The Best Aquarium Gravel for 2021

Best-Aquarium-GravelChoosing the best aquarium gravel can be a hassle without an idea on how to select it based on several factors. There are many of these products available, so they can overwhelm you without having an idea of what to buy.

Today, you’ll learn why you need gravel in the tank and answers to the most common questions asked about aquarium gravel.  You’ll also gain an idea of the top picks as well as their pros and cons.

So if you’re ready, let us begin and start with the following reviews of the most popular brands and their products.  At the end of this guide, we do hope you can choose the right gravel for your tank.

What is the Best Aquarium Gravel for 2021

See also:

Top 6 Best Aquarium Gravels Reviews

1. SeachemFlourite Black Clay Aquarium Gravel


If you want your fishes to standout, you can use SEACHEM fluorite black for your aquarium as substrate. Since its black, it will surely enhance the color of your fishes and make it standout in the aquarium. The same goes with the landscape.

This product is best suited for natural planted aquarium. It does not require any gravel modifiers for it stands alone as substrate bed for your aquarium. It is most effective in that way and can be mix with other gravel as well.

For the preparation, rinsing it first in the water is most recommended. Then put it in the sun for about 10 to 15 minutes to get best result. This kind of gravel tends to cause tremendous dust, foamy residue, and cloud in the aquarium floor if poured directly in the water.

SEACHEM fluorite black is not chemically coated or treated, therefore it is safe to use.  It does not alter the PH of the water.


  • It is not chemically coated
  • Can stand alone as substrate bed for aquariums
  • Can be mix with other gravel
  • Can be used in any freshwater aquarium
  • Makes you fishes standout in the water


  • There is a tremendous dust after pouring

2. Spectrastone Shallow Creek Regular for Freshwater Aquariums


If you are looking for high quality stones as substrates for your aquarium, be sure to have a look at the SPECTRASTONE shallow creek regular. It consists of small colorful stones with natural looking effect for fresh water tanks.

Unlike other stones and rocks trade in the market, this one is most affordable. The natural beauty of the stones gives your aquarium an added attraction.

This creek stone is safe for fresh water aquariums. It is treated with non-toxic coating, which will not affect nor alter the PH in the water.

However, some plastic pieces are found amongst the stones. With that removed, SPECTRASTONE shallow creek is still highly recommended for you. It is natural looking and does not cause unwanted cloudiness in your tank.


  • Made in high quality
  • Beautiful and attractive
  • Most affordable stone in the market
  • Natural looking
  • No cloudiness in the tank


  • Plastic pieces found in the stones

3. GloFish Aquarium Gravel


Do you want a trip in the wonderland? Make sure not to miss the GLOFISH aquarium gravels that will surely give your tanks wonderful effect.

GLOFISH offers amazingly beautiful gravels in vibrant fluorescent colors such as:

  • Black with fluorescent highlights
  • Black with white fluorescent
  • Green fluorescent
  • Pink fluorescent
  • Solid Black
  • White Frost

This gravel can be used as substrate in aquariums or accent to other gravels. If you want to highlight its appeal, you can match it with LED lights. It will create an astonishing environment and wonderful underwater effects for your fishes.

This product does not require other preparation. Just rinse it in the water and it is ready to be poured in your aquarium.

However, the downside of it is that, black coating surfaces in the water after use. Overall, this product still gives great effect in the environment of the aquarium.


  • Comes with vibrant fluorescent colors
  • Can be used as substrate or accent to other gravel
  • Wonderful effect
  • Easy preparation
  • Pleasing to the eyes


  • Black coating surfaces in the water

4. Carib Sea Peace River Gravel for Aquarium


Are you looking for a sand alternative that will not pass through your filters? CARIB sea peace river gravel is one of the finest substrates for planted aquariums.

This product does not come cheap, but once you have it, you will know it is worth your every penny.

It was not made of any paint or dyes that ensure that your fishes are absolutely safe with it.

Another great thing about this gravel is that, it will give your fishes a pleasant and serene environment. It is made to recreate the natural river ecosystem.

However, when it comes to the preparation, you have to rinse it very carefully. This gravel tends to produce cloudy residues in your tank on the first pouring. However, once it was settled, you would not be disappointed in the effect it will give.


