Best Substrate for Betta Fish | Guide, FAQs and Reviews 2023

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The best way to ensure you give your Betta a happy home is to think about its natural habitat. Bettas live in warm and somewhat shallow waters.

In this environment, the substrate would be sludge with the roots of the plants crossed. There would also be bits of plants starting to decompose. Bettas love this kind of environment. It gives them access to the surface and gives them plenty of places to hide and find some shade.

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Is it possible to recreate this environment in a domestic tank? Not quite. You can’t let plants rot in the bottom of a small tank without causing a lot of problems with the water. But keeping plants, whether real or artificial, in your tank is one way to make your Betta feel more like home. Before you can add plants, make sure you are using the best substrate for betta fish Betta tank that can support them.

In this article, I’m going to give you everything you need to make the best possible decision when choosing the best substrate for betta fish.

Your substrate also contributes to the health of your aquarium and betta fish and may impose other restrictions on your aquarium setup. Do you plan to have live plants or roommates for your betta? Read on for tips on choosing the best substrate for betta fish tanks!

Top 6 Best Substrate for Your Betta and Plants

Best Betta Tank Substrate Reviews

1. GloFish Aquarium Gravel

best substrate for betta fish

If you are looking for a substrate that is not only a good home for plants, but also adds something extra to your aquarium, you should check out GloFish. Using it in a GloFish aquarium will give you the special blue light glow effect, but it will look great in any aquarium.

It is also available in a number of bold color options, including green, white, black and pink. It also comes in some great color combinations. Solid colored bags contain granules that are more uniform in size and slightly smaller than mixed bags.

This is a gravel style substrate that is great for holding plants in place. It also won’t change the pH of the water, which is great for keeping your fish healthy.

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2. Marina Decorative Gravel

best substrate for betta fish

This gravel substrate from Marina is decorative and functional. It is the perfect size and weight to keep plants and decorations in place in your tank.

In addition, it has an epoxy coating, so that it has no effect on the water chemistry. This type of coating also serves as a perfect place for beneficial bacteria to colonize.

Marina gravel is available in 6 different colours: black, blue, burgundy, neon yellow, orange and purple.

If you have a fish as beautiful as a Betta, why not have a substrate that provides a beautiful backdrop to show off?

Multiple color options allow you to do just that.

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3. Carib Sea ACS00832 Peace River Gravel for Aquarium

best substrate for betta fish

If you like the natural look that the Caribbean Sea creates, but prefer gravel to sand, Peace River Gravel is for you. Made in the USA, it contains no paints or dyes and is the perfect way to make your aquarium feel like a natural river environment. This substrate has a neutral pH, so it has no influence on the water balance.

This gravel has very small grains. It’s even smaller than gravel and is actually the smallest size gravel in the product we’re reviewing.

Due to its size, it helps prevent the accumulation of dirt. It is also the perfect texture to accommodate your plants and create a natural looking and natural home for your Betta.

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4. Spectrastone Shallow Creek Regular

best substrate for betta fish

A gravel substrate that gives a natural look to betta fish.

This product can be used to provide your betta fish with a substrate small enough to prevent the ingress of debris while providing excellent circulation.

Shout-Out!: The granules are not uniform in size and provide one of the best possible textures for the floor of your betta tanks.

Each granule is coated with a layer that prevents it from decomposing and washing out minerals in the water column that would alter PH levels.

Call!: This substrate is covered in dust and needs to be cleaned several times before being placed in the beta fish tank.

There is enough product to cover the bottom of a 5 gallon betta tank, but a larger tank will require more.

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5. Carib Sea Eco Complete Planted Substrate

best substrate for betta fish

A nutrient-rich soil best substrate for betta fish tanks with live plants.

This dark soil is full of live microorganisms that will help your betta tank to establish itself more quickly. Floraspore has also been added to promote root growth.

Shout-Out!: This may be one of the best all-in-one products for live plants in your betta tank.

The texture of this product is firm enough for plants to take root without compacting, a property that prevents roots from stunting. This dark earth contains no artificial dyes, as it is obtained naturally.

