Vivarium Substrates (All)

The best vivarium substrate inventory online!

Vivarium Substrate Calculator
Unsure how much substrate you'll need? This tool will help!
Use our substrate calculator to instantly determine exactly how much substrate you'll need to build a vivarium in any rectangular enclosure. The minimum suggested amount of substrate & drainage media is 2.5" (each), but we've also included a spot to add your own custom height, if you'd like to calculate a different substrate depth. Enter your dimensions, and the results will display instantly.
Definition of Width X Depth X Height Vivarium
Vivarium Substrate Depth Chart
Vivarium Substrate Chart
Use this chart to determine how many gallons of drainage & vivarium substrate you'll need to make certain depths in your enclosure. Most vivarium builders recommend at least a 2.5in depth of substrate & drainage layer media (each) for best results. If the above graph is blurry, click/tap here to enlarge in a new window.
Psst... If you were using a device with a larger screen, our automatic substrate calculator would appear here!
Vivarium Substrate NEHERP Vivarium Substrate ABG Vivarium Substrate NEHERP V2 About Our Vivarium Substrates Vivarium Substrate Hydroballs Vivarium Substrate LDL Vivarium Substrate LECA
About Our Vivarium Substrates
Our company's reputation was partially formed around our absolute top-quality vivarium substrates which last long term, grow plants beautifully, and support the life of beneficial microfauna. We strongly urge anyone new to the hobby to familiarize themselves with the tangible differences between vivarium advice offered by pet shops, and what you'll experience at a real vivarium specialist shop. The topics of drainage, pH balance, resistance to compacting, and the mix's ability to support flora & microfauna life must all be considered when creating a vivarium substrate. Inappropriate choices (such as coconut fiber, peat, potting soil, or any mix primarily made up of any of those three) will not have the benefits of a real vivarium substrate, and carry risks of their own. Every vivarium substrate we offer is of the absolute highest quality, and have been proven for years to be long-lasting, dependable solutions for the vivarium hobby. Please check out the Vivarium Substrate section in Vivarium Construction 101 to learn more.

Exo Terra Bio Drain Mesh

Exo Terra's fine mesh drainage layer dividing material

Exo Terra Bio Drain Mesh
The Exo Terra BioDrain terrarium draining mesh is part of the BioDrain terrarium draining system. This non-toxic, non-decomposable mesh will keep the underlying draining substrate separated from the substrate layer above. This mesh is extremely fine (see detail above), and won't allow substrate particles through to the drainage layer below. Comes is four sizes to conveniently fit most Exo Terra enclosures. For 36in + wider enclosures, Exo Terra suggests overlapping two screens.
Select Size:

Exo Terra Bio Drain Substrate

Exo's nice looking drainage layer media

Exo Terra Bio Drain
Exo Terra BioDrain Terrarium Draining Substrate is a natural, non-organic substrate that allows excellent drainage of the terrarium. This is a more natural looking direct replacement for either Zoo Med Hydroballs, or Hydroton brand expanded clay substrate. Sold in 4.4lb bags. (About 1.25-1.5 gallons/ea)
Biodrain Substrate

Fluval Plant Stratum

A substrate for aquatic plants; great for paludariums & water features

Fluval Plant Stratum
Fluval Plant Stratum is the ideal substrate for stimulating the growth of aquatic plants in freshwater environments. The substrate's light, non-compacting, porous structure is highly beneficial to nitrifying bacteria, which rapidly colonize the vast porous surface, providing optimal water quality for plants. Plant roots easily penetrate and spread throughout the substrate, allowing plants to obtain a variety of key nutrients that will make them flourish. Fluval Plant Stratum's inherent properties will help support a neutral to slightly acidic pH, ideal for most plant species and species of tropical fish normally kept in planted aquariums. This highly attractive substrate will not discolor water and helps control organic discoloration usually present when natural driftwood is used. 2 kg (4.4 lbs)
An excellent substrate choice for water features, paludariums, and aquariums. Can be mixed with gravel, stones, and/or riverbed sand for different, natural looking aquatic substrates.
Fluval Plant Stratum 4.4lb Bag

