Usable substrate


Guru Class Expert
Sep 6, 2008
between Sac and Reno
Hi several weeks ago Vaughn mentioned in a post a priority to use "Usable substrate". I was not sure totally what that meant. Can't there be several types, textures, and materials used that fall into this heading? Lets say we
use a material that is not one of the most talked about substrates. Dose that mean we would not have the same growth rate or something else?
I have very small uncoated gravel with some Ecco Complete mixed in is this classified as "Usable Substrate"


Lifetime Charter Member
Lifetime Member
Jan 24, 2005
Sacramento, CA
A substrate doesn't have a lot of essential jobs to do. It has to hold the plants in position, act as a biolab, so to speak, where bacteria can do the dirty work of converting useless stuff into useful stuff, and do that without changing the water conditions too much to tolerate. Any inert material, that doesn't disintegrate in the water, with particles small enough to effectively hold the plants, but not so small as to pack down into "sandstone", will be usable as a substrate, That's why cheap pool filter sand works - and pool filter sand can be quartz particles, granite particles, even a mix of many types of rocky particles. It is why we can buy stuff made for other purposes and use it as a substrate - Turface for example.

If you want the best substrate, that is a different story entirely.