Planting A Deep Sand Bed In Freshwater Aquarium

bertie2k

New Member
HI all,

I am starting a DSB and have a simple question, are there any carpet plants that would be suitable? The only ones I can find seem to have small roots and I am unsure if the roots will be long enough, I have visions of the worms and snails just loosening everything and I end up with a carpeted water surface instead, or can you mix carpet plants with other suitable DSB plants? It is a fine sand substrate 4” deep, open to ideas to lighting methods as it is a completely new starter tank 130l with the lights needing to be replaced this week.

I am just looking for answers on the planting aspect not DSB’s overall as I know it can start a whole debate and I am fully aware of pros and cons.

Thanks in advance for any advice

I will be sharing photos and my story of the DSB in return over the coming months as I know it is really hard to get first hand experience of a freshwater DSB
 

KirkyTurkey

Active Member
Hey Bertie, I have never heard of a DSB before so I thoroughly enjoyed reading about it and may experiment with this in the future. As for plants with good roots, I would go with glossostigma. My roots go all the way to the base of my substrate (not a deep bed but a layer of dirt below a layer of sand). Monte Carlo doesn't have as deep of roots, but get a good 2 inches or so at least.

I'm excited to follow this and see how it comes along. As I said, I've never heard of this, and I really enjoy learning about unique techniques.
 
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bertie2k

New Member
Thanks kirky, 2 inches should be ample enough for the majority if I add in some larger plants towards the back, the snails and worms only dig around an inch so I just need something that goes below that into the next layer where the magic happens so to speak. The aI'm will be to remove the filter in the end with enough worms to have a stable reproduction cycle, but will see how it goes. I am only on day one of the cycle stage at the moment so plants are going in next week
 

KirkyTurkey

Active Member
I have some questions if you don't mind?

- What worms do you use, and what fish will you have? Do you expect issues with fish eating your worms or do the worms tend to stay deep?
- What size is this tank?
-Do you think it would be counterproductive to have some layering (deep sand, some organic soil for extra nutrients, then top layer of sand/mulm)?
-How do your substrate inverts not break the noxious pockets of sulfur/methane in the depths?
 
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bertie2k

New Member
Sure, this is all new to me too but hopefully I have not misunderstood anything, they will be blackworms and the malaysian snails which seems to be the standard and planariums. They only go an inch down so they only sift through the top layer, this is why the roots are important as if I get a small rooted carpet plant it will just all go loose and float into oblivion. The fish eventually will be

Guppies
Otocinclus
Siamese algae eater
Swordtails
Zebra danios

I am happy for the fish to eat the worms as they reproduce and you can just add more

I am cycling with fish food so there should be a starter layer of mulm once the plants are in and the leftover food once helped with the cycling will then serve a purpose for the worms

I am not bothering with a mix of substrate (firstly the sand is already in)

The inverts shouldn’t go low enough to break the gasses but I am taking the view that with the volume of plants this should bury the scare stories of the gasses escaping. The people I have read talking about how it works make a far better argument for the gasses to not affect the fish as they should either be neutralised by the time it reaches the water and the leftover shouldnt affect the water too much aslong as the bubbles reach the top instead of bursting.

The tank is a 30 gallon

As for plants with good roots, I would go with glossostigma. My roots go all the way to the base of my substrate (not a deep bed but a layer of dirt below a layer of sand).

What lighting do you use for the glossostigma?
 

