The most important part of the setup is the substrate setting up an aquarium. Fine sand rocks make a good bed for the fish, but nothing beats gravel. They spruce up the look of the tank and improve the functionalities too. Unlike other jagged substrates, gravel induces fewer injuries, which is beneficial.
Gravel is perfect for aquarium plants to anchor onto as well. However, choosing the right kind of gravel for your fish tank is crucial. You need to be mindful of the quality, shape, and size before unloading them into your aquarium.
This article will explore the best gravel for aquarium plants that you wouldn’t regret buying at all.
Importance of Aquarium Gravel
With so many different substrates available, why should you choose gravel? This is a general question that beginner aquarists have in their minds. Some people enjoy the gravel substrate for its aesthetics, while others enjoy its functionalities.
Why not both?
Gravel elevates the look of your tank and, at the same time, has a lot of benefits to its presence. The most significant importance of aquarium gravel is that it anchors some species of aquatic plants. This ensures that the plant isn’t free-floating in the aquarium, which most beginner aquarists struggle with.
Adding gravel to the fish tank promotes even growth of the aquarium plants. Gravel also provides the aquarium plants with a safe and secure environment to grow without getting eaten by the fish or other inhabitants in the tank.
Although they are just rocks, they provide optimal nutrients to the plants. Another crucial benefit of gravel in the aquarium is that they provide a home for bacterial growth. Essential bacteria keep the biowaste in check and improve the water’s health.
Unlike other substrates, gravel doesn’t mix with the water and makes it cloudy. Instead, it sticks to its position and keeps the water clean for the fish species in the tank.
10 Best Aquarium Gravel (Our Picks)
When choosing the best aquarium gravel, we wanted to keep our list diverse. Not just brands, the list of products includes different combinations of gravels and varying price ranges.
1. GloFish Aquarium Gravel
The first on the list is an Amazon bestseller. The GloFish Aquarium Gravel is available in multiple quantities and color combinations. The gravel creates a beautiful, safe, and colorful base for your aquarium fish and plants.
As said, gravel is available in a combination of colors. You have the staple pink and green. But, if you want a more vibrant color, there’s orange and other fluorescent colors too. All of this comes with a mixture of black and white gravel.
The few fluorescent-accented gravel pieces quickly spruce up the appearance of your tank during nighttime. Simply adding the gravel will change the overall look and feel of the aquarium without any questions asked.
- Available in multiple color options
- Smooth and safe for fish species
- Has fluorescent combinations
- Paint easily chips on while cleaning
2. POPETPOP Aquarium Gravel
When you have fish and aquatic species vulnerable to rough and jagged substrates, the POPETPOP Aquarium Gravel makes a good choice. These are polished gravel, which reduces the risks of injuries to the aquatic life inside the tank.
Each gravel in the mix measures between 3-6 mm and are ideal for freshwater aquariums. Ensure that you clean the gravel a few times gently before putting them inside the tank. None of the gravel in the mixture are chemically coated, making them safe for everyone.
Since they are composed of pure gravel, you won’t have to worry about flakes and dirt free floating in the tank anymore. They serve a decorative and functional presence in the tank and are especially good for plants and the bottom feeders.
- Smooth and polished surface
- It comes with a combination of small and large pieces
- Natural, non-chemical gravel
- It comes in the staple black color only
3. Spectrastone Special Blue Aquarium Gravel
Although a little expensive, the Spectrastone Special Blue Aquarium Gravel is a unique gravel pack for your aquarium. It is ideal for freshwater aquariums and supports the ecosystem of fish and plants.
The aquarium gravel’s dark and bright blue color is a win, especially for looks and aesthetics. The gravel is designed with a non-toxic coating on the exterior, so you won’t have to worry about damaging the fish or the plants.
The surface has a very smooth and polished look, which is a benefit. Adding this gravel to the aquarium won’t alter the pH as well. You can purchase it in small quantities or opt for the larger 25-pounds bag.
- Polished and smooth finish on the body
- Bright color spruces up the look
- Has non-toxic coating on the stones
4. Spectrastone White Aquarium Gravel
Spectrastone is a leading brand for aquarium essentials, so it isn’t a surprise that we had to include it in the list of products. If you are particularly looking for white gravel to add to your aquarium, this is your best bet.
