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How to Plant plants in Sand?

3661 Views 13 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  jaidexl
Hey Guys,

I have a 135 gallon tank that is highly oxygenated and is filled with sand for substrate. Any suggestions on a successful way to plant plants in the sand? I was thinking of using plastic mesh pots, fill them with eco complete and putting my plants in them, and bury them into the sand. I was looking into root tabs but dont know how well those work. If you guys have any suggestions for some low light plants that dont require a huge amount of co2 that will be able to survive in sand, please let me know. thanks a million!


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I've seen some very successful tanks with a sand substract. They pushed clay balls down into the sand. You can add ferts to the clay balls, as well.
I have heard people use long tweezers to hold down near the roots and just pull it under the sand.

I just stick a couple of fingers into the sand and push it away then slide the roots in and let the sand fall back into the hole.
spypet, what a novel idea. Never would have thought of that ever. I may get some plant plugs and try that, as well. Good pics.....good info.
Thanks Cott, I cooked up this idea 2 years ago while on another Forum,
and was just waiting for a good excuse to post it here again on PTF :smile:
besides making a good anchor that the roots happily attach to, the
Velcro makes is easy to arrange plants in lines, circles, and to relocate.
If you vacuum your gravel often, Velcro is a great way to remove, then
vacuum, then replant your stems while keeping them in the same order.
because it's 100% nylon, Velcro will stay intact under your gravel forever.
Well I happen to find you pretty smart with this idea.
cott, about the clay balls. I posted a really long time ago about what exactly is a good ball. Any recomendations? I am also looking for a purely sand tank in the very near future. Sorry about the highjack :(
All the velcro Ive ever seen has an adhesive on it. I assume this does not, but where do you find it?
You can try a fabric/craft store or the sewing section in a Wal- or K- mart.

But that looks more like something from the electronics area to organize your cables in.
I have a sand substrate on my 10gal and I have used a turkey baster to blow water at the spot where I am going to put the plant and without much of any force the plant sinks like quicksand into the substrate.
if you care to root your plants in SMS or soil you can purchase the shallow terra cota or plastic dishes used underneath potted plants, fill with substrate, plant your plants, then rest on the tank bottom and fill around and over the top rim with the sand substrate. i like this method a lot because it allows me to more easily remove or resituate plantings.
I have 5 gln hex tank with sand, before I filled it up, I had about a gln of water in it and just simply used my fingures to plant the foliage into the sand.
I do not have my tanks cramed packed with plants either. Most eco systems have patches of plant pockets with rocks and eddies, open beaches and so forth. I use to go diving into the lakes I lived on as a kid and made mental notes on just how the plants grew in the water.
As far as planting in the sand, its just like a rice paddy, use your fingers and push the plants no more then an 1/8 inch into the media after the roots. And for your fertilizer, if you want to get the tank cooking fast, add some pellets under the sand and they will disolve over time. Once your tank is balanced and growing the fish will be able to deal with the growth.
You can use peat as a first layer and then place the sand over the top, lakes are usually at a natural state like this. As the weather storms accross the surface of a lake, the wave action does churn the bottoms like the surf of the ocean. Causing the bottom to layer up with run-off and sediment build ups. Thus creating sand beaches all over the effected areas of the lakes and ponds. All lake bottoms have several layers of peat, sand, peat, sand, gravel layers from years of evolution. If you live in an area that affords you several lakes and small bodies of water, take the time to go and do some under water exploring. Do a case study of your local aquatic eco systems. You will be amazed at how each body of water differes from one another. Thus, you will have a greater visual picture of a true eco system whe it comes to the substrates. Have fun getting wet......8>) Maximo
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Sometimes I use plastic zip ties to hold stems down in the sand. I would cut the end of the tie so it's about 3 inches long, then heat the middle with a lighter and bend it into a V shape, turn upside down and press into the sand over a horizontal stem. The stem will shoot roots into the sand and sprout plants from the nodes. Not the quickest way to replant stems and achieve height in a short period of time, but is great for those who loath constant trim time as much as I do. I mainly do it to propagate multiple plants from one clipping.

(just hit post#420, be back in a minute)
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