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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, I'm new to the forum, and relatively new to aquariums.
I have a 29 gallon sand substrate tank (Caribsea) and plan to plant it heavily. I already have a few argentine swords, anubias, and dwarf hair grass.... And a Java fern on a piece of driftwood. I don't want to mess with fancy substrates that are good for plants and I read 50/50 on whether it works ok or not to just use sand.


I've been reading a lot on this forum and I like all the information everyone gives out and am looking for everyone's personal opinions based on experience for I already have the facts.

I know sand has no nutrients, (1)but will most plants do ok in the sand with plenty of root tabs? I've been experimenting as I've been growing my tank, it is now fully cycled, though I may have messed with that at my latest attempt to add plants and I moved all the sand around.

Also, during my experimentation, some of my plant roots have been rotting, particularly my hedges, that I now realize are not actually aquatic plants, nonetheless, my anubias and a little bit of my sword plant roots were starting to rot rather quickly....
(2)What causes roots to rot????
-lack of oxygen? Suffocation?
-lack of nutrients, and the plant is trying to create some for the other roots or new roots with rotting plant matter?

I haven't done great with the root tabs, waiting for my big bag to come in as well as my big selection of plants, but I want to be well informed when they do. Am I wasting my time trying to do this with just root tabs and liquid fert. I also plan to get MTS's. (3) will these snails uproot my plants and or expose my root tablets(they cloud the water?)

Any info and experiences are truly appreciated, thanks!





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for starters, lots of people have good success with sand and root tabs.

Plants like Java fern and Anubias do not like to have their roots buried in any substrate. They will get their nutrients from the water column. You may need to dose ferts in the water column for these plants.

Do you have your Anubias roots in the substrate?
 

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If you want an inert sand that is easy to keep clean, grows many rooted plants reasonably well using just root tabs, then a fairly shallow bed of inexpensive #20 grade density quartz-based pool filter sand is for you. Get it at any pool supply store for under $15. for 50 lbs.
Here's an example for you:

 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Discuspaul, thanks.

Ichy, thanks for the input. My anubias roots were in the sand two days and began to rot, they are now resting on top of the sand.

The root system is pretty long and very thick, I'm going to have a tough time attaching it it seems.
As for the swords, one of them began to rot at the roots as well. Still trying to find out what causes root rot in general.


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The roots of anubias can be buried as long as the rhizome is left exposed. It's the rhizome that doesnt need to be buried.

Sand is great. I use it in all my tanks.

As for the roots rotting, sometimes when a plant moves from one environment to another, existing roots will degrade and new roots will start to form simultaneously. Leaves do the same thing if a plant has been grown emmersed for example.

As long as the plant looks healthy I wouldnt worry about it, especially if there is new healthy root growth. This may take some time with anubias because they grow very slow.

If the sword plant's roots are rotting without forming any new healthy growth then you may have a problem. But dont be uprooting it every few days to look at the roots. Leave it be and see what happens. It will soon let you know if it's happy or not.

How long has that hair grass been planted? It looks nice and healthy. If it's more than a couple weeks old then I'd say conditions in general are pretty favorable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
burr740, thanks for the input. Certainly would explain root rot if conditions are favorable.

The DHG has been in almost a month now with no root growth, it seems as though there is literally no roots at all, just a nub where it all comes together. The tops of the blade have a TINY nub on them too which makes me believe that they are actually adapting and getting the nutrients from the water column? But I need roots to hold it down(PITA.). Lol!
And since I upgraded my lights, I've noticed slight vertical growth. Soon I will have my good fixture with t5's. Plus my led strip.


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I don't have access to anubias anymore, due to legislation, but many plants grow better root systems, if you give the roots a light pruning before planting.
It causes hormones to accumulate there and speed up the healing and growth, A bit like when you crush a branch on a tree or shrub slightly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I'm going on about a year and a half with pool filter sand and kind of a lot of plants and it's been going very well. I use liquid ferts and root tabs. I also have MTS and they haven't bothered the plants at all.


Wow nice tank! I'd consider that heavily planted. Great contrast.

Good to hear of your success in sand after that length of time. So far I'm doing okay as well.



What kind of wood are those thin, straight pieces?
 

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What kind of wood are those thin, straight pieces?
Thanks! This is my first planted tank and there's been a LOT of trial and error!

The light colored "wood" is cholla which is everywhere where I live and the darker wood is from crazyaquaticstudio on eBay. He calls it spider wood but I don't know what kind of tree it comes from. It's actually all one piece but most of it is covered up by that moss now. I didn't even buy the moss, a tiny bit came with some shrimp I ordered and this is just what it did by itself after I chucked it into the tank...
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks! This is my first planted tank and there's been a LOT of trial and error!

The light colored "wood" is cholla which is everywhere where I live and the darker wood is from crazyaquaticstudio on eBay. He calls it spider wood but I don't know what kind of tree it comes from. It's actually all one piece but most of it is covered up by that moss now. I didn't even buy the moss, a tiny bit came with some shrimp I ordered and this is just what it did by itself after I chucked it into the tank...


my first planted tank as well. Seriously though, you have a talent there, I may be biased because that's my favorite style, but that's stunning. And thanks for the info. I have an old 30 gallon Hexagonal TALL(24") tank I plan on starting soon...what a challenge that will be.
 
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