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Vivarium Substrates (All)

The best vivarium substrate inventory online!

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Vivarium Substrate Calculator

Instantly figure out how much substrate you'll need!
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
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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.
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
Live Oak

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 contractors for a debris-free, clean product. Live Oak leaf litter is probably the most commonly used leaf litter today, since the perfectly sized small leaves resist breaking down while looking great. Magnolia is our most inexpensive leaf litter which is most commonly used with larger species like Geckos. Either option provides a long lasting, reliable, and well proven option as a "top layer" over any of our Live Vivarium Substrates.

Available Varieties:
Available at a discount in our Vivarium Substrate Base Kits
Strictly limit 2 gallons per order.
(Ordering more than 2 gallons may cause order delays!)

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 appropriate (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

The original high performance store brand bioactive substrate mix

NEHERP Vivarium Substrate NEHERP V1 Vivarium Substrate  NEHERP V1 Vivarium Substrate
NEHERP Vivarium Substrate NEHERP V1 Vivarium Substrate
A New England Herpetoculture Product:

Our carefully proportioned substrate was designed to be the ideal blend for tropical live vivarium ecosystems ranging from 75-99% R/H. Having been in production since 2009, ours is the longest-running & most proven store brand substrate mix available for bio-active enclosures. Our substrate is packed with an appropriate quantity of aggregate ingredients which help it to to resist over-saturation and compaction, while remaining nice & airy long term. During product development, our goal was for NEHERP Substrate to support flourishing plant life, and foster healthy populations of microfauna, mycorrhizal fungi, and beneficial microbes. Each of these trophic layers of biological activity are necessary for the enclosed environment to function as desired once the primary inhabitant is introduced. We're proud to say that our substrate is used by zoos, museums, breeders, and enthusiasts all over the USA, and we're confident that it's the highest quality & best performing pre-mixed vivarium substrate on the market. Read more...

We're open & honest about what's in our substrate for a reason. Our ingredients are absolutely top of the line, and we don't skimp on any of the important stuff. We work directly with one of the last tree fern importers in the USA, and even mill our own from time to time to help keep up with demand. Our coconut fiber is sourced directly from a mainstream pet supply brand - not from a horticultural supplier whose less expensive product may have higher salinity. Same goes for the fir bark, which is specifically marked for use with Reptiles & Amphibians. Even the Sphagnum Moss is the same brand we carry separately, which is AAA-Grade New Zealand sourced product. The pre-rinsed charcoal ingredient is a fine-milled natural hardwood product sourced from an American-based manufacturer. If you can think of a way to use higher quality ingredients, we'd sure love to hear how. :-)

$7.99/ea Gallon
Available at a discount in our Vivarium Substrate Kits!
Usually $7.99/Gallon
10% Off - $7.19/Gallon
Stock Notification!
Our records show that this product has very little or no stock left at the moment, but we're expecting a shipment imminently. If ordered today, we'd expect it to ship within 1-5 business days.
Sold Out!

NEHERP Vivarium Substrate: Version 2

An updated twist on the original & best store brand bioactive substrate mix

NEHERP Vivarium Substrate NEHERP V2 Vivarium Substrate  NEHERP V2 Vivarium Substrate
NEHERP Vivarium Substrate NEHERP V2 Vivarium Substrate
A New England Herpetoculture Product:

Our NEHERP V2 Vivarium Substrate Blend was specially designed for a wider humidity range than our tropical V1 mix. Thanks to a tweak in the (equally high quality) ingredients list, we're able to recommend this blend for live vivarium ecosystems ranging from 55-90% relative humidity. The wider range of acceptable conditions makes this our most versatile blend, and we've had success using it with everything ranging from Dart Frogs to Geckos. Having been tested & used consistently since 2012, this blend has been universally well received by a wide variety of enthusiast communities, and has even passed out our original substrate in popularity! When used as described in our VC101 & VC102 articles, this substrate will support plant life, as well as populations of microfauna, mycorrhizal fungi, and beneficial microbes with ease. We're proud to say that this blend is used by zoos, museums, nature centers, breeders, and hobbyists all over the USA! Read more...

Like all of our NEHERP substrates, this mix includes only the absolute highest-grade ingredients available. The coconut fiber, cypress mulch, and fir bark ingredients are all sourced from a mainstream pet supply brand which specifically manufacturers each for Reptile & Amphibian use. The Sphagnum is AAA-Grade New Zealand sourced product, and both the calcined clay & fine grade charcoal are sourced from a trusted US-based manufacturer. We're really proud of this mix, and we're confident you'll absolutely love it.

Available at a discount in our Vivarium Substrate Kits!
Usually $7.49/Gallon
10% Off - $6.74/Gallon
Stock Notification!
Our records show that this product has very little or no stock left at the moment, but we're expecting a shipment imminently. If ordered today, we'd expect it to ship within 1-5 business days.
Sold Out!

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
Original ABG Mix Recipe: 2 Parts Tree Fern Fiber, 1 Part Peat Moss, 1 Part Charcoal, 1 Part Sphagnum Moss, 2 Parts Fir Bark
NEHERP Staff Description:

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. In our experience, this blend is best for enclosures which will range from 75%-99% relative humidity. 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. Because it contains peat moss (which is hydrophobic), we strongly recommend pre-moistening this substrate by mixing water into it before using it in a vivarium. Read more...

Not all ABG Mix is the same. We stick closely to the original recipe (posted above), but it seems that the overwhelming majority of commercially available ABG Mix follows a different set of ingredients. Even with identical ratios, our ABG Mix is designed to stand out thanks to it's higher-grade of ingredients (described above). If you are shopping around for prices, please be sure to compare both ingredients and the grades of ingredients. We're proud to offer the best ABG mix available, and that's not a gimmick. In New Englander terms, "It's wicked good substrate!". :-) With that said, both types of NEHERP Vivarium Substrate are actually higher in micronutrient contents, lower in acidity, and are also not hydrophobic. (Authentic ABG mix is awesome, but we like the performance of our NEHERP brand stuff even more!)

Available at a discount in our Vivarium Substrate Kits!
Usually $7.49/Gallon
10% Off - $6.74/Gallon
Stock Notification!
Our records show that this product has very little or no stock left at the moment, but we're expecting a shipment imminently. If ordered today, we'd expect it to ship within 1-5 business days.
Sold Out!

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:

More Categories Related To Vivarium Substrate

Vivarium-Related Articles

Everything you need to know to build a beautiful, long lasting live vivarium!



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