocean floor at pristine off-shore sites, and ship it to us immediately after collection. Live snails and hermit crabs often climb out of it when it arrives at our facility. Truly Live Sand from the ocean.

We carry two different varities of Live Reef Sand, collected from different sources:

  • Keys Sand – Pristine white Aragonite sand from the Florida Keys. This has only sand, no rubble – but its beautiful sand, with a nice diverse microbial community.
  • Gulf Sand – a mixture of Aragonite and other materials, including small pieces of rubble and coralline algae. This is collected from a deepwater site in the Gulf of Mexico. This variety has a richer community of invertebrates but a more variable appearance than the Keys Sand.

We maintain the sand in fish-free systems with lots of water movement and aeration. We even monitor nutrients and feed the tanks if nutrients get low.

Most importantly, we test each batch using DNA sequencing to confirm it has

  • A diverse microbial community
  • A complete nitrifying community with both ammonia and nitrite oxidizers
  • NO bacterial pathogens
  • NO parasites of fish or corals

Only clean sand passing our stringent tests is offered for sale. Each batch of Live Reef Sand comes with a detailed Certificate of Analysis listing all sources of DNA detected in that batch. The only Live Sand that comes with a list of ingredients!

This offers an unprecedented chance to establish natural levels of biodiversity in your reef tank, without the potential risks of pests and parasites associated with untested Live Sand from unknown sources.

What Live Reef Sand is NOT: This material is NOT intended as your primary sand bed. Even a shallow sand bed requires many pounds of sand, and it wouldn’t be efficient or necessary to use live sand for all of that. Instead, Live Reef Sand is intended to seed the sand bed and biofilter in your aquarium. You don’t buy it for the sand itself — you buy it for the diverse communities of microbes (Bacteria & Archaea), invertebrates, and coralline algae growing in it.

Live Reef Sand is sold in 450 g (1 lb) portions. This portion is appropriate to seed an aquarium up to 60 gallons, and is expected to improve the microbial community measurably within two weeks. Larger tanks will require either multiple portions (or a longer time) to achieve similar results.

Live Reef Sand is full of living things, so we ship it like soft corals or invertebrates: in insulated shipping boxes with heat or cold packs depending on the weather. You can choose overnight or 2-day shipping during checkout. The default free shipping is 2-day, since under most conditions the communities in the sand can handle this shipping time just fine.

This is a natural product so the product you receive will look similar, but not identical to, the images shown. Because this natural product is inherently variable and also perishable we cannot accept returns for any reason, and all sales are final.

Additional information


Keys, Gulf


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