A substrate is anything that can be used to support aquatic plants, vegetation or algae. It is an underlying layer of the aquarium tank’s soil, or more precisely the subsoil, which can be in the form of a living or inert organism.
When starting out in aquarium keeping, the first step is to determine whether your aquarium will be kept with fish only or with plants, which is called a planted aquarium.
In the latter case, the use of a substrate or gravel aquarium is essential, but it is also possible to opt for a substrate and sand aquarium. The gravel or sand will serve as sediment, while the substrate will help root and provide nutrients to the plants in the aquarium.
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How many pounds of substrate do you need depending on the size of your aquarium?
It’s actually quite simple to determine how much substrate you need. As a general rule, there is a calculation to keep in mind, 0.5 lbs for each gallon.
Let’s take a 30 gallon aquarium as an example. Just do the calculation: 30×0.5=15. The amount of substrate to put in a 30 gallons aquarium is therefore 15 lbs.
This amount should be equivalent to a layer of more or less 2 inches of substrate, if it is not the case, please add a little more until you get close to this value.
How thick should the soil substrate be?
It is not easy to give a general answer to this question, because the types of aquariums are very different. As a general rule, the soil substrate layer should not be less than 1-2 inches. For a large number of plants, the thickness of the layer should definitely be 2-3 inches.
Which substrate for which type of aquarium?
Since the question of how much glass tank substrate to use is already answered above, the next question is which glass tank substrate to choose. To make a long story short, it should be noted that the choice of the best substrate will depend on the type of aquarium.
Cold water aquarium
Some aquarium newbies often start with freshwater fish such as goldfish, golden or shubukin, others prefer species such as china sailfish and fighters.
In any case, these fish are all fond of vegetation and to keep them in the best conditions, the integration of plants like Elodea or Acorus and Anubias species in their glass tank will be more than beneficial.
The use of a glass tank substrate for goldfish will therefore be essential, but it will also be possible to opt for a classic freshwater aquarium substrate to maintain the plants.
When starting out in a tropical water glass tank, platys and guppies are generally the recommended fish species.
Pink beards and neon cardinalis are also easy to maintain in a tank containing hardy, fast-growing plants such as bacopa carliniana, hygraphila polysperma, mayaca fluviatilis or elodea densa.
To ensure a correct and fast anchorage of these plants, it will be necessary to use an aquarium substrate composed of a layer of aquatic soil covered with gravel of about 0.1 inch in diameter.
To recreate a harmonious ecosystem in a saltwater or reef aquarium, it is necessary to choose the right fish, corals and plants.
Clownfish are the main species kept in this type of aquarium, but shrimp and turtles will also find refuge there.
For the floor of your tank, you should use seawater aquarium substrate or marine glass tank substrate.
In pet shops, you will easily find reef aquarium substrate, but also specific products such as turtle glass tank substrate.
How important is the substrate?
Introducing or not natural plants in your aquarium should not be taken lightly, because once the tank is filled with water and fish, it is difficult to go back. In fact, the layout of the floor of a planted aquarium is different from that of an aquarium that only contains fish.
When you decide to introduce real plants into your tank, the installation of an aquarium substrate is an essential step. The role of an aquarium nutrient substrate is to root the plants and provide them with the nutrients they need to grow.
In addition to the decorative aspect, we know that the plants allow the tank to be oxygenated, and its occupants, at the same time. This explanation answers whether to choose a substrate aquarium or not.
In other words, a substrate aquarium is strongly recommended when it comes to a planted aquarium. There are various methods of composing the soil for the latter. It is possible to use a complete planted aquarium substrate that is easily found in stores in order to promote the fertilization of aquatic plants.
Another technique is to use a traditional substrate which is composed of a natural aquarium substrate and sand. In this case, it is a substrate aquarium without gravel.
To find out about the price of a glass tank substrate or to find tips on how to introduce the product into the tank, simply consult a glass tank substrate forum on the Internet or go directly to a pet shop or specialized trade.