How To Choose a Substrate For An Aquarium?

There are thousands of alternative to fill the tank internally. Manufacturers of ornamental components therefore offer every possibility. You can build a special Subaquatic world for fish, embodying your most wonderful fantasies and with a little effort. Do you need a primer for decoration? Considering that it serves as an environment for beneficial micro-organisms, it’s the foundation for aquatic plants, and the natural role of any substrate is simply precious to aquarium life.

Substrate For An Aquarium: Types, Properties and Features of Choice

aquarium substrate

Besides its artistic function, the substrate of the aquarium acts as a filter. It neutralizes contaminate that is created as a consequence of rot and decomposition of food waste and fish excretions. To choose the right substrate, you need to determine which fish will inhabit the aquarium, and whether plants will be present in it. Materials for decorating the bottom are divided into three main types:

  • Natural – a substrate that is the natural basis of lakes, rivers and seas. It can be sand, peat, gravel or crushed rocks.
  • Artificial – made of polymer materials, including sintered glass. It has an exclusively decorative value.
  • Special – can be of natural or artificial origin. Possesses certain properties: absorbs gases, changes acidity, etc.

The scale of soil debris is also decided by the species of fish and plants that will dwell in the aquarium. For instance, you don’t need to buy a great substrate if fish like to dig the ground, and coarse-grained soil is not adapted to aquatic plants, whose roots will rot with a low flow of air and water. It is best to purchase substance of the expected deal and color in a dedicated store, where all soils are proposed in two type depending on their properties:

  • Neutral is the general name for substrates that are used as a decorative material for creating reliefs in an aquarium: basalt chips, coarse sand, river pebbles. They do not carry any useful value for aquatic habitats, they simply help to collect the waste products of fish, therefore, they require the mandatory use of fertilizers.
  • Nutrients – used as a layer under the base soil. Have the beneficial properties needed to maintain a suitable fish habitat and plant growth. Their base can be different – laterite, clay, lava. In addition, this type of substrate is enriched with many beneficial trace elements.

Often, manufacturers offer a substrate painted with waterproof dyes to aquarists, which attracts attention with a bright color scheme. It can be harmful to fish and plants as it releases harmful substances. That is why it is better not to purchase such material to decorate the bottom.

How Much Substrate Is Needed And How To Lay It Correctly?

Having finally decided which substrate is best for your aquarium, you need to decide on its amount. Novice aquarists often ask themselves the question: how much soil is needed so that it does not sour and does not create too much pressure on the walls of the aquarium? It is worth dispelling doubts about the excessive load, since the weight of any selected substrate is distributed evenly along the bottom.

Considering the second case – soil acidification, it is safe to say that this process is very rarely traced, given that a neutral medium fraction is often used in containers with plants. Even if fine sand is selected, it will be used as one of the layers, which ensures its normal functioning. The main task remained – laying the soil. It is recommended to do this in several stages:

  1. Line the bottom of the aquarium with clay or laterite mixed with gravel. The height of the bottom layer should be 3-5 cm. You can mix balls of clay with laterite, which will provide good nutrition for the plants. If you plan to lay a heating cable, then do not use fine clay or sand to avoid overheating.
  2. For the middle layer, 3 cm is enough. It can be gravel or sand, which is recommended to be mixed with boiled peat in a small amount. You can also put clay balls here.
  3. The final layer is fine gravel. It is recommended to mix it with sand to prevent cloudy water. To plant pots with plants, the top soil ball must be at least 5 cm.On top of it you can lay out decorative elements – stones, shells, etc.

It is necessary to do styling judiciously, having foreseen the relief in advance, since any subsequent intervention in the formation of the bottom is not possible. If it is not planned to plant plants and the aquarium is designed exclusively for fish habitation, then one type of material, even artificial, can be used as the bottom. The main thing is that it does not harm the fish and provides ease of cleaning.

How To Properly Clean An Aquarium?

Cleaning is essential to maintain a healthy habitat for aquarium fish and plants. This process is carried out using a special device – a hose with a cylindrical funnel at one end and a mechanical pump at the other. Commonly referred to as a siphon, it provides ease of use without harming fish and vegetation.

If the bottom of the aquarium is planted with plants, then deep cleaning is not recommended. The silt accumulated in the soil provides the vegetation with nutritional properties, therefore it is undesirable to remove it. It is enough to siphon only the upper decorative layer of fine-grained sand. Small particles can easily penetrate the equipment filter, therefore it is recommended to add a new portion of clean sand with a thin layer.

Water change with cleaning must be performed at least once every 7 days. These can be two different processes, the only difference is in the depth of cleaning. It is possible to siphon only the bottom more often, adding the required amount of water at the end of the process. Thus, fish waste products, food debris and accumulated silt are removed. Choosing the right substrate and maintaining it properly will ensure biological balance in your aquarium.

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