[2023] Top 10 Best Aquarium Gravel For Healthy Plants With Vibrant Colors

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An aquarium is incomplete without gravel.

Whether you are looking for the best color of aquarium gravel to make your fish stand out or …

Comparison Table

CustomSiteStripe ImageTitleReviewBuy
Top PerformanceSpectrastone Shallow Creek Regular4.6/5.0Check Price
cheapestImagitarium Blue Jean Aquarium Gravel4.6/5.0Check Price

If you want to find something perfect for planting, there is gravel to suit your needs.

Aquarium gravel is available in all shapes, sizes and colors and adapts to the atmosphere of your aquarium. Here’s everything you need to know about aquarium gravel and the best options out there.

When you are ready to prepare your new aquarium, one of the most talked about things is the substrate.

Aquarium gravel is a great way to not only add aesthetics, but it is also a much-needed medium for planted aquariums to thrive, certain fish species to stay healthy, and more.

Setting up an aquarium is attractive and fun. Choosing your fish and aquarium are just two of the decisions you need to make. One of the most important considerations is the substrate used.

Gravel is a popular option that is also very functional. What follows is an overview of aquarium gravel and some popular gravel types so you know what to look for in the best freshwater aquarium gravel.

That’s why finding the best aquarium gravel is vital to the health and appearance of your aquarium.


Why You Should Use Best Gravel in Your Aquarium?

There are many reasons why you should use gravel in an aquarium. The first is that you only look better.

Whether you choose natural stone for an authentic look or a bright color that makes everything pop, your aquarium looks best with gravel on the bottom.

First, it is the perfect way to anchor any aquarium plants you add to your tank. Under the right conditions, your plants will root and thrive when placed in gravel. The gravel also acts as a home for the bacteria colonies your aquarium needs to stay healthy.

Getting gravel that is small and compact enough will leave less room for debris to hide, keeping your tank clean and water balanced.


The Best Aquarium Gravel For Your Plants Growth with Colors


Best Aquarium Gravel Reviews


1. GloFish Accent Gravel for Aquariums

Best Aquarium Gravel

A really great aquarium gravel option comes from GloFish. It is a great home for any aquatic plant and will also add a splash of color to your tank.

You can use this is a GloFish aquarium to get the full blue light and glowing effect, but it will look great in any aquarium. It is available in a range of colors, from simple colors such as solid black and white to bright neon pink, green and blue.

There are also some multi-color options available, but keep in mind that one-color bags contain smaller pebbles and are more uniform in shape and size.

This gravel is made so that it does not change the pH of the water, keeping your fish happy and healthy.

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2. Spectrastone Shallow Creek Regular

Best Aquarium Gravel

If you’re looking for something more natural, check out this pebble gravel from Spectrastone. This gravel is made from natural rocks and is called “pebble gravel†because it’s so small.

The size of the pebbles isn’t uniform, which makes sense since rocks in nature aren’t all the same size. Each pebble in this mix ranges from ¼ to ½ inch in diameter.

It’s great for anchoring plants, holding down decorations, and just making your tank look authentic. The non-toxic coating prevents the pebbles from affecting the chemistry of the water and gives beneficial bacteria a place to colonize.

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3. Imagitarium Blue Jean Aquarium Gravel

Best Aquarium Gravel

Blue is a popular color for aquarium gravel, but Imagitarium takes it to the next level with this Blue Jean Gravel. It’s not just blue. It is a mix of different shades and shades of blue that really give your tank top a unique and fun look.

But more than attractive, it helps preserve the environment in your tank by providing a healthy place for beneficial bacteria to grow.

It also helps reduce the amount of waste in the water. This gravel is completely non-toxic and safe for fresh and salt water tanks.

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4. Carib Sea Eco Complete Planted Black Aquarium Substrate

Best Aquarium Gravel

If you are looking for aquarium gravel that is good for plants, check out this Eco-Complete substrate from the Caribbean Sea. It is formulated with major and minor trace elements to encourage strong root growth and happy plants.

