A bed of sand in your aquarium can serve a multitude of purposes. It can aid in the digestion of fish food, and many fish enjoy a good scrounging around in a sand bed. It also looks great. Adding sand without causing harm or excessive dust takes a little work, but the results are well worth it.
A Dusty Business
Sand is a great addition to your aquarium, but adding sand invites dust into the habitat. Once you've purchased sand, you'll need to give it a good bath. Rinsing it in a bucket in the bathtub works great. Add water, churn the sand and rinse until the water runs clean. Once it's added, you may need to siphon off dust and debris from time to time. Aside from creating a cloudy look, sand dust in excess can affect the oxygenation of the aquarium. A small tube about the size of a garden hose will work fine for siphoning. Hold this about an inch above the sand to avoid removing the sand as well as the dust. You may want to rinse the sand at each aquarium cleaning, but always make sure it's returned to the tank at room temperature to avoid shocking your finned friends.
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