Is Crayola Play Sand Aquarium Safe

Is Crayola Play Sand Aquarium Safe?

Are you looking for a budget-friendly aquarium substrate? You might have heard of play sand as a less expensive option. Maybe you’re also drawn to the awesome colors of Crayola play sand. Is Crayola play sand aquarium safe?

Crayola play sand is one of the better play sand options for a fish tank substrate. However, there are some things you’ll want to consider before using it. Make sure to clean it thoroughly before use.

Is Crayola play sand non-toxic? Can your kids play with aquarium sands? In this article, I will answer these questions and more.

Can I Use Crayola Play Sand in My Aquarium?

Of the play sand options available, it seems as if Crayola Play Sand is one of the most aquarium-safe options. The company guarantees no chemical treatment of the sand. The grains themselves have no sharp edges, as processing involves rounding out the grain.

In addition, Crayola play sand goes through an extensive process in the factory to make sure it’s free of biological and metal contamination. This involves going through it with a rare earth magnet and heating it to over 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

Aquarium keepers seem to like Crayola play sand just fine. It’s inexpensive, you can easily find it at a hardware store or big-box store, and the colors are really fun.

What to Consider Before Using Play Sand as Substrate

Obviously, you’ll want to make sure sand is the right choice for the fish or amphibians in your aquarium. There are certain fish who like burrowing in sand, either to clean themselves or to hide. Others won’t, and will do better with a substrate of rocks or gravel.

If you’re keeping goldfish, you’ll want to stay far away from any sand. They will eat it, and it can clog their digestive systems.

Grain size is an especially important factor when using sand in an aquarium. You don’t want the grains to be either too large or too small. Some play sand can definitely have small grains, so choose with caution.

Check and make sure the play sand doesn’t say “dust free” or “silica free” if you have a freshwater aquarium. These words can mean there’s calcium carbonate in the play sand. This compound isn’t good for a freshwater aquarium.

Some Disadvantages of Play Sand

Keep in mind that play sand in general has some disadvantages if you use it in an aquarium. These include:

  • It can easily get into your filter and clog it
  • Water doesn’t flow as easily through it as other substrate
  • It can more easily harbor dangerous bacteria and parasites

It’s also important to clean any substrate well before putting it into your aquarium. Here is a video on how to clean play sand before using it in your tank.

Is Crayola Sand Toxic?

Like all of Crayola’s products, their colored play sands are non-toxic. The dyes are non-toxic, and you can submerge them in water without the color fading or bleeding. Among other distinctions, Crayola play sand has certifications from the Arts and Creative Materials Institution, and is certified asbestos-free.

The producer of Crayola play sand, Covia Corporation, touts its environmentally-friendly and non-toxic manufacturing methods. They do not use any chemicals to wash the sand, and do not add any anti-fungal materials.

Considering play sand is meant for kids, Crayola and Covia Corporation seem to have spent a lot of time making sure it’s not toxic. Otherwise, there would be issues connected with its use.

However, since Crayola does not test on animals, they cannot as easily guarantee that their play sand is animal-safe.

What Other Sands Are Available?

You may be a bit frazzled by the choice of aquarium sands for your fish tank. It is true, additionally, that each type has its advantages and disadvantages.

Types of aquarium sand include:

  • River Sand
  • Black Quartz Sand
  • Marine or Ultra Reef Sand
  • Coral Sand

If you’re not looking to spend a lot of money on aquarium sand, aquarium keepers have found success with pool filter sand as well as play sand. Pool filter sand has a larger grain size, and is less likely to clog aquarium filters.

Can I Use Aquarium Sand as Play Sand?

If it’s new, it seems like aquarium sand is perfectly fine for play. Most options seem to have natural ingredients, and safe and non-toxic treatment methods. However, most aquarium sand seems to be more expensive than good old regular play sand.

For the sake of argument, I would say play sand, directly intended for kids, is the better option.

It might seem obvious, but don’t let your kid play with used or dirty aquarium sand. Keep in mind, that’s where most of your fish poop goes when it’s in your tank. Used aquarium sand can also harbor a lot of dangerous parasites and bacteria. If your child really wants to play with aquarium sand, let them have some out of a new package.

Is Aquarium Sand Toxic for Play?

Like play sand, substrate for aquariums should ideally be non-toxic. Most options, like black sand, have natural makeups and ingredients. There is probably even some crossover between the components of aquarium sand and the components of play sand.

Check and make sure an aquarium sand hasn’t been through any chemical treatment. Also make sure there’s no anti-fungal material added to the sand. Whether you bought it for your fish or your child, these things aren’t good for living creatures.


If play sand seems like the right choice for the bottom of your fish tank, you could make a worse choice than Crayola play sand. It is guaranteed non-toxic, doesn’t go through any chemical treatment in manufacturing, and the grains are round and soft. Like all play sands, however, it does have some disadvantages if you use it as substrate.

New aquarium sand can make non-toxic play sand, if your kids are really demanding it. However, since play sand is usually less expensive, you’re probably better off buying that for your kids instead.