A lot of hobbyists spend large sums of money to buy and ship live sand for their new aquariums. A popular live sand choice is the old bag full of sand and water, which claims to house all of the necessary bacteria to start the aquarium cycle and provide a stable environment. While the sand may work as promised, it’s not necessary to buy large amounts of it, and in reality, you could probably get buy without buying any truly live sand at all. If you buy dry sand, all you have to do is either seed it with small amounts of live sand from a fellow hobbyist’s system, or add bacteria to the tank through any one of the numerous live bacteria products. As time passes, the entire sand bed will live and full of bacteria and other organisms.
On a side note, the pre-packaged live sand may not entirely live up to its name. If you think about it, the sand probably sits in a warehouse a significant amount of time, where it is exposed to extreme temperatures that, in all likelihood, kill any bacteria present. To top if off, the bag may sit at the fish store for months on end, probably not creating the most ideal environment for any remaining bacteria. On the flip side, there should be plenty of ammonia in the water to jump start a cycle.