Best Substrate For Goldfish – Top Picks For Sand and Gravel

We all love goldfish for their beautiful colors and patterns. They are a popular choice for aquariums and make great pets. But what is the best substrate for goldfish? How do you choose the right kind for them? And what are the benefits of using a substrate vs. not using one at all?

In this article, we’ll discuss the different types of substrates available for goldfish tanks and the pros and cons. We’ll also provide our top picks for the best substrates for goldfish. While every goldfish keeper’s needs are different, we hope this article will help you decide what substrate is best for your goldfish tank!

Comparison Table of The 5 Best Substrate For Goldfish

IMAGE

BRAND

GloFish Aquarium Gravel, Fish Tank Gravel with Fluorescent Accents

DETAILS

  • Product Dimensions: 4 x 5 x 9 inches; 5 Pounds
  • Country of Origin: China
  • Manufacturer: GloFish
WAYBER 1 Lb 460g Natural Purple Amethyst Quartz Crystal Stones

BRAND

WAYBER 1 Lb/460g Natural Purple Amethyst Quartz Crystal Stones

DETAILS

  • Specific Uses for Product: Aquarium
  • Color: Purple
  • Material: Stone
  • Brand: WAYBER
Pure Water Pebbles Aquarium Gravel, 5-Pound, Blackberry Glo

BRAND

Pure Water Pebbles Aquarium Gravel, 5-Pound, Blackberry Glo

DETAILS

  • Product Dimensions: ‎ 12 x 8 x 1.5 inches
  • Product Weight: 5 Pounds
  • Manufacturer: ‎ WORLD WIDE IMPORTS ENT., INC.
LANDEN Aquarium Sand, Super Natural for Aquarium Landscaping

BRAND

LANDEN Aquarium Sand, Super Natural for Aquarium Landscaping

DETAILS

  • Plant or Animal Product Type: Aquarium Plants
  • Specific Uses for Product: Aquarium
  • Color: Wheat
  • Item Dimensions LxWxH: 16 x 12 x 2 inches
  • Package Information: Plastic bag
SunGrow Tourmaline Stones for Goldfish

BRAND

SunGrow Tourmaline Stones for Goldfish

DETAILS

  • Brand: SunGrow
  • Liquid Volume: 2.5 Gallons
  • Target Species: Fish

Do Goldfish Need A Substrate?

The short answer is no, goldfish do not need a substrate in their tank. In fact, many goldfish keepers choose to go without a substrate altogether. However, there are a few benefits to using a substrate in a goldfish tank:

Improves Filtration

care for a filter for an aquarium

A substrate can help improve filtration in a goldfish tank by providing surface area for beneficial bacteria to grow. These nitrifying bacteria help to break down ammonia and nitrites, two toxic compounds that can build up in a goldfish tank. Considering the fact that goldfish produce a lot of fish waste, having more surface area for these bacteria to grow can be a big help in maintaining a clean tank.

Beyond the biological filtration benefits, a substrate can also help physically remove debris and uneaten food from the goldfish tank. Think of it in terms of enhanced mechanical filtration – the more surface area the substrate has, the more particulates it can trap. These trapped particulates are still in your tank, but they’re not floating around where your goldfish can ingest them. Plus, you can remove them with a gravel vacuum whenever you’re ready.

Enhanced Aesthetics

A substrate can also help to enhance the aesthetics of a goldfish tank. A bare bottom tank can look a bit sterile, but adding a layer of sand or gravel can give the tank a more natural look. Even if you opt for a synthetic substrate, the added color and texture can help to make a goldfish tank more visually appealing. It’s a great way to set your tank apart from the rest.

Beyond the aesthetic appeal of the substrate itself, its also worth it because substrates make it possible for aquatic plants to grow in a goldfish tank. Without an anchor point, live plants will simply float to the surface. So, if you’re hoping to add some live plants to your goldfish tank, using a substrate is a must.

Safe Habitat For Goldfish

goldfish with bulging eye

A substrate can also provide a safe habitat for goldfish. A substrate can create a healthy environment that reduces stress in goldfish by creating hiding spots and refuge areas. This, in turn, can lead to improved health and overall better behavior. Goldfish are known to be shy creatures, so providing them with plenty of places to hide can be a big help.

