Substrate – The ground we walk on

Substrate is one of the first things you scape into your aquarium. It gives the shrimp the real feel for the actual ground they walk on. There is definitely many types of substrate you can use in your aquarium; some being aesthetically pleasing, while others being PH buffers and micro nutrients for aquatic plant life.

The 90’s called, they want their substrate back

We all remember seeing aquariums with various bright color substrates to make a tank really “pop”. Even to this day, people still use these kinds of substrate for betta and goldfish tanks. Now don’t get me wrong, these types of substrates are completely harmless, last forever, and are very easy to remove and clean. But on the downside, they are very retro, don’t support plant life(unless you water column dose), and if we are talking about shrimp – could keep their brilliant vivid colors subdued because of the bright contrast. Plus, it isn’t very natural because you don’t see lakes and rivers with bright substrates.

I see a substrate and I want it painted black

Why darker substrates? First and foremost, your red cherry shrimp will have a deeper shade of red compared to them walking around on brighter substrates. Secondly, your substrate will look natural, which means that when you get into aquascaping with hardscapes or even aquarium plants, your aquarium will look like you actually chopped a piece of a lake bed, river, or stream and put it into your living room. It’s amazing what just a little different substrate color can do to visually make your aquarium look surreal.

Plant life

All dirt in this world has numerous essential nutrients that plants dig their roots into and extract to grow into huge redwood trees! OK, so we aren’t going to grow redwoods and I don’t think we have the lifespan to get there, but we do have tons of choices with aquatic plants that can grow in various types of conditions. But that is another subject on its own. Most substrates bought or even homemade will hold nutrients – so there is really no right or wrong answer of what substrate to add to your aquarium. I personally would rather buy a substrate because the dirt in Las Vegas is just not ideal, but if you are the type that can DIY your own substrate, it’s totally fine.

pH buffer

With some species of shrimp being very sensitive to water conditions, another good thing about substrates is its ability to lower pH levels if your water is somewhat hard. I hate getting technical into these numbers because when dealing with RCS (red cherry shrimp), you don’t have to worry too much about pH and all the other scientific elements that will make you crawl up into a ball and rock back and forth. This is just for people that might be adding some types of hardscapes like Seiryu Stones that generally increase pH in an aquarium.

The most popular substrates for aquariums

There are tons of substrates on the market for both aquatic plants and dwarf shrimp but only a selected few that will compliment very well in your aquarium to either: help promote plant growth or create a natural and stable environment for shrimp to start breeding. Check out below for the popular substrates to choose from.

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I'm not the greatest writer in the world but I like to educate people on how to setup and maintain a beautiful shrimp tank that friends and family will be envious about. It's a great hobby and takes a bit of knowledge but once you get it down - it seriously beats looking at a screensaver of fishes!
  • Hannah H.

    So wait, can I use plant substrate? I’ve looked everywhere for the answer but to no avail. I use imagitarium and NG substate in my planted tanks but cover it with rocks to keeps the substrate from floating into my filtration system, but I am wondering if I could only use that substrate with no rocks for a planted shrimp tank?