How to dispose of aquarium gravel (safely and properly)

Last Updated on January 18, 2021 by cmoarz

So you got some fancy new aquarium gravel for your tank. That’s great, the new vibrant oranges are sure to vibe. But what the heck do you do with the old gravel anyway? How to dispose of aquarium gravel in a way that won’t hurt people or the enviroment?

Just about all of us have had a 5-gallon bucket of this stuff sitting in the basement at some point. So, is there a way to get rid of the stuff besides just storing it out of sight out of mind? Or simply throwing it away?

Yes! There are numerous way’s to accomplish this mighty feat, and some of them are actually really fun!

Alternative uses for aquarium gravel vs disposal

When we say there are a lot of way’s to re-use old aquarium gravel, We aren’t joking. Here’s just a small list of various things you can accomplish with a bit of extra substrate waste:

  • General Landscapeing
  • Flower beds
  • Driveways
  • Footpaths
  • Sandbox
  • Sand on icy walkways

Depending on the type of substrate you have, there are countless other ways to recycle this waste into treasure.

You could even use it to layer a backyard pond, Just remember to always disinfect your gravel before introducing it to new environments. Otherwise, You risk introducing various diseases, molds and other exotic sicknesses into your local wildlife. This also goes for any equipment or plants/fona, Take care to not use contaminated substrates in outdoor uses unless sterilized. However, If your gravel is from a healthy tank there should be no issue.

Over time, You may find your pond and your tanks take on a similar ecosystem. This could be a good thing, or a bad one depending on your own perspective.

And hey, While your out their enjoying your shiny new backdoor pond, gazing at the wildlife swimming around, Why not add a nice garden foot path around the perimeter?

By creating a path and layering it with used rocks and other substrate, You can have a lovely graveled walkway and it would cost you nothing more than the stuff you’ve already got in the basement!

But all that extra labor isn’t for everyone am I right? So…

Give it away to someone else

This is probably the easiest way to dispose of your old aquarium gravel waste. There are no shortage of people who can and will reuse this stuff for all sorts of reasons.

Your next door neighbors landscaping company would probably love to take it off your hands, for example.

If you know another aquarium enthusiast, She might also be interested in taking it off your hands for use in projects.

But it doesn’t end at just giving it away. Maybe you don’t know anyone who would actually want it? Well you always have the option of listing it on various classified ad websites, Such as Craiglist, Kijiji etc.

There is no shortage of listings selling aquarium gravel on Craigslist that’s for sure.

That also leaves us to our next disposal solution…

Reusing it yourself

Gravel is reusable don’t forget. it can be boiled and disinfected, and can be used for more fish tank projects that you might wish to start in the future. Perhaps this is the real reason we tend to horde our stashes in the basement, deep down we know we could use it again if we just added the effort into it.

But let’s be honest, Who needs any more added effort into their already busy lives. Which brings us too…

Using aquarium gravel disposal in gardening

Aquarium gravel makes the perfect water drainage substrate for potted plants. A nice thick layer of this stuff and your plant’s will be draining like nobody’s business!

Unsterilized gravel can also contain many nutrients leftover from fish waste. Often times it can make a splendid fertilizer, especially for aquaponics that uses substrates.

But it doesn’t end there, Not only can you also use it in your garden bed, but it also acts as the perfect habitat for an indoor cactus farm. Gravel and sand, They love it.

Be wary where you put gravel, however. Having stray gravel on the lawn might not seem like a big deal, But those things whip out like bullets if they get caught on a lawnmower blade.

It’s probably best to keep them off the grass.

In conclusion

There are so many unique ways of reusing old gravel rather than straight disposing of it. You might even be able to make a few bucks selling it online. From tank keepers to gardeners, and everyone in between, they all love the stuff. So, if you don’t need it, do everyone a favor and give it away!

If you’ve found an interesting and unique way of disposing of your old aquarium gravel, Or just plain did something cool with it, Let us know in the comments below!

Heres some things other people have done with their leftovers:

DIY Mini Mason Jar Aquariums are perfect for ocean themed parties or beach weddings.
DIY Mini Mason Jar Aquariums are perfect for ocean themed parties or beach weddings. Such a fun craft for kids too! Learn more here


Owner of and also owner of actual Aquarium Gravel believe it or not! ;). Setting up beautiful aquarium sceneries and habitats since I was very young. Enjoy!