The Best Aquarium Gravel to Create a Wonderful Aquascape

Best Aquarium Gravel

There are several reasons why it is a must to utilize gravel in a tank. The first reason is the fact that this just helps make the aquarium look more appealing. Indeed, whether you opt for natural stone for a more genuine look or a more radiant color that could aid in making the whole thing pop, your aquarium will look more brilliant with gravel placed underneath.

Aside from this, gravel serves a number of vital functions and it’s the ideal means to tie up any tank plants that you are putting in your aquarium. Your plants will root and flourish when placed in the gravel. This also serves as a shelter for the bacterial colonies that your aquarium requires to remain healthy.

Similarly, if you get gravel that is compact and tiny enough, there is less space for debris to hide – this obviously aids in keeping the aquarium water more balanced and tidy.

If you are aware that gravel is for more than merely making your aquarium look more impressive, you will able to realize why some options are a lot better as compared to others.

One of the more mundane fish-tank-related products is aquarium gravel. But it’s a must-have item to build a safe and comfortable environment for your fish. Therefore, it’s necessary to have a solid idea of all the critical buying factors when buying gravel, such as these:

  • How Much Gravel Do You Need for Your Tank: Planning out how much gravel suits your tank is a necessary step. In most cases, experts recommend utilizing two inches of gravel in tanks up to 55 gallons and 3-4 inches for anything more significant.
  • Budget: Aquarium gravel is much more varied in price than expected. But the key here is to find affordable, high-quality fish bowl rocks or fish tank stones rather than cheap ones. Customer reviews will be invaluable tools in helping you find them.
  • Materials: It is wise to pick options made with natural materials from a top-tier brand like Imagitarium Gravel or Top Fin. It’s a simple way to ensure no harm comes to our favorite fish tank creatures. So please, don’t only buy a product because of its incredible color ideas without checking its materials.

So, explore the best aquarium gravel reviews below to help you come up with a smart and most suitable purchase for your tank!

Best Overall

GloFish Aquarium Gravel

GloFish Aquarium Gravel

✅ Available varied & vibrant colors
✅ Aesthetically pleasing to the eye
✅ Guaranteed safe for fish


Premium Choice


Carib Sea Planted Black Aquarium

✅ Amazing live plant gravel
✅ Aid stimulate vigorous plant root growth
✅ Helps cycle a new aquarium


Editor’s Choice


Flourite Black

✅ Ensure very fast growth for plants
✅ Comes with gorgeous black color
✅ Helps maintain healthy plants


Most Trusted Aquarium Gravel Reviews 2023

1. GloFish Aquarium Gravel

GloFish Aquarium Gravel

Are you looking for bright-colored gravel that could make your tank even more stunning? Surely, we all want the top-tier gravel for fish tanks. As a matter of fact, many fish hobbyists prefer aquariums that have bright-colored decors. Luckily, GloFish Gravel product is the right choice if you wish to put more diverse and brilliant colors in your aquarium.

This is so easy to use as you only have to add the gravel in the tank if you wish you may also add some more decors of your choice and you can instantly come up with a great masterpiece. Likewise, this aquarium gravel consists of stones that come in different sizes, shapes as well as colors.

This gravel product certainly looks incredible under blue and white light so make sure to pair it with blur lighting. The final outcome in your tank will definitely be something that will amaze you.

As compared with other products, this gravel comes in low dust which simply implies that it scantily requires any rinsing prior to putting it in the aquarium. In addition to this, you won’t have a tough time cleaning them as well.

However, once you receive the package, you need to be careful as there are some tiny fragments that could get everywhere, some of this float and might be slightly messy to manage. It is advised not to add the tiny fragments in the aquarium anymore for these may be dangerous for the fish.

  • Comes in available varied and vibrant colors
  • Guaranteed safe for fish
  • Aesthetically pleasing to the eye
  • Ideal for terrariums and top dressing air plants
  • A dramatic addition to any aquarium
  • Tiny enough to fit in a fish’s mouth
  • Slightly chips off very easily
Based on the consistency in this gravel’s size, aesthetics, and quality, this is a certified good purchase to consider. The stones are very tidy that you do not need to rinse them thoroughly. You would be delighted watching your tank at night especially if you paired the gravel with blur lighting. This product would be a great addition to your aquarium.