Leaf Litter

Appropriate for use in vivariums & more

Live Oak Leaf Litter Magnolia Leaf Litter Sand Live Oak Leaf Litter Sea Grape Leaf Litter
Live Oak
Sand Live Oak
Sea Grape
Leaf litter is most commonly used as a "top layer" in vivarium construction (alongside moss & other small decor items), although there are many other herpetocultural uses for it. Our leaf litter is hand-bagged by our long-term contractor for a debris-free, clean product.
Live Oak Leaf Litter
Probably the most commonly used leaf litter today, since the perfectly sized small leaves resist breaking down while looking great. A long-lasting leaf litter in any vivarium.
Magnolia Leaf Litter
Our most inexpensive leaf litter. Magnolia is most commonly used with larger species, or by those who chop-up leaf litter before adding it to an enclosure, due to it's larger leaf size. It's thicker leaves are very long lasting in a vivarium.
Sand Live Oak Leaf Litter
Very similar to our standard Live Oak leaf litter, only with the leaves being slightly larger on average & also more curled. A long-lasting leaf litter in any vivarium.
Sea Grape Leaf Litter
Sea grape leaves are flat and thick, making them perfect for vivarium use. These sit flat against the substrate to allow for an even walking space for more terrestrial herp species, and are very long lasting in a vivarium.
While our leaf litter is hand picked, & debris-free, it's always a worthwhile practice to process leaf litter before using it in a live environment. The added peace of mind is worth the 5 minute procedure, and it carries all the same benefits of processing plants, only it's even easier. To process, start by thoroughly rinsing the leaves in a pot of water. Then, fill pot with fresh water, and bring that to a boil for 2-3 minutes. Once cooled, the leaf litter will be ready for immediate use!
Our primary supplier's natural inventory of leaves was negatively affected by a recent storm, and we're currently running very low on leaf litter. For now, we have just enough leaf litter include in our Vivarium Substrate Kits & Complete Vivarium Kits. Once supply returns to normal, which we're hoping will be in December, we'll be able to accomodate separate leaf litter purchases from kits. Thanks for your patience & understanding!

LECA Drainage Layer Substrate

A lightweight expandable clay aggregate commonly used in drainage layers

Hydroton Leca
The "original" drainage layer substrate for vivariums! It's an inert, PH neutral clay product that holds up long term without breaking the bank. The round shapes maximize surface area between pieces, which supports the important beneficial bacteria growth in live vivariums. Leca allows for proper drainage with minimal 'wicking' in living vivariums which is necessary for the long-term success. Sold in 1-gallon resealable bags.

NEHERP Vivarium Base Kits

A one-click solution for the "base" of any vivarium! Drainage media, screen separator, substrate, and leaf litter!

NEHERP Vivarium Substrate Base Kits
Our NEHERP base kits include all the high quality supplies you'll need to start a live vivarium off right! These are the same high quality NEHERP vivarium Substrates we offer individually, at a package-discounted price. Simply select the type + size terrarium you are working with, and choose your preferred substrate & drainage layer media. (Differences of each explained on our Vivarium Substrates page) Enough substrate & drainage media is included for an appropriately 2.4-2.6in deep layer of each. We include a pre-cut screen separator, and enough of our high quality screened leaf litter (assorted) to create a perfectly realistic vivarium. Matching plant kits are available in our plant packages section.

Visit Base Kit Page


NEHERP LDL: Lightweight Drainage Layer Substrate

Our store brand is our best selling, lightest, and least expensive drainage layer substrate

NEHERP LDL Bag Substrate NEHERP LDL Substrate
Our best selling drainage layer substrate, our NEHERP LDL (Lightweight Drainage Layer) Substrate is an excellent choice for any live vivarium. Weighing in at under 1.89lbs per gallon, there's an up to 55% weight savings compared to clay aggregate style substrates, without sacrificing surface area or strength! NEHERP LDL is eco friendly, non-toxic, and simple to use. Manufactured from recycled glass with an ideal 3/8"-1/2" average grain size. This product ships at our standard low rates!
Need more than 20 gallons? We're glad to wholesale our NEHERP LDL Substrate! Please contact us.

NEHERP Vivarium Substrate: Original

Our special blend is our best-selling substrate for tropical live vivariums

NEHERP Vivarium Substrate NEHERP V1 Vivarium Substrate  NEHERP V1 Vivarium Substrate
NEHERP Vivarium Substrate NEHERP V1 Vivarium Substrate
A carefully pre-mixed substrate blend that's designed specifically for tropical vivarium applications. Our mix holds up long term and resists compacting while staying nice and "airy" to support plant & microfauna health. Pet grade coconut fiber is used in place of peat (an ingredient used in other mixes) to offer higher micronutrient contents, a more neutral pH, and a better ability to resist breaking down even in highly humid enclosures. Our NEHERP substrate supports plant life & microfauna populations with ease long term, and is the highest quality pre-mixed vivarium substrate on the market today. NEHERP Vivarium Substrate is used by zoos, museums, breeders, and enthusiasts all over the USA, we're confident that you'll love our mixture's performance & quality.
NEHERP Vivarium Substrate
$7.49/ea Gallon Bag

The original, original vivarium substrate.