The gravels are mainly picked and assorted for freshwater aquariums and are ideal for both fish and plants in the tank. The gravel isn’t naturally white. However, the exterior is covered in non-toxic paint, so you don’t have to worry about harming the aquarium plants or fish.
Adding this gravel pairs well with bottom-feeding fish tanks. It is also ideal for smaller fish species that are more prone to injuries when swimming. The polished surface offers optimal care to the fish species inside. Also, the gravel doesn’t change the pH levels of the water.
- Non-toxic paint coating
- Smooth and safe surface
- Ideal for freshwater tanks
5. CFKJ Pebbles Aquarium Gravel
If you are looking for larger pebbles and gravels to add over a bed of finer substrate, CFKJ Pebbles Aquarium Gravel is a good pick. They come with an assortment of larger and smaller pebbles and gravel that you can add to your aquarium.
The pebbles are naturally polished and come with no exterior paint, making them safe for fish and aquarium plants. Not just for aquariums, these pebbles also make good additions to home décor.
The good thing about this purchase is that users get an assortment of pebbles and gravel pieces. All of them are natural and perfect for landscaping the bottom of your fish tank. The product comes in 18-pound bags, making them enough for a one-time purchase.
- Naturally occurring pebbles
- Ideal for aquariums and other décor needs
- Comes with an assortment of pebbles
- Doesn’t substitute the substrate in the aquarium
6. Seachem Flourite Black Clay Gravel
Another natural and non-toxic aquarium gravel worth buying is the Seachem Flourite Black Clay Gravel. They are made with structured porous clay gravel that anchors the aquarium plants to the bottom.
The Seachem gravel can work as a standalone gravel choice, ideal for larger aquariums. You won’t have to worry about adding more gravel when you have this. However, if you want to add variety to the aquarium, you can mix it with other gravels.
The compatibility of this gravel mixture is immaculate. It is not only for anchoring plants, but it also works well with the under-gravel filters. Cleaning it is easy and doesn’t require a lot of hard work or polishing.
- Can work as a standout substrate choice
- Non-toxic and natural
- Ideal for every kind of aquarium
7. AquaNatural Diamond Black Gravel
While on the topic of natural gravel composition, we had to include the AquaNatural Diamond Black Gravel. Thanks to its non-toxic composition, high-quality natural finish, and smooth polish on the surface, this one is a cult favorite.
The 100% natural gravel is entirely safe for your aquarium. It doesn’t contain harmful or toxic paint on the surface. The large surface area of the gravel promotes bacterial growth, improving the quality of the water.
The deep dark black color of this premium gravel stands out against the light background of the aquarium tank. If you have light-colored fish species in the tank, they will most likely stand out against the substrate.
- Lightweight and very compatible
- Safe for the aquarium
- Non-toxic and natural
8. Gold Pearl Gravel Substrate
Gold Pearl Gravel Substrate is another popular aquarium gravel for plants. Unlike the larger chunks, these come with smaller and tiny pieces of gravel that lay down as a bed of substrate in the aquarium.
All the gravel in the bags is naturally occurring, which means that you won’t have to worry about toxic paint or chemicals anymore. It is available in an assorted gold color that pairs well with a dark-colored substrate on the bottom of the tank.
The best thing about this gravel is that they come from New Zealand and are triple washed to eliminate any chemicals or germs. They won’t change your aquarium’s pH, a widespread concern with several chemically painted gravels.
- Small and lightweight chunks
- Uniform size and shape
- It doesn’t alter pH and is 100% natural
- It might make the aquarium look dull
9. Pure Water Pebbles Aquarium Gravel
Everyone wants their aquarium to stand out in terms of look and feel. So, if you are looking for colored pebbles and gravel, Pure Water Pebbles Aquarium Gravel is your best bet. They make good additions to the aquarium besides the standard substrate.
Each gravel piece comes with 100% non-toxic acrylic color on them. Also, the actual gravels are naturally occurring and have good texture and size. It makes good hiding spots for small fish species and acts as an anchor for lighter aquatic plants.