2. Carib Sea Planted Black Aquarium


This gravel is a nice combination of gravel and dirt that has made all the distinction with tank plants. Thus, if you are looking for top-drawer aquarium gravel, this option will make a huge difference for you!

This aids plants to thrive and grow like they never did in the past with standard tank gravel. What is more, the dark color can make the fish and shrimp colors stand out.

It is worth mentioning that tropical fish tank gravel can make your aquarium a stunning display to behold particularly when you are extremely drained in a whole day of work. Your fish won’t only be the ones to benefit if you invest in this gravel.

Be that as it may, this gravel product has a foul odor for a couple of weeks after you put it in the tank. While the smell is not that terrible, you can still sense it as it is there. Luckily, it could go away soon. Indeed, it may cause the water to become dusky; nevertheless, this could disappear in roughly an hour if you have a nice filter.

This is slightly daunting to clean up. It is not recommended to siphon vacuum the gravel because you will only end up sucking up all the dust. If you’re going to look at the plants closely, you will see that they could make a difference in terms of sustaining clean water without nitrates, nitrites, and ammonia.

Please take in mind that it is advised to be very cautious and not overfeed your fish since you can’t vacuum up the dirt.

  • Exhaustive substrate for freshwater planted tanks
  • Aid stimulate vigorous plant root growth
  • Comes with minor and major elements that sustain tank plants
  • Helps cycle a new aquarium
  • Amazing live plant gravel
  • Costly substrate option
  • May smell stinky at first
This gravel product is not a waste of money. The substrate alone encourages the beneficial growth of roots and can help make plants grow healthier. In the same way, the fish are delighted in their habitat and as the tank owner; you will take pleasure in watching your beautifully-decorated tank.

3. Flourite Black


This black aquarium gravel is one of the outstanding choices for a tank plant that needs to be mixed with fluorite root tabs as well as prospering plant juice. While you may encounter plenty of dust that particularly necessitates serious washing and filtering at the beginning, this could still serve as a perfect substrate for aquatic plants that are placed in a planted aquarium.

It is worth noting that this gravel will function at its best if you carefully wash it a few times prior to adding it to the aquarium and filling it with water. In truth, it is normal for the tank water to appear dusky at first setup; however, this will vanish after one day once you begin the filter procedure.

It may look dirty once removed from the package, but this is actually premium quality gravel that comes with a very elegant and gorgeous black color- this conveys that it will certainly look more attractive inside the aquarium and your fish occupants will absolutely love their newly-setup and decorated dwelling spot.

Please be guided that this gravel is ideal for planted aquaria. Since the 15.4 lb. bag comprises of approximately a total of 325 cubic inches of material, it is very critical for you to compute carefully with regards to the amount of material required for your preferred depth.

  • Ideal substrate for a newly set up aquarium
  • Ensure very fast growth for plants
  • A perfect complement to the aquascape
  • Helps maintain healthy plants in the tank
  • Comes with gorgeous black color
  • Requires a significant amount of work
  • Looks dirty and dusty at first
On the whole, this gravel product is slightly expensive but it is definitely worth the cost. You won’t waste any single dime since it is a high-quality product that you can invest in. What is more, it can transform your tank into a superb and favorite dwelling spot for your tank occupants and once you see that the plants and fish in your aquarium are all happy, safe and healthy, you will be delighted too even if it means spending more.

4. Spectrastone Shallow Creek Regular


Without any doubt, all aquarium enthusiasts prefer to end up investing in the small aquarium gravel. And to do so, it is crucial to know the type of tank inhabitants you have and what decors you want to add to your aquarium.

This Shallow Creek gravel is highly recommended for aquariums that are smaller in size. This product is comprised of tiny-sized granules that are safe for the tank water as it does not affect the water’s pH level. Therefore, it is friendly for the fish and other plants living in the tank.

To boot, this gravel comes with tiny grains of distinct colors. It isn’t monochromatic; however, this tank décor is not as smooth as compared to other tank gravels. It is interesting to note that this gravel is capable of providing stunning support to plants, both artificial and natural.

More than that, the granules contain an adequate amount of space between them so as to guarantee a suitable amount of water flow. This 5 lb. bag comes with plenty of rocks that can ideally suffice a 4-gallon tank.