If you intend to breed goldfish, a substrate can also provide a safe place for fish to lay their eggs. Creating a spawning mop or using live plants can give fry plenty of places to hide from parental goldfish. This can help increase the fry’s survival rate and give them a better chance at reaching maturity.

What Substrate Is Best For Goldfish?

Now that we’ve covered the benefits of using a substrate in a goldfish tank, it’s time to take a closer look at the available substrates. When it comes to choosing a substrate for goldfish, you have a few different options:

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Sand

Coarse Sand

One popular option for goldfish tanks is sand. Sand is a natural substrate that can provide all of the benefits we’ve discussed so far. In addition, sand is also relatively inexpensive and easy to find. You can even use play sand, as long as it’s thoroughly washed.

One thing to remember with sand is that goldfish may ingest it when they feed. This can lead to digestive issues, so it’s important to use a safe sand for goldfish. Quartz-based sands are safe for goldfish, but avoid using sand from the beach or other natural sources.

Gravel

Another popular choice for goldfish tanks is gravel. Gravel comes in a wide range of colors and sizes, so you can find an option that fits your aesthetic preferences. Gravel is also relatively inexpensive, making them great for a larger tank. Like sand, gravel can also be ingested by goldfish when they feed. This can lead to digestive issues, so it’s important to use safe gravel for goldfish.

Gravel can also be used as a base for live plants. You can create a natural look for your goldfish tank using live plants. Just be sure to use plants that are safe for goldfish and that won’t uproot the gravel.

River Rocks and Stones

The final entry on our list of options for goldfish tanks is river rocks and stones. These can provide a natural look for your tank and all of the benefits we’ve discussed so far. River rocks and stones can be found at most pet stores, or you can collect them yourself from a river or stream. Just be sure to wash them thoroughly before adding them to your tank.

Unlike sand and gravel, larger rocks and stones can’t be ingested by goldfish. This makes them a safe option for goldfish tanks. However, they can be sharp, so it’s important to choose smooth rocks and stones that won’t hurt your goldfish. Sharp edges and rough surfaces can cause cuts and scrapes on your goldfish, so be sure to select river rocks and stones that are safe for them.

What To Look For In Goldfish Substrate

Before delving into the best substrates for goldfish, it’s worth taking a moment to learn about what makes a good substrate in the first place. After all, not all substrates are created equal! Here are a few key factors to look for:

Gravel Size

Warm colored limestone gravel pebbles for backgrounds and textures.

The size of the gravel is important for two reasons. First, you don’t want your goldfish to ingest the gravel. Second, you don’t want the gravel to be so large that it prevents your goldfish from digging and foraging. A good rule of thumb is to choose gravel that is no larger than the size of your fish’s eye. Too small, and the gravel may be ingested. Too large, and the goldfish won’t be able to move it around easily.

Remember that goldfish are notorious diggers, so choosing a substrate that can withstand a little bit of digging without being easily displaced is important. Something that is big enough with an appropriate amount of heft, such as polished river pebbles, is ideal.

One thing to remember is that goldfish are messy eaters and can often uproot plants in their search for food. If you’re planning on keeping live plants in your aquarium, make sure to choose a substrate that will help anchor the plants in place.

Color

The color of your substrate is mostly a matter of personal preference. That said, there are a few things to keep in mind. On the one hand, darker substrates can help make your goldfish stand out. If you want your goldfish to be the star of the show, a dark substrate is an excellent way to make that happen. Many goldfish enthusiasts believe that goldfish’s bright, iridescent scales are more vibrant against a dark background.

colorful rocks in wooden box, art Aquarium Fish Tank Gravel Stones Color

Another advantage of opting for a dark color is that it can help to camouflage uneaten food and waste. This is especially beneficial in smaller aquariums where uneaten food and waste can quickly become visible. If you’re someone who doesn’t like to see uneaten food and waste in your aquarium, a dark substrate can help to keep things looking neat and tidy.

On the other hand, lighter-colored substrates can make your aquarium appear brighter and more cheerful. If you want your aquarium to have a light and airy feel, a lighter substrate with natural colors is the way to go. White sand or gravel also looks very clean and can help to brighten up a dark aquarium. Their natural coloration also makes them an ideal plant substrate for goldfish tanks with live plants.

