The best sand to use for cichlid maintenance depends on the details of the aquarium in use, the pH of the water and other details that vary from one tank to the next; however, silica sand is the best all-around product. Silica sand is readily available, inexpensive and safe.
It is important to wash the sand before adding it to the aquarium to remove any dust, debris or foreign material that may have become mixed with the sand. Do so by washing a small amount of sand in a large bucket until dust is no longer produced. This often takes several cycles of adding water and the pouring off the dust-laden water.