In order to have a healthy planted aquarium, it is imperative to have the best substrate for planted tank with you. When choosing your substrate, you have to keep in mind the plants that you want to grow.
This article will review some of the best substrates in the market.
Let’s dive in..
Substrates for Planted Tanks (Video)
Best Substrate for Planted Tanks
|PRODUCT||WEIGHT||TYPE OF SOIL|
|Flourite Black||1.9 lbs.||Basaltic volcanic soil|
|Carib Sea Eco Complete Planted Black Aquarium Substrate ||20 lbs.||Clay gravel|
|UP AQUA Sand for Aquatic Plants ||11 lbs.||N/A|
|Fluval Plant and Shrimp Stratum ||1.4 lbs.||Volcanic Soil|
|ADA Aqua Soil Amazonia 9 Liter Normal Type ||1.9 lbs.||Japanese plant-based black soil|
- It does not alter the PH of the water, creating a suitable environment.
- It delivers the plants with the ample nutrients they need to grow.
- This substrate for a planted aquarium is manufactured to deliver long-lasting quality.
- It is a porous clay gravel that is purely organic
- It is a bit dense, making it hard for you to put in your plants without damaging the stems.
- Sadly, this substrate tends to cloud your tank when it’s initially placed.
- It is economically priced, making it suitable for someone working on a tight budget.
- It contains ample nutrients such as magnesium, calcium, iron, sulfur, potassium, and 25 other nutrients.
- It is made of volcanic soil, which enables the healthy growth of plants.
- It includes heterotrophic bacteria that convert fish waste into organic matter.
- It doesn’t require extra laterite because it is rich in iron.
- It has some alkaline level of PH and it’s inert.
- It has a light and porous texture to avoid damaging the stems when you plant
- It contains numerous nutrients to help your plants grow healthy
- It has a great PH level that is ideal for growing aquatic plants
- It is designed with long-lasting qualities to support the growth of plants
- It behaves just like sand, which makes it harder for you to clean
- You may experience some difficulty in rooting small plants
- It is made of volcanic soil that is filled with multiple nutrients.
- It has a neutral to mildly acidic PH level that is ideal for the growth of aquatic plants.
- It has a light and porous texture to enhance root development and plant growth
- Although it can be used to shelter baby shrimp, they tend to outgrow it fast
- It is made of granules of the right size to help aquatic plants flourish.
- This substrate helps to lower the PH in the water, as well as softening it.
- It is a viable option for those looking to place different plants in their aquarium.
- It is comprised of rich nutrients and organic elements to promote the healthy growth of plants.
- It falls in the higher price range, making it unsuitable for someone on a budget.
- It could cause an ammonia spike at the initial stages
6. Fluval Plant and Shrimp Stratum
- Brand: Fluval
- Size; 4.4 pounds
- Dimensions: 3 x 6 x 11 inches
- It includes mineral-rich volcanic soil which is ideal for the growth of the plants
- It promotes neutral to mildly acidic pH
- There are frequent complaints regarding the tank being cloudy and the substrate to be messy
Activ-Flora Lake Gems for Aquarium, 20-Pound
- Brand: Activ-Flora
- Size; 20 pounds
- Dimensions: 21.5 x 12 x 2 inches
- The substrate includes non-toxic colored pigments that add colors to the aquatic environment
- It does not alter pH level in the Planted Aquarium
- It is natural, there are no artificial dyes or additives
- It promotes maximum diffusion because of natural spherical grains
- There are complaints regarding the substrate failing to maintain water clarity
Spectrastone Shallow Creek Regular for Freshwater Aquariums, 5-Pound Bag
- Brand: Spectrastone
- Size; 5 Pounds
- Dimensions: 10 x 7.2 x 1.5 inches
- The creek stones provide a beautiful natural look and are perfect for air plants
- It is affordable to buy
- There are complaints of size of the stones being large
- Brand: Seachem
- Size; 7 kg/ 15.4 lb
- Dimensions: 17 x 11.8 x 1.8 inches
- Color: Brown
- It has a good life, hence does not require replacements
- The grains are made of natural Porous clay which maintains the ecosystem of the tank
- It does not include any kind of chemical coating
- It has complaints regarding clouding the water in the tank
Carib Sea ACS00832 Peace River Gravel for Aquarium, 20-Pound
- Brand: Carib Sea
- Size; 1 pound
- Dimensions: 1 x 1 x 1 inches
- It does not include any artificial properties such as paint or dyes
- It has a neutral Ph, which is safe for all types of aquarium systems
- The grain size of the gravel is perfect as it does not result in detritus build up
- There are frequent complaints regarding the gravel size being really small
Mr. Aqua N-MAR-066 1 L Fine Pet Habitat Water Plant Soil
- Brand: Mr.Aqua
- Size; 2 pounds
- Color: Black
- Dimensions: 4 x 2.5 x 9.5 inches
- It provides buffering capacities for softening water in the tank
- It is smooth, round, small sized pieces (<0.5cm diameter) and does not break up easily
- It is non-cloudy and has a nice pH control
- It is easy to plant in the tank
- The quantity is less as it does not work on tanks above 2 gallons
- There are complaints regarding the product being overpriced as per the quantity in the bag
Carib Sea Eco-Complete Planted Aquarium
- Brand: Carib Sea
- Size; 20 lbs
- Color: Red
- Dimensions: 13 x 2 x 20 inches
- It enhances biological filtration through millions beneficial marine bacteria
- It can be easily used on African cichlid or marine aquariums
- It is the most ideal choice for freshwater aquaria
- It clouds the water in the tank even after rinsing it
What is a Substrate?
