View Full Version : first planted tank - substrate question

07-06-2010, 06:54 PM
I just moved into a new house with room to setup my tank again and I've been thinking about making an attempt at a serious planted aquarium.

My main concern is substrate, I would really like to do sand (I'll probably use pool filter sand) but I think i've read that it can pack tightly and make it tough for plant roots. I was going to layer it with something like this:
Will a layer of that with 3/4" of sand on top be alright? (and is layering that a good idea?)

I'm planning on doing some type of amazon sword and some kind of short grass-like plant.

any other tips would be appreciated, thanks!

little hawaii
07-06-2010, 07:10 PM
Sand would be a mistake IMO. Too compact for plants. This is what I do for my overgrown tanks that need monthly thinning or I cannot see my fish.
I put a 2" layer of tropical plant Peatmoss down, then I sprinkle a few handfulls of Laterite (natural clay fert.) over that. Next I cover all that with a piece of Crinalin netting so the fish can not dig it up. Over that I put from 1-3" of gravel. I have never had nicer planted tanks but just like gardening there are a thousand diff. ways to go. Some of my tanks have been up for 3yrs. plus and I never use fert. of any kind.

07-06-2010, 07:12 PM
If you don't absolutely want white sand, you could go with Flourite Sand.


As for layering it, I don't think it'll really work. The sand will eventually sediment through the gaps in the Flourite and you'll end up with Flourite on top of the sand.

Another alternative would be to put the plants in unglazed clay pots which you would then dig into the sand. Many do this though I'm not a particular fan of the esthetics it has in the tank when the pots stick out of the substrate.

07-06-2010, 07:18 PM
I have no issues with my plants rooting in sand (pool filter). You will have to use root tabs, liquid fertilizers, or dry fertilizers. Depending upon the plants that you choose, adequate lighting and a carbon source (Flourish Excel, EasyCarbo, DIY CO2, or automated CO2 injection) will promote healthy growth. Of course, less of the above, means slower growth, which is not a bad thing if you haven't the time for weekly weeding and pruning.