Plant and Shrimp Substrates

Achieving a beautiful, lush planted aquarium requires selecting the most dependable products.  Among the first products hobbyists should consider when setting up a planted aquarium is a suitable growth substrate.  Many varieties and brands are available, so which one should you choose?  The SevenPorts team takes a look at six of the best substrates available and compares each for composition, water clarity, and its impact on ammonia, nitrate, pH, GH, and alkalinity.

Up Aqua’s Aqua Sand is formulated with special ingredients to help plants grow and thrive in a more suitable environment. Aqua Sand does not require pre-rinsing before use. Aqua Sand is formulated to promote planted freshwater aquariums and shrimp tanks.  pH value is from 6.5-7.0. Trace and Micro are elements added for enhanced plant growth. Aqua Sand is round, more uniform, and harder than other substrates, therefore it will not crush or break down easily. Aqua Sand is a rich, deep brown to black color.
Aqua Sand – Black -12lbs 5kg
Covers
23″ x 11″ at 1″ deep
14″ x 9″ at 2″ deep

Up Aqua’s Shrimp Sand is specially designed for all exotic shrimps, such as black bee, crystal red, red cheery azurite, etc. It is specially formulated to boost shrimp growth and increase the survival rate for baby shrimp. Shrimp Sand holds together very well and will not break down easily. Montmorillonite is added to the sand which has an approximate pH value of 6.5 to 7.0 4.4lbs. Shrimp Sand is a round and harder with a deep brown to black color.
Shrimp Sand – Regular Size – 4.4lbs
Coverage:
12″ x 8″ at 1″ deep
8″ x 6″ at 2″ deep

Mr. Aqua’s Water Plant Soil is composed of specific proprietary blends of organic and inert ingredients providing all essential elements to form a stable and ideal rooting media. This soil also adds buffering capacities for softening water as well as a buffering pH from 6.6 – 6.8 depending on water parameters. Water Plant Soil is a long lasting fertilized plant substrate that lasts up to 12-18 months. It purifies water stained by driftwood.  It prolongs water exchange periods.  Its porous granular structure is easily penetrated by plant roots.
Water Plant Soil – 1 liter Fine
12″ x 6″ at 1″ deep
6″ x 6″ at 2″ deep

Water Plant Soil Fine – 8 liter
Water Plant Soil Course – 8 liter

One 8 liter bag covers approximately
36″ x 12″ at 1″ deep
20″ x 11″ at 2″ deep

AZOO’s Plant Grower Bed provides a stable nutrient base for aquatic plants. The granular structure creates an open network of spaces to allow unrestricted growth for a healthy root system. The Plant Grower Bed helps keep pH stable in the aquarium, maintains water clarity, and delivers nutrients for up to 18 months from initial planting setup. Plant Grower Bed improves water quality and often prolongs the time between water changes in planted aquariums.  AZOO’s Plant Grower Bed’s multi-size semi round pellets are cleaner and water clears faster than with competing brands.  Rinsing is not required. Advanced hobbyists consider Plant Grower Bed the standard by which other bed materials are judged.  Use 1 bag per every 10-15 gallons of water.
Plant Grower Bed
Coverage:
30″ x 12.5″ at 1″ deep
20″ x 9.5″ at 2″

Plant Grower Bed – Black – 12lbs
Plant Grower Bed – Natural Tan – 12lbs

Made in Japan

 

Ammonia

Day 1

Initial Water
R/0 water
pH 7.2

Substrate

Ammonia

Nitrate

pH

GH

Alkalinity

Aquarium Soil Fine

0.25

0

6.8

0

0

Aquarium Soil Coarse

0-.25

0

6

0

0

Shrimp Sand

0

0

6

0

0

Aqua Sand

0

0

7.6

40

0.8

Plant Grower Bed Natural

0

0

7.2

80

1

Plant Grower Bed Black

0

5

7.2

80

1

Day 2

Substrate

Ammonia

Nitrate

 pH

 GH

Alkalinity

Aquarium Soil Fine

0.5

0-5

6

0

0

Aquarium Soil Coarse

0.5

0-5

6

0

0

Shrimp Sand

0

0

6.4

0

0

Aqua Sand

0

0-5

7.2

40

0.8

Plant Grower Bed Natural

0

0-5

7.2

80

0.6

Plant Grower Bed Black

0

10

7

60

0.6

 

Water Clarity Tests

Plant Grower Natural 24 hours after