You probably had this the last time you set up an aquarium. "Sand or gravel?” you wondered. “Or maybe soil? Or there’s that coarse volcanic rock?”
Brief information about all JBL substrate types can be found here: Bodemgrond
To help your planning it is often useful to think about it on another level beforehand.
Planning and decision making
What substrate do my fish and invertebrates need? Catfish and some shrimps make especially high demands on the selection. Once you’ve addressed this question, you can think about the colour of the substrate. Some fish species, such as the discus, prefer darker substrates to lighter ones. Catfish, such as armored catfish, love finer substrates to grub and search for food. Some animals, like shrimps, like to turn over each stone twice in search of their food. This would be difficult with a very coarse substrate. Don’t forget your plants, which grow best in soils (e.g. JBL ProScape PlantSoil BROWN ) or natural nutrient-storing substrates ( JBL Manado and JBL Manado DARK ).
You can thus narrow down your selection according to your fish stock, the colour (light/dark) and the grain size (coarse/fine).
You’ll probably find you have varied requirements and that it’s best to combine several substrates. This is basically no problem if you take a few things into consideration and once you have checked that the material and structure of your floor area allows it.
The structure of the bottom area
As the lowest layer, a nutrient soil ( JBL AquaBasis plus and JBL Florapol ) is introduced into aquariums with plants and then covered with the actual substrate (sand, gravel or natural flooring). In heavily planted aquariums JBL ProScape Volcano Powder and JBL ProScape Volcano Mineral are used as nutrient zones and are covered with a soil (e.g. JBL ProScape PlantSoil BEIGE ). Only aquariums without plants use the substrate directly without an additional nutrient layer.
Should you wish to subsequently introduce a nutrient depot into the substrate, you can use JBL De 7 Balletjes . Nutrient substrates are never used alone in the aquarium. They are always used in combination with another substrate.
Using several substrate types
You have added a nutrient layer and it now needs to be covered with the substrate you have chosen. If this substrate only consists of one variety, distribute it evenly at a thickness of min. 3 cm (better 5 cm). You can flatten the ground near the front pane, as long as you do not intend to add plants (which will need support) there.
If you want to use two substrate types together in an aquarium, please DO NOT mix them. Only substrates with the same grain size can be mixed. Mixing differing grain sizes will create a substance so compressed it will be like a layer of concrete. It is, however, still possible to use sand and a coarser substrate together. For this purpose, build terraces or zones with Plexiglas (acrylic glass) or stones to keep the two substrate types separate from each other. This not only looks good, but is easy to maintain. Combinations of soil and sand or Manado with sand zones are very popular.
The airy sub-soil JBL ProScape Volcano Mineral can be used both under soil and as the sole substrate. You can only use it with sand if you keep the two materials apart.
We are often asked whether you can use ProScape PlantSoil when there are shrimps in the aquarium. After all, there is also a special JBL ProScape ShrimpsSoil BROWN for the invertebrates. The simple answer is YES! Both varieties are suitable for shrimps. It is important that the PlantSoil is only used in heavily planted aquariums, otherwise the excess nutrients would not be consumed. If there are only a few plants in the aquarium, it is better to use the JBL ProScape ShrimpsSoil BEIGE . The nutrient substrate underneath is sufficient for plant growth and no extra nutrient reservoir is needed for the few plants.
Using a substrate heating
A substrate heating (e.g. JBL ProTemp b40 II ) does not heat the water, but ensures uniform nutrient circulation in the substrate. This feeds the plant roots and makes them stronger. It avoids rotting and increases the aquarium’s lifetime. In order for the principle to work, the use of sand is not useful. The grain size of 1.5 mm and more is recommended for a good circulation. Thus JBL Manado , JBL Manado DARK , JBL ProScape PlantSoil BEIGE , JBL ProScape PlantSoil BROWN , JBL ProScape ShrimpsSoil BEIGE , JBL ProScape ShrimpsSoil BROWN and JBL Sansibar RIVER can be used.
If you use sand or other fine substrates, there will NOT be a problem with heat accumulation or stress cracks when using an undergravel heating system. The cables only heat up to approx. 24-28 °C (lukewarm). However, the desirable nutrient circulation will not be achieved. It is a myth that the aquarium glass would burst.
You can read more facts about substrates here: