Last Updated on January 13, 2020 by Anne Thynne
Also known as substrate, aquarium gravel not only improves the visual style of your aquarium, but also helps maintain the well-being of your pet fish. What follows in this article is an overview of the best aquarium gravel options.
When you decide to set up an aquarium, you’ll have to make a couple of important decisions.
One of those decisions is considering the type of aquarium gravel you’ll place in the bottom of your fish tank.
The challenge here is to pick the best gravel for your aquarium and consider a couple of buyers’ guide factors.
We’ll discuss all in this article. Before that, let’s take a quick look at our top 5 picks –
Table of Contents
- Why Do You Need Gravel in Aquarium?
- What to Look for When Purchasing an Aquarium Gravel?
- Best Aquarium Gravel Reviews
- Final Thought
Why Do You Need Gravel in Aquarium?
Plenty of reasons will confirm that you’ll need gravel in your aquarium. The obvious reason is that use of gravel increases aesthetics of your aquarium, meaning the aquarium will look fantastic with gravel.
You may have seen how aquariums in your friends’ home pop with bright colors. If you want to achieve a unique look of your tank, now is the best time to get gravel.
Whether you want to make your tank more natural, or are looking for an authentic look, gravel (substrate) will make things pop. Trust me, your aquarium will look better significantly with gravel in the bottom.
Moreover, gravel is required for performing many functions. You will need to place gravel in your tank because gravel anchors down aquarium plants. Plants will root and thrive when placed in gravel.
Gravel also enables beneficial bacteria colonies to grow. The bacteria keep the environment in your tank healthy by accommodating the nitrogen cycle.
On the other hand, small and compact gravel limits space for detritus to hide. Detritus accumulated will end up polluting the environment. So, it’s a pretty good reason to keep your aquarium clean and achieve balanced water.
What to Look for When Purchasing an Aquarium Gravel?
When looking for the best aquarium gravel, you need to consider many crucial factors. These factors can make or break gravel. So, it’s important that you study these factors. Let’s find out what these factors are.
Smaller gravel or large gravel?
There are pros and cons for each of these gravel sizes. For water flowing downwards, there can be a problem with small gravel.
Small gravel may be an excellent choice in case of snails and ground walkers. Most fish actually favor smaller gravel. Smaller gravel may need less maintenance. However, it’s really difficult to clean tiny gravel.
For free swimming fish, Plecostomus, and shrimp, large gravel will be a better choice. Besides, some fish like to munch on large gravel. There’s an added benefit with fish munching on larger gravel as they are likely to cause algae.
Just choosing a random color won’t cut it if you prioritize aesthetics. Slight miscalculation with color may devalue efforts you invested in the beautification of the gravel.
Green gravel imposes a beautiful, rich background. Choosing black color is a no-no if you have dark fish in your tank. You may select a color that you don’t see every day or mix two colors.
Depth is dependent on the number of live plants and scavengers. If you have a tank full of plants, then a 3-inch deep bed could be the perfect choice. But, if you have a few live plants, then go for an inch depth.
Aquarium gravel is highly unlikely to change the pH level in your aquarium water. However, some gravel comes with clear instruction that may alter the value of PH and lead to water hardness.
Best Aquarium Gravel Reviews
1. GloFish Aquarium Gravel
- Focused on the healthy living of your aquatic pets
- Quality designed and tested for highest performance
- Don't Settle for anything less, use Aquaria Products
As the name suggests, the GloFish Aquarium Gravel is specially designed for GloFish. This one substrate supplies your plants with all nutrients without requiring you to add an extra substrate. Not only is this gravel super beneficial for aquatic plants, this is also nourishing for your GloFish.
- Improved Formula: The substrate introduces a new formula for enhanced GloFish experience. This product helps GloFish maintain its natural glow without affecting their behavior.
- Visually Impressive: What will surprise you the most is the different colored fluorescent pebbles. Yes, this product comes with fluorescent pebbles mixed all over the gravel. Surprise everyone in the room by focusing blue lightning system onto the pebbles. These pebbles will glow under blue. Undoubtedly, an aquarium with this tank will make quite an impression among your guests. When used with other aquarium equipment and décor, this substrate becomes an absolute stunner! This brand features particularly fluorescent parts as well.
- Friendly to Fish and Plants: The GloFish Gravel is coated with any harmful chemicals that could harm your precious fish. Moreover, this substrate maintains the required pH level of your tank without damaging water quality.
- Appearance: The GloFish Aquarium comes in a 5-pound package. And, it’s available in black, so the appearance suits planted aquariums best. However, the gravel is suitable for any other aquarium environments.
- Visually pleasing and impressive
- Emits stunning glow under blue lightning
- Glowing pebbles assorted throughout the gravel
- Comes in black, thus accentuating décor and fish environment
- Requires specific system to work
- Colors fade over time
2. Spectrastone Shallow Creek Regular for Freshwater Aquariums
For freshwater aquariums, I couldn’t recommend a product better than the Spectrastone. They keep the inhabitants and plants in your aquarium in optimum condition without affecting the pH value in the tank. This is a huge plus from other products that contain other stones or rocks and damage the ecosystem in the tank.
- No Harm Done: The Spectrastone is a gravel that comes coated with non-toxic polish. So, you can rest assured that no harm will come to your pet fish or aquatic plants. The damage done to plants and fish by rocks and stones is well documented. If you want to keep a thriving ecosystem in your aquarium, this fantastic gravel comes highly recommended.
