Fish tank gravel is what most people use to cover the floor of their fish tanks. While gravel is a popular choice, there is also aquarium sand available at pet retailers and online fish supply stores. Aquarium sand can give your aquarium a tropical look, but fish tank gravel is economical and easier to use. The best decision for your tank can only be made after you weigh the pros and cons.
Gravel is the easiest fish tank floor covering to use. It comes in many different colors that you can use to customize the look of your tank. You can have everything from neon green and pink to natural looking grey and brown stones.
Gravel is also easier to clean. You can use a gravel vacuum during the cleanup process to suck up small bits of debris and waste. The vacuum will eliminate the tiny pieces while still leaving the gravel intact on the fish tank floor.
On the other hand, gravel shifts a lot more than sand does. If you plan on using live plants in your aquarium design, you may find that they will become disheveled and uprooted over time. It can also display pockets and needs to be smoothed out from time to time.
Aquarium sand is a bit trickier to use. You must turn off the filter on your tank when you first start to use the sand. It is very cloudy to begin with and you have to give it time to settle. You also may need to get an upgraded filter that won't get stuck on the tiny sand particles. Debris shows up much more clearly with sand than it does with gravel.
On the positive side, live plants root well in the sand surface. Sand gives a much more professional look to your tank. It's also an aesthetically pleasing choice if you have a tank with tropical fish.