Pros and cons of soil as a substrate?

  • Thread starter

Dewclaw83

Well Known Member
Messages
526
Reaction score
357
Points
73
Experience
4 years
So I’m contemplating putting soil in a tank as a substrate and have done some reading, however, I haven’t found any kind of listing of the pros and cons of soil vs gravel, so I was wondering what everyone’s thoughts on the topic were.

Also, any particular cleaning tips would be appreciated!
 

ojdgtjc

Valued Member
Messages
108
Reaction score
32
Points
38
well ive never done soil, but im sure it would be a PAIN to clean or aquascape. but idrk so u decide
 

Donthemon

Well Known Member
Messages
950
Reaction score
615
Points
128
Experience
4 years
What about sand? Easy to clean, looks good.
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter

Dewclaw83

Well Known Member
Messages
526
Reaction score
357
Points
73
Experience
4 years
Donthemon said:
What about sand?
Sand isn’t really the look I was thinking of going for
 

Redshark1

Fishlore VIP
Messages
4,641
Reaction score
2,046
Points
433
Experience
More than 10 years
Don't do it. Soil is a right pain in the backside. If you ever disturb the substrate you won't see your fish for a week.
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter

Dewclaw83

Well Known Member
Messages
526
Reaction score
357
Points
73
Experience
4 years
Redshark1 said:
Don't do it. Soil is a right pain in the backside. If you ever disturb the substrate you won't see your fish for a week.
That's one of the things I thought might be an issue with it lol

Does anyone have a recommendation for something that might give a similar look without the above problem then?
 

PascalKrypt

Well Known Member
Messages
2,377
Reaction score
2,342
Points
273
Soil is commonly capped with fine-grained gravel or stones or a thin layer of sand to keep it in place.

As someone who uses soil in all of their tanks, I'd say go for it. The mess it can potentially make during water changes is overrated, I have uncapped soil and it is fine. Just pour on top of something (I use plastic lids of containers) and it is just like pouring into a gravel tank.
It will make your plants grow much, much better and root better, it looks natural, and soil is a great medium for bacteria and so the substrate of choice for people wanting a filterless tank.
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter

Dewclaw83

Well Known Member
Messages
526
Reaction score
357
Points
73
Experience
4 years
PascalKrypt said:
Soil is commonly capped with fine-grained gravel or stones or a thin layer of sand to keep it in place.

As someone who uses soil in all of their tanks, I'd say go for it. The mess it can potentially make during water changes is overrated, I have uncapped soil and it is fine. Just pour on top of something (I use plastic lids of containers) and it is just like pouring into a gravel tank.
It will make your plants grow much, much better and root better, it looks natural, and soil is a great medium for bacteria and so the substrate of choice for people wanting a filterless tank.
Adding a layer of gravel or stone is a decent idea, I may do that
When reading, I found a few sources that recommended adding a layer of "Lava Granulate" underneath, do you do this? Also, is there any particular soil you'd recommend?
 

PascalKrypt

Well Known Member
Messages
2,377
Reaction score
2,342
Points
273
Dewclaw83 said:
Adding a layer of gravel or stone is a decent idea, I may do that
When reading, I found a few sources that recommended adding a layer of "Lava Granulate" underneath, do you do this? Also, is there any particular soil you'd recommend?
Nope. I just use soil from outside, aka local soil from my yard. I'm very pleased with that but it is better to do that when you know the composition of your soil and you can be sure there are no dangerous contaminants in it.
Soil labeled as organic is generally the preferred choice commercially, you want unfertilised soil (if trying to use regular plant potting soil, check as most come pre-fertilised).
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter

Dewclaw83

Well Known Member
Messages
526
Reaction score
357
Points
73
Experience
4 years
PascalKrypt said:
Nope. I just use soil from outside, aka local soil from my yard. I'm very pleased with that but it is better to do that when you know the composition of your soil and you can be sure there are no dangerous contaminants in it.
Soil labeled as organic is generally the preferred choice commercially, you want unfertilised soil (if trying to use regular plant potting soil, check as most come pre-fertilised).
I live on a farm, and the crops get sprayed with various stuff so I don't think I'd risk my own soil :p But thanks for the tips! I'll look around at my options later this week
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter

Dewclaw83

Well Known Member
Messages
526
Reaction score
357
Points
73
Experience
4 years
PascalKrypt said:
Nope. I just use soil from outside, aka local soil from my yard. I'm very pleased with that but it is better to do that when you know the composition of your soil and you can be sure there are no dangerous contaminants in it.
Soil labeled as organic is generally the preferred choice commercially, you want unfertilised soil (if trying to use regular plant potting soil, check as most come pre-fertilised).
I just had a friend offer to give me some "charcoal volcano grassbed stuff" that she said works "wonderfully".... thoughts on this? I'm actually not entirely sure what it is lol
 

