What substrate can carpeting plants be grown in?

MILES420

hi! i'm a very new aquarist, i recently acquired a co2 kit and am considering planting monte carlos as my carpeting plant. i definitely have the money to buy soil to plant them in my tank, however i was wondering if i could be a bit cheaper and plant them in gravel/sand and use root tabs + fertilizer instead. is this something i can do? thanks
 

Darthmoli

Most carpeting plants are gonna really struggle in gravel and sand. While its not impossible it is gonna grow slower and be more difficult for it to establish itself.

If you are looking to save money you can always just use some organic garden soil from your local lowes/home depot or garden shop. Just make sure its organic and doesnt have any extras ferts added to them. Try to find some that dont use bark trimmings in it but if you cant find one thats fine and just sift the soil to get all the big pieces out before using it in your tank. Note sometimes using soil you can get ammonia spikes. Using the organic tends to lessen these but they are still possible so make sure your tank gets really established before adding fish.

I do this in all my bigger planted tanks and it works really well. Just use something as a thin layer above it to hold the soil down. Here is where you could use a thin layer of gravel or something. Then your carpets would still be able to get to the soil for its nutrients but you'd have a top layer of gravel. Just depending on the plant you want to carpet. This works well with hairgrass but not as well with dwarf baby tears for instance. Just some ideas.
 
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MILES420

Most carpeting plants are gonna really struggle in gravel and sand. While its not impossible it is gonna grow slower and be more difficult for it to establish itself.

If you are looking to save money you can always just use some organic garden soil from your local lowes/home depot or garden shop. Just make sure its organic and doesnt have any extras ferts added to them. Try to find some that dont use bark trimmings in it but if you cant find one thats fine and just sift the soil to get all the big pieces out before using it in your tank. Note sometimes using soil you can get ammonia spikes. Using the organic tends to lessen these but they are still possible so make sure your tank gets really established before adding fish.

I do this in all my bigger planted tanks and it works really well. Just use something as a thin layer above it to hold the soil down. Here is uwhere you could use a thin layer of gravel or something. Then your carpets would still be able to get to the soil for its nutrients but you'd have a top layer of gravel. Just depending on the plant you want to carpet. This works well with hairgrass but not as well with dwarf baby tears for instance. Just some ideas.
thank you so much for the quick reply! i'm going to be safe and buy aqua soil, and layer some small gravel on top. much appreciated!
 
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jkkgron2

For my snail bowl I use soil capped with black diamond sand, the sand is very cheap and even without the soil I’ve seen some amazing growth (without CO2) with my dwarf hairgrass after putting it in this sand. Gravel may not work with carpeting plants at first, when I got mine the roots were very small and I doubt they wouldn’t held up well in gravel. Now I would be more confident adding them to a tank with gravel because they have more developed roots but I don’t know if they’ll carpet very well.
 
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-Mak-

Hi! Welcome!!
I would not recommend gravel. Carpeting plants are small with fine roots, and also are nutrient hogs. Sand is okay for roots but doesn't have evenly distributed nutrients even with root tabs. Putting fine gravel on top of soil is okay if it's like a grain or two thick, but also there's no need to and I still worry about hindering the carpet effect... Also will mix the two when you uproot/replant. Aquasoil functions best on its own
Aquasoil will for sure make your life easier. A high quality aquasoil will especially give you more room to make errors with liquid fertilizer dosing.
The skill it takes to grow a carpeting plant (and most aquarium plants) is nothing unattainable, really unfortunately what it takes is money :hungover: If you buy the right equipment and hardware, those materials will do the growing for you.

I cannot say enough good things about monte carlo as a plant though! It grows well low tech if there is soil, good light, and some nutrients, and it grows like a weed in high tech with CO2.
I threw some into a pot in my outdoor pond in the spring and it took off. I recently planted some cuttings of that pond grown monte carlo into my low tech nano, and it is doing great too. Here is the 10 day progress, you can see it bending over from upright planting into the sideways carpeting form - this happens naturally with stronger light and CO2, and is why carpets grow well in those conditions! The same thing will happen for you. You haven't mentioned light, but I did want to point out that a higher intensity dimmable light is a good investment


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MILES420

Hi! Welcome!!
I would not recommend gravel. Carpeting plants are small with fine roots, and also are nutrient hogs. Sand is okay for roots but doesn't have evenly distributed nutrients even with root tabs. Putting fine gravel on top of soil is okay if it's like a grain or two thick, but also there's no need to and I still worry about hindering the carpet effect... Also will mix the two when you uproot/replant. Aquasoil functions best on its own
Aquasoil will for sure make your life easier. A high quality aquasoil will especially give you more room to make errors with liquid fertilizer dosing.
The skill it takes to grow a carpeting plant (and most aquarium plants) is nothing unattainable, really unfortunately what it takes is money :hungover: If you buy the right equipment and hardware, those materials will do the growing for you.