The substrate of an aquarium is the material used on the tank bottom. It is one of the essential parts of setting an aquarium as it does not affect its aesthetic appeal
It also plays a vital part in the well-being of the aquarium's inhabitants and plants, filtration and water chemistry.
What is the purpose of Substrate in a tank?
There are several purposes of setting up a substrate in a tank,
Let’s explore them in detail below!
1. It provides a natural habitat for fish.
It creates a natural and stress-free habitat for the fish that will keep them healthy and less susceptible to diseases.
Substrates also provide a safe place for fish to lay eggs. This way hungry adult fish won't eat their own egg; hence, they will remain protected.
2. It provides biological filtration
It provides a home for beneficial bacteria that are responsible for eliminating all kinds of waste in an aquarium such as plant debris, fish waste, leftover food, etc.
A Substrate provides these bacteria colonies, a comfortable bed to live, and protect the ecosystem of the tank.
3. To keep live plants healthy.
Planted tanks need a suitable substrate as it helps to keep live plants healthy and alive by providing them the essential nutrients for their long life.
4. To maintain Aesthetic Appeal
Substrate adds beauty combined with plants, rocks, or other decors that creates a visual picturesque aquatic landscape that is soothing to watch
A dark substrate highlights the color of the fish in the tank.
It hides all the junk and debris that can accumulate as a result of fish junk and food.
How many types of Substrates are there?
There are two types of Substrates, compound, and complete substrate.
Complete Substrate is ready to use a substrate that just needs to be added to the tank, and it is all ready to grow plants and bacteria
Compound Substrate required setting up of different layers, which is called capping, before adding it in the tank.
What are the different types of Substrates?
When it comes to types of substrates, there are a variety of substrates available to pave the bottom of your fish tanks!
Let’s explore popular substrates!
It is a natural and the most popular substrate as it is an ideal choice for beginners and fish who love to dig and bury themselves.
It is easily available and comes in a variety of grain sizes from coarse to fine particles.
It comes in different colors to add aesthetics to the tank.
It is one of the easiest substrates to clean!
It is known to be an ideal lower layer for planted tanks
It attracts nutrients and holds them in storage until the plants can utilize them through the root system.
It is known to be a fantastic substrate for planted tanks as it a mixture of aluminum, magnesium, and iron and releases potassium and magnesium, which are nutrients for plants.
It can also be mixed with laterite or common aquarium gravel to maintain the porous structure.
This substrate is an ideal one for fish that require a certain pH level.
It buffers to stabilize and enhance the pH as they usually push the pH up to 7.6
It is known to be the favorite substrate as it has a Ph raising character
Also, it plays a vital role in contributing to the overall functionality of the aquarium.
It is one of the most common and popular substrates as it is less complicated and ideal for all types of fish
It has smooth edges like pebbles and does not cause any damage to the fish.
It allows you to get creative by achieving any substrate design that you want because it comes in multiple sizes and colors!
Soil and water mix together, so it is essential to buy substrate soil from the fish store that is specially formulated.
It is recommended for planted tanks as soil provides nutrients to the plants in the tank.
They are used as substrates in tanks as they are spherical and flat.
Also, they can be used for decorating the tank.
They are considered to be an ideal substrate for breeding tanks as they have significant gaps that can protect the eggs of the fish.
How to choose a substrate?
Choosing the right substrate is as important as selecting the best fish for your tank
There are certain aspects that you should take into account before buying a substrate.
It is essential to take a look at the following;
The Particle size of the Substrate
Substrates vary in terms of particle sizes as some are fine grains similar to sand while some are large particles identical to rocks.
The size can impact the health of the fish as well as ease of cleaning.
