Aquarium gravel or decorative gravel is added to aquariums to create contrast, luminosity, beauty and aid plant growth. In some rare cases, they even help in the creation of helpful bacteria. For the most part, aquarium gravels are just colorful stones, but they serve a purpose nonetheless. They form a beautiful base for plant life to thrive, and they even mix well with certain substrates. A responsible aquarium owner understands the need to seek the best product and aquarium features, even if they are simply for aesthetic purposes. In this guide, we review some of the best aquarium gravel money can buy.
Note to You When Selecting Aquarium Gravel
Make Sure It’s Non-toxic
Although most aquarium gravel being mass-produced in recent years have very little calcium, it wouldn’t hurt to be extra sure. When you buy a new gravel bag, make an effort to perform the vinegar test to make sure it’s safe.
Acrylic coloring is typically the kind of coloring you want for your gravel. It will not fade with time, and it will not pollute the aquarium water. It will remain relatively the same until you choose to swap it out for something else.
Sizing separates gravel from pebbles and other larger decorative ornaments found in aquariums. The ideal size of gravel should range from somewhere between 2mm to 5mm. Anything larger or smaller will fall outside what is recognizably normal.
Natural or Synthetic Gravel
There is a world of difference between synthetic and natural gravel, most of which largely deal with longevity and coloring. Both types of gravel offer a similar beautification value. They also offer similar textures, versatility, and durability. The only aspect that natural gravel is superior is color consistency. Natural stones are less likely to lose their color over time.
Saltwater & Freshwater Gravel
While some hobbyists would argue that it’s not appropriate, it is, in fact, possible to use freshwater gravel for your saltwater tank. It is admittedly not the best option, but it is a decision you can make if you want to. Ultimately, the choice of what gravel you choose for your saltwater aquarium should depend entirely on the marine life you have in your aquarium. Each ornament or decorations added to your tank should be based on the need of your fishes.
Top 15 Best Aquarium Gravel in the Market
In this section, we review 15 of the most promising aquarium gravel available on the market. This section features products meant for both fresh and saltwater aquariums and often times larger water bodies.
SeaChem Flourite Black Clay Gravel Stable Porous Natural Planted Aquarium Substrate
The SeaChem Black Clay Gravel is a fracted stable clay-based porous gravel for natural planted aquariums. Popularly used for freshwater tanks, this brand of gravel truly pops when it is coupled with beautiful and lush aquarium plants.
It shines when used without any popular modifiers like laterite, and it is most effective when used in isolation. As users, you can pair this lovely substrate with gravel or any other popular type of substrate. They are compatible with most under gravel filters and will not lose their texture or consistency with time. Since this gravel is untreated and all-natural, you don’t have to worry about pH levels before or after application.
Carib Sea Eco-Complete Planted Black Aquarium Substrate
Contrary to what its name suggests, the Carib is a freshwater planted aquarium substrate. It is a volcanic-based substrate that harnesses over 30 different elements to create the perfect environment for fish and plants to thrive and grow.
The substrate utilizes bi-modal substrate technology, which means the substrate contains two layers. The coarse layer creates an ideal environment for nutrients and oxygen, while the finer layer creates the ideal texture for plant roots. Its volcanic black color creates the perfect contrast that emphasizes the vibrant green of the aquarium plants.
Spectrastone Shallow Creek Regular for Freshwater Aquarium
The Spectrastone shallow creek gravel is an all-natural gravel substrate for freshwater aquariums. Its lovely vibrant color oozes with diversity and adventure. If you are fascinated by that all-natural shallow stream and creek feel, then this substrate is perfect for you.
It has not been treated or chemically altered, so you don’t have to worry about your tank’s pH being affected. It is sourced from actual creeks and is recommended for freshwater aquariums only.
Pure Water Pebbles Nature’s Ocean Aquarium Gravel Blue Lagoon Gravel
The Pure Water gravel perfect for aquarium owners looking to add a little bit of style and color to their bland old aquarium. The aquarium gravel is sourced from 100% natural rocks and gravel. This gravel comes with an interesting acrylic tint that gives it a lot of character and beauty. Since only acrylics are used to color these rocks, they won’t affect the pH of the water inside.
It is also non-toxic and can be used in ponds, gardens, and even architectural surfaces. It is great for freshwater bodies, and it comes in different colors with varying degrees of shininess.
Pisces 11lb Silver Pearl Aquarium Gravel
The Pisces Silver pearl aquarium gravel bags are sourced from New Zealand glacial rivers. They are freshwater gravels, are perfect for aquariums, fountains, and ponds. They have a pearlescent whitish color to them.
The Pisces Silver pearl is rigid, strong, and triple washed to rid them of any bacteria. They have also been hardened with a kiln and come in a uniform size specification. Unlike most artificial gravel, they won’t affect the pH or health of the fish or the plants you decide to grow in your aquarium.
Galashield River Rocks Polished Pebbles Decorative Natural Aquarium Gravel
The Galashield river gravel are natural aquarium gravel sourced from river beds and sreams. They come in differing shades of white, brown, and black. They have sanded down edges and are perfect for gardens, lawns, case fillings, fish tanks, potted plants, lawn décor, and even architectural projects.
