Best Aquarium Substrate For Neon Tetra

Aquarium Substrate For Neon Tetra

Aquarium substrate plays a vital role while keeping a neon tetra in the tank. Neon tetras prefer planted aquarium and hence substrate becomes one of the basic things you need to keep in the tank. But the struggle starts when you are a beginner and have no idea what substrate goes in what tank. Questions linger, which is the best aquarium substrate for neon tetra? And why that specific aquarium substrate for neon tetra?

Aquarium substrate doesn’t really bother neon tetras, they will live in any substrate gravel or sand. But since neon tetras prefer a planted aquarium, you have to look for substrate in which plants can grow properly. Hence Aquasoil is the best aquarium substrate as it is one of the complete substrates with all the nutrients needed for root-feeders to survive in a tank.

In this article, I’ll help you to choose the best aquarium substrate for your neon tetras and also teach you how to maintain it.

So, with no further ado let’s get started, shall we?

Aquarium substrate for neon tetra

ADA Aquasoil Amazonia

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Aquarium Substrate For Neon Tetra

Seachem Flourite

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Aquarium Substrate For Neon Tetra

CaribSea Eco-Complete

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Aquarium Substrate For Neon Tetra

Mr. Aqua Aquarium Soil Substrate

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Aquarium Substrate For Neon Tetra

Hermit Habitat Terrarium Substrate

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Best Aquarium Substrate For Neon Tetra

Since neon tetras prefer planted aquarium, there are a few aquarium substrates you can choose from considering their needs.

However, Aquasoil is the hands-down, best of all the aquarium substrates you can put in the tetra tank. Always choose Aquasoil no matter what, and if it isn’t available or feels like it is out of your budget, pick the others from the list I have given below after Aquasoil.

ADA Aquasoil Amazonia

ADA Aquasoil Amazonia is the best substrate you can keep in the neon tetra tank. This one will give you options to choose from different types of plants.

Aqua soil is high on nutrients that will last more than a year in the tank. You can add liquid dosing of nutrients in the tank afterward but it is no rocket science.

This can lower the pH of the tank so take necessary steps to maintain the pH as neon tetras don’t prefer fluctuation.


  • Enriched in nutrients
  • Ideal sized granules for aquatic plants to thrive in
  • Huge range of choices of plants
  • Color Mimics the natural habitat of neon tetra making their color pop up
  • Softens the aquarium water


  • Expensive
  • It can lower the tank pH and pH fluctuation can harm your neon tetra.
  • Ammonia spikes during the first few weeks.

Few Substrates Other Than Aquasoil For Neon Tetra

You might not able to afford Aquasoil for your aquarium, so there are few options you can look at while choosing substrate for neon tetra tank.

Seachem Flourite

The second best aquarium substrate for the planted tank or neon tetra tank, we have Seachem Flourite. The best thing about this aquarium substrate is you don’t have to replace it ever.

This won’t change the water chemistry as it contains no altered chemicals but can make the water cloudy though at first.

I suggest you wash and clean it thoroughly before placing it inside the tetra tank to avoid discoloring your water. This clay gravel is quite porous yet dense so avoid using plants with delicate stems.


  • Entirely Organic
  • Excellent quality that lasts long
  • It won’t affect the aquarium water chemistry
  • Contains a high amount of essential nutrients
  • Porous Clay Gravel


  • Limited plant choice as it is not ideal for plants with sensitive roots
  • Possibility Water clouding during first few weeks
  • Dense and can harm the stems of your plants while pacing them in it
  • Can discolor your water if not washed properly

CaribSea Eco-Complete

CaribSea Eco-Complete is another one made up of volcanic soil with high nutrients present. This one can act as an excellent base for plant roots helping the plant to thrive in the aquarium.

CaribSea has the potential to maintain the biological balance and hence easier to cycle out the aquarium water.

The absence of additives, dyes, or any other chemical components makes this substrate ideal for neon tetra along with zero possibility of water discoloration.


  • Enriched with nutrients
  • Rich in iron content leaving behind the necessity to add extra laterite
  • No artificial components present
  • Has live heterotrophic bacteria
  • No discoloration of aquarium water
  • You can find it in various colors according to your preference.


