Just to be sure....
As Byron mentioned in his sticky about setting up a planted tank, he suggested no more than 2 to 2.5 or 3 inches of sand substrate for healthy planted aquarium. I taped off the outside of my tank at 2 inches and it looks very deep. I have a 29 gallon tank. Should the depth of the sand vary with the volume of the aquarium?
Na the volume doesn't matter, its the weight of the sand compacting on itself trapping gasses. Consider putting a plant in a pot outside, would 2 inches really be all that much in most planting pots. For some larger aquarium plants I could image people getting upwards of 4 inches of substrate on the back with large amazon swords to create a slope effect on the ground.
The substrate depth depends somewhat on the intended plants. In a 29g you are not going to have the very large swords which have extensive root systems, so the substrate can be shallower. I have only about an inch in my 29g (photo below shows the good plant growth in this shallow a substrate), though I will admit I would have put in a bit more (around 1.5 inches) but I got tired of washing the sand.:lol: I have 1.5 inches in my 20g and 33g, and about 2 inches overall in my 115g.
Having Malaysian Livebearing snails also helps as they burrow throughout the substrate keeping it from compacting by allowing water and oxygen to move freely throughout. Some "dead" spots are fine, in fact needed; one just doesn't want the entire substrate to compact which would kill plants and fish.
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