Can i plant plants in gravel? - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 11 Old 07-23-2012, 06:40 PM Thread Starter
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Can i plant plants in gravel?

I want to start adding plants to my 25 gallon aquarium thats been running for over a year now. I was wondering if i can plant plants in gravel or do i need substrate? If i do need substrate How do i add it to the tank?
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post #2 of 11 Old 07-23-2012, 06:43 PM
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What size gravel?
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post #3 of 11 Old 07-23-2012, 07:16 PM
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Also long as the gravel is small plants will grow fine in it. I would not go with anything bigger then Pea gravel. Plants struggle in that size and anything bigger the probably won't do well at all.
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post #4 of 11 Old 07-23-2012, 11:42 PM
"Substrate is the stuff at the bottom of the tank. Call it gravel which it should not be as normally gravel has a grain size in excess of 4.5mm and for a planted tank you really want to stick with a grain size in the 1-3mm size which is normally what one would call coarse sand. The epoxy coated stuff they sell in bags at the Local Fish/Pet Store is not what one would want for a substrate. Uncoated gravel/sand works much better and if you look around you will find it's much cheaper. I can get 100 lb bags of coarse sand from an industrial supply house for around $13. Not a bad price, it works great and looks great."
From Rex's Guide to Planted Tanks
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post #5 of 11 Old 07-23-2012, 11:54 PM
My plants are in regular fish store gravel and all are doing just fine. Lighting is probably much more important. I have read that too large of gravel can allow nutrients to
leak from the roots. Medium size is what I have I think. Just make sure you have fluorescent full spectrum bulbs, and place the plants directly under the light/s

Last edited by Magna pisces custos; 07-23-2012 at 11:58 PM.
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post #6 of 11 Old 07-24-2012, 12:05 AM
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Gravel is not ideal but it will work. A plant substrate such as Flourite would be ideal. Some times of sand work better but it creates circulation problems. There are good blends of substrate they sell in Round pellets like Amazonia which are PERFECT for plants. They have nutrients in them. This is ideal for plants.

All my tanks have gravel but its not ideal. I have a good amount of plants and they all thrive but they would do 3x better in a good substrate. I use Seachem Flourish Comprehensive as a fertilizer and just started using Seachem Excel as a C02 supplement. Neither are needed but I do highly recommend the Flourish Comprehensive.
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post #7 of 11 Old 07-24-2012, 11:30 AM Thread Starter
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Hey thanks for the help!! So plants will grow in gravel but its not ideal. Is my gravel to big?
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post #8 of 11 Old 07-24-2012, 11:36 AM
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Yea that is some BIG gravel. At least the bigger pieces.

I think that size gravel would still work...especially if you picked out the REALLY big pieces.

When I have my gravel i my hand like that it looks like I have maybe 2-3x more gravel rocks in my hand. It will work...but not great. I would honestly recommend some plants like Anubias and Java Fern. Those wont need to really root down into the substrate.

This is what you have:

This is what you would like to have:

Here are some other options:
Nano Substrate System Package - Powder Type Amazonia
Substrate for Freshwater Planted Aquariums: Seachem Flourite Planted Aquarium Substrate
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post #9 of 11 Old 07-24-2012, 12:37 PM
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Before jumping into anything, you should also consider the fish in the aquarium. Some might be better with a change of substrate, others not.

The gravel you now have is on the large size, but this is workable. If you could tell us the fish species, we might have more to suggest on whether or not to change the substrate.

And. welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum.


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 #10 of 11 Old 07-24-2012, 07:22 PM Thread Starter
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I have 1 Cory catfish, 4 neon tetras, 1 red wag platy, 2 silver hatchet fish, and 2 serpae tetras. Would sand work as a good substrate?
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