Gravel Shape

The shape of the gravel is also important. You don’t want a substrate option that is too smooth, which can make it difficult for your goldfish to dig and forage. Conversely, you don’t want to choose a too jagged or sharp substrate, as this can damage your goldfish’s delicate fins and scales. The latter is likely to cause more problems if you have goldfish with long fins, such as Ranchu or Lionhead goldfish.

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A good middle ground is to choose somewhat rounded gravel. This will be comfortable for your goldfish to lie on and won’t damage their fins or scales. However, you don’t want to choose gravel that is so smooth that it’s difficult for your goldfish to grip. Choose something with a little bit of texture, such as coral sand or crushed shell. Leave the marbles and glass beads for the kids!

Now that you know what to look for in a substrate, let’s take a look at some of the best substrates for goldfish tanks.

5 Best Goldfish Substrate – Reviews

To help you choose the best substrate for your goldfish tank, we’ve compiled a list of our top five favorites. This list includes both sand and gravel substrates, so you can choose the one that best suits your needs.

1. GloFish Aquarium Gravel, Fish Tank Gravel with Fluorescent Accents

GloFish Aquarium Gravel, Fish Tank Gravel with Fluorescent Accents
  • Product Dimensions: 4 x 5 x 9 inches; 5 Pounds
  • Country of Origin: China
  • Manufacturer: GloFish

Glofish is commonly associated with their unique line of fluorescent tropical fish, but they also offer a variety of other pet products as well. This aquarium gravel is one such product, and it’s perfect for goldfish tanks. The gravel is made of solid, natural stone that has been dyed with fluorescent colors. It comes in a 5-pound bag and is available in several different colors, ranging from bright pink to electric blue.

Because the Glofish gravel is also available in solid black, it’s a good choice for those who want to create a more subdued look in their goldfish tank. The gravel is non-toxic and won’t affect the water quality in your tank. It’s also easy to clean and maintain and won’t fade over time. In order to create an interesting, multi-dimensional look in your goldfish tank, we recommend combining this gravel with other types of substrates, such as sand or small rocks.

Despite its many positive qualities, there are a few things to remember before you purchase this gravel. First, because it’s dyed with fluorescent colors, it may not be the best choice for those who want a more natural look in their tank. Secondly, many fishkeepers are concerned about the residue that dyed gravel can leave behind. If you’re worried about this, we recommend rinsing the gravel thoroughly before adding it to your tank.

PROS

  • Non-toxic and won’t affect water quality
  • Available in solid black for a more subdued look
  • Easy to clean and maintain

CONS

  • May not be the best choice for those who want a natural look
  • Dyed gravel can leave behind residue

2. WAYBER 1 Lb/460g Natural Purple Amethyst Quartz Crystal Stones

WAYBER 1 Lb 460g Natural Purple Amethyst Quartz Crystal Stones
  • Color: Purple
  • Material: Stone
  • Brand: WAYBER

Ever seen a goldfish tank with a naturalistic, colorful type of substrate and thought to yourself, “I want that”? Well, now you can have it! This natural purple amethyst gravel from WAYBER is perfect for creating an eye-catching, one-of-a-kind look in your goldfish tank.

The gravel is made of 100% natural amethyst stone, which has been carefully selected for its color and quality. It’s available in a 1-pound bag, and each piece is approximately 0.4 inches in size. This gravel is also safe for use in freshwater aquariums and won’t affect the water quality in your tank.

In addition to being beautiful, this gravel is also easy to clean and maintain. Its smooth surfaces make the cleaning process a breeze. It’s also a great choice for those who want to create a naturalistic look in their goldfish tank, as they provide a wide variety of natural-looking gravel pieces for your tank.

However, one thing to keep in mind is that this gravel is more expensive than some of the other options on our list. If you’re on a budget, you may want to consider another option. Otherwise, this makes a solid substrate pick for your goldfish tank.

PROS

  • Available in a 1-pound bag
  • Easy to clean and maintain

CONS

  • More expensive than some other options

3. Pure Water Pebbles Aquarium Gravel, 5-Pound, Blackberry Glo

Pure Water Pebbles Aquarium Gravel, 5-Pound, Blackberry Glo
  • Product Dimensions: ‎ 12 x 8 x 1.5 inches
  • Product Weight: 5 Pounds
  • Manufacturer: ‎ WORLD WIDE IMPORTS ENT., INC.

