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How To Clean Fluval Stratum: 5 Tips You Must Know!

how to clean fluval stratum
Fluval Stratum is one of the best performing substrates for planted aquariums. However, being a delicate substrate, it requires special care when cleaning and preparing for the tank. If the process is not done carefully, one is likely to ruin the substrate resulting in muddy water. So, how to clean Fluval Stratum?

To remove the dirt from Fluval Stratum, gently rinse it in a large colander or fine strainer. The key is not to crush the delicate pellets. Use slow running water to wash it because spraying hard will turn the substrate into dirt. As lightly as you could go about cleaning the stratum, the less murky your aquarium will get.

But wait! Do you really have to rinse it? Many hobbyists claim that washing plant-based substrates like Fluval Stratum will destroy the pellets and cause a mess. In the subsequent sections, we will find out the reality behind these contradicting claims. If you aren’t sure about preparing and setting up Fluval Stratum for your planted tank, here is how to do it.

Should You Rinse Fluval Stratum?

Before we proceed any further with the topic, we must first tackle one of the most perplexing questions around the corner. It is whether or not to rinse the Fluval Stratum substrate.

Now, it is true that delicate plant substrates like Fluval Stratum aren’t supposed to be washed. You may ask why is it so?

What you find inside the bag of Fluval Stratum is literally the dirtballs condensed into pellets. Washing it may end up breaking these soft tiny pellets turning them into mush. And this is why many hobbyists prefer to directly put the substrate in the tank without cleaning it.

For a moment, if you disregard what anyone has to say about it, and pay attention to the manufacturer’s words. On the bag, it says: rinse the substrate. The reason it is suggested to do so is because of the dust it may contain.

High-quality substrates like Fluval Stratum are pre-washed. However, at transportation and in stores, the bags are often slammed here and there. This causes the breaking of the pellets and accumulates dirt in the bag. Therefore, to prevent cloudy water, the substrate needs to be cleaned thoroughly before you pour it into your aquarium. The key here is to go gently with Fluval Stratum if you don’t want to make a mess out of it.

To answer if it’s necessary to wash Fluval Stratum – no, it’s not.

Even if you directly put the matter into the tank without washing it, the dust particles it might contain will eventually settle down or be sucked out by the filter. If you prefer to wash the substrate, it will help reduce the amount and duration of murkiness. However, you have to be careful not to turn the substrate into muck while rinsing. Otherwise, it will do more bad than good.

How To Clean Fluval Stratum and Set Up Your Tank

Now, if you have decided to wash Fluval Stratum, the following tips should help you get the job done with less effort and more efficiency.

Gently wash the substrate

You can use a fine kitchen strainer or colander to rinse the substrate. Ideally, go for a garden hose with little to no water force. Keep in mind not to spray hard on the pellets as we don’t want to crush them into the dirt. Drain the substrate a few times until the water runs clearly.

Avoid agitating the substrate much. Our only aim is to get rid of the loose particles so they don’t get into the tank and cloud the water.

Add water slowly

After you have poured the rinsed Fluval Stratum into the tank, it’s time to add water. The key to avoiding or reducing cloudiness in an aquarium is to gently fill water without stirring up the substrate. How do you do it?

Take a plastic container or plate and place it in the middle of the tank resting over the substrate. Then pour the water into the object using a hose or nano siphon.

It will help deflect the water from directly hitting the substrate. This way, the water will gently disperse over the tank without causing any disturbance to Fluval Stratum.

While filling up your tank, if you start to see any black clouds, you should wait for the mud to settle down before adding more water. We don’t want to increase the settling time for the dirt particles.

Sucking out the dirty water

how to clean fluval stratum
Even if you took great care of the substrate and did not agitate it much, it is normal to have a little bit of cloudiness after filling up the tank.

Depending on how bad your aquarium’s water looks, you are going to have to drain it out a couple of times. This is where python siphon comes in handy. It allows you to suck the water out and back in effortlessly.

After rinsing off the stratum, it’s unlikely to have much dirt in it. However, the residue might find a way to get there in the water, which you should drain out.

Let your filter do the magic

Once you are done setting up your tank, you can simply let your filter run and let it do the rest of the job.

If you still see some bit of mud particles swimming around, take relief in knowing that your filter will take care of it.

Have Patience

Last but not least. Eventually, the dirt will settle down or be sucked out by the filter. If you are done scaping your tank at night, probably by morning, you will have crystal clear water.

Remember, patience is a virtue.

How to Get Rid of The Murky Water In Planted Aquarium

how to clean fluval stratum
If you have done everything the right way, or at least how it’s instructed, but still the water in your tank looks brown. First of all, do not freak out. It’s not the end of the world.

Fluval Stratum is nothing but little pellets of dirt, and its turning into mud when worked out is understandable.

In such instances, you must wait for the dirt to settle by itself. Meanwhile, let your filter run continuously. If your aquarium seems too murky, you can do a few water changes until you are satisfied with the clarity.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Can I vacuum Fluval Stratum?

No, you should not vacuum Fluval Stratum or any soil-based substrate for that matter. Using vacuum causes agitation, and it may crush down the pellets. You shouldn’t disturb the substrate unless you want to plant.

If you are worried about the fish waste and dirt collecting over the top inch of the substrate, and you must clean it, siphon it off.

Q. How long does Fluval Stratum last?

With minimal disturbances and careful handling, Fluval Stratum may last up to anywhere between 2 to 3 years.


As we approach the ending, we hope this article helped you better understand Fluval Stratum and how to clean and set it up in an aquarium.

The question that has troubled many hobbyists getting started with Fluval Stratum is whether to rinse or not. With the information presented above, it should be a concern anymore.