  • Odor when you open the bag at first

Mr. Aqua Aquarium Soil Substrate

Mr. Aqua Aquarium Soil Substrate is another substrate that has the potential to lower the pH of the tank.

This substrate is known to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria while providing excellent nutrients for plants.

Although Mr. Aqua Aquarium Soil Substrate is specifically made for dwarf shrimp and betta, you can use it in the neon tetra tank as well.


  • Rich in nutrients
  • Promotes plants’ roots development


  • Lowers the pH of the tetra tank
  • Discoloration of aquarium water for the first few hours.

Hermit Habitat Terrarium Substrate

If you want to have the brightest color substrate in your tank, then this is the one. Although I recommend you to use a black color substrate for the neon tetra, you can do whatever you think is the best.

Hermit Habitat Terrarium Substrate is natural gravel that supports and provides the base to the roots of plants.

But, the nutritional value of this substrate is null. So, you have to keep plants that can absorb nutrients from the aquarium water.

And the replacement of this substrate should be done every six months.


  • Adds brighter and vibrant color to the tank
  • Natural
  • No aquarium water discoloration


  • No nutritional value
  • Not ideal for various types of plants, only best for water column feeders
  • Constant replacements

Why Is Aqua Soil Best Aquarium Substrate For Neon Tetra?

I know I am babbling more about Aqua soil and you need to know why? There are so many benefits when it comes to using Aqua soil in the neon tetra tank.

But first let’s learn about what they are made up of. You know what happens when you mix normal soil with water, it gets muddy.

So, you must understand or contemplate that the Aquasoil I am recommending you isn’t the normal soil from the garden.

It is the soil that comes from the natural earth present in the volcanic origin. These soils are enriched in trace elements and other few nutrients root-feeders ask from.

The soil granules are much softer than gravel hence it is easier for plants to take root. During the manufacturing process, the soils are converted into small granules and are then burned slightly.

During this process, other essentials such as coal are added to the composition while preparing the substrate.

These soils keep the water cleaner and dirt particles due to the presence of carbon particles that binds with dirt.

Humid and fluvic acids are the other two components of aqua soil that help to improve the good health of neon tetra.

So, you see Aquasoil is exactly what your neon tetra along with all the aquatic plants need in the tank.

What Color Aquarium Substrate Should You Choose For Your Neon Tetra?

The color of the aquarium Substrate is the most conflicted and confusing topic. Some people believe you can keep any color substrate according to your preference.

Contradictorily, some believe aquarium substrate and its color should mimic the natural habitat of the fish you are planning to keep.

I agree and recommend the latter one as well. If you are keeping a fish away from their natural habitat in captivity, at least give them things that feel natural.

Not that colorful substrate will harm your tetras or anything, it is just how I think it is supposed to be. Now, coming to the color preference for the neon tetra tank, they come from the rivers of the Amazon Basin.

So, these tetras like blackish color, so while you choose Aquasoil you are also giving them exactly the color they want.

The other dark substrates you can go for are black sand, black gravel, etc. and these will give you the exact color you want in the tank.

Not that they will not adjust in pink, green, or whatever color substrate you choose, they will, actually they are quite adapting and adjusting.

The dark-colored substrate will make the colors of neon tetras pop up and add more attraction and beauty to the tank.

But again, it is a personal choice and you can choose anyone you like. Go for the one you think is best for your tetras and for the one that enhances the colors of neon tetras.

How Much Aquarium Substrate Do You Need In Your Neon Tetra Tank?

You cannot be quite sure how much aquarium substrate to keep in the tetra tank unless you follow a certain formula.

Since the neon tetra tank is a well-planted one, you need two layers of substrate. The lower level should be 1-2 inches in height similar to the height of plant roots and needs to be the substrate full of nutrients.

The top layer of the aquarium substrate needs to be 2 inches. This one should act as the anchoring support for plants and prevent the nutrients washout.

Do not pour the whole bag substrate you purchased in the tank. Here are the instructions to follow and calculate the amount of aquarium substrate you need in the neon tetra tank.

