Play sand with plants - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 6 Old 06-23-2013, 11:22 PM Thread Starter
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Play sand with plants

Can I use play sand to grow plants in my 55 gallon tank. I would use root tabs.
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post #2 of 6 Old 06-23-2013, 11:25 PM
You most certainly can. Its very common for people to use playsand and supplement with root tabs. Keep in mind though that some plants pull nutrients right out of the water column, so if you stock those plants you will want to use a good aquarium liquid fertilizer for them.

I have 4 tanks running (5th is a fry tank doesn't really count), and 2 of them are nearly all sand. My plants do fine and I dose with liquid fert, and use root tabs. I've got 2 foot gorgeous amazon swords that are thriving in a playsand based tank :3 is an example of one of mine. 100% play- sand substrate, got Root Tabs where they need to be.

Last edited by Sanguinefox; 06-23-2013 at 11:33 PM.
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Byron (06-24-2013)
post #3 of 6 Old 06-23-2013, 11:44 PM Thread Starter
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If I only have 2 or 3 plants, do I have to use a liquid fertilizer?
Beautiful tank btw!
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post #4 of 6 Old 06-24-2013, 12:15 AM
Originally Posted by truman View Post
If I only have 2 or 3 plants, do I have to use a liquid fertilizer?
Beautiful tank btw!
It depends upon the kind of plant. Some plants are root feeders. Crypts and Swords tend to be that way. Others are feeders from the water column. Java Fern, Anubias, Water Sprite...just to name a few.

Research the species of plants you have and see if they feed from the water or from the root (or both in the case of Water Wisteria). If you have column feeders, then yeah you really do want to invest in a bottle of liquid fert. It's totally worth it though.

Also thanks :3
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post #5 of 6 Old 06-24-2013, 11:58 AM
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As has been mentioned, it depends upon the plant species, and numbers, as well as your aquarium. Nutrients come from fish foods (as fish waste in the substrate) and water changes (the hard minerals here, like calcium, magnesium, some others). Some people find this sufficient, but again it depends upon the plants.

If fertilization is required, the first to use is a complete liquid. Some nutrients can only be taken up via the leaves (potassium, nitrogen, carbon, oxygen, etc) so adding nutrients into the water column will cover all bases to some extent. The water circulates down through the substrate, so liquid nutrients get to the roots of substrate-rooted plants as well as the leaves where this is needed.

With heavier feeders like swords, also using substrate tabs will improve growth. I use the tabs for the larger sword plants and the Tiger Lotus and Aponogeton. But I also have very soft water, near zero GH, and this makes a difference too.


Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #6 of 6 Old 06-24-2013, 02:52 PM
Just a bit of caution...not all 'play sand' is created (or dug up) equally. Some is very fine grained which led a local expert at Petsmart* to advise against it's use for rooted plants. Very fine grained sands tend to pack tightly in water, making root growth very difficult. I remember getting some for Abbey's sandbox once that was very white and very fine grained. Many here have had good results however with play sands from big box stores (Quikrete brand play sand comes to mind) as they are a coarser grain sand. I believe that pool filter sand also works well.

*Yes, she really is very knowledgeable, prolly because she's also a hobbyist!

Father Knows Best but Abbey knows everything! I once knew everything, then I asked one question.
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