How Much Gravel Do I Need For My Aquarium? | Aquascape Addiction

How Much Gravel Do I Need For My Aquarium?

If you need to know how much gravel you need to add to your aquarium then this post has the answers, the look at the important factors involved such as fish, plants, decoration and the general rule of thumb when adding gravel.

How Much Gravel Do I Need For My Aquarium?

The substrate in your aquarium is much more important than you might think. The substrate is that layer at the bottom of the tank which can be sand, some kind of aquarium soil, rocks, or usually gravel. Putting together a nice aquarium is not all that difficult, but there are some tricky aspects and points of interest that you need to know about.

One of these conundrums is deciding exactly how much gravel should be in your aquarium. So, how much gravel do I need for my aquarium? First let’s talk about some important factors that you need to think about.

Factors To Think About

When it comes to deciding the type of gravel you need for aquarium, as well as the amount of it, there are a few different things that you should keep in mind. Let’s go over the different factors that will work towards deciding what kind of gravel and how much of it you are going to put in your tank. If you do need some good substrate suggestions then checkout this article.

The Fish

Your fish are going to help you decide what kind of gravel you need and how much of it. Some fish prefer really coarse gravel which they can mess around in and others prefer finer gravel which they can dig around and forage in. To determine the type and amount of gravel you use, you should first figure out what fish are going to be in the aquarium and what their preferences are.

The Plants

Another big determining factor here is what kind of plants you want to have in your aquarium. Plants that do not have any root systems could care less about the amount and type of gravel because they get their nutrients from the water. However, rooted plants are definitely going to care.

Really big rooted plants are going to require finer gravel and they will need a deeper layer of it. This is because large plants will be top heavy and they need a lot of nutrients, which means that they need a fairly thick and compact layer of gravel. Smaller plants with smaller root systems can do with coarser gravel and a shallower layer of it.

Size & Decorations

Of course, the size of your aquarium is going to determine how much gravel you need to have at the bottom of the tank. On a side note, the type of decorations you have present in the tank will also determine how much gravel you need.

From an aesthetic viewpoint, if you have lots of large decorations, more gravel will look better. Also, if you have decorations that need to be anchored down, they will require a fair amount of gravel. (you can also get cool different coloured gravel, we have covered our top 5 here).

So, How Much Gravel Do I Need For My Aquarium?

Once you have taken all of the above considerations into account, calculating how much gravel you will need for your aquarium is pretty straightforward. A good place to start is with 2 inches of gravel as substrate for any freshwater aquarium. 2 inches is what most people would consider to be the minimum.

You need to use the tank’s dimensions and size to determine the exact amount. For example, a tank of 55 gallons that is 49 by 12 inches will need around 30 pounds of gravel for a 1 inch bed. After you have figured this out, you can then multiply the depth in inches by the amount of gravel you calculated for 1 inch.

For example, the above calculation would require 60 pounds of gravel for a 2 inch bed in that same aquarium. Your best bet is to use a gravel calculator online like this one.


The bottom line is that while the gravel may seem like a minute point to keep in mind, it is actually quite important. So, be sure to take all of the factors into account and make the proper calculations before adding the gravel into your tank.