Is it ok to have sand at the bottom of planted tank?

BlockHead1981

Hello, I am putting together a 29g planted tank. I would like to use left over sand at the bottom of the tank then top it with Fluval Stratum. I want to add height to my aquarium and have left over sand and would like to put it to use as opposed to buying more substrate. I am going to use bags of lava rock and or stones to add height in specific areas as well. Im going to have a very deep substrate like 4" to 5" throughout the tank since I will be planting mostly crypts that would benefit from a deep substrate and also add height since the tank is so tall. I would only be adding about an inch of sand appox. 10-15 pounds. Thanks
 

kansas

I'm not familiar with Stratum but as my plants do fine in all sand I don't see why it would be a problem.
 

cdwag29

All my tanks are planted with sand; crypts are actually doing the best out of all the plants.
 

ruud

Crypts do great in sand. Even thin layers of sand.
 

AlphaFish

My tanks are only using sand, and, as the posts above mentioned, crypts are doing great. Not only crypts, but also other plants like rotalas and saggitarias. Even micrathemum glomeratum.
 

TClare

Agree with the above, plants do fine in just sand.
 

diamonfingers

where does the plants get their nutrients from in sand? dont they need soil? or do you use root tabs?? or liquid fertilizer?
 

AlphaFish

Most popular plants can do well with nutrients from the fish, but you can also dose fertilizers or co2 if you wish
 

kansas

where does the plants get their nutrients from in sand? dont they need soil? or do you use root tabs?? or liquid fertilizer?
Thrive root tabs once very 3-4 months and Thrive liquid once a week. My guru tells me to stick to all in one fertilizers cause I'm not clever enough for the others.

I have crypts and vals.
 

diamonfingers

Thrive root tabs once very 3-4 months and Thrive liquid once a week. My guru tells me to stick to all in one fertilizers cause I'm not clever enough for the others.

I have crypts and vals.

quick search online says Thrive are frustrating as they float around the tank. Whats the difference between root tab and pumping fertilizer in the water?
 

ruud

Liquid fertilisers penetrate substrate and reaches roots. Natural fertilisers - the same. A sand substrate is more alive than you might think.

Plants also take nutrients in via the leaves. This also holds for "root feeders". Most plants in our hobby are categorised as such.

Even plants that are not considered root feeders, such as java ferns, take in nutrients via the roots as well. And via the leaves of course.

Plants can even adapt and shift their intake.

Most plants in our hobby hail from marshlands. You should visit a marshland sometime and see in what soil these plants are growing.

Sand is just fine. Really.

A water change, decaying plant matter, fish; they all provide nutrients. I only complement these with liquids from time to time. Especially around summer. I could also apply root tabs, but I rather mix my substrate with dry leaves. It's cheaper and looks very natural.
 

diamonfingers

Liquid fertilisers penetrate substrate and reaches roots. Natural fertilisers - the same. A sand substrate is more alive than you might think.

Plants also take nutrients in via the leaves. This also holds for "root feeders". Most plants in our hobby are categorised as such.

Even plants that are not considered root feeders, such as java ferns, take in nutrients via the roots as well. And via the leaves of course.

Plants can even adapt and shift their intake.

Most plants in our hobby hail from marshlands. You should visit a marshland sometime and see in what soil these plants are growing.

Sand is just fine. Really.

A water change, decaying plant matter, fish; they all provide nutrients. I only complement these with liquids from time to time. Especially around summer. I could also apply root tabs, but I rather mix my substrate with dry leaves. It's cheaper and looks very natural.

I still have not planted my tank but you make it sound so easy but videos online show people failing to keep their plants alive as you have to meet a lot of specific conditions like PH level, ammonia, light cycle, specific nutrients...etc etc...

I have seen a lot of aquariums with brown and decaying plants and ugly yellow waters.
 

StarGirl

If you have a deep enough substrate Thrive tabs will not float. IDK what those people do but I have never had one float out. I screw them into the sand with a tweezer all the way to the bottom.
 

ruud

I still have not planted my tank but you make it sound so easy but videos online show people failing to keep their plants alive as you have to meet a lot of specific conditions like PH level, ammonia, light cycle, specific nutrients...etc etc...

I have seen a lot of aquariums with brown and decaying plants and ugly yellow waters.

In all planted tanks, decay happens. And using wood and dry leaves, yellow water happens. Some think it's gorgeous, can you imagine ;)

Anyways, the number one reason why things don't work out for many, is they start way too conservative. They show pictures of their tanks with a few plants sticking out the substrate. And complain about melting, small critters appearing and algae taking over.

The reasoning is: let's start a few and see how they are doing. If OK, I'll plant more.

What they should do is include a lot of plants from day 1. But they don't.