And, if you do not prefer long cleaning and rinsing time, this gravel product is the most suitable for you because there is no need to rinse the stones for a longer period of time prior to adding them to the aquarium. As you can see, cleaning and maintenance are a piece of cake to deal with.

  • Ideal for tanks that are smaller
  • Does not badly affect water pH
  • Comes in a non-toxic coating
  • Capable of providing a haven to tank plants
  • Ideal for freshwater tanks
  • Requires thorough rinsing before use
  • Not quite smooth

On the button, this gravel product is a good investment and highly recommended freshwater aquarium gravel. It is actually better than you could expect. This is ideal for a zen garden theme and if you opt for a more natural-looking décor.

You will be delighted to see your aquarium beautifully decorated and at the same time, you won’t have any concerns about having cloudy water in your tank provided that you have strictly followed the rinsing procedure prior to adding them in the tank.

5. Exotic Pebbles PMS0510 Gravel


Do you wish to add a fascinating aquarium gravel color that would amaze your guests and tank inhabitants? Then, Exotic Pebbles will satisfy your preference. You will certainly be surprised by how these tank decors can transform your tank into a very nice habitat that your fish will love!

These pebbles are the right pick for your fish tank. If you are going to observe them closely, the pebbles are very nice, quite smooth and of suitable size. For fact, a lot of people mistake them for petroleum. As you can see, the stones are covered in wax.

Take in mind that these pebbles need to be thoroughly washed with hot water prior to putting them in the tank. The reason why hot water is necessary to use here is that this is specifically helpful in getting rid of the wax.

In addition to this, the pebbles do not have any unpleasant effect on the water chemistry so these are comparably non-toxic for your aquatic plants as well as tank occupants.

These pebbles are ideal for driveways and walkways. They are certified polished gravel that can be used indoors or outdoors. These are available in mixed colors and are great to utilize in ponds and tanks.

Additionally, they come in varied sizes and colors, and because of that, it is a piece of cake to match them with other gravels. They are safe to use too since they do not have sharp edges. Unlike other rocks or stone decors, you won’t need to worry about being injured with sharp edges.

  • Comes with smooth and nice texture
  • Non-toxic for plants and fish
  • Ideal use for ponds and tanks
  • Does not have an effect on water chemistry
  • Can be used both indoors and outdoors
  • Some residues coming off the rocks
  • Waxy film covering
In sum, these pebbles are amazing decors that you could put into your aquarium. They are non-toxic and can create a wonderful environment for your fish and plants to grow in. And, while these pebbles look stunning and polished, still they especially require thorough cleaning and rinsing to ensure that the filmy wax cover won’t have any negative effects on your tank occupants.

6. Marina Decorative Gravel


Are you in need of fish tank gravel ideas? Then, you may consider adding some plants, rocks, and gravel to your aquarium. These are perfect decors that could make your tank look attractive and at the same to ensure a better habitat for your tank inhabitants.

Marina Decorative Gravel comes in the perfect amount for smaller versions of aquariums. These are commonly low in dust that could easily come off when you rinse them. What is more, these are a fascinating contrast to some moderately larger white stones that you utilize to accent this.

This beautifully colored tank gravel by Marina is the top-notch option for any aquatic hobbyists who prefer to add a splash of vibrancy and radiant colors to their aquarium. It is coated with epoxy in order to make certain that the water chemistry is not significantly affected by the gravel.

You can have this gravel in a broad array of colors like neon yellow, orange, blue, black, burgundy and purple. They can help in holding the ornaments and plants in place. And, they are adept at adding lively color and character to the tank.

This decorative gravel is fine to be used alone; nonetheless, it looks at its best when mixed with other types of marble. You do not need to feel exhausted cleaning them since you only have to put them in a strainer and you can rinse them right away.

While this brand is an ideal choice if you opt for vibrant-colored gravel, it could be pricey for the amount of gravel. So, this might not be the choice for those who are on a budget.

