Substrates for goldfish tanks: Gravel

One of the most commonly used goldfish tank substrates that is eternally popular with fish keepers is, of course, gravel. Special pea gravel or colored, rounded gravel chips for fish tanks are widely available to buy in aquatic retailers, and can really provide an impressive visual impact to your tank.

If you are setting up a goldfish tank or thinking about re-landscaping a tank that you already have, read on to learn all about goldfish tank gravel.

What type of gravel should you use?

Fish tank gravel is distinct from regular gravel in that it is specially designed for use within fish tanks. It is available in a wide variety of sizes from coarse to very small grains, and in a wide variety of colors to suit every taste!

It is different to the type of gravel used in construction as it will not leech toxins or dust into the water, and is smooth-edged to avoid injuring the fish.

How to add gravel to the goldfish tank

Before you go about adding gravel to your goldfish tank, it is important to ensure that the gravel is clean. Rinse it several times in clean, fresh water without adding any chemicals or soaps, and ensure that no dust or debris are still being rinsed off the gravel when you add it to the tank.

Your goldfish tank should already be at least a third full of water before you pour in the gravel, as otherwise, adding gravel to an empty tank and then pouring in water will stir up and disturb your aquascaping!

If you are putting any ornaments or decorations into your tank, place these in the water before you add the gravel, so that they will be given a firm base on the floor of the tank with the gravel surrounding and supporting them.

When you have poured the gravel into the tank, arrange it with your hands so that it is higher at the back of the tank than the front. This will not only add depth and perspective to the appearance of the tank, but will cause any waste and debris to roll towards the front of the tank for easier removal.

Is gravel a good substrate for goldfish?

Gravel is one of the most popular tank substrates used for goldfish, but depending on the size of the gravel particles and the predispositions of your fish, your goldfish may swallow it.

You can avoid this issue by using gravel that is larger than pea size, as your goldfish are highly unlikely to be able to suck them into their mouths. Small particles of gravel are generally not a good pick for the goldfish tank, due to the risk of your goldfish swallowing it or getting it stuck in their throats.

Gravel provides good filtration of the base of the tank, offers a good base for planting aquarium plants, and is visually attractive to the goldfish tank viewer.

How to clean a gravel substrate

When you clean out your goldfish tank, you will need to use a siphon with a filter to agitate the gravel and suck up any waste particles without picking up the gravel as well.

As long as you do this regularly, your gravel should not become discolored or begin to collect algae, but if your gravel does start to become slimy or take on a green tinge, you will need to remove it from the tank in batches and clean it with a scrubbing brush.

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