PascalKrypt

Well Known Member
Messages
2,377
Reaction score
2,342
Points
273
Dewclaw83 said:
I just had a friend offer to give me some "charcoal volcano grassbed stuff" that she said works "wonderfully".... thoughts on this? I'm actually not entirely sure what it is lol
For use an in aquarium? I know volcanic rock pebbles are sold as orchid substrate that may do nicely in an aquarium. They have a huge surface area and can support a lot of bacteria. Not sure if it supposed to do something else. I mean, if you like the look of it, go for it. Just make sure not to bury the soil under a thick layer of rocks or other inert substrate because that will cause rotting (cuts off oxygen from your soil).
 

Cometbetta

New Member
Messages
31
Reaction score
15
Points
8
Experience
3 years
I use organic potting soil or backyard soil in all of my planted tanks. I personly love it. I put a good layer of sand and or gravel on top of it to keep it in place. It is sometimes a problem during water changes, but that can be avoided by pouring the water on a plastic bag or container. The messiest part is when you first add the water. The soil is more likely to float because it is not fully wet yet. Because of this, I would spray down the soil before adding the layer of sand/gravel and definitely before filling the tank up completely. I will say it is risky to use suction tank clearners on the substrate unless your sand is very thick above the soil. I have not had experience with charcoal volcano grassbed stuff, but it sounds cool :D

as I see it:
Pros
- cheap
- looks natural
- good substrate for plants

Cons
- more work to set up
- can be messy
- may not be able to suction clean substrate
 

Bob79

Valued Member
Messages
65
Reaction score
43
Points
28
Experience
2 years
I have been using soil in my planted tanks for over a year now I have never disturbed soil to such an extent that wouldn't clear up in 10-15 minutes & I have never disturbed it during a WC (I do vacuum the sand). The only time I have seen it is while planting new plants.
I usually go with 2-3" of soil capped with 1-2 inches of sand.
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter

Dewclaw83

Well Known Member
Messages
526
Reaction score
357
Points
73
Experience
4 years
Thanks for the advice!
I dug up some pictures of my friend’s tank, I’m guessing this is the stuff she offered me:
09725781-BA71-48C9-A749-00FF087C99B8.jpeg
54FEF058-C046-46C8-86A3-9FDA9367DA4D.jpeg


If I add some rabbit snails, would that help prevent any rotting? Supposedly they’re supposed to dig around in the substrate, which would cause some amount of disturbance and turnover
 

Bob79

Valued Member
Messages
65
Reaction score
43
Points
28
Experience
2 years
Dewclaw83 said:
Thanks for the advice!
I dug up some pictures of my friend’s tank, I’m guessing this is the stuff she offered me:
09725781-BA71-48C9-A749-00FF087C99B8.jpeg
54FEF058-C046-46C8-86A3-9FDA9367DA4D.jpeg


If I add some rabbit snails, would that help prevent any rotting? Supposedly they’re supposed to dig around in the substrate, which would cause some amount of disturbance and turnover
Is the soil exposed or under a layer of sand??
It looks like it's exposed.
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter

Dewclaw83

Well Known Member
Messages
526
Reaction score
357
Points
73
Experience
4 years
Bob79 said:
Is the soil exposed or under a layer of sand??
It looks like it's exposed.
I honestly don’t know, I’ve never seen her tank in person
 

Bob79

Valued Member
Messages
65
Reaction score
43
Points
28
Experience
2 years
Dewclaw83 said:
I honestly don’t know, I’ve never seen her tank in person
I would suggest that you have the soil covered with atleast 1" of sand. Also not sure about rabbit snails but you might want to avoid anything that turns over the substrate.
You can always remove the rotting leaves during a wc
 

Dennis57

Well Known Member
Messages
592
Reaction score
451
Points
83
Experience
More than 10 years
I use a 3" bed of eco complete in all my tanks, and top it off with about 2" of rock on top. Plants love it.
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter

Dewclaw83

Well Known Member
Messages
526
Reaction score
357
Points
73
Experience
4 years
Bob79 said:
I would suggest that you have the soil covered with atleast 1" of sand. Also not sure about rabbit snails but you might want to avoid anything that turns over the substrate.
You can always remove the rotting leaves during a wc
I’m not actually sure how much they actually turn over stuff, I’ve only read about them and not all of the sources mention them doing so. But just out of curiosity, why avoid turnover?
 
Toggle Sidebar

Aquarium Calculator

Follow FishLore!





Top Bottom