Gravel that is both safe for your goldfish and visually appealing can be hard to come by. But this blackberry-colored gravel from Pure Water Pebbles is a great option for those who want the best of both worlds. This gravel is made of natural, non-toxic materials with a 100% colorfast dye. It’s also safe for use in freshwater aquariums and won’t affect the water quality in your tank.

This pea-sized gravel is available in a 5-pound bag, and each piece is approximately 3-6mm, making them extremely good for goldfish who like to dig. Regular gravel vacuuming will also be easy thanks to its acrylic coating, which means it’s less likely to harbor bacteria or other harmful organisms. In a world where so many products are mass-produced, it’s nice to see a gravel option that is both unique and high-quality.

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However, one thing to keep in mind is that these gravel pieces come in darker colors and are not as natural-looking as some of the other options on our list. If you’re looking for a more subtle look, you may want to consider another option. Another factor to consider is that you won’t be getting a lot of gravel for your money, because you’re paying a little more than $5 a pound of gravel. 

PROS

  • Made of natural, non-toxic materials
  • Available in a 5-pound bag
  • Acrylic coating makes it easy to clean and maintain

CONS

  • Not as natural-looking as some other options
  • More expensive than some other options

4. LANDEN Aquarium Sand, Super Natural for Aquarium Landscaping

LANDEN Aquarium Sand, Super Natural for Aquarium Landscaping
  • Plant or Animal Product Type: Aquarium Plants
  • Specific Uses for Product: Aquarium
  • Color: Wheat
  • Item Dimensions LxWxH: 16 x 12 x 2 inches
  • Package Information: Plastic bag

Here’s another great option for those who want a substrate that is both safe for their goldfish and visually appealing. This sand from LANDEN is perfect for those who want to create a naturalistic look in their tank. The sand is made of natural materials and is safe for use in goldfish aquariums. It is reminiscent of the type of sand you would find in a natural freshwater stream, along its deep sand beds.

To make the most of this sand option, you’ll want to use it in conjunction with other decorations and plants to create a visually appealing and safe landscape for your goldfish. This sand is available in a 5-kilogram (11-pound) bag, and each grain is approximately 0.5-1mm in size. The sand is also easy to clean and maintain, making it a great choice for those who want a low-maintenance substrate.

Although this sand is a great option for those who want a natural look, it might not provide the contrast that some goldfish keepers are looking for. If you’re looking for a more colorful substrate, you may want to consider another option.

PROS

  • Made of natural materials
  • Available in a 5-kilogram (11-pound) bag
  • Easy to clean and maintain

CONS

  • May not provide the contrast that some goldfish keepers are looking for

5. SunGrow Tourmaline Stones for Goldfish

SunGrow Tourmaline Stones for Goldfish
  • Brand: SunGrow
  • Liquid Volume: 2.5 Gallons
  • Target Species: Fish

Calcium-enriched beads make a unique option for goldfish substrates – not only do they look great, but they also have many benefits for your goldfish. These SunGrow Tourmaline Stones are a great option for those who want a substrate that is both visually appealing and good for their goldfish. The stones are made of calcium-enriched beads and are a beautiful, subtle shade of green.

Not only do these stones look great, but they also have many benefits for your goldfish. The calcium in the beads helps support your goldfish’s skeletal system and can also help prevent bloating. In addition, the stones are said to be beneficial for the immune system and can help reduce stress levels.

The stones are available in packs of 10, and are intended to be placed in the bottom of the tank among other forms of substrates. They can also be used to create a unique landscape in your tank. Just keep in mind that excessive calcium levels can harm goldfish, so be sure to use these stones in moderation.

PROS

  • Calcium-enriched beads support the skeletal system
  • Can help to prevent bloating
  • Beneficial for the immune system

CONS

  • Excessive levels of calcium can be harmful to goldfish

The Takeaway

Goldfish don’t necessarily require a substrate, but many goldfish keepers choose to use one for aesthetic or functional purposes. There are a variety of substrates available on the market, and the best substrate for goldfish will depend on your individual needs and preferences. Be sure to research before making a purchase, and always use caution when adding anything new to your goldfish tank.

We hope you found this article helpful. If you have any questions or want to share your experiences with goldfish substrates, please comment below! And if you know someone looking for the best substrate for goldfish, be sure to share this article with them. Thanks for reading, and be sure to check out our other goldfish care articles!

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