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I have a 20 gal long tank, with 50 lbs of black sand all pretty and hardscaped. The goal is a carpet and shrimp.

I don't understand why the plants should grow. Sand has zero nutrients. Spraying water has no nutrients. Where is the nitrogen, potassium, iron, phosphate supposed to come from?

So I assume I need to do something for the sand.

1. Do I just add root tabs for the dry start method and that be good enough?
2. Do I need to buy some sort of powder fertilizer and try mixing it into the sand?
3. Do I mix fertilizer like flourish into the spray bottle?
4. Do I need to buy raw salts and mix it myself to mix into sand? If so is there a guide?
5. Do I need to start over, remove the sand and go throw more money at substrate?

I'm 95% sure I need to add nutrients to inert sand. I'm just confused as to how to do it in conjunction with the dry start method.
 

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I have a 20 gal long tank, with 50 lbs of black sand all pretty and hardscaped. The goal is a carpet and shrimp.

I don't understand why the plants should grow. Sand has zero nutrients. Spraying water has no nutrients. Where is the nitrogen, potassium, iron, phosphate supposed to come from?

So I assume I need to do something for the sand.

1. Do I just add root tabs for the dry start method and that be good enough?
2. Do I need to buy some sort of powder fertilizer and try mixing it into the sand?
3. Do I mix fertilizer like flourish into the spray bottle?
4. Do I need to buy raw salts and mix it myself to mix into sand? If so is there a guide?
5. Do I need to start over, remove the sand and go throw more money at substrate?

I'm 95% sure I need to add nutrients to inert sand. I'm just confused as to how to do it in conjunction with the dry start method.
... What? Your tap water is absolutely loaded with minerals and nutrients used by plants. Varies from region to region, however.

But you'd obviously need to add fertilizer for your plants to survive.

1. Root tabs will work.

2. No. Have you not used the search function or done any sort of reading about this in the two months you've been a member of the forum? If not, you should take advantage of all the information available at your fingertips.

3. You can. But if you're using root tabs, it's unnecessary.

4. You can. There are tons of guides. Use the search function. Check out some stickied posts. Read. We can't do those things for you.

5. No.

You'll use water to mist your plants once or twice per day as they grow and spread. Opening the tank during those misting sessions is the only are exchange you need.
 

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I think you've mixed up a few of the techniques. Unless you really know what you're doing you should not use sand with dry start because its purpose is to provide maximum nutrients to growing plants without having to worry about water changes.
You also should not try to create a carpet with sand (even with root tabs or ferts in the water column). This is because most carpeting plants prefer to get nutrients from their roots and having a carpet requires uniform distribution or nutrients in the topsoil which is difficult to achieve with tabs or water column fertilisation. Deep sand is primarily used as a filter - to absorb nitrates from the water column.

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I think you've mixed up a few of the techniques. Unless you really know what you're doing you should not use sand with dry start because its purpose is to provide maximum nutrients to growing plants without having to worry about water changes.
You also should not try to create a carpet with sand (even with root tabs or ferts in the water column). This is because most carpeting plants prefer to get nutrients from their roots and having a carpet requires uniform distribution or nutrients in the topsoil which is difficult to achieve with tabs or water column fertilisation. Deep sand is primarily used as a filter - to absorb nitrates from the water column.

Sent from my LM-V405 using Tapatalk
Unfortunately, none of this is true and it's only going to confuse newcomers. The OP hasn't mixed up or confused techniques.

A dry start does not require water changes - it's a dry start. Meaning there's no water. It's dry. Well, no water above the substrate line beyond occasional misting.

When you add root tabs to sand, it's the water in that sand (or any other substrate one is using) just below the surface or right at surface level (but no deeper) that allows those nutrients to spread around evenly. It's not difficult to achieve fertilization. Thousands of people have done this with fine substrates and hundreds, if not thousands, more have documented it here on this very forum.

Using sand as a substrate with carpeting plants is possible in part because the water column (once the tank is flooded) moves nutrients to those plants via root tabs or water column dosing.

