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Fluval Stratum vs CaribSea Eco Complete

What is the first thing that you will add to your new tank?

Most of you might say water but that is not right. It is the substrate that first goes into an aquarium.

Have you seen those tiny pebbles in a fish tank?

Well, those are substrates. But those are just one of the types.

Substrates can be anything that is loose and covers your tank’s bottom. It includes pebbles, marbles, soil, sand, and gravel.

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Why do you need to add a substrate?

There are quite a few reasons why you have to add substrates to your aquarium, including –


It makes your tank look good. Imagine, your tank just has fishes swimming around. No matter how attractive these fishes may be, your tank still will not look complete. It is only after you add the right substrates will you get your desired look.


It makes your fishes look more attractive. If you select the substrate wisely it will make your fishes pop and look more beautiful. A light-colored substrate is great if you have dark-colored fishes. A dark-colored substrate, on the other hand, will make it easier to see light-colored fishes.


It creates a natural habitat. Are fishes used to living in glass-bottomed surfaces? No. So, is you use a substrate you will create a more natural environment for your fishes to live in.


It is important for your plants. Along with fishes you also will be including plants in your tank. Your plants need a base where they can root and the substrates will prove helpful here. Else, your plants will be floating around.


It contains beneficial bacteria. Yes, a lot of beneficial bacteria live in your tank filter but your substrates contain them as well. If you select a good substrate it can help make the aquarium cycle of your tank much faster.

So, you need a substrate and just not any but the best one. There, of course, are endless choices that you have and this may only leave you confused. Do not worry, as I shall now help you discover two of the best substrates that have become immensely popular nowadays. They are none other than Fluval Plant and Shrimp Stratum and CaribSea Eco-Complete Planted Black Aquarium Substrate.

We shall learn about both of them in details and that will be followed by a Fluval Stratum vs Eco Complete comparison.

Fluval Plant and Shrimp Stratum Review

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The Fluval Shrimp Stratum is a brownish colored substrate for your tank. Together with offering plants the much-needed minerals and nutrients, it also supports healthy root growth. Fluval Stratum is obtained from volcanic soil. Volcanic soil, you perhaps know, is great for plant life. So, if you add a substrate of such great quality, the life within your tank will surely be benefited

Let us go through some of the important features of this product and understand it better.

Obtained from volcanic soil

As already mentioned, Fluval Stratum is obtained from volcanic soil. When you add this to your tank it will create an ideal biological environment. It will offer the plant all nutrients that they need and thus support healthy and quick growth.

You can always be sure your plants are getting their share of micro-nutrients and macro-nutrients. Also, it is rich in minerals including potassium, sodium, iron, magnesium, and more. All of these are great for the good health of all tank plants.

Helps create an amazing ecosystem

Fluval Stratum offers a pH level that ranges between neutral to somewhat acidic. This is great for plants and supports healthy growth. If you are interested in creating a full ecosystem, you will be glad to know that this substrate is a great choice for shrimps and tropical fishes too.

You can add newborn shrimps into your tank containing Fluval Stratum as that will offer the shelter they need and keep them safe from predators.

Has a porous surface

The surface of this substrate is quite porous and thus the roots of the plants will find enough space to develop freely. As the roots will get room enough to breathe properly they will grow in a healthy way.

As the texture of Fluval Stratum is light in nature, water can be cycled out easily. The nitrogen cycle will also run in an amazing way. The wastes released by fishes generally contain carbon. The soil contains heterotrophic bacteria that collect waste. This waste is then converted into biomass which will offer nutrition to your tank plants.

Basically, when you use this substrate, your tank will enjoy a perfect system of reusing and recycling.

There will be no discoloration

Fluval Stratum does not contain any added chemicals. Thus, when you add it to your tank water you will not notice any discoloration at all. Yes, there may be a slight fogginess but that lasts only until the substrate settles. After that, you will notice the water looks clear yet again.

Pros and Cons

Let us now discover a few pros and cons of using Fluval Stratum in your tank.


  • It is derived from volcanic soil and thus is highly beneficial to the plants
  • The substrate does not result in any discoloration when added to the tank water.
  • It is rich in potassium, magnesium, sodium, iron, and oxides. These are great for the health and growth of your plants.
  • It keeps the pH level just as is needed.


