It’s difficult not to agree with us when we say that finding aquarium gravel that makes your aquarium work to its fullest potential can be quite difficult.
That’s why we decided to test out every aquarium gravel product we could find in order to judge their strengths and weaknesses.
Today, we’ll discuss how you can effectively choose appropriate aquarium gravel and why an aquarium requires gravel in the first place.
Here are some quick summaries of the products we’ll be looking at in this post:
Now, let’s get into the detailed reviews for the best aquarium gravel.
Best Aquarium Gravel - Top 3 Reviews
1. All-Around Best Aquarium Gravel - GloFish Aquarium Gravel Review
Coming in many different bright colors, Glofish Aquarium Gravel is a product that has made a huge splash in the fishkeeping community. It’s become the gold standard when it comes to providing your aquarium with an aesthetic appeal alongside effective growth of your fish and aquarium plants.
It’s extremely easy to use and you’ll find that the size and shape of the individual pieces of the aquarium gravel make it perfectly suitable for securely placing ornaments, decorations as well as aquarium plants into it.
White and Blue lighting is the most common form of lighting for most aquariums and this gravel looks absolutely incredible under both of these colors.
Features of GloFish Aquarium Gravel – Best Aquarium Gravel
- 5-pound bag
- Comes in a wide variety of colors
- Neutral gravel
- Smoothly polished
- Vibrantly colored
- Polished to be safe for fish
- Does not affect pH
- Does not make aquarium cloudy
- Glows in blue LED lighting
- Small enough to be swallowed by some fish
If you want aquarium gravel that not only looks great but is also very easy to handle, this product is perfect for you. You don’t have to worry about your tank’s pH with this gravel and looks incredible under blue lighting.
2. Best Polished Aquarium Gravel - Exotic Pebbles PMS0510 Polished Gravel Review
This aquarium gravel looks fairly ordinary when you first buy the bag but once you place it inside your aquarium, you’ll be amazed to see how it’s able to transform your fish tank’s entire aesthetic into something unique and fascinating.
It’s able to really enhance the colors of your fish and bring out their details.
Not only that, its polished exterior means you don’t have to worry at all about your bottom-dwellers hurting themselves while they play with the aquarium gravel.
They are also non-reactive and have no effect on the water chemistry of your aquarium in any way.
Features of Exotic Pebbles PMS0510 Polished Gravel
- 5-pound bag
- Color is a mix of black, gray and brown
- Individual size between 7mm to 10mm
- Come covered in wax
- Does not affect water chemistry
- Easy to handle
- Can be used in aquariums as well as ponds
- Safe for use with fish and plants
- Smooth, premium texture
- There’s a chance that some residue may come off when first placed into tank
If you want a shiny, clean aesthetic emanating from your aquarium gravel then this is the product you’re looking for. It has a sheen that stays consistent for a very long period of time.
3. Best Inexpensive Aquarium Gravel - Pure Water Pebbles Aquarium Gravel Review
Starting an aquarium can be a very expensive endeavor so there’s a chance you may have to go with less expensive options when it comes to certain accessories for your fish tank. When it comes to inexpensive aquarium gravel, this product is a great choice.
It’s cheaper than both of the other entries on this list but it does not feel cheap at all. In fact, its polished pieces along with its bright colors give off a very expensive and premium look.
We used this product for months and it did not react with our aquarium water in any way.
Features of Pure Water Pebbles Aquarium Gravel
- 5-pound bag
- Available in different sizes and colors
- 100% acrylic coating
- Dimensions: 12 inches by 8 inches by 1.5 inches
- Helps shelter beneficial bacteria
- Brightly colored
- Does not affect pH
- Can be used in all kinds of aquariums and even ponds
- Color tends to fade over time
If you want to provide your fish and plants with high-quality aquarium gravel but are a little short on cash then this is the product for you. It’s safe for all fish and can be utilized in all sorts of aquariums.
What is aquarium gravel?
