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Aquarium Gravel and Substrate

Substrate is a layer which is added to the bottom of an aquarium. The most common form of substrate used is gravel, but there are other types available.

Types of substrate

  • Gravel - popular because it comes in different sizes, shapes and colours so it can create a really effective aquarium. Gravel should always be purchased from the right supplier as not all gravel is suitable for use in an aquarium. Nothing with sharp edges should be added to a tank as it can damage the fish and it's best to buy the gravel from a reputable supplier
  • Sand - also a popular choice. Just like gravel, sand should be purchased from the right supplier. You can't just add normal sand to a tank. Sand can create a sleeker look to the tank and some fish will prefer this over gravel
  • Crushed coral - can be used in certain tanks. Coral shouldn't be used in all tanks as it raises the pH of the water so it is only suitable for certain species of fish

The benefits of using substrate and gravel

  • Can be used for simple decoration in the tank or aquarium 
  • Any plants or decorations can be anchored in the substrate to hold them in place
  • Fish are encouraged to forage for food just as they would in a natural environment
  • Good bacteria, which create a pleasant environment, can be stored in the substrate
  • The right substrate can add minerals and nutrients to the tank

How to care for substrate and gravel

Substrate can be cleaned once per week, but ensure you do not remove it all from the tank. It’s important to remove any waste but the tank will benefit from the presence of good bacteria.

A syphon-powered gravel cleaner can help you to remove the dirty water from within the substrate during a water change.  

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