Aquarium gravel smells like almonds - is it safe?

June FOTM Photo Contest Starts Now! Fish of the Month
🏆 Click to enter! 🏆


New Member
Oct 31, 2020
Reaction score
I bought some aquarium gravel from Pets at Home and when opened, it smells strongly of almonds. My immediate thought was the link between almond smell and cyanide so wanted to check if it's a common occurrence/if it's safe to use.

Has anyone come across this before?

Tried Googling it and the only things that came up was this old thread:

It links to another thread but I can't access that so can't find out whether the gravel is safe or not and if it's normal!
Your going to give it A really good wash anyway aren’t you?

It may just be that it’s sat there for months. Ive bought various gravel from all sorts of shops and builders merchants and always been amazed by how much rubbish comes off it
I’m pretty sure that gravel is classed as chemically inert so anything you can smell or see on it will be washed off and will not have been absorbed
I gave it a good wash and the smell is still there which is what made me question it more.
Here's the thread in the link - a lot of old links stopped working after the forum changed hosts. I'll amend the link in the other thread as well.

Take it back and swap it over. Open the new bag at the shop and see if it smells.

Coloured gravel will normally be painted and there shouldn't be any fumes coming off it. If you can smell thinners or paint smells, don't use it.

I have never heard of gravel smelling like almonds (cyanide) and that is a concern.

Clean gravel should not smell of anything. If it does, then it could poison the fish.

Most reactions