Aquarium gravel is the material you usually see at the bottom of fish tanks. It makes up the floor of your aquarium and can be made of many different types of material. Aquarium gravel usually comes in the shape of small rocks but these rocks are purposefully polished and shaped so fish don’t cut themselves when they swim too close to them or try to bury themselves in it.
Does my aquarium really need gravel?
You may think your aquarium does not need gravel but in reality, aquarium gravel does a lot of things for your fish tank which are not very apparent to the human eye.
Firstly, adequately-sized aquarium gravel allows water to follow through it so it’s properly aerated. This helps prevent the buildup of bacteria and amoeba within your aquarium which could cause tank mold. This aeration is also key if you have aquarium plants that have been planted into the aquarium gravel.
Secondly, a lot of popular aquarium fish such as Kuhli Loaches are shy and use aquarium gravel to bury themselves and hide from other fish as well as their owners. So, aquarium gravel can really be a safe space for your fish if you choose to put it in your tank.
Thirdly, aquarium gravel elevates your aquarium’s aesthetic appeal to a whole new level. They come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and colors which gives you the liberty to really mix and match in order to enhance the colors of the aquatic life inside your aquarium.
What should I look for when buying aquarium gravel?
Most novice fishkeepers tend to not do their research and they are completely confused once they go out shopping for aquarium gravel. We strongly advise you to research what type of aquarium you have and subsequently, what type of aquarium gravel you want for it so you have a clear idea in your head of what you want and what you’re looking for once you go out shopping. Some of the things to think about when you’re buying aquarium gravel are:
How Deep Your Gravel Layer Should be
Of course, you have to think about how much aquarium gravel you’ll need and in order to find that out, you have to first know how thick your aquarium gravel layer is going to be.
On average, tanks up to 55 gallons require about 2 inches of aquarium gravel while tanks greater than 55 gallons require 3-4 inches.
This depends a lot on what type of aquarium you’re looking to have in your household. Both larger and smaller gravel sizes have their shortcomings: aquarium gravel that has large individual pieces tends to encourage waste and detritus buildup within the spaces between them whereas smaller aquarium gravel has a tendency to compress and develop areas that lack oxygen.
If you’re running an aquarium that has plants in it, you’re going to want to go for aquarium gravel that is smaller in size so you can securely plant them.
Color and Aesthetic
As mentioned before, aquarium gravel comes in a variety of colors and you should think about how it’s going to look inside your aquarium. You can get a good idea of what type of color would look good in your aquarium by looking at what type of fish you have inside your aquarium. Black or dark-colored aquarium gravel would look lovely if you have fish that are light or brightly-colored whereas white or light-colored gravel could really accentuate the colors of your dark-colored fish.
A lot of fishkeepers also tend to mix and match the color of their gravel with their room’s aesthetic. We’ve seen large aquariums with bright blue-colored gravel in rooms with blue wallpaper and we can tell you, combinations like that do wonders for a room.
Some aquarium gravel can get quite pricey so you need to do your research and ensure you’re not getting aquarium gravel that is costly because of features you’re not going to need. For example, don’t get a nutrient-rich substrate if you don’t have aquarium plants that are going to make use of those nutrients.
While it’s true that you should look at your budget while buying aquarium gravel, we also implore you not to buy subpar aquarium gravel as low-quality gravel can really destroy an aquarium’s ecosystem to the point where it might even be fatal for your fish.
What are the different types of aquarium gravel?
There are many different types of aquarium gravel that serve different purposes. The main types of aquarium gravel are tank gravel, coral sand, marbles, marble chippings and soil-like substrate.
What is aquarium gravel usually made of?
Gravel sold for use in aquariums is usually made from inert chemicals that don’t react with water such as quartz or other lime-free minerals.
Coral sand is a type of substrate that contains calcium carbonate which dissolves into the tank over time. This helps balance out the lowering pH due to decaying materials inside the aquarium.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the most trusted brands when it comes to aquarium gravel?
There are many subpar brands that are trying to capitalize on the increasingly popular trend of fishkeeping so it’s important that when shopping for aquarium gravel, you know which brands are reputable so you can ensure you’re not buying a low-quality product. Some of the most trusted brands currently manufacturing aquarium gravel are:
- Carib Sea
What color of aquarium gravel would be best for my tank?
