Planted Aquarium Substrate – How to Choose?

There are different types of planted aquarium substrate that you can choose from. From coarse to fine, these are generally: coarse substrate, pebbles, gravel and sand. Each of these substrates has its own characteristics and advantages and disadvantages. 

Types of Aquarium Substrates

Coarse substrate

This is best used as an underlayer to prevent the bottom from silting up. This way the roots always have room to attach themselves well. Also take into account which layer will come on top: cover your really coarse substrate with a very fine grain of sand, there is a chance that over time the sand will fall through the substrate and the coarse parts at the top will be exposed. This can injure your vulnerable residents. Be especially careful with fish that like to dig, such as Cichlids. So try to limit the contrast between the coarse layer and the top layer.

Pebbles (3-6 mm)

This already has a finer structure than the coarse substrate. However, it is still a bit too big for fish that like to go down. If you only have fish that are in the middle or at the top of the water column, you can use pebbles as a top layer. There are several shades to choose from. Did you know that some fish are less skittish the darker the substrate you choose?

Gravel (1-2 mm)

Gravel is still somewhat larger than grains of sand. If you don’t like sand, but want a bottom with a soft look, gravel is an ideal option. You can use this to create a coating that is safe, also for bottom fish. But it is not advisable to use gravel for a planted aquarium substrate because it provides less minerals to help the growing of the plant.

(Filter) sand

Sand can be very decorative, especially in discus aquariums. The disadvantage of sand is that if you use it pure it will silt up within a year, soil rot will occur and your plants will stop growing. So you have to combine sand with other layers. Do not put it directly on a very coarse substrate, because then the sand will simply sink through to the bottom? You work better in different layers. You can also choose to use different planted aquarium substrate where plants grow and only cover the open spaces with sand. It requires a little more organization, but especially if you have bottom dwellers, such as dwarf cichlids, it will certainly be appreciated.

When should I replace my soils?

Most soils have had their best time after about 4 years. If you regularly renovate and replant, it can take a little longer. When you see green spots on the front of the glass, it is better to check whether there is no rot in your soil. Push your finger deep into the soil. If air bubbles form, this is a sign that a fermentation process is underway in your soil and it therefore needs to be replaced.

Read Also: How To Clean The Soil In The Aquarium

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