Selecting Aquarium Substrates

When selecting the material to cover the base of your aquarium it is important to use those that are close to the fish’s natural habitat, such as silver sand or coral sand for marine fish, and gravel for coldwater aquariums. Selecting the correct aquarium substrates can make a big difference to the health of your fish.

Tropical Marine Substrates
Silver sand is made up of quartz particles without the iron oxides coating which give sands a yellow or brown coloring. Whilst some say that it is excellent for propagating aquatic plants from seeds, its best feature its attractive look.
Coral sand is a more expensive alternative made up from the limestone skeletal material of marine organisms. Whist corals are marine organisms from the class Anthozoa, coral sand includes the skeletal remains of other organisms too, such as algae crustaceans and mollusks.

Tropical Freshwater Substrates
Pea gravel and silver sand are two of the most popular choices.

Peat is a substrate worth considering in some detail as whilst it is a great choice for supporting the growth of plant life its disadvantages must be mitigated. Aquarium peat will soften the water and reduce its pH levels. Furthermore, it releases nitrates and CO2 into the water which support healthy fish. However, you must select plants that thrive in low opH conditions, and only experience will teach you the right levels of peat to select.

Coldwater Freshwater Substrates
Pea gravel is the small, rounded smooth stones that are often used in walkways or driveways, and makes a suitable substrate for your coldwater tank. Alternatively, the combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock we know as coal is a simple and stylish substrate choice. A coal-gravel mix is a further alternative.

Coldwater Marine Substrates
You don’t want anything too tidy or ornate if you are going to have clawed animals such as crabs since they will just dig the whole thing up. Beach shingle and rocks make a create substrate – you will find everything you need at the same place you collect your specimens.

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