As we’ve discussed above, there’s no one color of aquarium gravel that would work best for all tanks. It depends highly on where your aquarium is placed and what type of fish you have inside your aquarium. The general rule of thumb is to create a contrast with the colors of the fish you have inside your aquarium and create a match with the colors outside your aquarium. So, if you have dark-colored fish, get light-colored aquarium gravel and if you have light-colored wallpaper in your room, get light-colored aquarium gravel.
Is aquarium gravel safe for fish and aquarium plants?
Yes. Aquarium gravel is specifically made with the fact in mind that it’s going to be in close proximity to fish and plants so manufacturers develop them in a way so that they’re completely non-reactive with aquarium water and entirely non-toxic to fish and plants.
Can aquarium plants grow effectively in gravel?
Yes. Aquarium plants can definitely grow effectively in gravel but you’re going to have to think about what type of gravel you’re going to get for your plants. Generally, large-sized gravel that has lots of spaces in between its individual pieces is not a good option if you have aquarium plants.
How can I judge how much aquarium gravel I will need for my tank?
Your best bet is to use an aquarium gravel calculator which can be easily found online. They take your aquarium’s dimensions and its water capacity as inputs and tell you how much gravel you’ll need.
For example, a 55-gallon tank with dimensions of 49 by 12 inches would require about 30 pounds of aquarium gravel to create a 1-inch layer. As we’ve mentioned above, a 55-gallon tank requires a 2-inch layer so we simply multiply this by 2 and hence, we know that we would need about 60 pounds of aquarium gravel for our 55-gallon tank.
How do I plant aquarium plants in my gravel?
You should start by first adding the aquarium gravel to your fish tank. After that, adding aquarium plant fertilizer and mixing it with your aquarium gravel is also a good idea as it would really speed up the growth of your plants. Next, fill your tank up to about half-way before adding any plants to your aquarium. The roots and bulbs of your aquarium plants should be placed inside the gravel and covered on the sides in order to ensure effective growth.
Does aquarium gravel glow under UV light?
Not all aquarium gravel products glow under UV light but there do exist some such products which do. This is usually a gimmick and adds no functional value to the gravel. However, if you do have a UV light and want the appeal of having glow-in-the-dark aquarium gravel, you can certainly opt for such a product. Just be sure you look at the reviews and do your research to make sure the chemical they use to make it glow in the dark is not harmful in any way to your fish and aquarium plants.
How do I clean aquarium gravel?
The best way to clean aquarium gravel is to invest in a gravel cleaner. These come in different types such as battery-operated gravel cleaners and siphoning gravel cleaners. No matter what type you have, it makes cleaning aquarium gravel a whole lot easier as it allows you to simply suck up and clean out all the waste, leftover food and detritus that become deposited within the crevices and spaces between aquarium gravel.
If you don’t have a gravel cleaner, your best bet is to move the aquarium gravel with your hand during water changes so the waste gets dislodged and is eventually sucked up by your filter.
If you want to do a more thorough cleaning then you’d have to take your fish out, empty your aquarium and rinse your aquarium gravel using dechlorinated water.
What are some places where I can easily buy aquarium gravel?
You can easily find all types of aquarium gravel products both online on websites such as Amazon as well as from your nearest pet stores.
Do bettas like aquarium gravel?
Yes, aquarium gravel gives your aquarium a much more natural feel which makes your Betta feel a lot more at home.
Aquarium gravel can be a tricky product to buy so it’s important you invest your hard-earned money into aquarium gravel that not only makes your aquarium look great but also functions well for your fish and aquarium plants.
After much research and testing, we have chosen the GloFish Aquarium Gravel as the best product out of the three. It’s incredibly well-polished, it looks wonderful and it works very well for a wide variety of aquariums.
With that, we’ve reached the conclusion of our post for the best aquarium gravel.
Let us know in the comments what aquarium gravel you’re using.