Despite being colored, it doesn’t change the water’s chemistry, so you won’t have to worry about the same at all. It also doesn’t alter the pH, which is a relief. The gravel is non-toxic and colorfast.
- Ideal for every aquarium
- Non-toxic and naturally occurring
- It doesn’t change the water’s chemistry
- Color does come off while cleaning
10. Spectrastone Special Green Aquarium Gravel
Last on the list is another Spectrastone pick. Their green aquarium gravel is naturally-occurring and entirely safe for your freshwater aquariums. Also, they come in staple and high-quality 5-pound bags.
The green gravels aren’t naturally occurring, so it is a given that their exterior is painted. However, the brand uses non-toxic paint, which is a bonus. If you are worried about changing the water’s chemistry, you won’t have to worry at all.
The gravel bag comes with an assortment of gravel pieces, big and small. The only downside is that the gravels aren’t smooth and polished. They have jagged and sharp ends and can lead to injuring the fish at the bottom.
- Bright and vibrant color
- Non-toxic color on the exterior
- It doesn’t alter the pH of the water
- It has sharp and jagged edges
How Deep Does an Aquarium Gravel Need to be?
When you are introducing gravel into the aquarium for the first time, the depth of the gravel matters. You can’t throw in a thin layer or an extra-thick layer of gravel on the bottom and call it a day.
The gravel needs to be at least 2 inches deep to anchor down the live or artificial aquarium plants. If the gravel isn’t stable enough on the bottom, it won’t be able to tie down the plant to the base of the aquarium.
You don’t want the gravel bed to be too deep because it eats away at free-floating and swimming space for the fish. Also, the too deep layer will contribute to heightened dirt accumulation in the tank.
Also Read: 12 Best Red Aquarium Plants: Review & Care Tips
How To Clean Aquarium Gravel?
Adding aquarium gravel comes with a lot of obligations. Like the rest of the tank, you need to clean the gravel bed. Not just the old gravel bed; you should clean the new gravel too before adding them to the tank.
Let us clarify each of these cleaning methods for you in detail.
For new Aquarium gravel:
- You will need a large bucket, constant water supply, and a fine sieve.
- Place half of the aquarium gravel in the sieve and add running water through it, shaking the sieve in the meanwhile.
- Continue cleaning the gravel until the water runs clear through the sieve.
- You can then take the clean gravel and add them to your aquarium as you desire.
For old Aquarium gravel:
- You will need a large bucket, sink, or basin. Along with that, you need to make a solution with 90% water and 10% bleach.
- Once done, close your sinkhole and add the dirty, old aquarium gravel into the sink. Cover the gravels with the bleach solution you made.
- You can then clean and gently scrub the dirt, algae, and other debris on the gravel using a brush.
- Once done, take everything out of the sink and drain the excess solution.
- Before adding the gravel back to the aquarium, you must thoroughly wash it under running water multiple times to get rid of remnant bleach on the gravel.
Buying Guide: What to Consider when Choosing Best Aquarium Gravel?
Since there are so many different types and compositions of aquarium gravel in the market, choosing one becomes a hassle. There are several factors that you need to consider.
Following are a few essential factors we thought of highlighting:
Color of the gravel
Naturally-occurring aquarium gravels are typically brown, white, black, or golden in colors. And, then you have colored gravels that are bought to spruce up the aquarium’s look. We’d recommend getting a mixture of both.
Ease of cleaning
You will have to frequently clean your gravel after adding it to the aquarium, not just the first round. So, considering the ease of cleaning is essential when buying aquarium gravel. Larger gravel with a smoother finish is easier to clean than the ragged and sharp-edged ones. You can buy a mixture of both to suffice the aquarium balance.
Also Read: 10 Aquarium Plants That Do Not Require Substrate
Buying aquarium gravel is an experience in itself. You get to explore the different types, colors, and shapes of gravel available in the market. However, the best part of it all is the convenience of use. Aquarium gravel provides a leaning surface for the aquarium plants and a temporary hideout for the fish.
However, their benefits run deeper than that. Adding good-quality and non-toxic gravel to your aquarium will not just brighten and liven the look of your aquarium but keep your fish and plants safe inside.
We hope that this article gives you a look into all the top aquarium gravel for plants. For further queries, leave a comment down below.