  • Comes with round edges
  • Help encourage the growth of good bacteria
  • Does not affect water chemistry
  • Comes in varying colors and vibrant shades
  • Can be mixed with other marbles
  • Not recommended for bigger aquariums
  • Has the tendency to chip easily
All in all, what makes Marina Decorative Gravel a great option is that it aids in stimulating the growth of good bacteria that eventually help make the entire aquarium a better, healthier and safer environment for your tank occupants.

7. CNZ Aquarium Gravel


Do you find it hard to search for the best aquarium gravel for plants that could add stunning and vibrant color to your aquarium? CNZ Aquarium Gravel can provide a radiant color that will help make your tank look livelier and a very impressive shelter that your tank friends can enjoy.

The gravel is larger than the regular tank gravel, comes with wonderful colors, it does not have any foul odor and is certified premium quality. As compared to other aquarium gravel brands, this product is not difficult to clean.

What makes this gravel quite appealing is its lively neon colors combined with black gravel. Its natural shapes and colors are what make it quite distinctive from the rest. This may also function well with gravel filters underneath.

As you can see, if you are in search of a gravel product that is not exhausting to clean as a substrate that is too small or big, this gravel might be the right option for you to consider. Most of the gravel materials come with a rounded surface; however, there are few that come with sharper edges too, so this is something for you to be cautious about.

Furthermore, the shapes and sizes of the gravel will stimulate appropriate circulation in the bedding and this could aid provide an ideal hub for the beneficial bacteria that you will especially need to keep your tank safe and healthy for your tank occupants.

  • Perfect for creative indoor and outdoor design
  • Superior quality polymer coated gravel
  • An elegant accent to ponds, tanks, terrariums and water gardens
  • Can provide outstanding pops of color
  • Not exhausting to clean up
  • Smells epoxy glue or chlorine if unwashed
  • Only for freshwater tanks
Right to it, this gravel is a certified superior quality polymer coated gravel that is specifically utilized in freshwater tanks. This is perfect for home décor and other design-related purposes. This also comes in multiple uses such as in water features, flower arrangements, exposed aggregate walls or flooring, vase fillers, swimming pool areas, and walkways.

Superb filtration, proper circulation, and bacterial growth are what mainly makes this gravel product stand out among the rest.

8. Carib Sea ACS00832 River Gravel


Carib Sea’s gravel product comes with a color variation that absolutely provides a more natural effect. Apart from this, it is smooth and nice for bottom inhabitants and you won’t have any concerns with the pH level of water.

It is not necessary to rinse it quite well since it is not as muddy as compared to other gravel products. This will definitely fit the bill if you are eyeing for a more natural-ish look for your aquarium. The tiny stones are of assorted colors and look stunning in the tank.

Additionally, since this product does not in any way negatively affect the pH of your tank water, it is suitable for both hard and soft water tanks. This is a superb substrate if you prefer something between sand and gravel.

This gravel product’s size will certainly be loved by the plants that dwell in your tank. This help in developing a valuable root system that could provide excellent anchorage for the plants. Likewise, unconsumed foods aren’t likely to fall into the pockets; hence, this does not foul the water in the aquarium. And, you won’t have issues in siphoning it since it comes in very tiny gravel size.

Please be guided that at the beginning, the water in the tank may appear cloudy, but after some time the tank will eventually look lovelier and you will observe that the tank occupants all seem healthy and fine.

  • Looks natural in the tank
  • Superb substrate for aquariums
  • Perfect if you’re utilizing plants
  • Can create a stunning décor in the tank
  • Helps plants have ample root system to flourish
  • May be slightly small
  • Starts to get suck up if utilizing gravel vacuum for a long time
In a nutshell, if you want to ensure creating an awesome natural habitat for both fish and plants, then this is one of the top-rated gravels for a freshwater aquarium that you could go for! This gravel is quite soothing to gaze at. Therefore, if that is the kind of environment you would prefer to create, then you shouldn’t think twice about getting this gravel product.

Outdated Products

Carib Sea ACS00877 Gemstone Creek Gravel for Aquarium (Outdated)


Are you currently in search of out-of-the-ordinary colored aquarium gravel that could aid in aesthetically embellishing your tank? Then, Carib Sea Gemstone Creek Gravel can be the perfect pick that won’t let you down! If you are going to closely observe the colors and sizes, you will realize that these are highly selected for the purpose of re-establishing a natural habitat for your fish inhabitants.