The reasoning is: I have no experience. This is too much. What if they all rot away.

But a high plant mass : tank volume ratio is the no. 1 key to success. In both low tech and high tech. Again, some decay will happen sooner or later. 5% decay is acceptable; you can take it out if you don't like the sight.

Or leave it in and complete the circle of life...
 

diamonfingers

In all planted tanks, decay happens. And using wood and dry leaves, yellow water happens. Some think it's gorgeous, can you imagine ;)

Anyways, the number one reason why things don't work out for many, is they start way too conservative. They show pictures of their tanks with a few plants sticking out the substrate. And complain about melting, small critters appearing and algae taking over.

The reasoning is: let's start a few and see how they are doing. If OK, I'll plant more.

What they should do is include a lot of plants from day 1. But they don't.

The reasoning is: I have no experience. This is too much. What if they all rot away.

But a high plant mass : tank volume ratio is the no. 1 key to success. In both low tech and high tech. Again, some decay will happen sooner or later. 5% decay is acceptable; you can take it out if you don't like the sight.

Or leave it in and complete the circle of life...

-What difference if you plant a lot at one time or start one by one? i mean what is the effect on the plant itself?

-What do you mean by volume tank ratio?

-My tank keeps getting yellow tinted water. Its a plain tank. No sand no wood. I thought it was dissolved organic material. I put it in a bottle and shook it, no foam so no dissolved organics. Even in aqurium shops I see one tank that has crystal clear water and another with yellow/brown water. Any idea why this happens? I have reverse osmosis water in my tank.
 

kansas

quick search online says Thrive are frustrating as they float around the tank. Whats the difference between root tab and pumping fertilizer in the water?
I do this because a friend with very nice planted tanks told me to. I think most plants take nutrients from the water but some benefit from root feeding - they get nutrients from the soil.

Thrive tabs will float but I haven't had a hard time getting them to stay buried, I have 3-6 inches Black Diamond Blasting Sand, sometimes I put a rock over the tabs.
 

ruud

-What difference if you plant a lot at one time or start one by one? i mean what is the effect on the plant itself?
Two main things:
A soil-plant-microbe complex that covers most of a tank equals a healthy and forgiving tank. For several reasons. One reason: The capacity for microbial filtration is limited by the amount of dissolved oxygen. The soil-plant complex creates a large area of oxygenated area in the substrate's top layer and the rhizosphere.

There are plenty of aquascapers, including yours truly, that use a filter primarily for water movement. As a matter of fact, they remove filter media, to safeguard optimal water flow.
Well, I do use a pre-filter to prevent shrimplets from being murdered by the filter's rotor.

Secondly, a large plant mass in relation to the tank volume (referring also to your next question) seem to prevent or hamper environmental cues for algae spores to reproduce. This happens through several mechanisms and not everything is fully understood by science yet.

However, aquascapers / planted tank owners, whether they adopt high tech or low tech, all experience that a large plant mass equals no algae. And this is beneficial of course to individual plants (that now might suffer indirectly from the presence of other plants, but still, this is more preferred by hobbyist than plants suffering from algae).

-What do you mean by volume tank ratio?
Already answered I think. Aquascapers often live by 80% of surface area must be covered by plants. The exception are Iwagumi scapes. These also cover a large part of the surface area, but typically these plants stay low (partly due to strong light). The overall plant mass is not so large compared to tank volume. Hence, Iwagumi can be challenging to keep (green) algae-free.
-My tank keeps getting yellow tinted water. Its a plain tank. No sand no wood. I thought it was dissolved organic material. I put it in a bottle and shook it, no foam so no dissolved organics. Even in aqurium shops I see one tank that has crystal clear water and another with yellow/brown water. Any idea why this happens? I have reverse osmosis water in my tank.

RO water is soft when it contacts air. In general the more soft your water is, the less bacteria you have. Organic waste, which normally is converted to e.g. CO2, is converted to humic substances in bacteria-deprived environments. Some humic substances color water brown.

Another reason for colouring, perhaps more plausible for most tanks, is related to the temperature of the light source. Lower temp. makes your tank look more yellow.
 

PeterFishKeepin

my 20gal tank is full sand and my plants are doing fine, if you feel they need some help just add some root tabs or liquid fertilzer.

I know this is extremely off topic but BlockHead1981 do you think you could post a photo of the tank in your profile picture??? it looookss realllyyyy cooooollll, i would love to see it.! :)
 

Mudminnow

I would like to use left over sand at the bottom of the tank then top it with Fluval Stratum.
Personally, I like the reverse. Put the sand on the soil. That way you get the benefits of the soil, but the nice look of the sand.

