Sandless bottom reef tank with sand?


New member
Im interested in setting up a new reef tank and like the idea of high flow, minimal maintenance substrate, but love the look of a sand bottom.

I was wondering if it was/would be possible to use an acrylic product, as seen in the link below, to either poor over the top of sand to seal/embed in in the acrylic or pour the acrylic and then place the sand on top while still curing to allow it to adhere a thin layer of sand to it, removing any non-adhered excess prior to adding water. I figure the second option might be better to cover up any yellow ing that may occur due to UV light exposure

Hoping to get the look of sand without a DSB without all the sand maintenance and dont personally like the look of a bottomless tank.

What are your thoughts or experiences?
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Well-known member
I'd avoid it in so far as water seeping around/under the work would pose a perpetual threat, and tiny air pockets in the acrylic among the sand could lead to seepage there as well. Like shrapnel, I'd think the sand would constantly be working loose. It would pose significant work to achieve a natural effect and might also provide a great deal more space for hard-to-remove algae among the rough surface area. A light layer of sand is really not that hard to care for and avoids many DSB issues. Plus any unlisted toxins in the product. . .

But I tend to be overly cautious.


Premium Member
+1. as I see it that sounds like more work in the long run. But even if it wasn't there's a lot of important biology going on in sand and I'd argue your system will be better off using sand.


Premium Member
I too would encourage using sand as the biofilter can be very beneficial.

Starting a tank bare bottom, especially if you are using dry rock can be algae prone the first year or two, although a UV sterilizer with the proper wattage and flow can help with that.

I painted the outside of the bottom of my tank with a sand stone paint when my tank was for seahorses. That way it had the visual texture and color of sand without trapping detritus in it. It looked good while the glass was free of dirt and Coraline algae but I personally did not like the maintenance of keeping it free of dirt and Coraline algae. I added a real sandbed about a year later.


Who Am I Here?
Premium Member
I’m just throwing a Hail Mary on this, but could possibly do something like you mentioned, but place it under the tank, against the glass, so it’s visible from the bottom, (until algae or corals cover it). Basically a background for the bottom for the tank. Just a thought