Bel!: Contains enough nutrients to give your betta tank an alkaline consistency, not the best trait for PH levels.

The manufacturer claims that rinsing is not necessary, which allows you to avoid a step during tank setup.

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6. Panacea Products Pan Marbles

best substrate for betta fish

A pack of 110 marbles to decorate betta aquariums.

These skillet marbles can be one of the best options for betta fish keepers who don’t want to use gravel or sandbox bottom liners.

Shout-Out!: Panacea Products offers one of the best color selections for these substrates.

Made of polished glass, this product is safe for use in freshwater aquariums and will not affect the chemistry of the water column. Although the surface does not have a porous texture that promotes the growth of good bacteria, it will not scratch fish if they come into contact with it.

Bel!: Smaller bags are not the best choice for covering the bottom of a tank.

They can be easily combined with other substrates to give a varied look and texture to the bottom of your betta tank.

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Does a Betta Tank Need Substrate?

Substrate is the best way to anchor plants so you can give your Betta several places to explore and hide.

It also plays a very important role in water chemistry by providing a natural place for beneficial bacteria to colonize. This helps balance the water and in turn keep your pet healthy.

If you want your pet to do well, it is essential to create the best environment and a good substrate is the foundation. Let’s take a look at some substrates your pet will love.

What is the Best Substrate for a Betta Fish?

All of our selections will make your pet very happy, but the best substrate for Betta fish is Spectrastone.

What we love about it is that it looks so natural. This pebble is the perfect size and weight to hold any plant or decoration that will make the environment that much more inviting for a Betta.

The small pebbles range from ¼ to ½ inch wide and are available in light brown, brown and gold for a truly stunning effect. Each pebble is coated with a special non-toxic coating to prevent it from disturbing the chemical balance of the water.

It helps keep the pH where it should be and provides a home for beneficial bacteria to thrive.

What Kind of Substrate for Betta?

There are many things that determine the best substrate for betta fish. One of the most important is the size of your tank.

If you have a small tank and you are using a container without a filter, you will have to change the water quite often. For 1 to 2 gallon bowls and aquariums, the water will need to be changed completely fairly regularly. So what does this have to do with the substrate?

Think about it, if you are regularly draining your fish’s aquarium water, a gravel-style substrate is better than a sand-based one. With sand, a little more disappears every time you empty it. You also have to wait a while for everything to settle before you can put your fish back in its house.

The gravel substrate is excellent with larger tanks that do not require 100% water changes. It allows everything to remain anchored without disturbing the fish habitat too much. Be careful with the use of large river rocks. Anything around ½ inch is fine, but something larger could cause problems because it can more easily trap waste and uneaten food.

Another thing to consider is whether you are going to use live plants or not. Live plants grow best in gravel substrate for several reasons. In fact, there are good and bad things about gravel and sand substrates.

How Much Substrate for Betta Tank?

The actual amount you need will depend on the size of your tank. In general, however, you are looking for the substrate to have a certain height along the bottom of the tank.

If you plan to have live plants, you should have about 2 inches of substrate. For artificial plants, 1 inch is sufficient. But remember, that means 1 to 2 inches on the bottom of the entire aquarium, corner to corner and front to back. You can also build a varied terrain if you want it to be a bit more interesting for your fish. Add a pile here, a mound there to make it feel more natural.

It is tempting to want to avoid the underground. After all, it makes cleaning the tank so much easier and less work for you. That said, it’s important to think about your pet’s well-being. For starters, a bare-bottomed tank gives you nowhere for beneficial bacteria to grow. This type of bacteria is very important for the balance of the water, especially if you are using a container that does not have a filter.

Bettas naturally thrive in areas where plant life is abundant and they love to swim and explore in the shade. Without substrate you have nowhere to add your own plants. Bettas can become stressed by their own reflection and without a substrate they can see each other wherever they swim. It also seems unnatural.


The only way to keep your Betta fish happy and healthy is to give them a good home. Choosing the right surface is literally and figuratively the best basis for your tank. It encourages bacterial growth, supports both real and artificial plant life, and gives your Betta a real habitat to explore. The ideal home for your Betta really starts at the bottom. From your aquarium, that is.

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