Over and above, what makes this an even nicer option to consider is that it is risk-free to use for all systems, comes in neutral pH and has bigger granule sizes that are adept at minimizing detritus. The package is big enough and weighs 50 lbs. This is a good catch to consider.

Basically, the color looks quite attractive and natural in the aquarium. As a result, you will have a relaxing experience every time you gaze at your tank. The fish in the aquarium will also love a new environment for them that seem similar to a natural-looking ocean.

The charming combination of earth-tone colors in this gravel is capable of providing a practically relaxing and calming effect. Undeniably, if you wish to give your aquarium an exquisite look that you will love and will also be appreciated by your tank inhabitants, this gravel product can give you all that!

  • Nice color and appropriate pebble size
  • Premium quality aquarium gravel
  • Ideal for 70-gallon fish aquarium
  • Comes at a reasonable price
  • Beautiful earth-stone colors
  • Dusty and can make the water cloudy
  • Comes with some tiny-sized pebbles

Sure enough, this gravel product is a superb option for those who are on a budget. However, you must be prepared to rinse the gravel more thoroughly so as to completely get rid of the sludge prior to adding it to the tank. It is crucial to follow the cleaning instructions accordingly so that you can keep the tank water clean, safe and healthy for your aquarium friends.

If you wish to bring very lovely earth-stone colors to your aquarium, this is the top-quality gravel product choice for you!

Pure Water Pebbles Aquarium Gravel (Outdated)


Are you planning to shop for some tank decor? Then, you have to ensure that you carefully pick the fish tank gravel color that could perfectly complement the other plants and living creatures in your aquarium.

This tank gravel product is not solely lovely to behold but most importantly it is safe for plants and fish that dwell in the tank. It is non-toxic so you can rest assured that it won’t have any unpleasant effect on the chemistry of the water in the aquarium.

This product comes in a number of uses wherein you could safely utilize it for ponds, saltwater tanks, and freshwater aquariums. It is made up of tiny granules that come in varied colors like red, tan, gray, blue and turquoise.

Besides, Pure Water Pebbles Aquarium Gravel comes in diverse shapes and sizes. The tiny sizes of the granules are good at providing a wonderful hub for good bacteria to flourish which could benefit your tank friends in the long run.

More than that, there is no need to feel anxious about the dyes being discharged into the tank water and endangering your tank occupants. Since this gravel product is non-toxic, it won’t cause any harm to your fish’s health and total wellness.

Nevertheless, expect some fragments when rinsing this gravel; some pieces may chip off easily and you may even see some fine dust when cleaning them up. Carefully rinse them so as to ensure that all the fine chalky substances are totally removed.

  • Safe to use and does not alter water chemistry
  • Made of 100% acrylic coating and it’s colorfast
  • Known for being natural decorative gravel
  • Comes in unique sizes, shapes, and colors
  • Help shelter good bacteria
  • Not pre-rinsed
  • Has the tendency to fade in color
Overall, this gravel product is a superb investment for a decent price. It hardly had any dust so cleaning them up can be done in a snap. This is the appropriate option if you are searching for adorable bright colors and larger-sized gravel that seems more first-rate than smaller pebbles. You could purchase more of this without hassle if you need more for your tank.

What To Look For When Buying Aquarium Gravel


Once you finally decide to add some rock or gravel decors to your tank, it is a must to consider some factors when shopping for these products and some reminders consist of the following:

  • When shopping for aquarium gravel, it is critical to think about how deep the tank gravel needs to be. If you plan to buy tank gravel, keep in mind that you have to utilize 1 ½ lb. of gravel for each gallon.

Moreover, note that this shall differ a bit with the shape of your aquarium and the size of the gravel; however, this is the most suitable place to begin. It is suggested to have an insight into the amount you should purchase when shopping.

  • In addition to this, having approximately 2 inches of gravel underneath the aquarium is advisable if you have one that is below 50 gallons.

As you know, this is the ideal height that helps keep the proportion of gravel and water appearing natural and provides your décor a wonderful base to sit on. This is a nice depth for your tank plants to root.

  • On the other hand, if you own a bigger aquarium; for instance, 50 gallons and above, you could go by up to 3 to 4 inches. This shall also aid in keeping the proportion of gravel to water in the aquarium amazingly attractive.