KirkyTurkey

Active Member
I don't want to lead you astray, so take this with a grain of salt, as I've had quite a few people disagree with the lighting I use, but this has been growing plants (including both Glosso and Monte Carlo) like crazy for me:
 
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bertie2k

New Member
Thanks for that I will certainly have a look into it. The thing I’ve found in the first 8 weeks of fishkeeping is no single person is correct, everyone has their own way of looking after their fish and my god fish are 1000% more resiliant than everyone makes them out to be, I'm even thinking of writing a piece with the underlying tone of don't worry about it you’ll get it right in the end and your fish won't die lol dnt know how controversial it will be but will see when I release it. But back on topic you have had experience of that type of plant I want with long roots which match the bed I want so in theory it should work and if that light works for you, I don't necessarily have to use that light (as it seems hard to ship to uk) but I can certainly take the aspects of that light which I can incorporate into my lighting system i.e the kelvin rating and the spacial area so thanks for that
 

-Mak-

Fishlore VIP
I don't want to lead you astray, so take this with a grain of salt, as I've had quite a few people disagree with the lighting I use, but this has been growing plants (including both Glosso and Monte Carlo) like crazy for me:
Do you have CO2 for the glosso? Usually it's considered a high tech plant. Just curious
 

KirkyTurkey

Active Member
I do have co2 now, but it rooted and grew without the co2, it just didn't really spread too much. Theoretically with a DSB he should have good dissolved co2 levels in the water though as long as he isn't running a bubbler
 
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bertie2k

New Member
Did you plant it in the batch it comes as or did you separate the individual roots? If I was to use the glosso I would split the plant which could resolve the spreading as I do have air pumps, will be two lines running into the tank but only rated for a small tank
 

KirkyTurkey

Active Member
Oh I planted it as is, no separating, it was on one of those coconut fiber mats
 

Small Tanks

Active Member
I put another substrate under the sane (I like Tropica but there's lots) and then the sand, just for something more for the roots to dig into personally and to get a bit of extra fertilizer in there in the beginning. Root tabs will do the same thing though.

1-2 Grow's plant listing has a LOT of good information about what everything needs and they may ship to the UK I'm not sure.
 
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bertie2k

New Member
Ive already put the sand and water in, is it a problem to add something else?
 

Small Tanks

Active Member
Yeah you would have to empty the tank which would be a PITA at this point. You can pop some root tabs in once it's planted.
 
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bertie2k

New Member
Had a look at root tabs, look like a good idea, putting a shopping list together so cheers for all your help peeps, cycling is well underway so hopefully won't be too long before I can start uploading some pics that aren't of an empty tank with sand in it, my guppies keep staring at the bigger tank that they will be going in so hopefully theyll enjoy their au naturelle system
 
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bertie2k

New Member
Update: Plants and fertiliser ordered, sand is settled with no dry sand at the mid depth areas, and hasn’t moved for over a week so the plants can go in now, deepest area is 6 inches with a central area that is around 1” (this is where I have decided a rock pool can go) it looks like a dune and really nice tbh, once plants have rooted and the water is cycled the worms and snails are going in hopefully mid july with fish in at the end of july, will upload photos once the plants are in
 

smee82

Moderator
My substrate is deep too at 10+cm but I'm using aquasoil not sand. Any heavy root feeders that have a big root system should stop gas pockets from forming after they get established.

However the only problem I see is sand is totally inert. I don't know how sand will affect root spred but I would assume root tabs will encourage roots in one spot and they won't spread as much.

Mts are great I have them in my tanks and would try to encourage a population boom when first adding them.

Also My tank took about 6 months for gasses to stop bubbling to the surface so don't wory about it too much in the begining.
 

SixThreeOh

Well Known
Any update and pics? I'm planning a DSB tank soon.
 
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bertie2k

New Member

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Yes sure, bare in mind this has been 5 weeks with no filter, I added the slate caves (homemade) today hence the murky water today. Fish went in last week, tested today and ammonia at 0.5ppm added an ammonia remover and back down to zero now, nitrites were zero and nitrates were 20ppm so all in all seems to be working although I'm not too clued up on what perfect levels should be, currently there's 3 guppies, 3 enders guppies, 2 swordtails, about 30 trumpet snails, 1 assassin snail and 200 gallon of bloodworms, not sure if theyve been eaten or hiding in the sand so some more are on order along with another 50 trumpet snails and 5 assassins. My light is awful but a new one is going in on Monday so hopefully the plants will repair themselves. 4 zebra danios, siamese algae eater and 4 otocinclus are going in too this week so that will be the tester as to whether the levels can maintain themselves or I need to get a filter, planning on a 10l water change this week too
 
