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Old 12-02-2011, 10:26 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Red face Live plants in normal gravel?

Hey, real quick question. I've got a 20 gallon FW tropical community aquarium that I'd like to have real plants in, but I'm a newbie at the whole "planted tank" thing. Are there any plants that can work with the standard aquarium gravel or do I have to change out to a different substrate? Sorry if this is a dumb question, I've asked around and gotten many different answers. Thanks in advance!
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Old 12-02-2011, 10:55 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Live plants in normal gravel?

Don't worry, it's not a dumb question!

There are plenty of plants that grow just fine in plain old gravel, if you take care of them. That means ferts if they need them, and the right kind of lighting. I'm lazy when it comes to ferts, so I really like root tabs. Just bury them under at least an inch of gravel, and they'll fertilize your plants for 1-2 months. Some plants might need extra ferts, or a different kind (liquid) but for the most part, take care of ferts and lighting, and plants are a breeze to grow.

Most plants will grow in gravel, so here's just a short list of some:
swords plants (most of them at least)
anubias*
java fern*
mosses*
wisteria
hornwort
crypts
duckweed*
various stem plants
dwarf lillies
hygros

*do not necessarily require substrate at all, either floats or is usually ties to driftwood or rocks, do not plant rhizome under substrate
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Old 12-02-2011, 10:58 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Live plants in normal gravel?

Look up root tabs. Ya stick them under the roots of the plants and the plants will grow in regular gravel. Read the box though, the ones i have say something like 1 for every 6" of floor and replace every couple of months.. (ie, may get expensive!!)
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Old 12-02-2011, 11:07 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Live plants in normal gravel?

Awesome, thank you! I didn't wanna spend some cash on plants and then not be able to use them, I appreciate the help! Heading to the store in the morning!
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Old 12-03-2011, 12:46 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Live plants in normal gravel?

well make sure their REAL aquatic plants and not the plants that are in tubes that say snail free.i learned that the hard way.they made my ammonia sky and a snail tagged along because i guess i didnt wash it good enough off the roots.
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Old 12-03-2011, 02:14 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Live plants in normal gravel?

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well make sure their REAL aquatic plants and not the plants that are in tubes that say snail free.i learned that the hard way.they made my ammonia sky and a snail tagged along because i guess i didnt wash it good enough off the roots.
yep, those ones are the killers of innocent tanks everywhere. The most common ones are ribbon plants, lucky bamboo, mondo grass and there's a couple others that I'm blanking on, but there's several of them. These plants cannot stay underwater for long without starting to rot. The lucky bamboo might be an exception, but even so it needs its leaves and part of its stem out of the water.
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Old 12-03-2011, 07:52 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Live plants in normal gravel?

Good to know, thanks!
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Old 12-06-2011, 11:56 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Live plants in normal gravel?

I've had An Amazon sword that has taken well to regular gravel. However my Wisteria has been hit & miss. One side of the tanks seems to have rooted just fine while the other side keeps uprooting. Also, I've never had success with red ludwigia rooting in gravel. I had some dwarf grass as well but it was eaten before it had a chance to grow roots. I also have some modo grass that is doing well. It's well rooted and doesn't seem to be rotting at all. I do Use Liquid ferts weekly as well.
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Old 12-07-2011, 09:42 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Live plants in normal gravel?

Cool, thanks! I picked up some Amazon sword and some java fern plants to start with, we'll see...
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Old 12-08-2011, 09:10 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Live plants in normal gravel?

Your sword plant will appreciate some root tabs. They are very heavy root feeders.
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Old 12-08-2011, 09:52 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: Live plants in normal gravel?

Quote:
Originally Posted by 96projectz24 View Post
Hey, real quick question. I've got a 20 gallon FW tropical community aquarium that I'd like to have real plants in, but I'm a newbie at the whole "planted tank" thing. Are there any plants that can work with the standard aquarium gravel or do I have to change out to a different substrate? Sorry if this is a dumb question, I've asked around and gotten many different answers. Thanks in advance!
yes you can use gravel. But the plants do "root" better with sand.

+1 on the layered peat moss,sand,pcselect.

the only dumb question is the one not asked.

I recommend you use 10 bunches of anacharis, 10 various vals, 5-10 small potted plants (crypts, swords), and a single amazon sword.

I had a 20g long for a few years with standard gravel and it work fine. Had sunburst platties and used 3 115-20w spiral incandescend replacement bulbs (flouresent) in round clip on reflectors. I just set the bulbs and reflectors on a 1/4" square plastic grid lighting diffuser.

Look up the "beaslbob" builds here. The peat moss keeps kh and gh (hardness) in line and IME allowed more delicate fish like neon tetras to thrive.

As usual I use no water changes, no mechanical filters or circulation.


still all in all just.

ta da


my .02
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