Our small company was one of the 1'st in the USA to offer an improved ABG-based vivarium substrate back in 2009, and we're proud to have become one of the leaders in vivarium substrate manufacturing since then. A frequently asked question about our substrate is in regards to making the decision between traditional ABG & our NEHERP Substrate. While our response may seem biased, the truth is that there's a reason we developed our own substrate! Peat (used in ABG) is very low in micronutrients, is a very acidic medium, and is hydrophobic (which makes initially absorbing water difficult). By comparison, coconut fiber (used in NEHERP substrate) has a higher micronutrient concentration, has a near neutral pH, and isn't hydrophobic. While both varieties will work well, we're confident that our NEHERP substrates are the best out there. On a related note, pet grade coconut fiber is significantly more expensive than peat, which is why NEHERP substrate is $0.50 more expensive per gallon than ABG. :-)
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NEHERP Vivarium Substrate: Version 2

Our softer, super high quality mix for tropical, subtropical, and temperate vivariums

NEHERP Vivarium Substrate NEHERP V2 Vivarium Substrate  NEHERP V2 Vivarium Substrate
NEHERP Vivarium Substrate NEHERP V2 Vivarium Substrate
A blend specially suited for many common species of tropical, subtropical, and temperate species of Reptile, Amphibian, & Invertebrate, with a softer texture than NEHERP or ABG substrates. Beneficial calcined clay, fir bark, and cypress ingredients make up the majority of the blend, which allows it to resist breaking down with ease, support thriving microfauna populations, and grow plants with explosive results. Our Version 2 substrate is the recommended choice for the majority of species that thrive in relative humidity levels averaging 85% and under, and for any species which may dig or burrow. This original mixture of calcined clay, fir bark, cypress, blended sphagnum, rinsed charcoal, and coconut fiber is softer in texture for terrestrial species, and for any animals which may dig to bury eggs. Like all NEHERP substrates, our coconut fiber & fir bark ingredients are sourced from pet brands, and our Sphagnum Moss is AAA-Grade New Zealand product. Our V2 Vivarium Substrate is used by zoos, museums, breeders, and enthusiasts all over the USA, we're confident that you'll love our mixture's performance & quality.
NEHERP Vivarium Substrate V2
$6.99/ea Gallon

The origin of V2 substrate:

Did you know NEHERP Substrate V2 was originally designed to replace NEHERP & ABG substrate? It's true! Ever since 2011, the availability of tree fern fiber (a primary ingredient in NEHERP & ABG substrates) had become increasingly difficult, and we worried the supply might dry up completely. To prevent a potentially tough situation, we set out to develop a vivarium substrate without the (usually critical) tree fern ingredient. In 2012, we began mixing & testing about a dozen different substrate recipes to help us determine the efficacy of each. With the first long term tests concluded, we decided on the ideal mix, & released V2 to Insider Subscribers in late 2014. In August 2016, we concluded our longest term (over 3 year) test of V2 Substrate in a wide variety of vivarium humidity & moisture conditions. Thanks to the awesome results, we're now comfortable recommending V2 substrate for an even wider variety of vivarium inhabitant species. With many hobbyists leaning towards calcined clay substrates nowadays, we're glad to offer what we believe may eventually become an industry standard.
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NEHERP Vivarium Substrate: ABG Mix

A mixture pioneered by the experts at Atlanta Botanical Gardens

ABG Substrate NEHERP ABG Vivarium Substrate  NEHERP Atlanta Botanical Gardens Vivarium Substrate
ABG Substrate NEHERP ABG Vivarium Substrate
Authentic ABG mix is often regarded as "industry standard" by enthusiasts, and has been a proven solution for vivarium substrate since long before NEHERP opened for business. To ensure the best quality product for our customers, we use only the highest quality ingredients available in our ABG mix. Our Sphagnum moss is AAA grade from New Zealand, our peat moss is OMRI listed from Canada, and both our Fir Bark & Coconut Fiber ingredients are sourced from a pet supply brand. Tree fern is increasingly difficult to find nowadays, but we've secured a source & even periodically mill our own tree fern fiber out of raw tree fern in-house. Like our best selling NEHERP substrates, it's conveniently pre-mixed in-house, and each gallon is packed tightly for a great value. For best absorption, pre-moisten this substrate by mixing water into it before using it in a vivarium.
ABG Mix Recipe: 2 Parts Tree Fern Fiber, 1 Part Peat Moss, 1 Part Charcoal, 1 Part Sphagnum Moss, 2 Parts Fir Bark
NEHERP Vivarium Substrate: ABG Mix
$6.99/ea Gallon

Not all ABG is created equally...

