Substrate is an important part of setting up an aquarium fish tank. It does not just add to the aesthetic of the tank set-up, but it is an essential area for beneficial bacteria to cultivate. Learning about the different types of substrate can help you make an informed decision when creating a home for your fish. 

Find out how to decide which one to put in your fish tank here. 

You will  need to clean the substrate, this will help get rid of unwanted dust particles that are created when the item is manufactured. You don’t want these in your tank as it can cause the water to take a lot longer to clear. To rinse the substrate there are a few different methods, you could use a sieve or filter sock. Or you can pour the substrate into a large bucket, fill with water and swish the sand around – empty the water and repeat a few times until the water is no longer milky but as clear as you can get it.
Pour the substrate into the tank, do this bit by bit and not in one go as you could damage or scratch the glass base. Spread in the tank evenly then add your water, when adding the water try to do so gently so you do not stir up the substrate too much– you may need to re-spread the sand as the water may displace some areas, stir up the substrate, again, gently to make sure the substrate is holding no air bubbles or dry patches underneath. 

Once this is complete pat down the sand so it is flat and even across the base of your fish tank. Now is the waiting game, we would recommend not turning on the pumps while the substrate is settling – you WILL always have some cloudiness from the substrate this is totally normal. It can take a few days up to a week to settle depending on the substrate type.
Once the water is clear you can turn on your pumps and filter and start your tank cycle ready for fish. If you have powerheads / wavemakers in your aquarium, you should ensure these are not pointed directly at the sand to avoid too much disturbance of the substrate.