This bag contains 20 pounds of black gravel that would look great in a planted tank. It uses volcanic soil that is naturally rich in nutrients to nourish your plant and its dark color will make your plant, decor and fish stand out.

There are no chemical coatings, paints or stains, so it shouldn’t affect the pH of the water. Live beneficial bacteria colonies live on the porous surface. Not only does this bacteria help eliminate waste quickly, but it also turns it into natural foods that your plants will love.

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5. WAYBER Irregular Decorative Pebbles Crystal Stones Rock Sand

Best Aquarium Gravel

Check out these decorative pebbles from WAYBER to add a pop of color to your tank. They are available in five colors, including clear and multi-colored, and are made from natural crystals that are non-toxic and will not fade.

This one-pound bag can hold about a cup of pebbles, so you may need a few bags to get the right amount of substrate into your tank. They’re great for many other projects too, including flower pots, terrariums, turtle tanks, and even Reiki healing.

That said, its size and color are ideal for aquariums. They are non-toxic and do not affect the pH and chemistry of the water and the irregular shapes are perfect for the growth of colonies of beneficial bacteria.

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6. Carib Sea ACS00877 Gemstone Creek Gravel for Aquarium

Best Aquarium Gravel

A great choice in Carib Sea is this Gemstone Creek gravel. The sizes and colors of the stones have been specifically chosen to look as natural as possible and the size of the larger stone will help prevent sediment and cloudiness.

That said, there are some small rocks and it is recommended that you climb the gravel before adding it to your tank. This gravel is pH safe and will not affect the chemical balance in your tank and a standard mechanical filter should quickly remove any cloudiness.

One of the best things about this product is that it comes in a large 50 pound bag making it an ideal choice for larger tanks. A 5 pound bag can be used in a tank of up to 70 liters.

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7. CNZ Aquarium Natural River Gravel

Best Aquarium Gravel

This CKN gravel is made up of smaller pebbles than some other gravel substrates. Each measures between three and five millimeters. One of the nice things about the size is that it has a lot of tiny cracks and spots for good bacteria to grow.

As this substrate is made from unpolished natural river rock, it is non-toxic and contains no matrices or chemicals. It does not affect the pH balance of the water. You can use it in freshwater or saltwater environments to add depth and natural beauty to your aquarium.

Choose from 5, 10, 30, and 40-pound bags to ensure you get enough for your tank. The manufacturer recommends using two pounds of gravel for every gallon of water. It is a good idea to rinse this gravel well before use to reduce haze.

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Best Aquarium Gravel

CFKJ Large River Rocks are a great addition to any aquarium where you need larger decorative stones. Rocks are usually 1 to 2 inches long.

The stones are natural aquarium gravel river rocks that have been properly polished and sterilized for a smooth, beautiful appearance and a high quality, pH-free substrate for your aquarium.

These beautiful stones come in a variety of light to dark stones that add incredible aesthetics to your freshwater tanks, while providing a top layer of gravel for fish and plants well suited to large stones.

These are especially good for goldfish tanks – they really can’t eat these stones! – and koi ponds.

The stones are all natural, smoothly polished and colorfast at a reasonable price.

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Best Aquarium Gravel

If you’re looking for that level of fine gravel aquarium substrate to keep your planted aquarium thriving, you’ve found it in Seachem’s Flourite Black Clay Gravel.

I have been familiar with this substrate for years and have actually only seen good things in it.

Although designed for planted aquariums, you can use this useful substrate in any freshwater fish tank. Gravel adds a nutrient-rich layer that helps plants root well.

And while this type of substrate is normally used with other gravel, it can only be used if it is in the correct aquarium.

Seachem Flourite is not chemically coated or treated, so it never affects the pH of the water, and as long as you clean it properly, you will never have to replace it.

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10. OUPENG Aquarium Gravel River Rock

Best Aquarium Gravel


If you’re looking for something with a natural look, you can’t go wrong with this river stone gravel from OUPENG. Their irregular size and shape not only look great in your tank, they also make the perfect home for beneficial bacteria that balance the water.