Furthermore, you may prefer bigger plants in a bigger aquarium. Keep in mind that a deeper substrate provides them more room to root in order for them to instantly reach their full potential.

  • If you decide to utilize an under gravel filter, please be advised that 2 inches are generally the minimum amount that you will require; nevertheless, see to it that you review the manual first.

Two inches of gravel is not necessary if you do not have any live plants in the aquarium. A thin layer will do fine if you prefer less gravel. Remember, too thick is not recommended.

Too much gravel will only bring about more dirt or waste as well as too many rooms to hide; if this happens, this will only shake off the balance of the entire aquarium.

Other Important Factors To Consider


Meanwhile, some of the other factors that you need to contemplate on before buying or utilizing tank gravel include the following:

  • Your budget – There are expensive and less expensive brands. There are high-quality and poor-quality ones.

No matter how low your budget is, what matters is you choose a safe and good product that won’t compromise quality and won’t put the life and well-being of your tank occupants unsafe.

  • The size of your tank – Of course, it is sensible to consider how big or small your aquarium is and inspect if the gravel size of your choice will best fit the tank.

Check if the gravel is suited for freshwater or saltwater tanks.

  • Design of the gravel – See if this will top-tier complement the entire tank, other decors and tank inhabitants. Avoid congesting the aquarium and spare some space for your tank fish and plants to enjoy.
  • Examine if the gravel product is non-toxic – Always opt for products that contain natural materials so as not to harm any of your tank dwellers.

Be reminded that you should not only look at how aesthetically beautiful the gravel product is, it must also ensure the safety of your aquarium pets.

What is aquarium gravel?

Aquarium gravel pertains to the material utilized on the bottom section of a tank. This could affect the wellness of the tank occupants, water filtration and chemistry and this could also have a considerable part of the tank’s aesthetic appeal.

How does it work?

Gravel products work top-tier for freshwater tanks. Basically, one of the important things it does is allows water to flow through it so this could aid in warding off the accumulation of bacteria and amoebas in the substrate.

It is noteworthy that if bacteria and amoeba buildup is allowed for a longer period of time, these could endanger the fish and might lead to the buildup of tank mold.

Also, the gravel substrate is bulky enough that it does not pull into the tank filters which it might block them or cause them to function less effectively.

Gravel comes in different colors which simply imply that tank owners can easily customize the aquarium and make it complement their aquarium pets.

What are the different types of aquarium gravel?

  1. Tank Gravel. This serves as a perfect medium for most aquariums. This is readily available in distinct colors and sizes.
  2. Coral Sand. This is usually made of calcium carbonate that gradually fluidifies in water. This procedure works through acid accumulation or decomposing organic matter in the aquarium. This is what makes coral sand recommended for fish that prefer superior pH levels.
  3. Marble Chippings. These are calcium carbonate-based fish aquarium substrates. These are not as porous and are bulkier as compared with coral sand. These are less pricey and come in varied shades.
  4. Aquarium Sand. This is available in different colors that could aid in establishing an aesthetically-pleasing aquarium. This is a perfect medium for fish that prefer to bury or dig themselves. Since this is too small in size, it could cause contamination or damage to the tank filter.
  5. Marbles. These come in different colors, are generally flat and could provide more potentialities in designing the appearance of the tank. But, since the gaps between each marble are very big, this enables big particles of food to be trapped and this may cause building good bacteria tougher.

They are usually utilized in breeding aquariums since the fry or eggs could fall into the gaps and be risk-free from being consumed by other starving fish and their parents.

Why do you need gravel for an aquarium?

Gravel products serve important functions making them quite beneficial. Some of the benefits include:

  • Biological filtration – Gravel helps in providing shelter for good bacteria. The bacterial colonies are essential to get rid of wastes that are produced by leftover food, fish and other plant residues in the tank.

If the bacteria do not have a comfortable gravel bed to dwell in, they will search for other spots; however, they might not thrive in adequate quantities to keep the tank safer for your aquarium inhabitants.

  • Shelter for live plants – Gravel is critical if you have live plants in the aquarium. The appropriate amount of gravel in planted tanks could aid guarantee that your plants will root accordingly, ensure a long and healthier life and have their nutritional requirements properly met.
  • Fish habitat. The right type of gravel could establish a wonderful hub for your fish. Needless to say, the comfier the hub is for the fish, the healthier and less stressed they will be. In reality, stress is the main cause of an impaired immune system for fish as this leaves them more prone to various ailments.
  • A more aesthetically-appealing tank – Gravel can significantly provide a very impressive look for the tank that could catch the attention of those who gaze at your aquarium. This aids in keeping the debris that is produced on a daily basis within the aquarium.

Consider having a bare-bottomed aquarium even just for one day, and you will be stunned at how much waste appears on the bottom section of the tank.

Frequently Asked Questions


When should you not use fish tank gravel?

Fish tank substrate or gravel is only sometimes needed inside your tank. In fact, there are a few situations where it’ll only hamper the living environment. An excellent example would be placing colorful fish tank rocks in an aquarium with an already skittish fish.

In this situation, these colorful rocks will only provide the fish with more stress. It’ll make an already uncomfortable predicament less desirable for them. As a result, it can result in their immune system becoming compromised and causing a whole heap of issues.

People with skittish fish would be much better with a different substrate. For example, some black rocks or pebbles for aquarium tanks would provide a more natural environment for the fish. You should then find them to be more comfortable and exhibit less troubling symptoms.

After this discussion, you may wonder, is colored gravel bad for fish? Well, aside from the previous problem we mentioned, the cheap stone dye can be toxic. So if you want to be extra careful, stick with the basic black and white or even dark brown gravel.

Furthermore, some fish don’t need substrate and can thrive in a bare-bottom tank. Some common examples include betta fish or goldfish. In fact, I prefer using a bare-bottom tank for goldfish as it’s much less of a hassle.

You’ll also find people won’t use a substrate like gravel or aquarium pebbles when raising young fry. After all, these creatures always require a thoroughly clean tank to grow properly. So if you use substrate in a fry tank, you’d need an excellent aquarium gravel cleaner and a careful hand.

Otherwise, you may remove the fry while taking out the substrate. Not even the easiest aquarium gravel to clean would be worth the hassle.

What is the difference between aquarium gravel and substrate?

The difference between aquarium gravel and the substrate isn’t too complicated. The substrate is a term that describes any added bottom layer material to your fish tank. Gravel is a common type of bottom-layer material.

So overall, there isn’t any difference between aquarium gravel and substrate. The former is simply a popular type of substrate used in fish tanks. Other favorite substrate types include sand, soil, or other stones.

Are pebbles or sand better for fish tanks?

Pebbles or fine gravel for aquarium tanks is usually a better option than sand. These small rocks offer a way to achieve the perfect balance we want in a substrate; they don’t produce significant gaps where fish food can get trapped but allow water to flow through them without resistance.

However, picking high-quality aquarium gravel capable of providing these results is vital. An option like GloFish’s Aquarium Gravel would have no issues meeting those particular needs. I’ve only had positive experiences when placing it in my fish tank.

But regardless, all this raving about gravel doesn’t mean sand isn’t a helpful substrate. It can be a practical choice within tanks that house aquatic creatures that like to burrow, such as catfish. In these situations, there isn’t any other substrate to choose than sand.

Can you change gravel with fish in tank?

Changing your tank’s gravel while fish are in it isn’t recommended. Honestly, I wouldn’t change gravel out in this situation at all, as you will need to vacuum the tank and remove plants and decorations in the process. It’s worth noting that cleaning the aquarium is essential to creating a suitable environment.

I’d recommend investing in a high-quality gravel vacuum cleaner like SSRIVER’s Aquarium Gravel Cleaner Fish Tank Kit.

What are the most trusted aquarium gravel brands?

There are numerous aquarium gravel brands available on the market nowadays, but some of the most highly renowned and reputable ones include the following:

  • GloFish Aquarium Gravel
  • ADA Aqua Soil Amazonia LIGHT
  • Marina Decorative Gravel
  • CNZ Aquarium Natural River Gravel
  • Spectrastone Shallow Creek Regular for Freshwater Tanks
  • Govine Polished Gravel Decorative Gravel
  • Carib Sea ACS00832 Peace River Gravel
  • Imagitarium Blue Jean Aquarium Gravel

What is aquarium gravel made of?

