How to Choose and Prepare Aquarium Substrates Do Know It Aquarium Up to a point, the choice of substrate is a matter of taste, but you must also meet the needs of the fish you are going to keep and the type... 72 72

How to Choose and Prepare Aquarium Substrates

Print - Save as PDF - Send via email
Up to a point, the choice of substrate is a matter of taste, but you must also meet the needs of the fish you are going to keep and the type of filtration used. Do you know how to choose a substrate for your aquarium?

Image of aquarium substrates
Aquarium substrates
Natural sand and gravel are available in various grades. The best types have rounded grains and are lime-free. (Gravels that originate from offshore sites may contain shell fragments and these can harden the water.) Some fish like to bury in the substrate and others feed by sifting through it. In this case, river sand or fine or medium gravels are suitable.

Another consideration is the type of filtration you are intending to use. Sand and fine gravel are too small for use with undergravel filters, as the grains fall into the slats in the filter plates and block them. Coarse gravel can be used with larger fish species, but needs care because it is easy for debris and uneaten food to become trapped in the spaces between the grains.

Colored gravels are also available. Buy them only from a reliable aquatic outlet because in the past, dyes have been known to leach from some of the colored gravels, and these have proved fatal to fish.

Fine gravel

This is a good choice for a smaller aquarium where medium or coarse gravel would look out of proportion.

River sand

Having rounded grains, river sand makes an excellent choice if you are keeping bottom dwelling species. It is a non-compacting sand that allows the free passage of water and plant roots.

Coarse gravel

You can use coarse gravel in large setups or mix it with medium gravel to give a different look to an aquarium. It is especially useful for creating a streambed effect in the tank.

Colored gravels

Available as a mix such as this, or in individual colors, you need to be sure you can live with the gaudy effect it creates.

Medium gravel

This is the standard gravel of the trade and it provides a suitable substrate for just about any size aquarium.

Black gravel

This can be used to dramatic effect to show off such boldly colored species as cardinal tetras.

How much gravel?

If you are using an undergravel filter, the substrate needs to be about 6 cm (2.4 in) deep. If you are not using an undergravel filter, it should be 4-5 cm (1.6-2 in) deep.

Adding the gravel

Sand and gravel are dirty. Although washed before they leave the quarry, they are still dusty and must be washed thoroughly before use. Place small amounts in a bucket, add water, and agitate it using your hands or, perhaps, a wooden spoon kept for the purpose. Drain and repeat as necessary until the water runs clear.
Repeat until all your substrate is cleaned.

Carefully add the gravel to the aquarium, using your hands, a clean flower pot, or a small bucket.
As you add the gravel you can spread it over the base. Some people like to keep the substrate flat; others like to bank it slightly so that it is lower at the front than the back. The choice is yours, but remember that it should be deep enough to put your plants in.

If you are using an undergravel filter, fit it to the base of the tank before you add the gravel.

We hope that after reading this article, you will know how to choose and prepare the best substrate for your fish tank.

Previous article: How to Install a Fish Tank
Next article:  Installing an Internal Power Filter for Aquarium
5 Aquarium: How to Choose and Prepare Aquarium Substrates Up to a point, the choice of substrate is a matter of taste, but you must also meet the needs of the fish you are going to keep and the type...

Latest posts: