As you can see, a beautiful and good aquarium of fish and plant always comes with the gravel that is used on the bottom of the tank. I thought that the aquarium gravel is used to make the tank beautiful only; however, in fact, its benefits and advantages are more than that. I have to say an aquarium won’t complete without the aquarium gravel. Let’s learn about the role of aquarium gravel and the top products you should make the purchase.
Why Gravel Or Substrate Is Necessary For An Aquarium
Aquarium gravel has many benefits and advantages for your tank.
The first one many people know is that it makes an aquarium look beautiful and gorgeous, contributing to its aesthetic appeal.
The second one is its amazing functions for the environment within a tank. Let’s me explain more. The substrate or gravel acts as a medium which supports the growth and colonization of beneficial bacteria that is good for the aquarium’s environment. Furthermore, because of the compact and small features, it has less space for detritus to be in. Therefore, an aquarium with gravel always looks cleaner than the one without gravel.
The gravel or substrate also brings benefits to the plants you add to the tank. For particular, it is also a good medium for live plants to root, draw nutrients and thrive.
Besides the aesthetic appeal, tank’s environment and plant’s growth, buying the gravel or substrate is also important for the well-being of inhabitants living in the aquarium. Some kinds of fish like to burrow therefore, the gravel or substrate is a great thing for fish or some bottom-dwelling species to root in. The gravel or substrate also makes aquarium’s inhabitant feel safer as it doesn’t reflect the images of other aquatic species and helps them hide their eggs to prevent being consumed by adult fish.
To include, there are five reasons why you should buy aquarium gravel for your aquarium.
- Make your aquarium look better
- Support the beneficial bacteria’s growth
- Make the aquarium water cleaner
- Help live plants to root, draw nutrients and thrive
- Make your fish and other aquarium’s species feel safer
Sand Versus Gravel: Which Is Better?
There are different types of aquarium substrate, including aquarium gravel, aquarium sand, coral, sand, marble chippings, and marbles. Picking the good type of substrate for your aquarium isn’t a big deal but it requires your time. Sand and gravel are the common types of substrates and each type has its own cons and pros.
|Substrate type||Pros||Cons||Suit For|
|Aquarium Sand||Able to collect waste on top of the sand|
Easy to remove waste with a gravel vacuum or a filter
Available in a variety of colors
Create a pleasant looking aquarium
|Cause anaerobic dead zones|
Not suitable for big fish
Cause damage to the filter
For the too soft sand types, cleaning might be messy
Some plants can not root in
Not give plants many nutrients to grow and develop
|Fish like to sift or burrow through the substrate|
|Aquarium Gravel||Larger enough to allow water to flow through, preventing harmful bacteria from thriving and producing toxic waste|
Not get sucked into filters
Not get stirred up easily
Come in a variety of colors and sizes
Last for many years
Give plants many nutrients
|Difficult if fish like to sift or burrow through the substrate|
Cause a problem if fish chock or swallow these stones (goldfish, for example)
Food particles get stuck in between stones
Cause bacterial infections and even death in corydoras species that often shift into the bedding
Choosing the best type of substrate or deciding which sand or gravel is better for your aquarium, you have to consider two factors.
Firstly, know its functions and features and which is the best for your fish.
Secondly, which gives your aquarium a nice appearance and blends in well with the decorations and layout of your aquarium.
|chick style Glow Stones||150 × Pebbles||Blue|
|GloFish Aquarium Gravel||5 pound||Black, green, blue, pink, white|
|Supply Guru SG2133 River Rocks||2 pound||Brown, black, white, grey, red|
|Hermit Habitat Terrarium Substrates||5 pound||Blue|
|Marina Decorative Gravel||450g||Black, blue, yellow, red, purple|
|Exotic Pebbles PMS0510 Polished Gravel||5 pound||Mixed|
|Carib Sea ACS00877 Gemstone Creek Gravel||50 pound||Mixed|
|Pure Water Pebbles Aquarium Gravel||5 pound||Turquoise|
|Imagitarium Blue Jean Aquarium Gravel||5 pound||Blue|
|Spectrastone Permaglo Rainbow Aquarium Gravel||5 pound||Mixed colorful colors|
Here is the list of the best aquarium gravel models that will make you and your fish fall in love
1. chick style Glow Stones
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These are awesome glowing stones that not only work for my garden decoration but also can be used as the perfect aquarium gravel for my fish aquarium. They will glow for at least two hours in the dark after absorbing the light, I guess so and I love how bright it is at night. Furthermore, it interests my children’s view and they love playing with the fish in the tank with these glowing pebbles.
I hope that they will last longer. The manufacturer claimed that these amazing pebbles can last up to 15 years. So it will be a wonderful choice for you if you want something to look beautiful in the tank and save money in the long run.
I guarantee that there is no need to worry about its safety as each glow pebble is made from eco-friendly material Polystyrene which is totally tasteless, non-toxic and non-radioactive. The only drawback is that it comes in large size (0.8″-1.2″); therefore, the harmful bacteria can easily thrive in between the gaps if you don’t clean the gravel frequently. However, considering its beauty, if you can handle the frequent cleaning, nothing to feel hesitate to buy this bulk aquarium gravel.
2. GloFish Aquarium Gravel
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Compared with other aquarium gravel types, the GloFish Aquarium Gravel has a huge selection of colors, including black, white, pink and green. But what made me choose this gravel type is that it was perfectly made to complete my GloFish aquarium as its size and colors complement my GloFish very nicely.
Furthermore, there is one more purpose of this grave: it can work as a wonderful and inexpensive dressing for your planters with the cost of about less than $10.
You don’t need to have GloFish for using this gravel type as many other fish species can feel safe with this gravel. Its size is not too big to let harmful bacteria thrive but not too small to get stuck in the filter or cause harm when your fish swallow it. However, the GloFish Aquarium Gravel package may contain some too small pieces and over time, some particles can break into pieces; therefore, it is important for you to check carefully before putting these stones into your tank.
I prefer the black aquarium gravel of this brand and these are perfect for my tank. But if you want a brighter color, you can choose green or pink.
3. Supply Guru SG2133 River Rocks
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For my first impression, these river rocks look natural with a variety of colors: white, brown, black, grey, and red. The size is smaller than I expected but it is not a big deal as my fish is still able to swallow or chock on these rocks.
What I like about this natural aquarium gravel is its smooth and polished effect without sharp edge; therefore, you can feel secure about the safety even if you fish likes to burrow through these stones.
Besides aquarium gravel, I also found more purposes of these natural river rocks as they can be used for my walkways, swimming pools and even for my home décor.
However, with this natural aquarium gravel, difficulty in the cleaning process is my challenging task as the brushing and rinsing are required to remove some sediment sticking to the rock surface.
4. ZUINIUBI Pebble
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In spite of the limited color choice (besides white color), ZUINIUBI white aquarium gravel is also my favorite brand not only because of its natural aesthetic effects but also the non-toxic features. These white pebbles look so pretty under the water and complement my Betta fish very well. It attracts the viewer’s eyes even though I don’t have a glowing tank.
Furthermore, its white color is natural, so it won’t fade away over time, compared with other gravel types. And what makes the ZUINIUBI Pebble stand out is that it is easy to clean. I just need to put the dirty pebbles in a bucket filled with water and then rinse it 3 or 4 times. Don’t brush it violently to prevent any scratches.
The price seems affordable (about 9$ for one package); however, it comes in a small amount, just like the ¼ cup of rocks, in my opinion. Of course, you can buy it for a small tank but it will be not enough for a larger tank. I have to buy two or three bags.
5. Hermit Habitat Terrarium Substrates
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This substrate is coated with 100% acrylic with a bright blue color, creating a unique and colorful beauty for your pet’s habitat. It is a reason why many people choose this blue aquarium gravel. I am in the same shoes.
Furthermore, this coating is nontoxic; therefore, it doesn’t harm the ecosystem of my aquarium or turns my fish into the blue. The color itself looks like the color of the ocean, so my fish can adapt easily when I introduce this fine aquarium gravel into their environment.
However, the problem is that Hermit Habitat gravel comes with many small pieces, which is dangerous if you have the fish or aquatic species that tend to swallow the substrates.
6. Marina Decorative Gravel
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Very pretty and I love the burgundy neon yellow color. Its color comes from the epoxy coating that is non-toxic and has no effect on water chemistry.
Comparing with some of my previous gravel types, I am really happy with the purchase because the one doesn’t have tons of too small pieces that can be eaten by my fish. Furthermore, it has a great weight, so it isn’t easy to get stirred up in the aquarium.
The package comes with small amounts; therefore, the cost might be more expensive than other gravel brands, but you pay this yellow aquarium gravel for the quality. Of course, you can find the cheaper gravel with much larger sized bags but it won’t certainly have that quality. Moreover, for the main purpose, this yellow aquarium gravel does the best job in weighing down the decorations and housing beneficial bacterial, so you don’t need too much gravel to do that. In my opinion, ½ pound of gravel is enough for an aquarium with 1 gallon.
