Oliver Knott: substrate
Information concerning substrates in aquaristics

In this video, Oliver Knott presents various commercially available substrates for the use in plant aquariums or planted aquascapes. By now, the aquarist has quite the range of various substrates at hand to choose from.

First, Oliver shows us the more traditional sand substrate. In general, this substrate is water neutral, meaning, it does not affect the water values. Sand is traditionally used in aquaristics for soil-ravaging animals such as cories. But discus or certain cichlid species feel very comfortable on sand, as they know it from their original habitats. Often these fish rummage through the sandy ground for food, or they dig little pits as spawning and breeding places. In aquascaping, sand is often used as a decorative element, for example as a brighter zone in the foreground or for paths and roads that meander into the background. If you want to learn more about sand as a substrate in aquascaping, click here.

Natural gravel, like sand, has been in use for a long time in aquaristics. This substrate is suitable for any kind of aquarium. Gravel is often used for planted aquariums as well, often in combination with a subjacent layer of long-term fertilizer. Most gravel have no influence whatsoever on the water values in the aquarium, as only a few varieties of natural gravel can contain lime. They may slightly harden up aquariums with soft water.

Resin-coated gravel has been available for a couple of years now, like the quartz gravel from Dennerle. Apart from more natural hues like black and brown, more striking, artificial-looking colours can be realized. In the video, Oliver Knott presents a brown coloured gravel. These substrates are especially water neutral due to their coating and don’t emit pollutants into the water.

Last but not least, the aquascaper presents and explains the so-called soil substrate. This active substrate influences the water parameters and establishes a soft and acidic environment. This is beneficial to many aquatic plants, but also for some animal species such as bee shrimp (Caridina logemanni). We present soil in more detail in this article.