A few price-match emails have popped up lately, so we figured we should post a note about our ABG. If you are shopping around for prices, please be sure to compare both ingredients and the grades of ingredients. We're proud to have sourced the absolute best quality ingredients for our mix, and that's not a gimmick. In New Englander terms, "It's wicked good substrate!". :-)
~ Hide NEHERP Note Info ~

NEHERP Vivarium Substrate Clay Aggregate Mix-in

Ordering ABG or NEHERP mix? This optional clay add-in is thought to increase drainage & longevity of substrate

NEHERP Clay Vivarium Substrate
An easy & inexpensive way to get a type of clay substrate blended into a proven substrate mixture. Some vivarium enthusiasts mix clay & other aggregates into substrates, with the goal being to increase drainage and longevity, and maximize microfauna proliferation in the mix. This material is arcillite; a calcined clay product that's commonly used as a potting soil add-in, and even in egg laying media! Each gallon bag of substrate receives one full cup (8oz) of clay mixture with each purchased amount. This will not break down over time.
This product will be mixed-in to the Vivarium Substrate in your purchase before being packaged. Available with NEHERP/ABG substrate purchase only.
Match to QTY of Substrate Bags Purchasing:

NEHERP Screen Separator

Available in common enclosure sizes, or for custom applications

NEHERP Screen Separator
(Mesh enlarged to show texture)
A simple & easy way to get a non-toxic, evenly cut, screen separator, guaranteed to fit. This is the same screen material we've been using since we started building vivariums commercially. Our screen separators prevent substrate from passing through, but allows water to flow freely from substrate layer down to the drainage layer, without any of the water pooling issues sometimes experienced with weedblock or fabric style material. NEHERP Screen Separators are compatible with enclosures by Aqueon®, Marineland®, Tetra®, Exo Terra®, Zoo Med®, and more. If you'd like a custom, large, or uncommon size, please select the "custom" option on the right side, and simply select the corresponding square inch size. These are shipped rolled, so it's easier to lay out & use immediately compared to folded liners. We often give a little extra just to be sure clients have enough, as they are very easily cut with scissors if necessary.
Sorry, we're unable to accommodate complex cuts for hex tanks, bow front tanks, cylinders, or anything other than a simple 4-sided shape. If you are working with an oddly-shaped enclosure, we'd suggest purchasing a large enough piece of screen to simply cut down to fit your enclosure.

Sphagnum Moss

New Zealand AAA Grade Sphagnum

Sphagnum Moss Sphagnum Moss
Our sustainably harvested, AAA-Grade Sphagnum moss has dozens of uses with thousands of different types of plants. Sphagnum moss is a versatile, long-lasting product renowned for its water holding capacity. Most commonly used by commercial growers and hobbyists for cultivating various orchid species, assisting with the growth of young plants, as a soil additive, and as a decorative enhancement and as a liner for hanging baskets.
100 gram = ~2US GAL when hydrated | 150 gram = 3.17 US GAL when hydrated | 500 gram = 10.57 US GAL when hydrated | 1 kilogram = 21.13 US GAL when hydrated | 3 kilograms = 63.40 US GAL when hydrated

Our Best Sphagnum Moss - 5-10% Off!


Zoo Med Hydroballs

A darker color of expanded clay aggregate substrate, for use in vivarium drainage layers

Zoo Med Hydroballs
Zoo Med Hydro Balls Expanded Clay Terrarium Substrate is designed for use under the vivarium substrate to create an underground water table in vivariums. An excellent substrate for live plant root growth in planted vivariums. Available in 2.5 lb bags (Roughly one gallon) Basically the same product as LECA, only with slightly smaller, dark gray pieces.
Zoo Med Hydroballs

Zoo Med Screen Separator

Zoo Med's drainage layer dividing material

Zoo Med Screen Separator Mesh
Zoo Med Naturalistic Terrarium Mesh is a non-toxic fine mesh for use in terrariums above the drainage layer to allow proper water drainage which keeps substrates from mixing and contaminating the water/filtration system. Specifically designed for Zoo Med Naturalistic enclosures.
Available Sizes:

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