It is essential to research beforehand which particle size is appropriate to the needs to species of fish you are planning to add in the tank.
Color of the Substrate
There are a variety of colors to choose from when it comes to buying a substrate as they range from natural shades to neon-colors
Choosing the color of the substrate usually depends on one's personal choice
It is also essential to know that the color of the substrate enhances the color of the fish or vice versa.
A dark color substrate will make light color fish stand out while a bright color substrate won't.
Impact on the Fish
The reactivity of Substrate with water
Some substrates can lower the pH level of the water, while some can raise it.
Some species of fish require higher pH while others don’t.
The right kind of substrate should be chosen as per the specific needs of the fish.
Do planted tank require different substrates?
Planted tanks require special care and conditions as compared to an unplanted tank.
It is important that the substrate used in planted tanks are of high quality and standards as low-quality substrates have a lower life expectancy and tend to break down really fast.
Aquatic plants tend to grow best in soft substrates as opposed to hard gravel and rocky substrates
What is the best substrate for planted tanks?
All the best substrates are listed above.
All you have to do is choose the one that is specific to the needs of your species of fish, as well as other tank requirements such as the filtration system that you are planning to set up.
It is essential to go through each product carefully to understand what each type of substrate does for your tank’s overall environment before putting them in the tank.
How to maintain the substrate in a tank?
Maintenance of substrate is as essential as maintaining fish or water
Choosing the type of substrate will play a significant role in the ease of cleaning
A substrate with large particles will be easier to clean and rinse as compared to an excellent grained substrate
Some Substrates such as gravel will require daily maintenance, while others will need to be replaced.
It is important to be aware of the maintenance needs of the substrate before buying!
How to layer substrate in a tank?
If you think that all you have to do is just layer down the substrate in the tank, then stop right away!
Because it is a bit more than that!
Let’s explore the steps one by one,
Rinse the Substrate
It is essential to it rinse the substrate before using it
Even though most of the Substrates today don't require pre-rinsing, but it is better to be safe and clean than sorry
Layer down the substrate
Lay down 3-4 inches of the substrate on the bottom of your tank
To avoid clouding use an old dinner plate on the substrate dump the non-chlorinated water onto the plate instead on directly into the substrate
Then simply fill the tank with water
Add plants or rocks
It will depend on the type of the plants that you are planning to add in the tank
As carpeting plants or live pants will have to be attached or placed deep inside the substrate
Then add rocks as you like, and all your beautiful fish!
Can be fish be added right after layering down Substrate?
In the case of most of the substrates, they can be added immediately
In the case of fertilized substrates, they take time to settle in, which means that they may contain nutrients and chemical compounds that spike up ammonia and nitrite levels that creating a suitable environment for the fish
Which makes it uninhabitable for the fish for the time being
It is recommended to wait at least a few days and check nitrite and ammonia levels before adding fish in the tank.
How often should a substrate be changed or replaced?
It depends on the quality of the substrate that you are using
As some of the substrates have a high life expectancy and don't need any replacements
It is however highly recommended to water change weekly and continue with other regular maintenance of the tank, so that keeps the substrates maintained as well.
How to replace an old substrate with a new one?
How much Substrate is required in a tank?
There isn’t any limit to how much substrate should be filled in the tank
It is recommended that it should be at least leveled up to 3 inches so that it provides enough space to the roots of the plants to settle in a tank.
One can use a substrate to add aesthetic appeal in the tank by making hills or slopes
Is it important to use a Substrate?
Adding a substrate is not a thumb rule
You can skip adding a substrate if you don’t want to add an aesthetic appeal to your tank
If you plan to have a bare bottom tank, but that will have its own pros and cons to handle, including adding those fish that are suitable for such environments.
Is sand or gravel better for planted aquariums?
For planted aquariums, gravel is a better choice as compared to sand. Gravel allows water to flow that prevents amoeba and bacteria buildup, as compared to sand.
However, it depends on the species of the fish and the type of the plants that you are adding in your aquarium too as some require sand to flourish.
How deep should a planted tank substrate be?
The depth of the substrate will depend on the type of the plants you are planning to add in the tank as some plants require a deep sand bed to flourish while some don't!
It is, however, recommended that to have at least a depth of 6 inches.
How much is a gallon of substrate?
The general rule thumb is to use between 1 to 2 pounds of substrate per gallon of water. It is recommended have a layer of one to two inches when the substrate is placed into the aquarium.
Is sand a suitable substrate for plants?
Sand is an excellent substrate for decorative purposes, but in the case of plants, it is not recommended as it won't provide all the nutrients necessary for the growth of plants.
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