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bertie2k

New Member
Update, tested water again today, 0 ammonia, 20 nitrates, but now 0.5 nitrites (may be higher API master kit colours don’t always match the chart) I’ve put some bacteria in and lightly fed today but starting to think it may need a filter, if only temporary. Shame as a perfectly natural tank would be awesome. Any experience with this or tips would be helpful thanks, would this improve with the repaired lighting and plants getting the bits they need?. Fish still seem fine but definite water change tomorrow and fingers crossed the levels lower again. Luckily my swordtail is a clear sign when something goes wrong, he is so regimental with everything he does he is the first to let me know something is wrong when he stays at the bottom. He may have saved the tank today
 

Fishcat

Well Known
What resources are you using for information on this method? I am fascinated by DSB but a little too chicken to try it myself. Also, exactly which sand are you using? I assume the grain characteristics matter, but I’m not sure which are supposed to be preferable.
 
It can work but your tank is still cycling- lava rocks or white pumice have helped my filterless tanks become stable..but takes a while. It is normal to have a minI cycle after you add fish. I’ve found that Hornwort is also great for keeping inorganic N down.
 
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bertie2k

New Member
What resources are you using for information on this method? I am fascinated by DSB but a little too chicken to try it myself. Also, exactly which sand are you using? I assume the grain characteristics matter, but I’m not sure which are supposed to be preferable.

Hi, this is what site I used, Deep Sand Beds

I have not had any problems since the previously mentioned nitrite and nitrate levels, I have added more plants and added a decent light system too which seemed to have made the world of difference. Another swordtail 3 pygmy catfish and 2 more guppies have gone in now, all my ottos died from the same batch within a couple of days of each other so I have replaced with the above fish. Snails are thriving, the top of the sand is rotating nicely, all muck etc is disappearing within a day and looking much more appealing.

I used Unipac silver sand, not sure on grain size but it is very fine, maybe a bit too fine if I'm being honest
 
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bertie2k

New Member
It can work but your tank is still cycling- lava rocks or white pumice have helped my filterless tanks become stable..but takes a while. It is normal to have a minI cycle after you add fish. I’ve found that Hornwort is also great for keeping inorganic N down.

That's useful to know for the future, I am changing to an external canister next week to make it look nicer, but in the next few months I am starting my 5/6ft tank with different substrates, using the sand bed as a base then soil and gravel in different sections, so taken all the bits learnt from this to hopefully make a lovely multI purpose substrate tank
 

Fishcat

Well Known
Thanks for the information. I hope you continue to keep us updated - I’m fascinated by the idea, though I’m not quite ready to try it.
 
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bertie2k

New Member

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Few more pics, lots of plants now, I'm not a botanist so apologies for the clutter but it started off as twigs and grew rapidly once the new lights went in. Probably last update as not really much else can happen, its all gone well, no dramas, sand is looking nice, plants are growing nice, fish are thriving, DSB’s are fine to put to in your tank, multiple water changes, I just put the syphon in the water, not along the bed. 5ft tank is purchased and just needs a clean etc, now is the time to put everything I have learnt to use, bit more organisation with the plants will use an external filter so more space, it will have a layered substrate so gravel at the bottom in one section then a wall with raised soil and sand in the middle with another section at the other end raised again with a DSB so two steps upto about 7 inches. Will upload with pics after that is all complete. I want to propagate the plants and have them ready before I move my fish so it will be after Christmas due to expenses etc, kids before fish????? Apparently according to the wife, thanks all for commenting and giving tips etc, hope you have seen that a DSB can be done by the most amateur of people and nothing to be scared of!!
 

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bertie2k

New Member
I know I said last update but I now have baby fishies!! 5 were seen yesterday well excited as only been in the tank for 6 weeks or so so must be going well in there in my eyes.
 

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