Best Substrate for Betta Fish

Betta fish, also known as Siamese fighting fish, are a popular choice for home aquariums due to their vibrant colors and elegant fins. When setting up a betta fish tank, it’s essential to provide an environment that mimics their natural habitat, which includes choosing the right substrate. Substrates serve as a foundation for live plants and decorations, as well as promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria in the aquarium.

There are several types of substrates available for betta fish, such as gravel, sand, and soil. Each has its unique benefits and features, but finding the perfect substrate for your betta depends on factors like tank size, ease of maintenance, and planting preferences. Gravel is generally the most popular choice, as it is available in various shapes, colors, and sizes. Sand is another option that provides a smooth surface and a more natural appearance for your betta fish to swim in. Soil, on the other hand, is often chosen by aquarists who want a planted aquarium, as it provides essential nutrients for plant growth.

When selecting a substrate for your betta fish, critical aspects to consider include the material’s texture, size, and color. The texture should be smooth to prevent injuries to your betta, while the size should be large enough not to be ingested easily but small enough to allow for easy water flow. The color can affect your betta’s stress levels and overall wellbeing, so it’s best to choose a natural hue that promotes a calming environment.

With an understanding of the importance and various options of substrate for betta fish, we invested our time and energy into researching and testing various products. Our aim was to identify the best substrates that cater to the specific needs of betta fish, ensuring a comfortable and thriving aquarium habitat.

Best Substrate for Betta Fish

We have compiled a list of the top substrate options for betta fish, ensuring that you can create the perfect environment for your aquatic companions to thrive.

Activ Betta Aquarium Sand, 1-Pound, Black Gravel

Activ Betta Aquarium Sand, 1-Pound, Black Gravel
  • Silica & Phosphate free
  • Contains essential strontium, potassium and magnesium
  • Natural odor neutralizer
  • Creates an all natural environment

Create a natural and comfortable environment for your betta fish with Activ Betta Aquarium Sand.


  • Silica and phosphate-free
  • Contains essential minerals for betta fish
  • Natural odor neutralizer


  • Small package quantity
  • May need multiple bags for larger tanks
  • Contains some impurities

We recently tried the Activ Betta Aquarium Sand for our betta fish tank, and the results were impressive. The sand is silica and phosphate-free, which means it provides a safe and natural environment for your fish. Not having to worry about harmful chemicals and additives is a big plus for us.

One of the standout features of this sand is that it contains essential minerals such as strontium, potassium, and magnesium. These minerals promote the health and well-being of your betta fish. Additionally, the natural odor neutralizer in the sand helps keep the tank smelling fresh, which has been a great advantage for our setup.

Despite the many benefits, there are some drawbacks to this product. The 1-pound package is quite small, and you may need multiple bags to create a sufficient substrate for larger tanks. However, for smaller tanks or betta containers, the quantity should be adequate. Also, we found some impurities in the sand, but they did not seem to significantly impact the overall quality or functionality.

In conclusion, the Activ Betta Aquarium Sand is a great choice for betta fish owners who want to promote a natural and healthy environment. If you are considering new substrate for your betta fish, we highly recommend trying this product, as the benefits certainly outweigh the drawbacks.

While we like the black gravel, here are two other solid choices:

Fluval Betta Sand (3 Colors Available)

Fluval Betta Sand, Decorative Aquarium Gravel, Fawn
  • Creates a natural looking environment for your Betta splendens habitat
  • Smooth texture helps protect delicate Betta fins
  • Inert, will not alter water chemistry
  • Allows live plant roots to easily spread and grow and ideal grain size fosters enhanced beneficial biological activity
  • One bag of 2.65 lb/1.2 kg = 2.6 US Gal/10 L tank @ to 0.5” / 1.25 cm depth

MEIMEI Tourmaline Balls for Betta Fish Tanks

For those that want to layer substrates, here’s a great one to put on top of your sand/gravel base:

MEIMEI Tourmaline Balls for Betta Fish Tank Accessories.Shrimp Mineral Freshwater Aquarium Tank.Mineral Supplement Substrate.Decorate Fish Bowl Balls,Snail,Betta Fish Goldfish Food,Live Shrimp Food.
  • 【Package include】 :orange big ballsx3+ gray big ballsx3 + orange small ballsx30+grey small ballsx30;
  • 【Good Material】:They are good to your live-planted tanks with fish&shrimp,can help vitalize metabolism and strengthens the immune system,suitable for most freshwater animals like shrimp, crayfish, betta, goldfish.
  • 【Why need it?】when fish ,snails,shells ,shrimp live in the wild,earth’s rocks can autobalance PH value to maintain ecological health,then when we feed fish ,snails,shells ,shrimp at home,we need mineral balls,mineral tourmaline balls contain over 30 minerals ,they can keep your tank balanced just like those wild waters. Mineral Ball can be water Conditioner for Freshwater Shrimp.
  • 【Decorate your aquarium】:These shrimp balls can decorate your fish tank,make your aquarium more colorful.

Buying Guide

Consider the Substrate Material

When choosing the best substrate for betta fish, it’s essential to consider the material. Some popular options include:

  • Gravel: This material is commonly used and comes in a wide variety of colors and sizes.
  • Sand: Fine sand is another option, creating a smooth and natural appearance in your aquarium.
  • Aquarium soil: Many betta fish owners opt for nutrient-rich soil to promote the growth of live plants.

Evaluate Size and Shape

The size and shape of the substrate are important factors to consider. Larger particles may cause damage to your fish’s fins and can also trap debris, making the tank difficult to clean. On the other hand, smaller particles may cloud the water or cause issues with filtration. Look for substrates that are appropriately sized and shaped to avoid these issues.

Water Quality and Maintenance

Some substrates may alter the water chemistry of your aquarium. For instance, certain substrates can increase water hardness or change the pH level, which could negatively impact your betta fish. It is essential to choose a substrate that will maintain stability in your aquarium’s water conditions.

Substrate MaterialImpact on Water Quality
GravelGenerally neutral
SandMay slightly increase hardness
Aquarium soilCan lower pH and increase ammonia

Presence of Live Plants

If you plan on having live plants in your betta fish tank, be sure to select a substrate that supports their growth. Aquarium soil, for example, is nutrient-rich and can effectively sustain plant life. However, gravel or sand may not provide the same nutritional benefits.

To summarize, when choosing a substrate for your betta fish, consider the material type, size, and shape, as well as its impact on water quality and compatibility with live plants. By keeping these factors in mind, you can create a healthy, comfortable environment for your betta fish.