  • This will not pass through your filters
  • No paint or dyes use.
  • Nontoxic and perfectly safe with your fishes
  • Creates serene and pleasant environment
  • No PH issues


  • Produces cloudiness in the first pouring

5. Pure Water Pebbles Aquarium Gravel


If you are looking for a substrate that is cheaper but functional just the same, Pure water pebbles aquarium gravel is the right one for you.

This gravel is the cheapest there is in the market. You do not have to pay more just to create a good environment for your fishes.

Pure water pebbles can also be used as substrates for fresh and saltwater aquariums. Plus, the gravels are coated with 100% acrylic for greater water effect. It creates an ocean blue like color that is definitely pleasing in the eyes.

It is also non-toxic and is made for a safe environment for fishes. It does not alter the water pH, too.

However, the color produces by this gravel does not have a long-lasting effect. Aside from that, this product is still a great choice if you have a limited budget.


  • Affordable
  • Uses acrylic coating for greater water effect
  • Creates an ocean like effect
  • Non- toxic
  • Safe for fishes


  • The color fades

6. Carib Sea Gemstone Creek Gravel for Aquarium


Another top pick in the category is the Caribe Gemstone Creek 50lb pack. It looks beautiful, adding to the great surroundings in your tank. Every pack is with different colors and sizes of stones for a better decoration to your tank.

This gravel pack is also made of gravels that won’t change the composition of water because it is pH neutral.  You can use it for all systems because it is safe.

If you want to create a natural looking environment in your tank, you should definitely take a look at it.  In addition, the gravel is large in grain sizes, allowing for reduced detritus.

The Super Naturals Essentials are already clean and in a lovely packaging. You don’t have to worry about any compromise in quality because it is also by a reputable brand.


  • Safe for all systems
  • Beautiful addition to the tank
  • Looks classy
  • Reduced detritus
  • pH neutral


  • Might appear smaller than expected

Aquarium Gravel Buying Guide

Aquarium-Gravel-Buying-GuideHere are some important factors to serve as your guide in buying aquarium gravel.

The amount of gravel you need

For tanks up to 55 gallons, it is advisable to have an approximately 2-inch layer of gravel underneath. For a bigger aquarium measuring 55 gallons above, the recommended level of gravel is 3 to 4 inches. This level is the ideal height to keep the proportion of gravel to water, giving it a more natural and attractive look.

The recommended levels are also good for live plants to root and grow. Keep in mind that thin layers of gravel can be unattractive and too much would be difficult to clean.

Larger gravel or smaller gravel

The major difference between a larger and smaller gravel is that larger particles create a larger gap between individual particles which allows space for biological waste and waste from leftover food to slip in between and build up, which if not cleaned properly could be potentially harmful to the fish.

Meanwhile, smaller gravel compresses more easily, which could result in the creation of areas in the tank that are lacking in oxygen.

Another important thing to take into account is the live plants you want to put in your aquarium. Smaller gravel is more suitable for live plants than larger ones.


The color of your aquarium gravel is totally up to your personal preference. Generally, it is important to consider the color of the fish you have. Darker variation of gravel is ideal for fish with bold and flashy colors.


There are many choices for aquarium gravel in the market, from the most to less expensive ones. Choose one that is good quality but still fits your budget.

Aquarium gravel is good for aesthetic but in buying one, what are important are the quality of the gravel and the safety of your lovely fish.

What is an Aquarium Gravel?

The underlying layer you see sitting at the bottom of most aquarium setups is called an aquarium substrate, and one of the most common of which is aquarium gravel. Aquarium gravel comes in a variety of colors and sizes, which makes it perfect for customizing and decorating your aquarium. Aside from aesthetics, it could also affect the water filtration and health of the fish.

Types of Aquarium Gravel

Tank gravel

The aquarium gravel is the most popular and most common substrate. It is ideal for freshwater aquaria. Gravel sold specifically for aquariums are chemically inert so it won’t dissolve in water. It should not be sharp and should have smooth edges to prevent damage to fish. It is available in different sizes and colors allowing you to decorate your aquarium.

Coral Sand

Coral sand is commonly described as coral gravel. It is made of calcium carbonate and slowly dissolves in water over time. This process offsets the built-up acid or other decaying matter in the aquarium. The coral gravel increases pH levels that makes it for a fish that prefer higher pH levels.

