What Type of Substrate Should You Use In Your Fish Tank?

The substance that covers the bottom of your tropical aquarium is a material known as “substrate.” It comes in a variety of colors and materials, leaving aquarists with a wide range of options when it comes to setting up their fish tank. Here are a few of the things that you’ll want to consider when picking substrate for your tank.

Types of Substrate:


Gravel is the most common substrate found in home fish tanks. It is available in a wide range of colors — from neon pink to more natural stone colors. However, it is important to keep in mind that if you have fish that dig, this may not be the best substrate choice.


Sand is a beautiful substrate that can also come in a variety of colors. You can add black sand or lightly colored sand that helps your fish stand out. Since sand is so fine, you won’t find that waste falls through the cracks as much as it does with gravel. That said, you will still want to make sure that you don’t siphon too much sand out of your tank when you clean it! Sand substrate is also not ideal for fish tanks with live plants.

*Under gravel filters generally can not be used with sand substrate.

Crushed Coral

If you have problems with the pH of your aquarium, you may want to look into raising it with crushed coral. This is great for fish such as African Cichlids.

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