Aquarium gravel generally comprised of quartz and other minerals that are lime-free. It is available in many distinct colors and this is naturally dyed or colored to ensure vibrant and radiant appeal. This comes with a polymer seal so it does not have any bad effect on the chemistry of water.

What color gravel is most suitable for a fish tank?

While it is true that color preference is stringently considered a personal one, there are still a few considerations that you may need first to reflect on.

There are plenty of fish that seem to be more colorful with a darker backdrop; hence, if you have boldly marked or flashy types of fish in the tank, you might prefer a dark color as your freshwater tank gravel.

It is essential to understand that fish behavior is usually uninfluenced by the color of their aquarium’s substrate; however, there are a number of fish that behave less fearfully with darker-colored gravels and some fish get frightened more easily with substrates that come in lighter colors.

Is gravel safe for aquarium & fish?

Gravels are safe to use and do not really affect water parameters. Various types of gravel fit small or large tanks; there are those fitted with fish-only tanks and some of them work top-tier as the top layer for planted tanks. They commonly have a non-toxic coating in them in order to ensure that they do not bring about any toxins or harm to tank occupants.

However, it is a must to clean and properly rinse them prior to adding them to the tank. In the same way, regular cleaning of the entire aquarium is also suggested to avoid over-accumulation of bad bacteria, algae, and mold that could be fatal to your tank pets.

Can aquarium plants grow in gravel?

There are particular specifies of aquatic flora that could grow and thrive well in the gravel. Bear in mind that this shall rely on the kind of gravel that you use. Please note that big chunky tank rock gravel is not a highly recommended substrate material option.

How much aquarium gravel do I need?

An ideal place to begin is with 2 inches of gravel as a substrate for any freshwater tank. Two inches is generally regarded as the minimum amount you will need to add to a 55-gallon tank.

It is imperative to utilize the size and dimension of the aquarium in order to figure out the precise amount. For instance, for an aquarium that contains 55 gallons of water and comes with a dimension and size of 49×12â€, you will require approximately 30 lbs. of gravel for an inch bed.

Once you have determined this, you may then multiply the depth in the form of inches by the gravel amount you computed for one inch.

How to plant aquarium plants in gravel?

Live plants especially call for specific nutrients for them to flourish. Indeed, while they will take in some nutrients from the water column, most of their nutrition will be taken in by means of their roots- as you know, this is where your gravel can serve a vital role.

Gravel substrate is the material that will help line the bottom section of your aquarium and it is the spot where you will root your tank plants.

If your aquarium is completely installed, you will need to take your gravel substrate into consideration when selecting the type of live plants that you hope to put in and the number of plants you will add to the tank.

Does gravel glow under black light?

A few rocks and minerals will glow with incredible colors under ultraviolet lights.

How often do you clean aquarium gravel?

For newly setup tanks, less than 3 months is advised for cleaning. For older ones, if the water is turning slightly cloudy, then cleaning is a must.

How to clean?

Cleaning aquarium gravel is commonly done by thoroughly rinsing and wiping traces of molds and debris, vacuuming or swishing them with water. Alternatively, you may refer to the cleaning instructions for the gravel products you purchased. Some of them come with specific cleaning methods.

Various types of tank gravel sometimes require different cleaning methods. Take note that scrubbing or brushing must be done gently.

Where to buy?

You can buy aquarium gravel on Amazon, eBay, Lowes, and other fish stores. Other places where you can find them include department stores with gardening sections and garden-related shopping centers in your area.


When you decide to set up an aquarium either as a plain hobby or something to devote your most precious time and energy with; the types of fish and plants to add to your aquarium are often the first decision for you to come up with.

Indeed, after choosing a suitably-sized tank for the fish and plants that will be thriving in it, the next thing to ponder should be what type of freshwater tank gravel to add to the bottom of the aquarium.

Essentially, the kind of gravel you pick could have a significant impact not merely on the aesthetic appeal of the aquarium but also on the wellness of the fish and live plants that you place in the tank.

Therefore, it is all because of these that going over the best aquarium gravel reviews shared above can be advantageous in assisting you in coming up with a well-informed decision. The right choice could make a huge difference in the end.