Fishbowl Adviser

How to Clean and Prepare Gravel for a New Aquarium

Properly cleaning and maintaining your aquarium and the gravel in it is a very important part of keeping water quality high. Even though new gravel is promoted as “pre-rinsed” or even “pre-cleaned” by its manufacturers, the gravel bags can often have dust, grit, or debris in them.  Because of that cleaning and preparing gravel for a new aquarium is a must.

Yellow fish and aquarium gravel

How To Properly Clean Your New Aquarium Gravel

Each time you set up a new aquarium, you must clean the gravel you want to place inside it. It’s important to avoid having these particles in an aquatic environment as they can cause your tank to get cloudy and carry a lot of health problems to your fish. To make sure that does not happen to your tank, you can see how to properly clean aquarium gravel both before and after it has been placed in a tank. With the proper equipment – buckets, waterproof gloves, tap water, aquarium strainer, and water de-chlorinator, you will have clean gravel and be able to provide a clean environment to your fish.

Wash the Gravel in a Bucket

After you unpack the gravel, you will need to put the gravel in a bucket and fill the bucket with water until the gravel is covered by an inch. Once the bucket is filled with water, you can swish the gravel and stir the water a bit, and then leave the gravel to soften any particles of debris, dust, or grit that may be laying in the gravel unnoticed.

After a few minutes, check the water and watch for any odd materials that might arise. Lighter materials with a dusty filmy texture will float to the top, while heavier materials with a harder grittier texture will sink to the bottom.

Once the gravel has been soaked, remove the water from the bucket and refill it with another batch of tap water. As the bucket fills up, you can vigorously agitate the water and the gravel, so that you can bring out any remaining particles. And then repeat this process several times until the water is clear and clean, giving you a sign that there is no more debris, dust, or grit in it.

Rinse Gravel Through A Strainer

After you’ve washed the gravel in a bucket, you can go a step further and use an aquarium strainer. You should hold the strainer under a fast-running stream of tap water and rinse the gravel thoroughly using the stream. Then shake the strainer while it’s still under a running stream of water in order to dislodge any heavier materials. Once the gravel is rinsed thoroughly, you will need to put it in a second bucket and repeat the process until the gravel has been completely rinsed and cleaned.

Soak Clean Aquarium Gravel In Dechlorinated Water

Another option to wash your gravel is to soak it in dechlorinated water. Get a bucket and fill it with tap water and then add a dechlorinator by following the instructions that are written on the label. Then take the dechlorinated water and pour it into a bucket with the clean aquarium gravel.

Put enough water to cover the gravel in it by just a couple of inches and swish the gravel through the dechlorinated water. Leave the gravel soak in the dechlorinated water for about 20 minutes. After it has soaked, empty the bucket with the dechlorinated water and you can add your clean aquarium gravel to the tank.

Aquarium gravel and fish

Wash The Gravel During Regular Maintenance

Once their tank is up and running, most hobbyists depend on aquarium filters to remove any small particles of dirt. And sure that’s what filters are made for. However, that’s not the case all the time.

By regularly testing the water with aquarium water test kits you will be able to see if there is any pollution in the water, but there are small particles that rest at the bottom of the aquarium that will get stirred up and cloudy up the tank if the gravel is disturbed. The cloudiness that is caused by lack of cleaning or insufficient amount of cleaning can be difficult to clean once it happens. And it can be harmful to your fish.

Washing the gravel during your regular aquarium maintenance will guarantee you avoid having any harmful substances in the tank. And you will also need to inspect the water regularly in order to avoid having fish food stuck anywhere in the gravel and stop the excess food before it causes some serious problems to your fish.


  1. How to Clean Fish Tank Gravel – HowStuffWorks


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1 Comment
  1. i am happy i read this post

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