Believe it or not, aquascaping is becoming one of the fastest growing hobbies in the world. Love for the underwater world art has never been more popular as it is today. Designing a planted tank can be challenging but at the same time fun task.
However, before we jump in exploring the aquascaping world we need to cover the basics. One of the most important things for building a planted tank is finding a good substrate. But what is the best substrate for planted tank? We’ve done the research and here are the results.
What is Aquarium Substrate and Why It’s Important?
Aquarium substrate refers to the material you use to cover the bottom of your fish tank. For many people the aesthetic appeal is the most important thing, however, smart aquarist knows that creating a clean and stable environment for your fish and plants comes in first place.
The type of the aquarium you possess will determine the substrate you need. For instance, gravel is the most common used substrate in freshwater aquariums. There are several reasons why substrates are used in most aquariums.
First, the substrate you put to cover the bottom of your tank can be used as part of the biological filtration. Particles of the substrate serve as a surface area for beneficial bacteria to colonize.
Substrates often have direct effects on water quality. It’s very important to know what kind of fish you keep and what are their requirements? Some substrates tend to alter the water chemistry by releasing substances into the water. Keep that in mind when you purchase your first substrate.
For example, crushed coral contains calcium carbonate and is used for raising the water hardness. Which might be great for African cichlid tank but no so good for Amazon based tanks. Of course, substrates can have indirect effects too. Some fish thrive in dark-colored substrates and their overall health is better.
ADA Aqua Soil Amazonia
Ada Aqua Soil Amazonia is one of the better substrates on the market, and it’s an excellent choice for people who have planted tanks. It’s one of the most used substrates among fishkeepers and there is a reason for that. It really works. If you want to have a tank with a variety of aquatic plants than this substrate is a no brainer.
There are other things that make this substrate fantastic for planted tanks and your fish. The dark coloration really enhances the color of your fish. And it also lowers the PH of the water which is great for all aquatic plants. Not to mention that is excellent for fish that naturally live in water with lower PH like Amazon.
Lastly, but not less important, you need to pay attention on the ammonia spike when you use it for the first time. I’ve heard a lot of scary stories from people using Ada Aqua Soil Amazonia for the first time that result with dead fish. So make sure your fish are transferred to another tank until your new aquarium is fully cycled and beneficial bacteria is established.
Seachem Flourite is a really good aquarium substrate that will provide healthy nutrients for your plants. This is a clay based substrate and it’s high in iron. It will last a lifetime and is rated as one of the best-looking substrates among planted tanks enthusiasts
What I really like about this substrate is that is different than other substrates. You are probably wondering what do I mean. Hear me out. This substrate will not alter the PH levels of the water like the others, which in my opinion is a great thing. It’s one of the best substrates for planted aquariums out there.
The only thing I don’t like about Seachem Flourite is that is damn too dirty. I mean you need to rinse over and over again until is clean enough and ready for use. However, when the initial preparation is done, you’ll see how beautiful it looks in your aquarium.
This is another great substrate for planted tanks. Mostly, I like that it contains a lot of nutrients that are quite helpful for plant growth. It’s rich in iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, sulfur plus and over 25 other nutrients. And, because is iron rich, Eco Complete doesn’t need any extra laterite.
There are lots of other great things about this substrate. It comes with live bacteria that will help to cycle your tank faster. It’s great for the plants too, converting the fish waste into natural food for their roots.
Finally, I need to mention that you don’t need to rinse this substrate before you put it into the tank. And it has nice dark coloration. Overall is a very good product. Hard to argue with that!
Fluval Plant and Shrimp Stratum
According to Fluval, this substrate doesn’t only work as a great source of nutrients for aquatic plants, but it can also be used for shrimp tank. It’s perfect hiding place for young shrimps until they are fully grown.
I particularly like the dark coloration of this substrate. It really enhances the color of your shrimps. And is great for the overall look of the aquarium. Fluval Plant and Shrimp Stratum is volcanic soil and it’s light, porous and rich in nutrients and minerals.
The only thing I really don’t like about this substrate is that’s too light. You might have some problems for plants with shorter roots. Aside from that, it’s generally good product. After all, it’s made from Fluval a well-respected company in the aquatic industry.
When choosing a substrate for your aquarium, pay close attention to what kind of plants and fish you want to keep. It’s also very important to test different types of substrates because there is not a perfect substrate out there. Testing will help you understand what your plants want and is fun too.
The 5 choices I reviewed for the best substrate for planted tank offer a variety of benefits that will be useful for your plants.
Additionally, they provide a lot of different nutrients that are necessary for optimal plant growth.
Image credit: Amazon.com
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