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Shirlie Sharpe

How Much Substrate?

By January 11, 2013

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Today I had a question in my mailbox that I get quite often, so I thought I'd share it, along with my answer. If you have any comments, please share them.

Hello my name is James, I have an Aqua one AR-620 aquarium 40 cm h x 65 cm w x 35 cm depth. Can you please tell me how much gravel I need for the tank floor. Thank you."

Knowing how much gravel to get can be one of those head scratching moments, but there are some basic guidelines that will help you determine what to buy. Gravel is typically added to cover the bottom of the aquarium to a depth of about two inches. Obviously the size and shape of the aquarium will impact how much gravel it takes to fill it to that level. However, a general rule of thumb is to purchase one pound of gravel for each gallon of water, and you'll have enough.

While unusually shaped tanks, or those that are tall and thin may not fit that that rule, for most tanks it works quite well. Anytime you are in doubt, round up a bit. The tank that James has is approximately 24 gallons, so 24 pounds of gravel should do the trick. Because substrate often comes in increments of 5 pounds, he will probably round up to 25 pounds to be assured of having enough. If he plans to have a live planted tank, more depth may be needed for plants that have deep roots. Cryptocoryne and Echinodorus are examples of plant species that require deeper substrate.

Related
Aquarium Sizes & Weights
Heater Size Guide
How Much Do I Need?

Photo Daniel Ahlqvist

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