- Extensively Useful: The pebbles of this gravel come in a variety of shapes, further emphasizing on aesthetics. The strength of this gravel is significantly improved as the gravel anchors artificial or live plants down successfully.
- Small: What feature is noticeable is the size of the gravel. It’s smaller than the average. You may be wondering how the circulation will be with small size. The Spectrastone offers decent supply of circulation throughout the tank – no worries!
- Natural colors
- Anchors plants down
- Doesn’t affect pH level
- Decent level of circulation
- Pebble sizes are great with tank size
- Coarse texture
- Requires heavy rinsing
3. Marina Decorative Gravel
- Blue colored gravel, great for adding color to your aquarium
- Gravel helps hold plants and ornaments in place
- Epoxy coated; No effect on water chemistry
- Great for adding character and color to your aquarium
- Decorative gravel is great alone or mixed with marbles
The decorative gravel from Marina makes quite an impression among aquarists. If you eventually purchase this, it will be a stunning addition to your aquarium. Available in six sizes, the Marina Decorative Gravel truly stands out among the substrates.
- Colorful: The Marina Decorative Gravel is available in six different colors. Choose your gravel from mysterious black, soothing neon yellow, burgundy, orange, and premium purple. Choose the product that stands out with the type of your aquarium.
- Perfect Addition: In addition to a variety of colors, the Marina Decorative comes with perfect size and shape. You would appreciate how strongly the gravel attaches itself with the roots of the aquarium plants.
- Fish-Friendly: The gravel is coated with epoxy that doesn’t harm inhabitants or plants in your aquarium. With plants and fish living in a healthy ecosystem, you have an aquarium that is not only good to look at, but also an impetus for pursuing your habit. Furthermore, the coating material, epoxy, leads to growth of healthy bacteria. So, all in all, you have a system fully equipped to protect fish and plants.
- Comes in six colors
- Helps grow beneficial bacteria
- Truly stands out in appearance
- Anchors the roots of plants perfectly
- Difficult to clean
4. Carib Sea Peace River Gravel for Aquarium
- re-create natural river eco systems
- ph neutral ; safe for all aquarium systems
- grain size reduces detritus build up
- no paint or dyes used
- made in the USA
Evoking the look and feel of a real river bed, the Carib Sea Peace River has a unique substrate. It’s safe for your aquatic plants and fishes that are sensitive to chemicals. It successfully maintains a neutral pH level. A pH level that is neutral won’t throw chemicals off balance.
- Natural Colored: You wouldn’t feel closer to nature with any other substrate apart from this. If you are looking to create a natural vibe all around your aquarium, then the Carib Sea Peace should be on the top of recommended products. For natural lovers, Carib tweaked all parts for optimum results. There are no dyes paints that would otherwise damage the ecosystem in your aquarium.
- Build: The Carib Sea Peace comes in a small package. If you want to keep bottom-feeders, then this product should be an excellent choice. There are fish that like burrow and explore. The substrate is a better choice for those as it allows fish to go through the substrate. The best thing about this product could be its small size. The small size left pretty little space between the pebbles. Therefore, waste wouldn’t have much space to stay hidden.
- Solid Ground: The Carib Sea Peace River provides strong rooting for plants. When placed in substrate, the plants will root deeply and thrive in proper condition. This also becomes a viable colony for beneficial bacteria to grow.
- pH neutral substrate
- River bed-like substrate
- Facilitates natural ecosystem
- Doesn’t have any artificial chemicals, additives, and dyes
- Fine pebbles make it difficult to vacuum
- Has limitations with an under gravel system
5. Imagitarium Blue Jean Aquarium Gravel
- Blue Jean Aquatic Substrate from Imagitarium
- Helps simulate a positive natural environment
- Promotes the growth of healthy bacteria which breaks down waste
- Reduces the amount of unhealthy debris in the water
Blue Jean Aquarium Gravel from Imagitarium reflects the amazing display with blue color. In addition to inclusion of stunning blue, the Aquarium Gravel maintains a thriving environment for fish and plants to grow.
- Stunningly Blue: Terming the color as blue would be wrong technically. Different shades and tones of blue are combined to display impressive color. The blend of different colors makes the tank look unique and excellent.
- Colony for Healthy Bacteria: Not just does the Imagitarium look good, but it also facilitates the breeding of healthy bacteria. Beneficial bacteria are required to keep the aquatic ecosystem a healthy one.
- Eliminates Waste: The amount of waste left by fish, food debris, and decaying plants could immensely harm the aquatic environment. The Imagitarium Blue Jean Gravel is coated with non-toxic materials, thus keeping waste amount to a minimum.
- Safe for both freshwater and saltwater aquariums
- Impressive blue shades and tones
- Maintains a healthy place for bacteria
- Keeps down the amount of waste
- Releases lots of dust in the beginning
The best aquarium gravel will make your aquarium stand out and meet your needs. It will promote growth of useful bacteria, leading to a healthy ecosystem thereby. Whether you have a saltwater or freshwater aquarium, you need to set up gravel. The recommendations in this article are up to the task. Additionally, I discussed a few buying guide factors. You need to consider shapes, sizes, colors, and fish requirements to eventually choose gravel.
As for my top pick, though I recommend all the units reviewed here, I will pick Carib Sea Peace River Gravel. It impressed me with its build quality, no doubt you will be impressed too. Next, you have a flawlessly built unit that is good for all the inhabitants in the aquarium as well as for plants. Overall, the gravel helps keep a vibrant environment. It sets the mood in your aquarium and is easy to use as well.
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