  1. You have to measure the length as well as the width of the tetra tank. Make sure the unit is in cm.
  2. Think about the thickness of the layer you want to keep in the tank. (in cm)
  3. Now calculate the amount of the soil need by using the formula: Length x width x layer divided by 1000.

While you use aquarium soil, the thickness of the substrate layer needs to be 3 inches without the presence of any other layer.

Maintaining The Aquarium Substrate In The Neon Tetra Tank

You can’t leave the aquarium substrate on its own and think it will clean itself. It won’t, so you have to do it yourself.

The process is quite simple all you have to do is vacuum and remove the dirt out. You have to surface vacuuming of the light substrate every week while performing the water change.

If you have embedded old roots in the tank that are there for few years, it is high time to remove them. But be careful with the roots, only the roots of dead plants that are no longer in the tetra tank should be removed.

This can be quite a work and there is no shortcut technique to do it. The work is the same as vacuuming the light substrate but this time some deep cleansing.

Use a small spade or your fingers to uproot the old roots and move the Aquasoil. This needs to be done whilst you siphon up detritus and small particles.

Once you use aqua soil in the tetra tank, I recommend you to perform 25 to 50% water change twice a week for the first 4 weeks.

This soil has the capacity to lower the pH. of the tank and affect the aquarium water chemistry.

Here is an article to help you clean the tetra tank properly How to Clean a Tetra Fish Tank? [Step-by-Step]

Frequently Asked Questions

You might be wondering a few more questions about neon tetras. I might not be able to read your mind or answers all the questions you have in this segment. But here are answers to a few FAQs you might like answers to as well.

What Do Neon Tetras Like In Their Tank?

There are few things that neon tetra asks for in the tank. From temperature to pH along with the lighting neon tetras need everything with a certain range even though they are hardy fish.

The ideal temperature and pH for neon tetras need in the tank ranges from 70°F to 81°F and 6 to 7 respectively. Whilst the hardness of the water should be on the soft side with less than 10 dGH.

Now coming to the lighting for the neon tetra tank, these fish need moderate to low lighting. You can go for the fluorescent light with lower watts.

You might like to read full article on What Do Neon Tetras Need In Their Tank?

Can Neon Tetras Live In Tap Water?

No, neon tetras cannot live in tap water. There are many reasons for not using tap water for neon tetra tanks but the major one is the presence of chlorine.

Most of the public water facilities use chlorine to decontaminate the water and hence the essence remains.

Likewise, this chlorine present in the tap water is highly toxic for both neon tetras and beneficial bacteria present in the tank.

Do Neon Tetras Need A Bubbler?

No, neon tetras don’t need a bubbler in the tank although they won’t mind when there is one too.

Since neon tetras prefer a heavily-planted tank, the oxygen demand is quite easily met with these aquatic plants.

But some aquarists like the aesthetic look bubbles bring to the tank, so it is never wrong to have one if you prefer them too.

Even your neon tetras love the bubbles and chase them in the tank and if you have a heavily stocked aquarium, bubblers can be boon not letting the oxygen deplete quickly.

Learn More About This From The Similar Article Do Neon Tetra Fish Need An Air Pump?


Briefly, aquarium substrate might not be a major thing for neon tetra at first but if they want to thrive in the tank, they will ask for plants. So, automatically for plants to grow properly and thrive in the tank, you have to look for a substrate for root feeders. Aqua soil is the best choice for the tank with neon tetra and plants. You’ll see the difference once you switch to or choose to keep Aquasoil in the tetra tank. However, there are few more options you can choose from if you don’t really prefer Aquasoil or can’t afford it.

Maintain the substrate well and other water parameters in the tetra tank, you’ll have beautiful neon tetras and plants thriving.

Good Luck!

Happy Fish Keeping!!!

Recommended Articles:

  1. 15 Fun And Interesting Facts About Neon Tetra
  2. Are Neon Tetras Freshwater Tropical Fish?
  3. How To Take Care Of Neon Tetra Fish: Best Tips
  4. 10 Best Aquarium Plants For Tetra Fish
  5. How to Clean a Tetra Fish Tank? [Step-by-Step]

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