This product is made from natural river rocks, so colors and shapes may vary. Expect to see a mix of brown, white and black, each lightly polished to a smooth shine. There are no sharp edges, so you don’t have to worry about your fish getting hurt.

These stones are available in two and five pound bags, so you can choose the size you need for your tank. The manufacturer recommends washing the stones and allowing them to dry before adding them to your tank.

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What is the Best Gravel for Aquarium Plants?

Spectrastone Shallow Creek Regular is our pick for the best gravel for aquarium plants. It’s made of natural rocks so it just looks great in general, but what really makes the biggest difference is the shape.

These pebbles vary in size, just like in nature, and fit together in such a way that they are the perfect place for plants to take root. In addition, the non-toxic coating prevents them from altering the water chemistry, while giving the good bacteria a place to grow.


What Are The Benefits Of Using Aquarium Gravel?

For you and those who will be viewing your aquarium, one of the obvious benefits is improving the appearance of the aquarium. Gravel can help accent other decorations, hide gear, anchor objects or plants, and display your fish. The gravel also helps hide the dirt that accumulates in your tank every day much better than it would if the bottom were bare.

Aquarium gravel can also help create a more natural environment for your fish. This substrate can be a safe haven for laying eggs that adult fish might otherwise eat.

Foods like infusoria that little fry can eat can use the gravel like at home. Natural looking gravel can also help create a habitat that is more comfortable for your fish, lowering stress levels and improving their health.

Perhaps the greatest benefit is that the aquarium gravel becomes home to good bacteria in your freshwater tank. As bacteria colonize the litter, they break down fish waste as well as food and plant debris.

This can be critical to maintaining a healthy aquarium for your fish. While this bacteria will colonize other decorations and filters as well, the gravel will allow them to exist in large enough quantities to help with the ammonia and nitrate levels.


What Type Of Gravel Should You Use?

When considering this type of substrate, you will want to use a gravel designed specifically for aquarium use. Unlike normal gravel found on the street, aquarium gravel is chemically inert.

This prevents the bedding from changing the water chemistry. This is achieved by using a lime-free material or polymer seal. Another difference is that gravel designed specifically for use in your aquarium has a smoother texture than other gravel.

This soft texture not only simulates the litter you would expect in a body of water, it is also safer for the fish that handle it (e.g. corydoras, which have soft undersides and chins). Some of the gravel is specifically designed for freshwater tanks and has properties designed to provide for certain types of fish or to better simulate the natural habitats in which they occur.


How Much Aquarium Gravel Do You Need?

A general rule of thumb that most aquarium keepers follow is that you want an average depth of two inches of gravel at the bottom of your freshwater tank. Many owners will increase the depth to the back of the tank to four inches or more.

The created slope offers more possibilities in the use of water landscapes and offers even more surface for the use of beneficial bacteria. This calculator can help you determine how much to buy.


How Do You Use Aquarium Gravel?

After you buy your substrate, you will want to rinse it before placing it in your tank. The packaging contains dust, sand and other types of dirt or debris that can be toxic to fish.

Pre-cleaning of the gravel prevents these materials from entering the water column. The process involves the use of a strainer that is placed over a bucket. Place the gravel in the strainer, simply run water over it while shaking the strainer until the water running into the bucket is clear.

You repeat this process until you have removed all of the gravel that will be used for the tank bottom. Don’t flush gravel over your sink as some of the gravel will fall off the strainer or wash away.

General cleaning should be done regularly by vacuuming up the gravel. The process involves the use of a gravel vacuum that removes debris from the substrate by siphoning water through a hose into a bucket. This video shows you very well how to clean aquarium gravel.



There are many reasons why gravel is such an important addition to any aquarium. Not only does it look good, but it also helps keep the tank healthy. By providing plants with a place to root and bacteria a place to colonize, gravel serves an important purpose.

Another big advantage is the variety available. You can find everything from neon gravel that glows under a blacklight to tiny pebbles that come from natural river rock to help you create the perfect home for your fish.

Our top pick for the best aquarium gravel is Spectrastone Shallow Creek Regular Gravel. It is one of the most natural looking gravel we find and will give your aquarium the surface it needs to thrive.

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