I cannot say enough good things about monte carlo as a plant though! It grows well low tech if there is soil, good light, and some nutrients, and it grows like a weed in high tech with CO2.
I threw some into a pot in my outdoor pond in the spring and it took off. I recently planted some cuttings of that pond grown monte carlo into my low tech nano, and it is doing great too. Here is the 10 day progress, you can see it bending over from upright planting into the sideways carpeting form - this happens naturally with stronger light and CO2, and is why carpets grow well in those conditions! The same thing will happen for you. You haven't mentioned light, but I did want to point out that a higher intensity dimmable light is a good investment


IMG_2778.jpg
IMG_3063.JPG
IMG_3257.JPG
Screen Shot 2020-09-06 at 11.16.22 PM.png
thank you so much for your help!! your tank is absolutely gorgeous! i will be buying aquasoil later this week.i was planning on ADA amazonia, but while i was browsing for stones/plants i found this substrate: UNS Controsoil Brown does this seem like a decent substrate?
 
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toeknee

While aquasoil definitely helps it's not 100% needed. I have pool filter sand with NilocG root tabs and liquid ferts in my heavily planted CO2 tank and have monte carlo, dwarf hairgrass, dwarf sag and s.repens all growing out of control to the point of having to rip a bunch out every couple weeks. So if you want to setup for the best possible chances of success go for the aquasoil. If you want to save heaps of money you can certainly use regular ol' pool filter sand with root tabs. NilocG's root tabs are $16 for 60 capsules and last my 55 gallon well over a year.
 
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-Mak-

thank you so much for your help!! your tank is absolutely gorgeous! i will be buying aquasoil later this week.i was planning on ADA amazonia, but while i was browsing for stones/plants i found this substrate: UNS Controsoil Brown does this seem like a decent substrate?
Thank you very much!
ADA releases ammonia for a few weeks, which is actually very good for the plants and for cycling. However, if this is undesirable to you, UNS is a great alternative. It releases a less ammonia according to users, and it should be cheaper, depending on your supplier.
 
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MILES420

Thank you very much!
ADA releases ammonia for a few weeks, which is actually very good for the plants and for cycling. However, if this is undesirable to you, UNS is a great alternative. It releases a less ammonia according to users, and it should be cheaper, depending on your supplier.
thank you so much for all your help! i will buy the ADA substrate and use the DSM to plant monte carlos.
 
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sairving

thank you so much for your help!! your tank is absolutely gorgeous! i will be buying aquasoil later this week.i was planning on ADA amazonia, but while i was browsing for stones/plants i found this substrate: UNS Controsoil Brown does this seem like a decent substrate?

I have UNS Controsoil in my nano tank. It does release some ammonia. The highest reading was 1 ppm. It was enough to start the tank cycling and I had plants in the tank right away. The black controsoil will be dark brown and the brown soil will be a light brown.

My plants are doing alright. They root easily in the substrate. My issues have been related more to lighting and liquid fertilization. I ended up with the UNS controsoil because that's what my local fish store sells.
 
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MILES420

I have UNS Controsoil in my nano tank. It does release some ammonia. The highest reading was 1 ppm. It was enough to start the tank cycling and I had plants in the tank right away. The black controsoil will be dark brown and the brown soil will be a light brown.

My plants are doing alright. They root easily in the substrate. My issues have been related more to lighting and liquid fertilization. I ended up with the UNS controsoil because that's what my local fish store sells.
thank you so much for your input! once i start a new tank, i will consider buying UNS controsoil. are there any ways to speed up/reduce the ammonia release? i would like to move my betta to a tank with a working filter ASAP.
 
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sairving

thank you so much for your input! once i start a new tank, i will consider buying UNS controsoil. are there any ways to speed up/reduce the ammonia release? i would like to move my betta to a tank with a working filter ASAP.

So looking at my notebook, Day 2 the ammonia was at .5 ppm, Day 3 at 1 ppm, then another 3 days at .5 ppm. On day 7, ammonia was at zero. Not sure If you can speed the process up. I did add Tetra Safe Start Plus since it was an uncycled tank and I had an ammonia source.
 
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