Half Gravel Half Sand Aquarium – Simple Setup Guidelines

For various reasons, including cost and the fact that they have the same clean, natural appearance as a gravel tank, half gravel half sand aquarium is growing in popularity. 50% is due to the cost difference between sand and gravel.

Since many fishkeepers switch to this kind of tank, we decided to bring on a basic setup tutorial to provide you with all the fundamentals you need to start with!

Half Gravel Half Sand Aquarium – Simple Setup Guidelines


Separating the sand and gravel is the initial thing you must do because many bottom-dwelling animals, including cormorants, adore sand and can become ill from eating it if it contains gravel. 

It would be ideal for placing a tiny divided stone in the center, or you could merely layer the gravel on top of the sand to make the contrast more obvious. 

You will also want to handle the sand and gravel separately when deciding which is suitable to put in your aquarium.

fish in aquarium

Create A Divide

Although some aquarists may think mixing sand and gravel is good and acceptable, do it with caution because, as we indicated before, sand-loving species can hurt themselves when feeding if they accidentally swallow small gravel.

For the best results, make sure the gravel layer is higher than the sand, so it will eventually fall into the sand and prevent too much mixing. 

Select The Gravel

Let’s begin with gravel, as you will need to choose the foundation first. 

It is advisable to use hexagonal gravel when blending two different substrates in a single tank. They are less difficult to keep than round or square forms, which do not leave excessive space between the particles. 

The hexagonal type is also smooth enough to encourage the development of beneficial bacteria in your aquarium while still being sufficient to allow for water flow.

gravel aquarium

Set-up The Gravel 

Once you have finished picking out the stones, let’s begin to set them up.

  • To ensure that you can do the next procedure properly, only pour 5 lbs of gravel into a big 5-gallon container.
  • Pour an inch of cold water into the container to cover the gravel, then stir around to rinse.
  • Give the gravel time (about 5 minutes) to soak in water to let the dust float upward.
  • Wash 5 lbs of gravel by draining the water and carrying out the same procedure three more times.
  • One pound of gravel should be removed from the container using a sieve, and you should rinse the water thoroughly until it is clean.
  • Purchase your preferred dechlorinating solution, wash the gravel following the directions on the container, and then give it a good rinse.
  • Repeat the steps above for the rest of the gravel you need
  • Fill the bottom of one of the tank’s sides with gravel until it is approximately half an inch thick.
  • To maintain the water’s great quality, wash the gravel twice per month using a siphon set.

Select The Sand

This is important as sand has a lot of benefits for your tank. 

Since some species prefer particular sand, picking your sand can be a little more challenging. 

If you are unclear about the variety of sand you need, it’s best to see a professional at your neighborhood fish store. They can help you to locate the ideal soft spot for each of your fish if you are raising many kinds. 

Besides, they can provide further insight into whether your specific fish will be safe in a tank that is filled with half gravel and half sand.

Set-up The Sand

What you should do is:

  • Choose the appropriate sand for your tank and fish after consulting an expert.
  • Before making a purchase, calculate how much you’ll need for the second half of the tank.
  • To adequately rinse it, add 7.5 quarts of sand to a 5-gallon bucket.
  • Fill the bucket with cold water so that the water is 2 inches above the sand. 
  • Once the bucket is full, use the hose to swish the sand to stir up any dirt.
  • Wait five minutes before you drain the filthy water.
  • Continue doing this until the water is crystal clear.
  • Once it is clean, take the sand out of the bucket and pour it into the tank’s bottom on the divider’s open side.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner to wash the sand twice per month, keeping it directly on the sand surface to avoid drawing the sand up.

Aquarium with both gravel and sand


When you have your distinct substrates in place, you must add water (being cautious not to damage the platform too much in the process). Then, put your aquarium through its normal cycle, and afterward, add the water’s regular chemicals for fish.

The tank should remain healthy and secure for all the fish that reside in it as long as you ensure to wash both sides using the techniques mentioned above twice a month.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Most Suitable For The Tank: Gravel Or Sand?

To begin with, a tank that resembles the fish’s native surroundings is the preferable option. So they will consequently decide to create a gravel and sand aquarium. 

Both bases offer benefits and drawbacks. Gravel is excellent because it promotes adequate drainage and is permeable.

Furthermore, gravel absorbs excessive fluid and instantly dissolves it, which is advantageous for tanks with drip irrigation or tanks that are susceptible to waterlogging. 

Sand, in contrast, is excellent because it holds moisture and efficiently filters water. Sand also offers a steady foundation level and inhibits sediment development over time.

Half Gravel Half Sand Aquarium

What Are The Benefits Of Gravel In An Aquarium?

Your aquarium can benefit from adding gravel to enhance overall filtration, lower noise levels, and draw in fish. 

The gravel allows for a wide range of aquatic species, giving your aquarium a beautiful appearance. Furthermore, gravel gives the tank a natural appearance, enhancing its appeal and uniqueness.

The Bottom Line

Setting up a half gravel half sand aquarium is as easy as a piece of cake! Hopefully, our article has satisfied you with lots of information.

Thank you for your time. See you around!