The Best Aquarium Gravel (Review) in 2021

Last Updated March 18, 2020

When you look at an aquarium, your eyes are obviously naturally drawn to the fish and other living creatures within. But there is actually a lot of stuff in there that is doing important behind the scenes work in keeping everything alive and well. One such product is the gravel at the bottom of the tank. As well as giving the tank an attractive environment, it can also help to encourage the development of beneficial bacteria, as well as giving an anchor to the plant life within. Plus, it helps to stop dirt and debris from gathering. Here, we have selected the best aquarium gravel to help you to choose the right option for your tank and your fish.

The Best Aquarium Gravel


Designed to stand out under a blue aquarium light, this vibrant fish tank gravel is designed to give your aquarium a totally different look and style. There are different colors available, so you have the option of customizing the environment as you like.

You can either use the gravel as a substrate or accent depending on your preferences. This is a five-pound bag, so you need to do the math accordingly to work out how much you need in your aquarium.

Rinse gravel before use

Gravel stands out under light

Allows for customization of aquarium

Range of color options

  • Brand: GloFish
  • Model: 29086
  • Weight: 5 pounds


Our second choice is this blue colored gravel, which adds a pop of color to your aquarium, while also serving the practical function of holding plants and ornaments firmly in place. Coated in epoxy, it should have no effect on water chemistry.

The other main practical benefit of the aquarium is that it helps with the colonization of ‘good’ bacteria, which also helps to filter the water in a clearer way. The gravel is made to be dust free and is available in different colors.

Epoxy coating makes gravel inert

Provides good surface for good bacteria colonization

Array of colors available

Can be used alone or mixed with marbles

  • Brand: Marina
  • Model: 12382
  • Weight: 1 pounds


Next up on the list, we have this natural decorative gravel, which comes with an entirely acrylic coating. Non-toxic in its design, it will not impact the chemistry of your aquarium water.

This gravel is suitable for all manner of different aquariums including those of a freshwater and saltwater design. The other practical features include providing beneficial microbe living space and the anchoring of plants.

Natural decorative gravel

100% acrylic coating

Non-toxic design

Suitable for a range of different uses

  • Brand: Pure Water Pebbles
  • Model: 029549
  • Weight: 5 pounds


A five-pound bag of premium aquarium gravel that will not affect the pH of the water, it is safe for use in freshwater environments. The coating is non-toxic as you would expect. As with other aquarium gravel, the practical benefits are still there including keeping your plants firmly in place and offering an area for beneficial microbes to survive and thrive.

Does not affect aquarium pH

Suitable for freshwater environments

Non-toxic coating

Standard color scheme

  • Brand: Spectrastone
  • Model: 11509
  • Weight: 5 pounds


Now we have a very highly rated aquarium gravel, which can be used as an integral substance bed on its own, but you also have the option of mixing it with other gravel too. Since it is not chemically coated or treated in any way, you can rest assured that it is not going to affect the pH of the environment in which it is used.

Not chemically coated or treated

Will not affect the pH of the aquarium

Does not need replacing

Can remove initial cloudiness with mechanical filter

  • Brand: Seachem
  • Model: 3725
  • Weight: 15.43 pounds


Designed for freshwater planted aquariums, this substrate product is designed to encourage healthy plant root growth. There are major and minor trace elements that nourish the plants within the aquarium. It helps to establish a natural biological balance which helps with the speed and safety of cycling a new aquarium.

New formula encourages enhanced root development

Mineralogically and biologically complete

No artificial dyes, paints, or chemical coating

Designed to be added to an empty aquarium

  • Brand: Carib Sea
  • Model: 770
  • Weight: 20 pounds


Now, we have the best value pick on the list, which comes in three different bag sizes of 1, 5, and 20 lbs depending on the size of your aquarium. Whatever you pick, it is made to stimulate a positive natural environment, while also promoting healthy bacteria growth that serves to break down waste in the tank effectively. It can also serve to reduce the unhealthy debris that has gathered in the water.

Stimulates a positive aquarium environment

Serves to propagate ‘good’ bacteria

Made of non-toxic fish-safe colors and materials

Suitable for freshwater or marine aquariums

  • Brand: Imagitarium
  • Weight: 5 pounds


This 5-pound bag of polymer-coated gravel is specifically designed for use in freshwater aquariums. They help to add a multicolored environment in your fish tank, as well as serving practical functions regarding the running of your aquarium too.

Suitable for fresh water aquariums

High-quality polymer coated gravel

Usable as an accent

Use 2 lbs per one gallon of water for best results

  • Brand: CNZ
  • Weight: 5.5 pounds


Designed to allow you to recreate a natural river environment, this aquarium gravel is safe for use in all-natural river ecosystems. Thanks to the grain size, it helps to reduce the buildup of detritus in the tank. No paints are dyes have been used and it was made in the USA.

Recreates natural river ecosystems

pH neutral design

Grain-size reduces the buildup of debris

No pain or dyes

  • Brand: Carib Sea
  • Model: 00832
  • Weight: 1 pounds


We now come to the last product on the list, which is made of raw natural stones. The non-toxic formulation ensures that it is not going to affect your aquarium environment in a negative way. You can use it to add vitality to the plants in the water.

Safe and long-lasting product


Color does not fade over time

Perfect for a range of craft products

  • Brand: WAYBER
  • Weight: 14.7 ounces

Best Aquarium Gravel Buying Guide & FAQ

Next, we come onto the buying guide section, which also includes frequently asked questions as well. This aims to cover some of the points that you have not yet thought about in enough detail including the main things to consider, benefits of the product, and the different types of fish gravel.

