Best Aquarium Substrate for Planted Tanks (2019) Guide

Are you looking for the best aquarium plant substrate or planted tank substrate? If so, then here we bring you an easy aquarium plant substrate guide that will give you the exact ideas about different freshwater planted tank substrate.

Now, the main question that many aquariums ask is “what type of aqauscaping substrate is best for freshwater aquarium?"

Freshwater aquarium plant substrate is basically a material that people put on the bottom of aquarium. There are many types of cheap planted tank substrates such as soil, gravel, pebbles, sand, argonite, peat, vermiculate, and fluorite substrate.

Need for aquascaping substrates?

  • Substrates enhance the look of aquarium and create a more natural environment for fish.
  • Aquarium substrates also help in increasing good bacteria and helps in rooting plants.

Different Types of Freshwater Planted Tank Substrates:

  1. Peebles

Peebles are mostly made of river rock, glass, quartz, and colored plastic as well. Though pebbles look very lovely but they are not suitable for rooting plants.

Moreover, the uneaten food gets trap between the spaces created around Peebles as they are large in size. 
  1. Gravel

Gravels are basically small-form of Peebles that is available in many different types of materials. Gravels do not allow the food to trap and therefore considered as best substitute of Peebles.

Moreover, they need minimal maintenance over time. 

Must Read: Buyer’s Guide to Choose the Best Gravels for Aquarium/Tanks

  1. Sand

Sand is another cheap aquarium plant substrate that comes in different grain sizes and colors. Sand does not create any gaps and thus there is no issue of food getting trapped. 

  1. Soil

Planted thank substrate soil is different from natural soil as it formulated to prevent the creation of mud. Substrate soil is perfect for giving your aquarium plants the essential nutrients. 

Water-changing Cheap Planted Tank Substrates 

Some substrates change the quality of aquarium water that is not good for your fish. Thus, to make you aquarium free from any trouble, you can use good water changing substrates that can make aquarium water better.  

  1.   Aragonite – Aragonite is helpful in buffering water that prevents the change in pH level of water.
  2.   Peat – Peat helps in softening the quality of water. 
  3.  Vermiculate – Vermiculate helps in making water more nutrient-rich by releasing magnesium and potassium. 

Which aquascaping substrate is best for freshwater live plants?

The most important thing to consider when choosing substrates is that they should not injure your fish. Thus, choose smooth and round shaped substrates instead of sharp ones for ensuring the well-being of your lovely fish.

The best planted tank substrate always last longer and keeps your aquarium neat and clean.

Maintenance of Aquarium Substrate

Gravels need to be vacuumed frequently for eliminating uneaten food and dirt. River rock simply needs to be washed with clean water to remove dust before putting into aquarium.

Soil needs to replace with time as it gets depleted of nutrients.

Final Scoop!!

Make sure you choose the freshwater aquarium plant substrate by considering its maintenance factor. This planted tank substrate guide has covered all cheap substrates and now you can easily choose the best one.


[Revised and Updated for July, 2019]
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Written by Debra Hutchinson, founder of FishXperts

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