9 Reasons to Use Organic Potting Soil for Aquarium Substrate

Last Updated on August 19, 2022 by cmoarz

If you’re like most aquarium enthusiasts, you want to create a healthy and natural environment for your fish and plants. One way to do this is by using organic potting soil as your substrate. In this blog post, we will discuss the top 10 reasons why you should use organic potting soil in your aquarium!

Organic potting soil can be used as an aquarium substrate

People often wonder if organic potting soil is safe to use in an aquarium, and the answer is a resounding “yes!” In fact, using organic potting soil is one of the best ways to create a healthy environment for your fish and plants.

There are so many benefits that this article will get into. I’ll also give tips and tricks on how to implement it into your aquarium without causing a mess! Let’s get started!

It is a great, natural way to provide your fish and plants with a healthy environment

There’s nothing more a fish and plants love than a natural habitat and there’s nothing more natural than silt and organic soil.

When you use organic potting soil as your aquarium substrate, you are providing your plants with the best possible environment to grow big and strong, which in turn makes the fish extra happy too!

It is a rich source of nutrients for plants

Plants need a lot of different nutrients to grow which most normal substrates don’t have. This is where organic potting soil comes in as it is a great source of all the different nutrients that plants need to grow big and strong.

This means that your plants will be able to grow faster and healthier than they would if you were using a different substrate and, as an added bonus, your aquarium will look a lot more lush and green!

If you used regular aquarium substrate or rocks or sand, You would need to add fertilizers yourself which is time-consuming and expensive!

With organic potting soil, it’s all already there for the plants to uptake and use as they please, so you don’t have to worry about adding any extra fertilizers yourself – a big time and money saver!

Organic potting soil is also a great way to improve water quality

Not only does organic potting soil help create a natural environment for your fish, and help grow big healthy plants, but it can also help improve water quality!

The organic matter in the soil helps to filter break down toxins and pollutants in the water, which can help keep your aquarium healthy and looking great.

The extra plant growth will also cause more roots to grow which will help suck up any extra nutrients or toxins in the water, making your aquarium even healthier!

They can also act as somewhat of a filter which helps keep the water nice and clean.

It helps to anchor plants in the substrate

All this extra root growth not only looks great and helps improve water quality, but it also helps to anchor plants in the substrate.

When you use organic potting soil as your aquarium substrate, the plants will be able to root themselves deeply into the soil, which will help keep them from being uprooted by strong currents or ambitious fish.

This means less time elbow deep in the tank trying to replant your plants and more time enjoying your beautiful aquarium!

It is an affordable substrate option

Organic potting soil is so much cheaper than traditional aquarium substrates like gravel or rocks, and it can be found at most local garden stores.

This means that you can save yourself a lot of money in the long run by using organic potting soil as your aquarium substrate!

It’s also really easy to make yourself if you’ve already got a compost bin at home.

Unlike normal aquarium gravels, You can find soil in just about any store you go to. If you don’t have a local pet store or fish store in your area, it’s just that much more convenient.

It can be used in a variety of aquariums

Small or large, short or tall, organic potting soil can be used in any type of freshwater aquarium!

This makes it a really versatile substrate option that can work with any type of set-up or tank size.

All you need to do is make sure to get the right amount for your tank, and then you’re good to go!

It is a sustainable substrate option

The nutrients in the soil will last for years before you even have to consider adding more ferts to the mix.

Unlike other substrates, you don’t have to worry about adding fresh soil to your tank on a regular basis – once you’ve got it set up, you’re good to go!

This makes organic potting soil a really sustainable substrate option that is better for the environment and your wallet.

How to use organic potting soil for aquarium substrate without making a mess

There is a right way to use organic potting soil in an aquarium and a wrong way – and doing it wrong can lead to a big, messy headache.

Here are a few tips on how to use organic potting soil for aquarium substrate without making a mess:

  • Make sure to get the right amount of soil for your tank size. You don’t want too much or too little, so measure before you buy!
  • Only add the soil to an empty tank or a full tank without fish. It will just turn to mud and you will need to wait a day for it to all settle back to the bottom.
  • Cap the soil off with a layer of aquarium sand. This will prevent a lot of the side effects and mess that come with using potting soil. It also makes planting easier!

Some side effects of using potting soil

Potting soil does have some drawbacks you should be aware of, Although most of them are avoidable with a little bit of preparation.

When adding the initial soil to the water, or water to the soil, the water will become quite cloudy. This is normal and just needs time to settle out.

Adding a sand capping over the soil layer prevents a lot of this from happening.

There will be debris floating around that you will need to net out initially. These could be bugs or little pieces of bark and wood and leaves. Once they are initially removed though you shouldn’t need to do it again.

Removing or changing the positions of plants could cause the water to cloud a bit. Just give it time to clear up again.

Organic potting soil can also lead to an increase in algae growth. In some cases, all those extra nutrients can cause an algae bloom.

This can be controlled with regular water changes and plant maintenance. And be sure you have enough plants in the aquarium to help suck out all those extra nutrients!

Aquarium enthusiasts have been using organic potting soil as an affordable and sustainable substrate option for years now, with great success. If you’re looking to switch up your aquarium set-up or want a more sustainable substrate option, organic potting soil is the way to go! Just make sure to measure before you buy, add it to an empty tank or a full tank without fish, and cap it off with a layer of aquarium sand. Happy substrate-switching!


Owner of AquariumGravel.com and also owner of actual Aquarium Gravel believe it or not! ;). Setting up beautiful aquarium sceneries and habitats since I was very young. Enjoy!