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What is it?[edit]

Peat is an dense accumulation of partially decayed vegetation matter. Peat forms in wetlands or peatlands, variously called bogs, moors, muskegs, pocosins, mires, and peat swamp forests.

Peat forms when plant material, usually in marshy areas, is inhibited from decaying fully by acidic and anaerobic conditions. It is composed mainly of marshland vegetation: trees, grasses, fungi, as well as other types of organic remains, such as insects, and animal corpses.

What is it used for in the aquarium hobby?[edit]

Peat is sometimes used in freshwater aquaria to lower the water pH and general hardness (GH). It is used to simulate soft water or blackwater river systems, such as those mimicking the Amazon River basin. It is also used as a substrate to allow certain fish like Killi fish a place to lay eggs.

In addition to being soft in texture and therefore suitable for bottom-dwelling species such as Corydoras catfish, peat is reported to have a number of other beneficial functions in freshwater aquaria. It softens water by acting as an ion exchanger, it contains nutrients good for plants and for the reproductive health of fishes and other aquatic animals, and can even prevent algae growth and kill micro-organisms.

Peat often stains the water yellow or brown due to the leaching of tannins.

How to soften your water[edit]

Place the peat moss into a large bucket, fill with your water and aerate the water from the bottom for 2 weeks. Top up as it evaporates.

  • This is a messy and smelly process. So best not done indoors.
  • Alternative methods exist to soften water. Use a RO unit or Resin filter.

Where can I get it?[edit]

Garden shops are the prime place to pick up this material. Aquarium companies like Sera, Hobby, JBL etc. sell it.