Substrate suggestions for Altum Tank


I am aware that most people keep bare bottom and I imagine a non shiny substrate might be beneficial too.

So I was thinking of having river sand(coarse) probably on top of Eheim biological or even lava rocks small pieces,or pumice as substrate.The ide is to have a huge bacterial colony in the substrate in addition to canister filters.

Appreciate if experienced members can share their ideas on Altums substrate options.



Re: Substrate suggestions for Altum Tank

After trying with different substrates, I come back to Caribsea Torpedo Beach. It's the closest think I've found as far as looks (to Orinoco River Basin sand), yet at the same time, inert, and easy to clean with a python tyoe gravel cleaner.
There are a lot of things to take into consideration, as you mention, one being light reflection on sand, so any sand which tends to the white or brighter hues will required some light diffusion at the surface. A medium tan/clay colored sand would provide light reflection more similar to whatthese fish "see" in their natural habitat, because the among of light absorbed by the blackwater actually makes the bright white sand look tan when you are under water, so all this needs to be taken into account in the aquarium.

Then, your idea of providing different layers, for better nitrification, is important. If you design the substrate to offer a some circulation (vs. packed sand or gravel), you'll have true feeshwater living sand.

This said, I keep a thin layer, no more than 1/4 inch thick, in which blackworms are able to get a foothold and which my fish graze upon ad libidtum.
God listens. He may not always give you everything you want, when you want it; but he always gives you what you really need, when you need it most!

Re: Substrate suggestions for Altum Tank

I seem to be moving more and more to pool filter sand which is not too fine and much better for cleaning than sand box sand. Is this carib Sea product different .... as in color or something? One thing bad about the pool filter sand is the fact that it does increase silica content for a while in the water column and ,under good lighting, there will be a nasty diatom outbreak that goes away either after it ruins the tank set up or just before it ruins it ..which then is OK. All of this experimentation is not all with altums though I do use the pool filter sand with growing up altums ( 9 months in N. America) in a "grow out" 120 gal tank and it seems OK.


Re: Substrate suggestions for Altum Tank

Hi Al. Well, though I like the CaribSea Torpedo Beach very much, as I said, totally inert, very easy to rinse and place in the tank, even with fish in it. It is on the expensive side at around 40.00 or so on Amazon for the 50 pound bag.

Now, I have wanted to get pool sand myself, but I have not been able to find any quality stuff locally in the SLC area, and by quality stuff I mean a sand that definitely does not affect my pH. Mostly I have seen zeolite based sands as well as the silica quartz that I have used. Some play sands, though a relatively nice product from the esthetic point of view is very hard to rinse and then buffer completely out with muriatic acid so it will not alter pH.

The Torpedo Beach is slightly off white, but looks naturally white under good lighting (similar to what you see in the Orinoco Basin river beaches). The grains can go from about 0.5 to 2.0mm (as per specifications) and they are well eroded, rounded grains with very liitle or no angulation (sharp edges I mean). Bottom feeders can graze through it with no problems for the long pelvics of altum.

This said, I'd be glad to switch over to a good pool sand if I can find one with similar dimensional characteristics.

God listens. He may not always give you everything you want, when you want it; but he always gives you what you really need, when you need it most!

Re: Substrate suggestions for Altum Tank

Hi everyone,

I'm myself in process setting up 150gal for my 1year old altums and wondering about your opinion for my next substrate. Currently I use play sand only and after testing few different brands I found one that doesn't foam under Muric acid which in turn means that it will "not" change my water parameters much. I do regular water tests and not much effect on it at all.
Now, in research for my new planted tank substrate, through forums, I bumped into Safe-T-Sorb. I read about how it's pretty much clay and how will absorb KH and GH and drop your PH in the water.
I'm planing to build Altum only tank so no much plants etc.
Considering that in an Altum tank we do want close to 0ppm of KH or GH and we want PH low, wouldn't Safe-T-Sorb be good substrate for Altum tank? I mean, I was thinking to cover it with thin layer of play sand or CaribSea as per Ed's suggestion.
I did some testing with Safe-T-Sorb, I put about 200ml of Safe-T-Sorb in a glass beaker and top it with my tap water till 1L mark, so about 20/80 ration. My tap water was about 8dKH and 6dGH and ph of 7.4 and it took about 2 days to drop KH to 2, GH to 2 and ph to 6.6.
So, not that dramatic change but nevertheless it put water pretty much where I need it.
Now, one might argue that this will not play much of role because I'm and will be using mix of tap/RO water to have my TDS around 50, read that as very low KH and GH to start with but it might help some with keeping PH at certain level.
What do you guys think? Would Safe-T-Sorb be of any value or no need to bother?

Re: Substrate suggestions for Altum Tank

How much does it cost vs. i.e. Torpedo Beach and does it stay put (not too fine?)

Clays are usually, if not always, too fine. Yes you can cover it with something heavier, but siphoning will be a nasty chore if it behaves like normal clay.

I like what you say it does. Also sounds great for planting if you place a this layer of a heavier substrate on top.
God listens. He may not always give you everything you want, when you want it; but he always gives you what you really need, when you need it most!

Re: Substrate suggestions for Altum Tank

Hi Ed,

Cost is like $7 CAD for 40lb bag..

Here is picture of it:

And here is how it looks wet


I know it's not ideal color but I would use it as substrate. Also, it's lighter then regular send so I'm suspecting that top layer of sand will eventually get mixed with it and some of STS will show up at the surface. It's clay so it's very rounded and not sharp.

I had look at CaribSea Torpedo and I can't believe that sand is that white in Orinoco.. that totally changes how am I going to do from now on.. I guess playsand is going away.. :) thanks Ed.. .:)