Aquarium Soil over River Sand?

Tiffany Green

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Jul 16, 2018
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Hi all...

I have had 2 of my 15 gallon tank up and running with my black skirt tetras and guppies for a couple of months already. I initially covered the tank bedding with white river sand because I wanted a Japanese Garden theme.
Over the few weeks i read that black skirt tetras do better with dark tank setting and I have had wonderful experience with the black aquatic soil I got for my bettas.

my plants are 'potted' in tiny ceramic bowls in the tank and they are in the aquatic soil.

I am tempted to 'change' the tank bedding with the darker coloured soil.
Am wondering, do people just add on a layer of black aquatic soil on top of the river sand?

Thanks so much in advanced.


Feb 25, 2009
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If by aquatic soil you mean true soil or dirt, as found in the garden, then this cannot be the top layer and it will be mud and a total mess with fish present. This type of true soil if used needs to be the bottom layer, with a good covering (at least 1 inch depth, preferably more) of sand or fine gravel. But this can get mixed and be a mess too over time.

If the "aquatic soil" is not true soil but some sort of enriched plant substrate, it might or might not work as a top layer. It would depend upon what it is composed of; some of these are rough and can cause issues for fish, though Black Skirt Tetras are not substrate fish so this may not be an issue.

The best substrate would be a dark sand. Aquarium sands come in black and brown hues (make sure it is inert), but I would use plain play sand which you can get in a dark grey. Just avoid white sand, for any fish.


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