Best Substrate For Shrimp Tank

In this article, I give my recommendation on what is the best substrate for a shrimp tank as well as provide helpful tips on this topic.


Do I need substrate for my shrimp tank?

A shrimp tank needs substrate for 2 reasons.

  1. Provide the base for your plants, which in turn, provide biofilm to the shrimps
  2. Provide buffering capability, which tends to lower the pH of the tank.

There are, however different kinds of substrate to consider, including buffering and inert substrate. Different shrimp breeds need different substrate types due to their requirement on pH levels and food source.


Best substrate for shrimp tank

For shrimp tank, the best substrate I recommend comes from fluval stratum. It is easy to plant and is porous enough to baby shrimps to take shelter in. The cost is also very reasonable and is a good balance between value and money. The downside is it can break apart easily so you need to exercise extra caution when moisturizing the substrate as well as filling the tank.


Shrimp substrate comparison

There are a couple of different options when it comes to creating substrate for your shrimp tank. Here are the considerations:

  • Sand vs gravel: Sand is a better choice for plants as their roots can take root easily. Gravel is more for decorative purposes as well as to create caves for shrimps to hide in. The advantage of gravel is that it will not break apart over time so you don’t need to replace them.
  • Buffering vs inert: An inert substrate is easier to manage as it does not affect the water perimeters by too  much. They don’t help too much in plant growth but they can provide the base for the plants to take root. If you are a beginner, an inert substrate would be a better choice.
  • White vs black color: Black color makes the colors stand out and creates more vibrancy. They can also hide dirt easily as it makes the tank looks less messy.  The downside of black substrate is that it is more difficult to match the colors. In comparison, white color can easily mixed with most plants and rocks.


Fluval stratum review

The fluval stratum is an inert substrate that is great for any beginner who wants a shrimp tank. It is easy to root your plants in them and shrimps seem to love sifting through it.

The downside is that it might bump your pH down a bit. However, for shrimps, this little bump should not be anything to worry about.

To get the best out of this substrate, this is how you should use fluval stratum:

  • Do not rinse the substrate! I know the package told you to do so but I personally fee it unneccesary. Depending on how you rinse, you might break up the stratum as they are so light
  • Just place them into the tank as desired.
  • Moisture them slightly by carefully pouring the water over your hand or just pour lightly. The substrate should be moist enough for you to start planting
  • Place the plants
  • Fill the tank with water. Again do it very slowly to avoid disintegrating the furval stratum. You will still see a slight cloudiness in the tank but it should clear up after a while.
  • For plants that require strong fertilizer, you will need to add in root tabs as the stratum is a low nutrient substrate that will not be sufficient.


FAQ on fluval stratum

  • How long does fluval stratum last

If you used them like how I described, the substrate should last between 1.5 to 2 years. However the following will reduce their duration:

  1. Strong water flow when filling the tank
  2. Rinsing them too strongly
  3. Vacuuming the substrate as they tend to break apart easily
  4. Changing your aquascape and disturbing the substrate
  • How much fluval stratum do i need

The usual dosage I used is 1lb per gallon. However the actual amount needed also depends on how much plants you intend to incorporate.

  • How do I clean furval stratum

You don’t really need to clean it as it is made up of dirt. If water gets muddy or unclear, simply do a water change. However, from experience it wouldn’t muddle the water unless you vacuum it or shirt your plants around.


Fluval stratum vs seachem flourite

Fluval stratum is a soil based substrate while the seachem flourite is clay based. As a result, fluval stratum contains more nutrients than seachem flourite. However, seachem flourite is neutral and will not lower the pH of your tank.

The great thing about fluval stratum is that it can shelter the baby shrimps better than seachem flourite. As such, I find it more suitable for a shrimp tank, especially if you want a shrimp colony to thrive.

The seachem flourite’s advantage is that it does not break down like other soil based substrate.  Its sharp edge is also more suitable for plants to take root of. However, you definitely add in fertilizers if you want your plants to grow well when using this as substrate


Fluval stratum vs ada aquasoil

Another popular substrate brand is ada aquasoil.

Both are soil based so they have the same properties, which are

  • Buffering
  • Nutrients
  • Will break up within 2 years

The difference lies in the quality.

Ada aquasoil is highly regarded as having the best quality. It has stronger buffering capacity, more nutrients and less likely to break up.

However, all these comes at a higher price.

Aqa aquasoil is around $3 per pound while fluval stratum is around $2.25 per pound. The difference might seem little but when you multiple it by 20-40 pounds, they do add up.

The question is do you really such high quality substrate for a shrimp tank. Personally I don’t think so, which is why I recommended fluval stratum as a balance between value and cost.

If you have the spare cash, ada aquasoil definitely is a good choice.



A good substrate for a shrimp tank goes a long way in helping to create water stability and a thriving shrimp colony. Fortunately, using it is pretty straight forward for a shrimp tank as there are less factors to consider.

Among the brands, I used fluval stratum the most but ada aquasoil and seachum flourite are also good choices.


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