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Ideal substrate particle size for a planted tank

BF McUmber

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I am looking to set up a 40 breeder for a river looking shrimp and goby tank. I went out and got some wild river rocks to make a rock wall hardscape and am trying to determine what to use for a matching substrate. I wanted to keep the substrate dark and kind or river looking. I have eco-complete in my work tank but am having some difficulty planting the tank with my amano shrimp playing gardener. I found this Caribsea Super Naturals- Blue Ridge that has good color, but it has a max particle size of 10mm which kind of seems big in my head. They do not have this product in my local stores to see directly, but in looking at what they do have it seems like standard gravel is around the 5mm mark. For planting purposes do you think this gravel would be too big for things like crypts and moneywort type plants to thrive? I was also going to try to look at the local gravel quarry to see if they have any coarse sand/ small gravel that would fit the bill, or just going to the river and sifting my own substrate which I am a little timid to do.  

The current plan is ~100 yellow cherry shrimp, 3 amano shrimp, 3 blue neon goby, 3 cobalt goby, 1 hillstream loach, some snails, and would be willing to take suggestions for the rest of what to put in for the top of the water. I was thinking possibly some CPD's or chili rasbora, otocinclus, or honey gourami.

Thank you, 


Caribsea Super Naturals- Blue Ridge



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I would thing all but the smallest you’ve listed would present “planting issues”.

I've have good success with this…


The color is what you’ve been looking for too.  Another color option is this…




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@tonyjuliano thank you for your reply.  I also saw that midnight Peral mix that would fit what I am looking for well it was just more expensive. That has a particle size of 2-4 mm. So reading into that is that about the diameter range you would say is a good range? 

oooh it went on sale on chewy! 

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On 6/21/2021 at 10:34 PM, bwar said:

That has a particle size of 2-4 mm. So reading into that is that about the diameter range you would say is a good range? 

For ease of planting, the smaller the particle size the better, IMO.

But 2-4 mm works for me.

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