  • It is slightly expensive.

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

CaribSea Eco-Complete Planted Black Aquarium Substrate Review

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The Eco-Complete substrate is a high-quality black colored substrate manufactured by CaribSea. It has already been a favorite of many tank owners and we shall get to learn a few reasons behind this,


The wait for your tank to develop a proper bacterial colony, so that it can take bioload, is not less.. The number of fishes and their size, the kind of cycling you use, the food that you feed, and other factors determine the length of the process. Yet, it can be said that it will take about one to three months.

Eco-Complete substrates are pre-cycled. They come packed with lots of purifying bacteria that will straightaway start the cycling process. You will still have to wait to fill your tank completely. The colony of bacteria, keeping in mind the type of your system, can take some time to grow, spread, and do their job.

Yet, thanks to Eco-Complete, cycling time will speed up for sure. In some cases, the tanks got cycled immediately, and a few people had to wait for just about a week.

You do not need to rinse

Your Eco-complete bag will have wet contents and that is how it is supposed to be. As you already know, the substrates are pre-cycled. To make sure the helpful bacteria that it contains remains safe, a solution has been added.

If you have used any substrate earlier you must have rinsed it before adding it to your tank. However, Eco-Complete should not be rinsed. If you do so you will be eliminating the helpful bacteria, which you would not want to.

You can strain and discard the liquid and then add the substrate to your tank. It can look cloudy but do not worry. If your filter is working properly it will go within about 24 hours.

Highly porous

One of the reasons people love Eco-Complete is because of its extremely high porosity. Compared to most other substrates, it offers you four times more surface area for helpful bacteria to grow.

Do not let this fact prevent you from adding the right amount to your tank. You cannot use one-fourth of it and must have it deep enough to make sure it works well.

Contains all the necessary nutrients

Eco-Complete contains volcanic basalt soil and has more than 30 helpful elements. It includes iron, potassium, zinc, magnesium, sodium, aluminum, and more. What is great is that it does not have any coating, chemical, or any dye, and is completely natural.

Is bi-modal

This means it has large as well as fine granules in its mix. They sort themselves naturally. The larger ones remain on the surface while the smaller granules settle at the bottom. This, together with offering dimensions to your tank, also makes it look attractive. The smaller granules sparkle and shine when light falls on it, and it appears amazing.

Pros and Cons

Let us now learn about the pros and cons of Eco-Complete.


  • It is rich in nutrients including potassium, zinc, iron, and more.
  • It does not contain any dye, coating, or chemical.
  • It is bi-modal and thus even more beneficial.
  • It is great for fishes as well as plants.
  • It is pre-cycled and thus speeds up the cycling process.


  • Creating a neutral pH level can be difficult.

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Fluval Stratum vs Eco Complete – which one should you choose?

Now that you have gone through the reviews of both these amazing substrates, let us draw a Fluval Stratum vs Eco Complete comparison. This will help you decide which one you should opt for.

What do they share in common?

  • Both of them are derived from volcanic soil.
  • Both are porous in nature.
  • Both are rich in nutrients and minerals.
  • Both support healthy plant growth.

What are the differences?

  • While Fluval Stratum has a nice coffee-brown color, Eco-Complete is black. Despite the fact that it is black in color it looks amazing more so because of the beautiful sparkle that the granules have.
  • The pH level of Fluval Stratum is between neutral to acidic whereas it is not easy to get a neutral pH level with Eco-Complete.
  • Fluval Stratum will completely settle at the bottom of the tank but Eco-Complete is bi-modal. The smaller granules will settle at the bottom but the larger ones will keep floating.

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Now that you have read the reviews and also the Fluval Stratum vs Eco Complete comparison, you can go ahead and decide on one. You can compare their features and decide which the one that meets your expectations better is.

For me, both offer great results and both are popular. Selecting one among these is simply a matter of personal choice.

Aaron Boyd
Aaron Boyd

Hello, I’m Aaron Boyd, the proud owner and author behind Aqua Movement. I hope my article was able to answer your questions. If you want to learn more about me, click the home icon above.

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