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Planted aquarium substrate is an important choice that will have long term affects on your plants. Although the impacts may not be as immediately visible as say lighting or CO2 choices, the planted aquarium substrate is a critical part of your aquarium's ecosystem and vital to the health of your plants. There are many different options, all of which have benefits and drawbacks, but I'll highlight some of the most popular options. Overall, there are a few basic requirements that must be met to be appropriate for a planted aquarium substrate:

  • A planted aquarium substrate should not be too large or too small (usually between 3-8mm per grain). This is to accommodate root growth; grains that are too small will suffocate and crush roots while large grains won't provide enough contact with the roots.
  • A planted aquarium substrate should not affect the water chemistry negatively. Many substrates are designed for other uses, including salt water use, and may leech minerals and salts into the water. For example, crushed coral leeches calcium into the water of an aquarium. This can raise the pH and KH (carbonate hardness) in a freshwater planted aquarium to damaging levels. Substrates that maintain a constant pH level may also be undesirable, as different plants thrive under different conditions, and changing a substrate is probably one of the most difficult procedures to complete in an established aquarium.

Recommended and Most Reliable Planted Aquarium Substrate - Top 3

Seachem Flourite Black Planted Aquarium Substrate

Customer Satisfaction: 85%


Seachem Flourite Black Planted Aquarium Substrate Review by

Product Description

Fluorite Black is a specially fracted, stable porous clay gravel for the natural planted aquarium. Its appearance is best suited to planted aquaria, but may be used in any aquarium environment. Fluorite Black is most effective when used alone as an integral substrate bed, but it may be mixed with other gravels. Gravel modifiers such as laterite are not necessary. Fluorite Black is not chemically coated or treated and will not alter the pH of the water.

Carib Sea Eco Complete Planted Aquarium Substrate

Customer Satisfaction: 83%


Carib Sea Eco Complete Planted Aquarium Substrate Review by

Product Description

New formula for enhanced root development. Why does Eco-Complete planted aquarium substrate outperform other products? For the same reason that Hawaii, Bali and Costa Rica are famous for lush, exuberant plant growth. The secret lies in rich basaltic volcanic soil which contains iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, sulfur plus over 25 other elements to nourish your aquatic plants. Eco-Complete Planted Aquarium Substrate is mineralogically and biologically complete, giving you luxuriant aquatic plant growth without nuisance algae. Iron rich Eco-Complete eliminates the need for laterite. No artificial dyes, paints, or chemical coatings. Eco-Complete has highly porous spherical grains for optimum diffusion performance and contains live Heterotrophic bacteria to rapidly convert fish waste into natural food for your aquatic plants. It establishes a natural biological balance which makes cycling a new aquarium faster and safer.

Fluval Stratum Planted Aquarium Substrate

Customer Satisfaction: 82%


Fluval Stratum Planted Aquarium Substrate Review by

Product Description

Fluval Stratum is the ideal substrate for stimulating the growth of aquatic plants in freshwater aquariums. Plant roots easily penetrate and spread throughout the substrate, allowing plants to obtain a variety of key, readily available nutrients that will make them flourish. The addition of FLUVAL PLANT MICRO NUTRIENTS will ensure a full complement of essential macro and micro nutrients. The substrate's light, non-compacting, porous structure is also highly beneficial to nitrifying bacteria, which rapidly colonize the vast porous surface, providing optimal water quality for plants. Fluval Stratum's inherent properties will help support a neutral to slightly acidic pH, ideal for most plant species and species of tropical fish or shrimp normally kept in planted aquariums. Fluval Stratum also provides new born shrimp with the ideal refuge, allowing them to escape predation until they are large enough to emerge. This highly attractive substrate will not discolor water and helps control organic discoloration usually present when natural driftwood is used.

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