20 December, 2009

Substrate for Planted Tank

Substrate in Planted Tank
Substrate is the base of the planted aquarium where we have to plant the plants. Most of plants grow roots inside the substrate and take nutrients from the substrate. So a nutrient enriched substrate is highly important for healthy growth of the aquatic plants. As I have mentioned in the Beginner's Planted Set up Guide, the cheapest substrate solution is laterite, freely available at roadside, in West Bengal.

I have also mentioned in that post how to use it as substrate for planted aquarium. 

In this post I will discus some general substrate ideas for planted tankDIY products and also the Commercial subsrate for planted tank like ADA Amazonia/Africana, Seachem flourite, Oceanfree etc. available in the market. including the

DIY Substrate for Planted Tank:
The first layer will be 2" deep. For this layer the first option is obviously laterite. If you can not source laterite then go for garden soil. The best way of using garden soil as substrate for planted aquarium is to boil the soil for few minutes and then dry it (Check out Algae). Your substrate alternate to laterite is ready.
Now in the DIY section also you can mix some Soilrite, which is a commercial substrate used for gardenning. Soilrite at Kolkata can be found near Hazra more. a 3:1 ratio of laterite/garden soil and soilrite is good. You can also mix composed fertilizers available in the plant nurseries with the substrate in planted tank. For Kolkata planted aquarium lovers, you can find composed near Sealdah Railway Station(South section).
If you source laterite, then also you can add some garden soil. If you do not want to mix them fully, there is a tricky method, you can make few small bullets of garden soil, and dry it for 2-3 days in Sunlight. Then put these bullets in the substrate along with laterite.
The next step is topping up the real substrate or making the second layer. You should use sand or small sand gravels for this purpose. 2-3mm gravels or course sand is good. The second layer will be 2-3" deep.
You have to insert the stem plants only upto the end of the upper layer, after some days the plants will grow roots inside the lower layer themselves.

You can make a nice valley effect in the base only by putting a thermocol/styrofoam in some portion of the back side bottom of the tank first and then putting the substrate so that the height of the substrate is less in the front portion of the tank.

Commercial Substrate for Planted Tank
There are few commercial substrates available in the market. You have to just buy them and put in the tank.ADA makes the most popular ones. It's little costly.


  1. Where to get Soilrite in kolkata,need detailed address.

  2. Wonderful article Avik. Very informative, thanks for sharing.

  3. hi can i use ocean free sand for plantation?....bcoz ada soil is tooooooo costly!!!!!!!


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