5 Best Aquarium Substrate for Planted Betta Fish Tank

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Choosing the best possible substrate for your betta fish tank is one of the most important decisions you can take.

Sadly, many betta fish tank owners neglect this question and choose random substrates that do not suit the betta fish at all.

Providing a good substrate is not only important for the betta fish, but also for the plants that you will have in the aquarium.

Many also opt to have a tank without a substrate. Although it is an option, it is certainly not recommended to do so.

Not only will make the tank look bland and boring or lifeless, but it will also diminish the quality of the tank. That is because you will not be able to plant live plants that can provide a better quality of the water.

In their natural habitat, bettas live in rice paddies and puddles across Asia in tropical areas, and the waters they live in are relatively shallow. The substrate in their natural habitat is a mixture of decomposed vegetables and vegetation and muddy silt.

But it is hard, and not recommended to recreate that in your tank, as it can be a right mess if you want to get a substrate like that.

Instead, there are many great options that you can buy for the substrate, and we will cover the 5 best ones in this article.

Best Substrate for Planted Betta Fish Tank

Here, we are going to take a look at the best substrate options for your planted betta fish tank. Before you pick your option, you have to ask yourself a couple of things. What do you want from your substrate, and what look would you like to achieve.

If you are going for a planted tank, then having a substrate is absolutely necessary. But what kind of substrate to choose? Here are some good options to consider.

1. Seachem Flourite Black Clay Gravel

If you are looking for a great gravel option for your planted aquarium, then this is one of the best options.

Seachem fluorite black clay gravel comes in the black color (as the name suggests), and is perfect for planted freshwater tanks due to it being porous. You can mix it with other gravels, but it is perfectly fine on its own.

What is more, this gravel is porous, which means that it allows air to come into the gravel, which is absolutely essential for the plants to grow and live. The gravel has an interesting appearance, as it comes in the black color. What is more, the gravel in this package is not treated with any chemicals or other substances, so it will not alter the pH of the water.

You can opt for this gravel as it is one of the most proven options out there. Besides, it is relatively easy to clean from time to time, making it the perfect option for planted tanks.


2. Fluval Plant and Shrimp Stratum

This Fluval stratum is a mixture of volcanic and mineral ingredients to provide the perfect substrate for growing plants. It is porous and allows the roots of the plants to grow into the stratum very easily.

This substrate is made from the soil that was collected upon the Mount Aso volcano in Japan, and also has some ingredients that make it a great option with plenty of nutritious elements.

Among those, this stratum will provide plenty of natural minerals and other micro and macro essential nutrients that will allow for better growth of the plants.

This substrate is also the perfect breeding ground for the beneficial bacteria in your tank, allowing them to settle and spread between the pieces of the substrate.

It will support tanks with neutral to slightly acidic PH, but for the betta fish tank, you will require neutral. That is ideal for the betta fish, and you should consider this option for growing plants in the tank.


3. Oliver Knott AQUAEARTH Power Plant Growth

This substrate is of the highest quality level. You can expect very quick growth with this substrate, as it contains all the essential nutritious elements and minerals.

This one was also composed of the ashes and the gravel from Japanese volcanoes, and it contains a secret mixture of clays and minerals to provide the perfect ground for growing your aquarium plants.

It also acts as natural bio-filter due to its high quality. This is perfect for those looking for the highest level of quality of gravel. It is not pre-conditioned with any chemicals or unwanted ingredients, that can cloud the water.

With this gravel, you can only expect very clean water, and it doesn’t even need to be rinsed before it is put into the aquarium.

Your bettas will appreciate the high quality of this substrate, and so will your plants. If you want to grow your plants as quickly as possible, then you can’t go wrong with this substrate.


4. Dennerle Scaper’s Soil

The next option on this list is also geared towards growing plants in your tank. This substrate is perfect for freshwater tanks that require slightly acidic conditions, and for tropical fish.

This substrate is made from the materials that are 100% natural, so you can be sure about the purity of the substrate. It contains all the essential minerals and ingredients to let your plants grow as quickly as possible, but also for other creatures in the tank.

It comes in a 4L package, which will last you for quite a long time. Dennerle Scaper’s Soil is ideal to use with CO2 fertilization and with fulvic acid if you prefer to do that. This substrate will ensure that your water stays as clean as possible, as it will act as a natural filter for your water, and will also not pollute the water, which some types of the substrate can do.

All in all, this type of substrate is perfect for planted betta fish tanks. It contains all the essential nutrients for the quick growth of the plants, plus, it is completely natural, so you will not have to worry about it polluting your water.


