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Best Gravel for Turtle Tanks

The best gravel for turtle tanks will depend on the size of your turtle and the asthetics you are looking for. Size is a major factor because if the pieces are too small your turtle may eat them by mistake.

Now, assuming you still want to go with a stone subtrate, the next thing to think about is if you are purchasing or if you are taking them from outdoors. If you decide not to use store-bought aquarium gravels, then you have to sterilize the stones by boiling them.

So what is the best gravel for a turtle tank? Our top picks on this list include Royal Imports decorative ornamental river pebbles and Sackorange Aquarium Gravel.

Best Gravel for Turtle Tanks

1. Royal Imports Large Decorative Polished Gravel

These are natural river pebbles that are large enough that turtles cannot swallow them.

The smooth and round nature of the stones means that they won’t harm your turtles. They have no sharp edges. The stones’ diameter ranges from 0.75 inches to 2 inches.

Why choose Royal Imports large decorative polished gravel? These rocks come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, with a minimum size of at least 0.5 inches. They are 100% natural and as such add a natural feel to the turtle tank.

Pros

  • Non-toxic and odorless.
  • Round and smooth (no risk of injury)
  • Large enough to not be swallowed

2. Sackorange Aquarium Gravel

The Sackorange aquarium gravel is an assortment of natural pebbles. These stones are polished river rocks. They come in many different sizes and colors. They give aquariums a natural look and are all large enough for turtle aquariums.

You can expect shades of white, brown, and black. Stone sizes range from 0.5 inches in diameter to around 1-inch. This large size prevents turtles from swallowing them. Additionally, they are odorless.

Why choose Sackorange aquarium gravel?

They are natural, polished, and come in an assortment of natural colors. The rocks are all above 0.5 inches in diameter; making the rocks difficult to swallow.

Pros

  • Non-toxic and odorless
  • Each stone is well-rounded and smooth. This helps prevent injuries. 
  • The rocks are quite large. Even the smaller rocks are still too large for a turtle to swallow.

Cons

  • Expensive

3. Exo Terra Turtle Pebbles

One of the advantages of Exo Terra pebbles is the brand name. Exo Terra is known for its excellent pet turtle products and Exo Terra pebbles are no exception. This product is beloved by many chelonian keepers. The pebbles come in two sizes, small and large.

I recommend the large size as turtles are less likely to swallow these. As with any gravel substrate make sure to wash them before adding them to the tank.

Exo Terra pebbles look natural and are smooth so you don’t need to worry about them injuring the turtle.

Pros

  • Exo Terra is a well-known brand
  • Rocks are smooth

4. Seachem Fluorite

If you want to have live plants in the aquarium then fluorite is the way to go. Plants provide your aquarium with a natural look and also provide the turtles with nutrients.

Fluorite ensures that the plants get all the needed nutrients to grow healthy. Plants also help keep the water in the turtle tank clean. When it comes to selecting fluorite for the turtle’s aquarium, then Seachem Fluorite is probably the best choice.

What makes fluorite an excellent choice?

Well, fluorite is natural porous clay. This gravel is durable and fracted to encourage healthy growth. Many experienced turtle owners usually mix this with other gravels and even sand, but fluorite also works great alone.

Pros

  • Great for aquatic plants
  • Turtles wont eat it
  • Gives enclosure natural feel
  • Can grow plants

5. M–jump Natural Polished White Pebbles

These are natural white stones. Just like the Royal Imports’ large decorative polished gravel, the M–jump white pebbles are also river pebbles. The biggest difference between the two is that the M–jump white pebbles are all white stones.

The stones are round and their diameter ranges from 1 inch to 2 inches.

Why choose M–jump white pebbles?

These are the best all-white gravel you can find making for a clean look in your tank. They are large with diameters of 1 to 2 inches.

Pros

  • Give your tank a clean look
  • Non-toxic and odorless
  • Stones are smooth (no injuries)

Cons

  • You need to filter out the smaller stones from the bag to avoid potential issues

6. Qguai Decorative Aquarium Gravel

Here is a decorative gravel that is turquoise and are made from a natural resin. They are glossy and feel non-abrasive to touch.

One feature about this one is that it glows in the dark. It’s unclear how this will impact your turtles sleep and overall mood, but we threw it into the list because of the novelty of having a glow in the dark substrate.

Why should you use decorative turquoise aquarium pebbles?

Well, these add a lot of character t the aquarium. They are smooth and as such safe. While there are some small pebbles in the pack, most of them are large in size. The reflective nature of the stones beautifies the aquarium.

Pros

  • Odorless and non-toxic 
  • Smooth (no sharp edges)
  • Glow up to 15 years

Cons

  • Expensive

Buyer’s Guide

There are several things to consider when buying gravel for your turtle tank. First, you need to even decide if gravel is the right substrate for the tank. There are other types of the substrate such as sand and crushed coral.

Crushed coral is excellent for turtles that live in brackish waters such as diamondback terrapin.

Sand is ideal for turtles that love to dig.

Gravel can be a great option for turtle tanks. Size is a big factor and then of course cleaning is another one.

The other option is no substrate at all.

Purpose

What is the purpose of the gravel? Is it for beauty, to grow aquatic plants, or for something else? Some turtle keepers want to grow aquatic plants within their tanks. Plants can provide cover for the turtle, as well as nourishment.

If you want to grow aquatic plants, then fluorite should be the gravel of choice. These tiny clay like pebbles are smooth and porous and provide aquatic plants with a wide array of nutrients. They can be mixed with other substrates or used alone.

Glow in the dark pebbles are also popular among turtle keepers. These pebbles are artificially made using resin. They absorb light during the day and glow when dark. The glow is usually bluish-green. However, there are different rocks with different colored glow.

Natural river pebbles are an excellent choice for people who want to give the aquarium a natural feel. These pebbles perfectly replicate the natural habitats of aquatic and semi-aquatic turtles. These pebbles are quite beautiful as well.

Safety

When buying a substrate, you also need to think about safety. Your turtle shouldn’t be able to hurt itself on it or by injesting it. I recommend smooth rounded gravels. These ensure that the turtle doesn’t get injured. When buying gravel for your turtle tank make sure to check that the gravel is smooth.

Artificially created gravel such as Qguai decorative aquarium gravel is smooth from production. With natural pebbles, smoothness is achieved through polishing and also by handpicking. Gravel such as the Royal Imports large decorative polished gravel and M–jump white pebbles are both smooth and rounded.

Make sure to inspect the rocks after cleaning and before putting them into the tank to ensure there are no risks.

Size

Fluorite may be tiny in size but turtles avoid eating them. The same cannot be said of other types of gravel. To ensure that the turtle doesn’t swallow the pebbles, they need to be large in size with a diameter of at least 0.5 inches.

Can You Gather Rocks From Your Environment?

There are several disadvantaeges of using rocks you gather from your backyard and nature. For starters, these stones aren’t polished. This mean they won’t be as smooth as store-bought polished rocks. You can hand polish them at home, but this can be an arduous task which require the right tools.

If you do decide to pick rocks from nature, they should be very smooth and larger than the turtle’s head. These rocks have to be well cleaned and thoroughly rinsed. Lastly, you need to boil them to sterlize them.

Conclusion

Gravel can add a nice touch to your enclosure, but may not be the best choice for you. Ultimately you have to decide what way you want to go. Do you want no substrate, do you want plants, or do you want a nice natural looking environment with some cool stones?

Let us know what your favorite substrate choice is in the comments below.

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