Marble Chippings

Marble chippings share some similarities with the coral gravel and are also calcium carbonate-based although it is heavier and less porous than the coral sand. It increases water hardness and pH levels.  Generally, marble chippings are less expensive than coral sand.


Another type of substrate is marbles. Rather than having a spherical shape, marbles are normally flat. It is readily available in a variety of colors to complement the fish you have.

However, they are not considered to be the best choice because of the large gaps between marbles where pieces of food can be trapped. The large gap is also not ideal for bacteria colonies to develop.

Marbles are, however, ideal for breeding tanks because the eggs can fall into the gaps concealing it from the other bigger and hungry fish.

Why Do You need Aquarium Gravel?

Having aquarium gravel is necessary and ideal for several important reasons.

Medium for bacterial colonies

One of the vital functions of aquarium gravel is that it serves as a home for bacterial colonies necessary for maintaining a healthier environment. These bacterial colonies help eliminate wastes coming from the fish, leftover food or plant debris that can be harmful to your fish. Also, without aquarium gravel, you have to constantly clean and change the water in the aquarium.

Fish Habitat

Aquarium gravel serves as a habitat for your fish. It is particularly suitable for fish that like to burrow. It is also beneficial for fishes that are bottom-dwellers and enjoys searching for food that fell on the bottom

Aquarium gravel also helps in making the fish feel much safer. It does not reflect the image of other fishes like the glass does which stresses the fish. The fishes can also safely scatter their eggs on the bottom. The aquarium gravel makes the eggs less noticeable from bigger, hungry fish.

Shelter for live plants

Aquarium gravel is an important factor to ensure that your plants can root and grow well to its full potential and that their nutritional requirements are satisfied.


Aquarium gravel comes in various colors and sizes. You can choose one that highlights and complements the color of your fish. Adding aquarium gravel creates a more pleasing aesthetic to your aquarium.

Generally, without aquarium gravel and simply having a bare-bottomed tank, you would be surprised at how much dirt you’ll find on the bottom.

Frequently Asked Questions


How much gravel for aquarium?

Ideally, you will need a pound of gravel per gallon of water, at the very least. Going this route, you will achieve gravel of about two inches or less in the tank.

It’s the usual suggestion to find from many sources that revealed this amount is a nice baseline when it comes to establishing a biological filtration if you’re using an under gravel filter.

Nevertheless, a good amount of gravel will help in setting the nice ambience of the tank.  You can opt for those natural looking or neon gravel. But in general, just an inch of gravel will be enough.

How to clean Aquarium Gravel?

You don’t need to follow complicated steps in cleaning the gravel.   Fill half way of your bucket with the dirty water, and then the other half is clean water. Put the fish in the bucket.

Unplug equipment.

Drain your tank.

Set aside two cups of gravel that will later decolonize the tank because cleaning all gravel will remove waste-eating bacteria.

Put the remaining gravel in two buckets.

Put a garden hose into a bucket and turn the faucet on while stirring and rinsing the gravel until you see the water running clear.

Repeat the process in the next bucket.

Clean your tank with warm water. Never use soap. Start cleaning your equipment.  Wipe their inside with a paper towel.

Put the gravel back into your aquarium, and then mix the clean and dirty gravel. Start refilling your tank with cold water, and then put a de-chlorinating agent.

Plug back in your electrical equipment before returning the fish into your tank.

How to plant aquarium plants in gravel?

You can plant aquarium plants in the gravel. Just make sure that these flora species are able to grow in gravel. However, it depends on the gravel type you have. But then, remember that rock gravel isn’t a good substrate.

Also, you must choose hardy plants, which have flexible root systems.  Make sure that you anchor the plants to prevent them from floating away. Add more fine gravel as substrate under any larger gravel you have.

Where to buy Aquarium Gravel?

You can buy it in fish supplies stores and local pet shops, but you might want to check out online sources like for the best deals and a wide range of choices.


We do hope that you will be able to find the best aquarium gravel using this guide highlighting the top picks in the category along with the things to look for when comparing your options.

Again, think about your budget, size of gravel, color and the amount of gravel you need. These things and more will help you make a better decision and give a more satisfying purchase.

Using the right gravel for your tank, you can provide habitat for helpful organisms and make your tank more beautiful, among other benefits.

So if you want to pick the right aquarium gravel, you can refer to our buying guide and top picks reviews.  Buy your aquarium gravel today!

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