Fluval Stratum: 21 Helpful Answers You Should Know

You might be looking for a perfect substrate for your new aquarium, and you suddenly bumped into Fluval Stratum. You learned that it is a premium substrate, highly recommended for both plants and shrimps.

But, what else should you know about it before deciding whether to buy one or not?

What is Fluval Stratum?

Fluval Stratum is an ideal substrate for your aquarium with plants and shrimps.

Fluval Stratum is a top choice when it comes to aquarium substrates. It is collected from the foothills of Mount Aso Volcano in Japan that is abundant in minerals.

If you have a tank with loads of plants and captivating shrimps, Fluval Stratum is ideal to use because of its composition. It is helping the plants to grow continuously and offers a safe hideout for shrimps too!

What does Fluval Stratum do?

Fluval Stratum stimulates the growth of aquatic plants and provides a refuge for shrimps to keep them safe.

Fluval Stratum is beneficial for aquatic plants because of its composition that allows easy penetration and growth of roots. It has a non-compacting and porous form which helps plants’ roots efficiently obtain all the nutrients they need for full thriving.

The light structure of Stratum is also a great help for nitrifying bacterias. They can colonize the surface quickly which maintains optimal water quality.

Fluval Stratum is also ideal for shrimps, especially the baby freshwater shrimps.

This substrate offers a great hiding place for these cuties to avoid predators. Once they are fully grown, then they can be liberated from the substrate and freely roam around the tank.

If you want to buy Fluval Stratum, you can conveniently find and order online through the following links:

  • Amazon – $13.49 to $39.99
  • Petco – $23 to $39.99
  • PetSmart – $29.99

Is Fluval Stratum Inert?

No. Fluval Stratum is not inert because it is an active substrate.

Fluval Stratum is an active substrate with the ability to lower the pH level of your tank’s water. It is a great option of substrates for plants and shrimp species that thrive in water with moderately low pH.

Do I Need Root Tabs With Fluval Stratum?

No, you do not need root tabs with Fluval Stratum. They are not required but having them will provide additional benefits to your plants.

Root tabs are the same as the vitamins that we take to strengthen our system and protect us from diseases. These are capsules that provide nutrients to your aquarium’s plants, helping them flourish consistently.

Depending on brands, these plant fertilizers are usually formulated with essential nutrients like carbon, magnesium, potassium, and iron.

However, the choice is yours whether you will use this with Fluval Stratum or not. Some prefer to put root tabs while others are satisfied with just having the substrate.

If you will not add root tabs, adding fertilizers and regular water changes will do fine.

Nonetheless, if you want to use these capsules, they will greatly help in promoting and maintaining lush growth in your plants. You just need regular supplementation as they will be absorbed over time.

Does Fluval Stratum Need To Be Washed?

Fluval Stratum can either be washed or not.

It would be your personal choice when it comes to rinsing the Fluval Stratum before putting it in your aquarium.

Some do not want to wash it as their concern is losing its natural substances and essential capabilities. They would just dust off the substrate, gently put it in the tank, and carefully fill it with water.

While other aquarium owners prefer to rinse Fluval Stratum due to its residue or dirt. In doing so, it is essential to be as cautious and as gentle as possible as the substrate is delicate and might break down faster.

Can You Vacuum Fluval Stratum?

No, you cannot vacuum Fluval Stratum. Vacuuming is not recommended to do so as it is a very delicate substance.

You might consider using a vacuum to clean the substrate in your tank due to fish wastes, debris, and even uneaten food. This might be the case even if you read in the packaging of Fluval Stratum not to perform such an action.

Well, some aquarium owners are highly discouraging vacuuming Fluval Stratum due to its fragile form. The tumbling of the substrate caused by the vacuum will break it down quicker, eventually making it slimy mud.

Can I Put Gravel Under Fluval Stratum?

No, you cannot put gravel under Fluval Stratum. As per the instruction of Fluval, it is not recommended to mix Stratum with other substances.

Fluval Stratum is very delicate and can be broken down easily by other substrates, especially gravel. Likewise, it will just go its way down or between the gravel due to its fine composition.

Some are putting gravel on top of Fluval Stratum if they want to do a vacuum since it will provide protection. Nonetheless, the chance of breaking Fluval Stratum is high regardless of the position of the gravel.

Can You Put Sand On Top Of Fluval Stratum?

Yes, you can put sand on top of Fluval Stratum. Although it is not recommended to mix Fluval Stratum with other substrates, you can consider sand as it is lighter compared to others.

Sand can be a better option if you plan gravel on mixing Fluval Stratum with other substrates. Unlike gravel, it is not as damaging and can help you create a visually aesthetic landscape.

Does Fluval Stratum Grow Plants?

Yes, Fluval Stratum grows plants. It stimulates plant growth in freshwater aquariums as its composition is ideal for root penetration.

The granules of Fluval Stratum are small and frail. These enable the small roots of plants to infiltrate through the soil conveniently, allowing smooth getting of nutrients as well.

Fluval Stratum also maintains a slightly acidic pH which is perfect for aquatic plants. This helps your plants to flourish for a long time which saves you from frequently replacing them.

Does Fluval Stratum Raise Ammonia?

