Choosing and using aquarium gravel

Setting up and starting a new aquarium is a very exciting thing to do whether you’re a beginner or an advanced hobbyist. There are so many options to choose that can make your aquarium unique and a perfect representation of whatever you have dreamed it to be. It is no surprise that aquarium gravel can form the base of many of the subsequent decisions in your fish tank. Choosing and using the best gravel for your dream tank is an important early step.

Choosing your aquarium gravel
Before you can use any substrate, you must first choose what type you should have. For aquarium gravel, there are several options, and many color choices available. The most obvious choice is basic gravel. This is great for many types of tanks, whether planted with live aquarium plants or plastic/silk ones. Basic gravel comes in a huge variety of colors. You can choose natural colors like black, brown or beige. Maybe you have decided to have a funky aquarium which could have hot pink, blue, neon green gravel, or maybe all three mixed!

A great substitute for aquarium gravel is to use sand as a substrate. Sand has much smaller particle sizes, yet can still successfully hold down plants. The benefit of having sand is that water changes are much quicker. Most of the time, the fish wastes end up staying on top of the sand instead of working down into it (like occurs with gravel). To clean up the fish waste all you have to do is quickly siphon over the surface of the sand. Aquarium sand comes in fewer color options, usually beige, black, or white.

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While sand is a smaller particle size variant of aquarium gravel, there is one choice that has a larger size. Gravel is available in a form that is larger pebbles. These pebbles more closely resemble small stones than your typical gravel. Pebbles look fantastic, especially if you’re aiming for a natural aquascape. Unfortunately, they do not support plants as well as gravel or sand.

Using your aquarium gravel
Using the gravel in your new aquarium is quite easy. Make sure you buy enough to suit your needs. If you are only having fake plants, then a thin layer of 1/2 inch may be enough substrate. If you are planning on having live plants, then 2 inches is a depth to aim for. For my 30 gallon aquarium, this required 2 bags that were 10kg each (of basic black gravel). Carefully lower your bags into the aquarium and then open them from the bottom. As you lift the bag out, the gravel will slowly settle on the bottom glass of your fish tank. That’s it! You’re ready to add water to your fish tank!

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