Further, sand has a super-low CEC and doesn't really absorb anything. No one mentioned deep sand but that's also not exactly how deep sand beds work, though it's not worth getting into here.
 

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A dry start does not require water changes.
I don't think I ever said dry start needs water changes.

[QUOTE"somewhatshocked, post: 11436751, member: 47387"]When you add root tabs to sand, it's the water in that sand (or any other substrate one is using) just below the surface or right at surface level (but no deeper) that allows those nutrients to spread around evenly. It's not difficult to achieve fertilization. Thousands of people have done this with fine substrates and hundreds, if not thousands, more have documented it here on this very forum. [/QUOTE] I didn't say root tabs don't provide fertilisation. I just said it's hard to get a carpeting with just sand and root tabs, especially for someone starting off for the first time. Root tabs and sand using dry start would be even harder and I don't think this is controversial or confusing. If you think it works then okay but I just don't think it's a set up for long term success in the context of carpeting. People already have a hard time with carpets dying off even with aquasoil.

[QUOTE"somewhatshocked, post: 11436751, member: 47387"]Further, sand has a super-low CEC and doesn't really absorb anything. No one mentioned deep sand but that's also not exactly how deep sand beds work, though it's not worth getting into here.[/QUOTE] I did. Because OP was saying he didn't understand how sand could absorb and provide nutrients and I'm just speculating where this idea originated. I wasn't arguing that sand itself was capable of absorbing anything.
 

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I don't think I ever said dry start needs water changes.

When you add root tabs to sand, it's the water in that sand (or any other substrate one is using) just below the surface or right at surface level (but no deeper) that allows those nutrients to spread around evenly. It's not difficult to achieve fertilization. Thousands of people have done this with fine substrates and hundreds, if not thousands, more have documented it here on this very forum.
I didn't say root tabs don't provide fertilisation. I just said it's hard to get a carpeting with just sand and root tabs, especially for someone starting off for the first time. Root tabs and sand using dry start would be even harder and I don't think this is controversial or confusing. If you think it works then okay but I just don't think it's a set up for long term success in the context of carpeting. People already have a hard time with carpets dying off even with aquasoil.

Further, sand has a super-low CEC and doesn't really absorb anything. No one mentioned deep sand but that's also not exactly how deep sand beds work, though it's not worth getting into here.
I did. Because OP was saying he didn't understand how sand could absorb and provide nutrients and I'm just speculating where this idea originated. I wasn't arguing that sand itself was capable of absorbing anything.
I... uh... w... Okay. You were replying to a user asking about dry start method. You said "dry start" in your reply. So it's pretty safe to assume you were talking about... dry start.

This isn't an argument but it's important to be clear so newcomers to the hobby don't get confused.

One other important point to note...

carpeting plants prefer to get nutrients from their roots
Aquatic plants absorb nutrients via their leaves and stems. Carpeting plants are plants, too, so they pull nutrients through their leaves and stems. They don't 'prefer' to absorb via their root system or any method - they readily adapt to their environment and obtain what they need to survive where it's available. There's been a lot of discussion about this for decades (more than a century) but it's abundantly clear in this hobby and is widely documented here on the forum. (Terrestrial plants can also absorb nutrients via their leaves but I'm ignoring them for the purpose of this discussion on an aquatic plant forum.)

Some plants with large root systems can pull a majority of their nutrients via their roots because they're larger than the rest of the plant. But if you cut off most of the roots or cut a plant in half to replant, it's still going to absorb nutrients where it can get them.

If one is using a nutrient-rich substrate (can be sand with root tabs), plants are going to take advantage of it. Even if dosing the water column. But they're still absorbing nutrients via their leaves and stems simultaneously.

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"Carpeting" plants are used for carpeting solely because of the way they spread and appear in a well-maintained tank. The scapes we often try to replicate tend to use plants that are smaller and have smaller root systems. Those smaller root systems lend themselves especially well to finer substrates like ADA Aqua Soil Amazonia Powder, pool filter sand, black sand from the LFS or any other substrate with a fine grain. The effect can also be achieved with larger substrates like gravel when using larger plants.
 
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