Fluval Stratum does not raise ammonia at first, but it will eventually leach out after a couple of years as it decomposes.

Upon setting the Fluval Stratum in your tank, you will not see any ammonia spikes. Continuous cycling of the water can also help in maturing the substrate.

Yet, after two to three years, you may start noticing an increase in ammonia. Since Fluval Stratum is an active substrate, it will acidify the water as it disintegrates.

Is Fluval Stratum Good For Cherry Shrimp?

No, Fluval Stratum is not good for cherry shrimp.

Although Fluval Stratum can provide some pores as a hideout for cherry shrimps against any kinds of dangers for them, it is not advisable to be used for these little creatures.

It is mainly because cherry shrimps thrive more in the inert substrate as they prefer stable water parameters.

Fluval Stratum is an active substrate, thus it affects the pH level of water which can cause great stress for cherry shrimps.

Does Fluval Stratum Cloudy Water?

Yes, Fluval Stratum may make the water cloudy at first.

Upon setting up your tank, you may experience cloudy water in the beginning once you put Fluval Stratum as it is a dark substrate.

You should not get worried as the cloudiness shall be fully cleared after one to two days. Stratum just needs to settle perfectly together with other decors and plants inside your new aquarium.

Can You Mix Fluval Stratum With Other Substrates?

No, it is not recommended to mix Fluval Stratum with other substrates.

Fluval, itself, is not advising aquarium owners to combine its Stratum with other substrates.

It is because of the delicate feature of Stratum that can be broken down easily. You need to be highly cautious whenever cleaning it or changing your tank’s water so it will not get too damaged, causing it to be sloppy.

How Do You Rinse Fluval Stratum Substrate?

You should rinse Fluval Stratum Substrate gently with slow-flowing water as its particles are very delicate.

Some aquarium enthusiasts are not advising washing Fluval Stratum because of its soft and weak composition.

That is why you should be extra careful if you prefer to rinse it to prevent it from disintegrating lots of its particles.

You can pour it into a strainer before washing it. Rinse it under cold gentle-flowing water and avoid using your hand while soaking it.

Do I Need To Cap Fluval Stratum

No, you do not need to cap Fluval Stratum. Yet, if you choose to do so, you can notice beneficial effects on your aquarium’s wellbeing.

Tanks owners have different opinions when it comes to capping Fluval Stratum. Some agree to cap while others simply do not want to.

One of the pros of capping is helping the plants to thrive better. Since Stratum has light soil particles, it fails to provide adequate anchorage for bigger plants. For instance, capping it with sand will give plants enough time to better grow themselves while keeping them in the spot.

Capping also helps in managing any leaching of toxins or building up of anaerobic bacteria. If you do not have enough plants, capping can support maintaining your tank’s water.

Does Fluval Stratum Go Bad?

Yes, Fluval Stratum goes bad over time.

Fluval Stratum can be used for a long period. Though, it will not always be as good as the first time you put it in your tank, of course.

After a year, you may notice it starts breaking down but is still very much beneficial. It will fully disintegrate over time, approximately after two years or a little more.

Does Shrimp Eat Fluval Stratum?

No. Shrimp does not eat Fluval Stratum, rather just uses it for protection.

The common diet of shrimp includes commercial food and vegetables. It may also consume wastes of fish, some microorganisms, and even dead plants or algae.

Fluval Stratum is simply a hideout place to protect it from any danger.

Does Fluval Stratum Lower pH?

Yes. Fluval Stratum lowers pH as it can remove carbonate from the water.

Fluval Stratum is excellent for delicate shrimp because of its ability to lower the pH of water. Some shrimps require soft water that is slightly acidic, like level 6, to make them live healthily.

Stratum is an active substrate that has a buffering ability. It is liquidating the carbonate from the water which is a major edge of this substrate.

Does Fluval Stratum Need To Be Replaced?

Yes, Fluval Stratum needs to be replaced. It will break down eventually despite your careful handling.

Fluval Stratum will only last for a couple of years – two to three years. Even if you handle it with added care, the particles will slowly disintegrate so you will be left with no choice but to make replacements soon after.

Can You Reuse Fluval Stratum?

Yes, you can reuse Fluval Stratum.

After using it, you can still put Fluval Stratum in other tanks as it can still be beneficial. Though it will not buffer as much, you can mix it with other potting mixes and use it as a substrate for various tanks.

Can I Mix Fluval Stratum With Gravel?

No, it is not advised to mix Fluval Stratum with gravel.

If you are thinking of combining Fluval Stratum with other substrates, specifically gravel, you should think twice before doing it.

Fluval Stratum is composed of fragile particles that can be easily dismantled once mixed with hard and sharp pieces like gravel.

Some tank owners that want gravel with Stratum just put the gravels on top of it, but not mixing them.


James, R. (2021). What Is Fluval Stratum (And Is It Any Good)? FishKeepingAnswers. https://fishkeepinganswers.com/what-is-fluval-stratum-and-is-it-any-good/

The 2Hr Aquarist. (2020, July 15). Root Or Water Column Fertilization? https://www.2hraquarist.com/blogs/fertilize-planted-tank/root-or-water-dosing

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