You can use this aquarium gravel but if you want more substrates on the bottom of the tank, you can mix it with marbles.
7. Exotic Pebbles PMS0510 Polished Gravel
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I bought 3 bags of the Exotic Pebbles PMS0510 Polished Gravel for my 10-gallon fish aquarium and was satisfied with the purchase. To give a quick review on this aquarium gravel, I have to say that this quality really meets my expectation for the top reliable brand Exotic Pebbles: they are smooth and nice without too many broken pieces. A package comes with mixed colors available, which is also a good point of this gravel in the term of aquarium decoration.
Besides, it works for the plants in my tank as it keeps moisture and let air circular. After only one week of using, I have noticed that the plants thrived and grew in very well.
Some consumers may say that these rocks are unsafe and covered with a lot of residues. After a long period of using, I want to make some comment. My best guess is that they might not rinse these pebbles well before introducing them to the aquarium ecosystem. Anything you put in your fish aquarium needs washing carefully by using hot water. It takes time for flakes to rinse off the surface. That may be the only drawback of this gravel but it is not a big deal if you think of its quality.
Bottom line, it has been two weeks after I first used this gravel in my tank. My fish are still healthy and my aquarium looks good. Therefore, I totally recommend you should buy them.
8. Carib Sea ACS00877 Gemstone Creek Gravel
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The USA-made Carib Sea is a gorgeous reliable brand in the market for aquarium products: therefore, before buying the Carib Sea ACS00877 Gemstone Creek Grave, I expected so much about its quality. The result is that the Carib Sea maker proved their product is the best aquarium gravel for both freshwater and saltwater aquarium.
The 50-pound gravel comes with natural mixed colors to completely add more life and colors to the fish’s original habitat. Its color is light; therefore, I can easily see the dirt to clean it.
The special thing that makes this one stand out among other items in the market is its ability to neutralize the pH level of the aquarium water.
Furthermore, its size isn’t too large to make the harmful bacteria or waste stuck between the rocks. But I don’t worry about the safety even if my fish, unfortunately, swallows the small particles because this gravel doesn’t contain any additives and paints. The maker claimed that it is totally safe for ingestion.
The 50-pound bag may cost you about $30 – $40; however, it comes with the large amounts, so this price is not too expensive.
9. Pure Water Pebbles Aquarium Gravel
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I really prefer small faux turquoise fish aquarium gravel, however, it was difficult for me to find anything affordable in this size until I bought the Pure Water Pebbles Aquarium Gravel. And to my surprise, this gravel has a fairly bright impressive blue color and its cost is only about 4$ for a 5-pound bag.
Interestingly, despite the cost that may make many aquarium hobbyists feel skeptical, this super cheap aquarium gravel, in fact, exceeds my expectation. The color comes from the 100% acrylic coating that is colorfast and nontoxic. Furthermore, there is no need to worry about its effects on water chemistry as the maker claimed that this one doesn’t affect the aquarium ecosystem.
This gravel not only contributes to visual interest but also is good for the ecosystem of your aquarium as it helps beneficial bacteria to grow.
Because of its beautiful color, I also used this gravel for my gardens and potted plants. For all these reasons and benefits, I really think the Pure Water Pebbles Aquarium Gravel is a perfect must-try item for your investment. Just make sure that your fish doesn’t tend to swallow the substrates as it may cause some harms.
10. Imagitarium Blue Jean Aquarium Gravel
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My fish and other aquatic pets in my aquarium love eye-catchy beautiful surroundings, so the Imagitarium aquarium gravel with the gorgeous bright blue won my heart when I saw it.
The Imagitarium blue aquarium gravel absolutely creates a unique but pleasant environment for my fish as its blue color imitates the ocean aura. My saltwater fish can adapt to this new positive natural environment easily. Furthermore, its color also brightens up my aquarium very nicely, bringing the anesthetic effect to the viewers. It complements my betta fish and they seem happy.
Moreover, another benefit of this blue aquarium gravel is that it can house beneficial bacteria that is good for the ecosystem of the aquarium. But its size isn’t too large to collect unhealthy debris, which is a great bonus.
11. Spectrastone Permaglo Rainbow Aquarium Gravel
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Among aquarium gravel brands I gave reviews above, this one is quite more expensive with the cost of $12; however, because Spectrastone is known as one of the top reliable brands for aquarium gravel, I would like to give it a try.
For my first impression, the rainbow mixed colors of aquarium gravel have a great eye-catchy effect. They are vibrant and really look good under the black light. But if not, they are still beautiful and bright. I like them and so does my children who easily feel interested in the colorful things.