In addition to coming with tons of color options, they also come in various sizes. Depending on what size best suits your lawn or aquarium, you will have something to choose from—the size options available range from 0.85 to 5cm.
Pisces Midnight Pearl Aquarium Gravel
The Midnight Pearl gravel is gravel in the Pisces line-up of aquarium decorative gravel. Just like the Silver pearl, this gravel hails from the beautiful glacial rivers of Zealand. This gravel has a distinct and interesting variable color that ranges from chestnut brown to midnight black, hence the name.
Their sizes range from 2-4mm and have been triple washed just like every other gravel in the series. They have not been altered in any way and retain their beautiful natural sheen at all times.
Sprectrastone Special Black Aquarium Gravel for Freshwater
Spectrastone black aquarium gravel paint-coated pebbles come from rivers and large natural sources. Although its paint is not natural, they contain no toxic substances. It’s not harmful to the fish and will not increase or reduce the pH of your tank.
It is meant for freshwater bodies such as aquariums and ponds, and it won’t lose their color or shine. This gravel shines better when paired with a finer substrate that promotes plant growth. It is also great for terrariums and potted plants.
Imagitarium Blue Jean Gravel
The Imaginarium blue jean gravel is multi-colored natural gravel sourced from natural water bodies. Although its paint is not acrylic, it will not affect the pH of the aquarium you choose to use it with. It is also non-toxic to fishes.
The blue jean gravel is a lot more impressive than the average aquarium gravel sold by pet stores. This gravel is capable of reducing the amount of unhealthy debris in the water body, and it also promotes the growth of healthy bacteria. It comes in varying sizes, and you can use it for small and large aquariums.
Pure Water Pebbles Aquarium Gravel
The Pure Water Pebbles Aquarium Gravel is a multipurpose pebble-based gravel made for both salt and freshwater bodies. It is all-natural decorative gravel with warm contrasting colors and fascinating shades.
Pure water pebbles gravel is non-toxic and will not alter the chemical balance of your aquarium when used. It comes with 100% acrylic coating and is great for terrariums, aquariums, ponds, vases, potted plants, etc. It helps with oxygen circulation and promotes the growth of healthy bacteria.
GloFish Accent Gravel for Aquarium
Fish accent gravel are multi-colored decorative gravel for freshwater fish of all sizes. It adds a distinct layer of beauty, texture, and color to your aquarium. Based on popular types of Gems, and minerals, this product offer users five interesting color choices.
It goes well with glowfish plants, another product provided by the glowfish company. The gravel is artificial and toxic-free. It will not alter the pH of the aquarium water. It is safe for all breeds of fish and is great for both fresh and saltwater aquariums. The singular feature that separates the glofish gravel from every other popular product on the market is its compatibility with LED lighting. With the combination of its stunning and vibrant colors and lighting, your aquarium will be transformed into the perfect underwater.
Imagitarium Strawberry Red Aquarium Gravel
The Imagitarium strawberry gravel is a red-tinted high-quality gravel from Imagitarium. It function as a substrate, and pairs with finer substrates to produce and promote plant life.
Although the gravel bag’s features shine best when used in an aquarium, this product is also perfect for terrariums and architectural structures. When used in aquariums, it encourages healthy bacteria growth by aiding the speedy break down of waste. It does not affect the aquarium’s pH, so it’s perfect for all types of freshwater tanks.
Alan Stone Glow in The Dark Home and Garden Fish Tank Aquarium Decorative Sand Gravel rock
Alan Stone Glow in the dark gravel is a luminescent, glowing gravel for home aquariums and small to medium-sized water bodies. It shines for more than two hours after about thirty minutes of charging in the sun. They will charge and discharge continuously and shine as long as you want them to, provided you have an LED installed.
Aside from decorating freshwater aquariums, it is also great for decorating plant pots, beds, ponds, and can function as flooring.
BXI- Decorative Stones Garden Yard Walkway Fish Tank Aquarium
The BXI-decorative stones contain multi-colored non-toxic pebbles for aquariums. It come in different sizes and is perfect for terrariums ponds, salt, and freshwater aquariums.
It is colorfast, non-toxic, and won’t affect the chemical balance of your aquariums. In addition to functioning as great water decorations, it is also great for potted plants, cases, ashtrays, construction projects, etc. They are completely artificial and can foster plant growth when paired with a finer substrate.
Sackorange Aquarium Gravel Agate Stone Tumbled Stones for plants
Sackorange gravel is a long-lasting non-toxic water gravel for freshwater aquariums. The gravel bag comes in three different colors and is great for cultivating plants inside a fish tank and outside one. It is a great decoration pieces for flowerpots and gardens.
Its color remains consistent with age and will cause no pollution with extended use. They are great for fresh and saltwater habitats. It’s perfect for all kinds of events, both aquarium related or not.
Final Thoughts on Great Aquarium Gravel
Aquarium gravels come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and textures. Ordinarily, any aquarium gravel that is appropriately sized and is non-toxic should be fine, but if you want the best gravel on the market, opt for natural products. As mentioned earlier, natural products last longer than their counterpart. All-natural products tend to retain their color and texture for much longer. They are, in most cases, the best aquarium gravel you will find commercially. However, if you are in the market for something more colourful, synthetic products are great too. Also, when choosing gravel, pay attention to the size options. The smaller ones tend to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and parasites.