Aquarium with fishes

Things to Consider When Buying Aquarium Gravel

When you are buying aquarium gravel, you should have a tick list of the main things to consider, so here are a few things to add to that list right here and now.

  • Size of tank and amount of gravel

You need to make sure that you buy a bag of gravel which matches up with your size of aquarium. You don’t want to start pouring it in only to find that you have too little. You should be utilizing around 1 ½ lb of gravel for every gallon of water. However, you need to bear in mind that this figure will alter based on the shape of your fish tank and the size of the gravel. If you plan on growing bigger plants in the aquarium, you should allow for deeper substrate as this will help in the development of their full potential.

  • Gravel size

If you only have a small aquarium, it is not suitable that you fill it up with huge chunks of aquarium gravel. So, you need to make your choice based on practical features such as this one.

  • Color

As well as providing practical benefits, the aquarium gravel is also there to offer visual stimulation, so make sure that you choose gravel that is attractive in your tank environment. You will probably want to make your decision based on what is already living in there, the colors of your fish etc.

  • Freshwater or saltwater

It is highly important that you choose gravel that is appropriate for the specific type of tank that you have. After all, you don’t want to risk the health and wellbeing of the fish and other living things inside.

  • Non-toxic

Following on from the previous point, you need to get some reassurances that what you are buying is non-toxic. While aquarium gravel is a useful feature, you don’t want to risk your fish, so do your research into the different brands and get some professional advice if it is required.

Benefits of Gravel for Aquarium

Now, you may be wondering about some of the specific benefits of aquarium gravel. Well, these are what we are going to cover in the following section to give you some idea of exactly what you can expect to get from a product such as this one.

  • Improved visual affect

A simple reason for why aquarium gravel is so great is the simple improvement to the visual environment of the tank. Whether you choose to simply go for a traditional style or one of the brightly colored gravel options, using it just helps your tank to look great, which is important.

  • Anchor plants in aquarium

This aquarium gravel also serves certain practical benefits as well. The first is that it anchors plants in the tank that would otherwise topple over without it. Given the right conditions, it will help the roots of the tank to thrive, helping your plants to live long and healthy lives.

  • Encourage the formation of beneficial bacteria

Another major practical benefit of the aquarium gravel is that it provides a home for the good bacteria in your tank to survive and thrive, which is beneficial for all life within the environment.

  • Less space for dirt to gather

If the fine aquarium gravel is tightly packed together, this affords less space for detritus to gather together, which serves to keep the tank clean and the water balanced.

Different Types of Fish Tank Gravel

There are a few different types of fish gravel that are worth adding to your consideration list.

  • Tank gravel

First, we have the classic tank gravel, which is available in different colors and sizes and proves to be a great aquarium medium.

  • Coral sand

Made up of calcium carbonate, this helps to fluidify the water through acid accumulation and decomposing organic matter.

  • Marble chippings

These are made of calcium carbonate and are porous and bulky in their appearance. They are available in different shades but tend to be the more expensive option.

  • Aquarium sand

Again, this is available in different colors and is useful for fish who like to dig down deep. However, it is small in size, which could pose problems to the tank filter.

  • Marbles

Available in different colors, these are flat large counters, but they encourage larger gaps between them, which can allow more food particles to develop, making it harder to encourage the formation of good bacteria.

Aquarium fish and gravel

Best Aquarium Gravel FAQ:

Q: What is aquarium gravel?

A: Aquarium gravel is material that lines the bottom of fish tanks. It has a range of practical benefits including anchoring plants, encouraging the formation of beneficial bacteria, and giving less space for dirt and detritus to gather. It also has the effect of visually improving the tank’s look and style.

Q: How does a gravel vacuum work?

A: A gravel vacuum works by churning the gravel around in a moving water column in a way that serves to loosen and carry the trapped debris. The siphon typically powers this device.

Q: What color aquarium gravel is best?

A: The choice of color is a personal one, but you may want to bear in mind the colors of your fish. For example, the brightly colored ones can really pop against a black background, whereas if you have relatively plain fish, colorful gravel may well prove to be the most appealing choice. Find out more about the specific type of fish that you own to see if they have their own preferences regarding colors.

Q: Is gravel safe for aquarium & fish?

A: Aquarium gravel for plants is safe to use inside fish tanks as it is coated in a non-toxic substance which is designed not to upset the marine life within. However, you need to properly clean them before introducing them into the tank. Plus, regular cleaning of the whole tank is important. As you would expect, you should always choose a trusted brand and check their credentials.

Q: How do I clean gravel for aquarium?

A: Cleaning the gravel in the tank environment can end up being a bit of an uphill battle. You should use a combination of tank water and clean water. If you just place gravel that has been cleaned in regular water inside, this can end up upsetting the delicate ecosystem of your tank environment. You will need to remove the fish from the tank first, before unplugging the filter and any electrical equipment. Put aside the dirty gravel that you want to clean. Shake and stir it up in a bucket, avoiding using soap which could end up hurting the tank environment. Clean everything and plug it all back in when you are ready, Make sure that you get the tank back to its normal temperature to not upset the fish.

Q: How often should I clean fish tank gravel?

A: This depends on the size of the tank and your regular cleaning routine, as well as the type of aquarium pebbles. If you use a vacuum, a general guide is once every week or once every couple of weeks.

Aquarium gravel

Our Top Pick

Our number one best choice of aquarium gravel is this one, which is a black gravel that will really make the bright colors of certain fish stand out. You can use the black aquarium gravel as a substrate or an accent, so it also has the practical benefits as well as the aesthetic ones.


  1. How to Clean Your Fish Tank, WebMD
  2. How to Set Up a Fish Tank and Keep It Clean, PetMD
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