5. Carib Sea Peace River Gravel for Aquarium

Although the name says that it is river gravel, it is perfect for freshwater tanks with bettas in the tank. It recreates the natural river ecosystems, and the substrate is very similar to the one found in the natural habitat of the betta fish.

Your fish will feel right at home with this type of substrate. It is also relatively natural, as it doesn’t contain any unwanted chemicals, or paint and dyes.

It is suitable for pH neutral tanks, meaning that it will suit your betta fish tank. The substrate is made specifically with the tropical fish in mind. Also, the plants will be able to grow as quickly as possible as the substrate contains many useful nutrients and other materials like minerals that will allow for quick growth.

If you are going for that natural look in your tank, then this is a perfect choice. The substrate doesn’t contain paint or dye, so it will look as natural as it can.


How to Set Up a Planted Betta Tank?

Setting up a planted betta tank can take some time, but you have to be patient to set it up in the best possible way. However, with these instructions, you will be able to set it up in no time. Just follow these steps, and your tank will be ready.

1. Add the Substrate to the Tank

Once you have purchased the tank, of course, you will also have to buy all the other essentials, including the substrate. Remember to clean the tank before you use it, and rinse the substrate if necessary.

With the substrates from this list, you won’t even have to rinse the substrate. Then, you can add the substrate into the tank. How much you should put it depends on the size of the tank, and you can also calculate it (which we will take a look at later.)

2. Add a small amount of water over the substrate

The next step would be to pour some water over the substrate so that it gets covered. In this way, you will be able to estimate if you have used enough substrate, but also, it will create the perfect conditions for the plants to settle into the substrate straight away. Once you have poured the water, you can start planting.

3. Start planting with tools

Next, you can start planting the plants into the substrate. For this, you will need a couple of tools, which you can buy all the essential tools together in a package.

Tools for planting: Jeeco Aquascaping Kit

Remember to not plant the plants too tightly together, and give them some breathing space. These plants will mostly grow quite a lot during the life cycle, so remember to provide them enough space.

You can also decide to rinse the plants before you put them into the tank. That is important for getting rid of the bacteria and other possible unwanted materials that come with purchased plants.

4. Fill the aquarium with water

This time, you can fill the water almost all the way to the top of the tank. But this is not yet the step when you can start putting the fish into the tank.

Of course, you will also have to set up the filter and the heater, which will be very important for cycling the water before you can actually put the fish into the tank. Also, make sure to condition the water properly before you put fish into it.

5. Cycle the aquarium for at least a week

As we already said, you will have to cycle the water for at least a week before you can start putting the fish into the tank. It takes time for the water to get to the right levels, and for the plants to settle in the substrate.

6. Add the fish

After a week or more, you can add the fish into the tank. Make sure that everything is prepared properly to avoid stressing your fish too much. The change should not be too big from the previous environment the bettas were in.

Why Use Substrate in Your Betta Tank?

The substrate is a very important ingredient, especially if you are planning to have plants in the tank. It gives the plants a ground where they can be planted, and it provides a good amount of nutrients for the plants.

Also, the substrate is important for visual effects; without it, the aquarium would look unusual and very bland.

Do You Need to Change Aquarium Substrate?

No, the substrate doesn’t need to be changed. The only thing you need to do is to rinse and clean the substrate from time to time by vacuuming it.

Other than that, it doesn’t need to be changed, or only in extreme cases, where something extreme has happened and you have no other choice but to change it.

But in general, owners don’t change the substrate at all. Some owners even have the same substrate for years without changing it.

How to Calculate Necessary Aquarium Substrate?

You can calculate the amount of substrate needed by calculating the aquarium size with the substrate depth. If the aquarium base is, for example, 50 cm x 30 cm, and the substrate depth is 5 cm, then the calculation would look like this:

50 x 30 x 5 / 1000 = 7.5 liters

So the end result is how many liters of substrate you need to use. In this case, it is between 7-8 liters.

Should You Vacuum Aquarium Substrate?

Yes, vacuuming the substrate is a good way to extend and enhance the quality of the substrate, and to prevent debris and other unwanted elements from gathering in the substrate.

It can become the breeding ground of unwanted bacteria, so make sure to clean it from time to time by vacuuming it.


Choosing the right substrate for your betta tank is a very important issue, especially if you are planning to have a planted tank.

For this reason, we have provided you with some of the best substrates you can choose from. Maintaining the substrate is easy, all it needs is a vacuuming session every few weeks.

Author Image Fabian
I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.
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