Which is the best substrate for planted tank depends on a lot of things. The most important thing to think about is the health of your plants and any other fish or shrimp in the tank. We researched a wide range of substrates, including some popular brands and best-selling new ones, and put together this review to help you figure out what’s what. First, let’s look at the key features you need to know before you start shopping.
Type: This refers to the texture of the substrate. There are 3 different kinds available: soil, gravel, and sand. Note that soil doesn’t necessarily mean it looks like, you know, planting soil. Often, it’s small, round granules.
Trace Elements: Trace elements are micronutrients that give your plants the extra kick to thrive. Some trace elements include copper, boron, zinc, manganese, and molybdenum, all of which are essential for plants.
pH: This is a scale that shows how acidic, neutral, or basic something is. It ranges from 0 to 14 with 0 being the most acidic, 14 the most basic. Tank water should be pretty neutral, around 6 or 7.
Organic: A lot of these substrates have natural ingredients. Some even use a few organic ones, too. But if you’re looking for a substrate that’s purely organic, never fear. We did find a great product for you.
Suitable for Shrimp: This goes back to the pH. Shrimp can’t thrive in water that is too acidic or too basic. They do best with a pH of 6.5 to 8. They also need some nutrients and places to hide.
Weight: These products come in a really wide range of sizes. The largest bags give you roughly 20 pounds of substrate while the smallest is only 1.8 pounds. Keep this in mind when you’re weighing the price options.
Now that you know a little bit more about the important things to look for, let’s jump right into our substrate reviews. If you don’t have a lot of time, check out our top and budget picks first. They’re numbers 1 and 2 on the list and give you an idea of what you can expect. Make sure to stick around until the end if you can, though. All of these products are really awesome. Alright, ready? Let’s jump right in.