This colorful coating is non-toxic; therefore, I don’t need to worry about safety or how it alters my pH water.
I would like to recommend this rainbow aquarium gravel for the freshwater aquarium. Some buyers complain that the color can fade off when they rinse them. However, if you remember to wash them too gently, this issue won’t happen.
How To Choose Aquarium Gravel
Now you have known my favorite aquarium gravel products in the market. They are also the best gravel models in 2019 a lot of consumers feel satisfied and happy with the purchase. Of course, the requirements, needs, and preference differ from person to person and knowing how to choose the right aquarium gravel still needs your time for survey and research.
So, what is the first you think of when you choose an aquarium gravel model? For me, here are the must-consider factors:
1. The Size Of Gravel
Choosing the correct size is really necessary if you want to make your fish happy and prevent any injury.
In my opinion, the best aquarium gravel that is suitable for all types of tanks is the one with a small size and no shape edges. There are two reasons for that.
Firstly, gravel is chosen because of its large size than the sand; however, if the size is so larger that food particles and waste can be stuck in between stones, it will become a big problem. For example, it will lead to toxic buildup and to prevent that, more frequent cleanings are required.
Secondly, if you choose the gravel with fine particles or sharp edges, it can lead to harm, irritation, injuries and possible death especially when your fish like to burry through the aquarium substrate.
2. The Gravel Color
One of the pros of the aquarium gravel is that it comes with a wide variety of colors; therefore, we have so many choices. Choosing the gravel color is not as important as choosing the right gravel size. And no matter which colors the gravel has, your fish still survive and behave exactly the same.
The colors of gravel are used to make your aquarium and your fish look more beautiful, bringing the better aesthetic benefits to the viewers.
The following are my suggestions:
- Darker colors (grey, black, etc) can amplify the colors of flashy and bright fish.
- Green gravel is not suitable for a tank with a lot of plants.
- White and yellow gravel can compliment the black and red fish nicely.
- A neon-mixed color of gravel adds flair and life to any tank and keeps the attention of children.
So what the best color of your aquarium gravel will be largely based on your personal preference. For me, I often mix different colors or change them when I like.
3. Top Reliable Aquarium Gravel Brands
When I look for the best aquarium gravel, I only believe in the top reliable brands. There are a lot of brands in the market but you lack the time to make the survey or the exaggerated advertisements make you confused.
After carefully spending time on the aquarium gravel market, I have done the legwork for you. These above aquarium gravel models here all come from the top reliable aquarium gravel brands. I suggest a few names of them: Spectrastone Permaglo, Carib Sea, Pure Water Pebbles, Exotic Pebbles,…
How To Clean Fish Tank Gravel
The cleaning process is required when you introduce the gravel to your tank in order to remove all sorts of harmful chemicals and debris adhering to the stones, maintain the proper water balance and protect the fish health.
The process consists of cleaning the gravel during the setup and cleaning them during the using period.
When you bring the dirty aquarium gravel to home, here are the first things you need to do for the cleaning:
- Fill the hot water into a bucket
- Put the gravel inside this bucket
- Leave it for a while until the water cools down
- Shake and stir the gravel a few times to break up the loose particles of the gravel
- Drain the water
Now, you can introduce the aquarium gravel to the ecosystem of your tank.
During the using period, you should do these things to ensure the gravel is always clean:
- Take the fish out of the tank and put them inside a bucket with tank water
- Unplug the light, filters and other electrical equipment
- Clean the tank and put aside the dirty gravel
- Do the same steps I instructed above when you clean the dirty gravel in a bucket with water
- Clean the filters and the sides of your tanks too
- Fill the tap water into the tank
- Put some dechlorinating drops
- Turn the lights, filter, gravel, etc back on
- As the temperature of the water is right, put your fish in
Some aquarium hobbyists may ask whether we can leave aquarium gravel without cleaning through we change the water weekly?
The answer is NO. Cleaning aquarium gravel is an important task even though you change the water weekly. This is because the harmful bacteria can grow somewhere on the dirty gravel and expand quickly in the tank. As a result, you will end up losing everything you put so hard in your tank unless you clean the gravel on a regular basis.
As you can see, there are a lot of reasons for you to buy aquarium gravel for your tank. The great thing is that the aquarium gravel has a huge selection of models, sizes, and colors available but it may make you confused when you have to choose the best aquarium gravel. Don’t worry. The aquarium gravel models mentioned above are the must-try products and I guarantee that they won’t make you disappointed.