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Which fish tank gravel is best? 

If you’re planning on purchasing a new fish tank or aquarium, one thing that you might overlook is which fish tank gravel to buy. No tank is complete without a substrate, and fish tank gravel is a very versatile and aesthetic option when compared to other substrates such as aquarium sand. 

If you decide to go with fish tank gravel for your new aquarium, Seachem Flourite Black Clay Gravel is a great choice for those that plan on having a planted tank. 

What to know before you buy fish tank gravel 

Different types of aquarium substrates 

While most people immediately think of aquarium gravel when picking out a substrate for their aquarium, it isn’t the only option available to you. Another classic choice for aquarists is aquarium sand, as it offers a different aesthetic as well as some additional benefits, especially when used in a saltwater tank. 

However, fish tank gravel is a classic choice for a reason. It’s easy to clean, colorful and inexpensive to buy. Fish tank gravel is hands-down the best choice for novice aquarists and smaller fish tanks. 

Fish tank gravel care 

Fish tank gravel is such a popular substrate due to how easy it is to clean as well as its reusability. You won’t need to do a full cleaning of your substrate very often in order to keep your tank healthy. You can clean gravel with an aquarium vacuum or remove it and rinse it under hot water with a sieve. 

Colors, aesthetics and aquascaping 

One of the best things about fish tank gravel is that you can find gravel that matches the interior décor of your space and that works with the aquascape that you have in mind for your tank. However, the quality of fish tank gravel can vary greatly and is often correlated with the price. Cheaper gravel that is in a fun color may not be of the highest quality or the safest for your fish. 

What to look for in a quality fish tank gravel 

Natural substrate material for plant and fish health 

When comparing fish tank gravel, the most important feature to look out for is actually the most basic. You’ll want to find a natural substrate that will promote plant growth and help to naturally filter the water in order to fight algae and keep your fish healthy. 

Fluval Stratum

Good examples of natural substrates and gravels are Fluval Stratum or Seachem Flourite Black Clay

Minimum dust 

While it’s normal for any new gravel to cause some cloudiness in the water when it’s first introduced to a tank, it’s important that you pick fish tank gravel that doesn’t look dusty in the bag. You will often be able to tell the quality of the gravel before you even open it. If you notice a lot of sand, grit or small pebbles, it’s best to opt for different gravel. 

Added bacteria 

Much in the same way that some fish tank gravels are made from natural materials that promote plant and fish health, certain gravels will contain beneficial bacteria for plants and fish. If you plan on keeping a marine or saltwater tank, you’ll want to pay attention to what types of bacteria the substrate contains. 

How much you can expect to spend on fish tank gravel 

Fish tank gravel can range from $5 to $40 depending on the quality and the brand. 

Fish tank gravel FAQ

How long do I have to wait for cloudiness to subside? 

A. Any cloudiness that occurs when introducing the gravel to your tank should subside within 24 hours. If the cloudiness persists, you may want to consider checking the manufacturer’s instructions or changing the substrate. 

Do I have to wash gravel before introducing it to the tank? 

A. Typically you will need to wash or rinse any substrate before introducing it to the tank, but always check the manufacturer’s instructions before use. 

What are the best fish tank gravels to buy?

Top fish tank gravel 

Seachem Flourite Black Clay Gravel 

Seachem Flourite Black Clay Gravel 

What you need to know: This fish tank gravel is a solid choice for anyone with a freshwater tank. 

What you’ll love: It’s great with live plants and promotes fish health. Since the clay is porous, it helps naturally filter the aquarium water to keep the tank clean. 

What you should consider: Some users have complained that this substrate can produce some clouding when first introduced, but this is natural and will subside with the proper filtration. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon 

Top fish tank gravel for the money

Spectrastone Shallow Creek 

Spectrastone Shallow Creek 

What you need to know: This gravel is great for aquarists on a budget. 

What you’ll love: This no-frills substrate is a good option for beginner fishkeepers due to its simplicity. It doesn’t offer any additional features but looks very aesthetically pleasing in the tank. 

What you should consider: The gravel is on the smaller side which could lead to some problems with the filtration system. It is also quite dusty, so be sure to rinse it thoroughly before putting it in your tank. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon 

Worth checking out

CaribSea Arag-Alive Natural Reef Aquarium Gravel 

CaribSea Arag-Alive Natural Reef Aquarium Gravel 

What you need to know: This is the perfect aquarium gravel for aquarists looking to start a marine tank with their very own coral reef. 

What you’ll love: This fish tank gravel from trusted brand CaribSea contains active marine bacteria to promote coral growth while inhibiting algae growth. 

What you should consider: Expect some clouding when you first introduce this substrate to your tank, but it should subside within about 24 hours. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Addison Hoggard writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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