Your crypts will do fine in sand, but they will like having the soil even more.
I am going to use bags of lava rock and or stones to add height in specific areas as well.
This is a good idea...saves money on soil. I'd choose the lava rocks over stones, because they are lighter. Also, the lava rocks sort of grab hold of each other better making it easier to create the scape you want.
 

Nickguy5467

i used organic garden soil capped with sand. worked out fine. kinda wish i used a little more of both tho
 

PeterFishKeepin

I just had a thought, this may not work at all but could you fill a turkey baster with soil and stick it into the sand then release the pressure, you might have to cut the skinny tip of the baster off? Perhaps you could get a thick vinyl tube and pour dirt through top and pour it into the sand to the dirt?

Could just be my brain making dumb mistakes dead, never tried it.
i used organic garden soil capped with sand. worked out fine. kinda wish i used a little more of both tho
 

Nickguy5467

I just had a thought, this may not work at all but could you fill a turkey baster with soil and stick it into the sand then release the pressure, you might have to cut the skinny tip of the baster off? Perhaps you could get a thick vinyl tube and pour dirt through top and pour it into the sand to the dirt?

Could just be my brain making dumb mistakes dead, never tried it.
i imagine that would work if sand and soil had the consistency of pudding *shrug
but probably if you had something in there to push it. imagine a push pop.
 

PeterFishKeepin

i imagine that would work if sand and soil had the consistency of pudding *shrug
Very true, probably just another dumb idea, let me know if you find a way that works! :)
 

Nickguy5467

Very true, probably just another dumb idea, let me know if you find a way that works! :)

probably the push pop method, a giant syringe or whatever
 

diamonfingers

RO water is soft when it contacts air. In general the more soft your water is, the less bacteria you have. Organic waste, which normally is converted to e.g. CO2, is converted to humic substances in bacteria-deprived environments. Some humic substances color water brown.

interesting...one would think the cleaner the water the better for the fish to live in.
 

dcutl002

For the original question, sand is great! I used pool filter sand, with live plants, in a 55 gallon tank for 12 years before breaking it down to rescape. Now I use sand to cap my dirt, but that's another story.

Water
I never use RO water because "live" plants need the minerals that are in tapwater. If you do use RO water, you need to re-mineralize it.
 

ruud

interesting...one would think the cleaner the water the better for the fish to live in.

Define cleaner...

We take out the stuff that feeds and heals our fish and then go to the store to buy fish food and medicines to feed and heal our fish. Humans...
 

John58ford

Sand, if course and irregular in shape will not compact too tightly. It makes a great planted substrate. 4-5" deep will indeed root crypt very nicely.

Here's a weird angle I happened to shoot the other day of one of my sandy planted tanks whine the secondary light was off the top for other reasons. It does however show in detail that crypt roots love sand, peek at the bottom with zoom and check out the door structure. I also don't fertilize but I'm not the norm as far as all that goes. I would use dirty sand in the button of the fish tank every time personally.


20220629_143327.jpg
20220629_143315_HDR.jpg

I think this 29 has 4-5" average. About 75 lbs or so of BDBS.
 

jackywacky

Hello, I am putting together a 29g planted tank. I would like to use left over sand at the bottom of the tank then top it with Fluval Stratum. I want to add height to my aquarium and have left over sand and would like to put it to use as opposed to buying more substrate. I am going to use bags of lava rock and or stones to add height in specific areas as well. Im going to have a very deep substrate like 4" to 5" throughout the tank since I will be planting mostly crypts that would benefit from a deep substrate and also add height since the tank is so tall. I would only be adding about an inch of sand appox. 10-15 pounds. Thanks
I used the stratum its amazing
 

diamonfingers

For the original question, sand is great! I used pool filter sand, with live plants, in a 55 gallon tank for 12 years before breaking it down to rescape. Now I use sand to cap my dirt, but that's another story.

Water
I never use RO water because "live" plants need the minerals that are in tapwater. If you do use RO water, you need to re-mineralize it.

I thought the soil and liquid fertilizer has the ingredients that the plants need to grow? am I missing something?

Define cleaner...

We take out the stuff that feeds and heals our fish and then go to the store to buy fish food and medicines to feed and heal our fish. Humans...

well I thought fish food (pellets bought from store) is their food...
 

ruud

I thought the soil and liquid fertilizer has the ingredients that the plants need to grow? am I missing something?
Tap water contains many nutrients for plants. Not all, but many.

well I thought fish food (pellets bought from store) is their food...
A few of my tanks can support a population of small critters, such as copepods, that live and reproduce in mulm and leaf litter. Also contains a healthy population of neocaridina shrimp grazing on the mulm, producing shrimplets. All in all, a constant supply of live food. You just can't have many fish.
 

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