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How To Plant Aquarium Plants In Gravel

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You love your beautiful aquarium and just decided to add some live aquatic plants to it. So, can aquarium plants grow in gravel? In short yes.

There are some species of aquatic flora that can be grown in the gravel. Now you might wonder “how to plant aquarium plants in gravel?” Well, this typically depends on what type of gravel you have. Also, large chunky aquarium rock gravel is not an ideal choice. The suitable ways are:

  • Choose the right plants
  • Provide adequate lighting
  • Use anchors
  • Add fertilizer
Good Solid - excellent quality
  • Substrate encourages healthy plant root growth
  • Complete substrate for freshwater planted aquariums
  • Contains major and minor trace elements to nourish aquarium plants
gravel-in-plants

Here’s how to plant aquarium plants in gravel using 4 best methods

Making minor adjustments to your aquarium’s environment can actually impact your success rate with aquatic plants.

  • Choose the right plants

    ​How well the plant grows depends on which plant you have brought in. You must choose plants that have a fast-growing root system and that tends to cling easily.

  • Provide adequate lighting

    You already know how vital light is for the proper growth of plants. You must check the lighting requirements of the plants before you pick them. Besides, install proper lights to your aquarium and let them operate for adequate hours.
High efficiency - best value
  • low energy dissipation
  • LED light fits different size aquariums in extendable range
  • save cost, extend LEDs life span
  • Use anchors

    Anchors work great if you don’t want to add a substrate or underlying gravel to your tank. Anchoring can be done by attaching plants to rocks, fixtures or driftwood. The most preferred material is driftwood.
Safe for aquarium use - Best Choice
  • Heavy to keep plants weighted down
  • Wont Rust, Pliable not toxic to fish
  • Perfect for weighing down airline tubing

Pro Tip


If you happen to buy very tall plants, use them to hide filter tubes and heaters by placing them on the aquarium’s back walls.

  • Add fertilizer

    Using the right fertilizer is the major tool in aquarium planting. Aquarium plant fertilizer such as a root tab fertilizer is rich in nutrients that plants need. It is in a tablet form and goes straight into your aquarium’s substrate. This allows the roots to get the nutrients that they otherwise do not get from the water.
nutrient rich tablets - Recommended
  • provide a long lasting nutrient source essential for healthy plant growth
  • contain all the necessary micro and macro nutrients
  • ThriveCaps are a blend of dry Thrive mix, iron rich clay and mineralized top soil.
gravel-in-plants-2

Different types of aquarium plants

If you love the planted-tank-style of an aquarium, you would agree on how lively and vibrant such an aquarium appears to be. These plants might look similar but have different types.

Based on where and how they tend to grow, aquarium plants are categorized into 3 parts.

  • Foreground Plants

    They are usually short and grow slowly. You can place these in front of your tank. For example- Dwarf Baby Tears, Four Leaf Clover, Indian Red Sword, and Moss.

  • Midground Plants

    These plants are taller and can be used in the sides and the center of your aquarium. Some mid-ground plants are Cryptocoryne Spiralis, Moneywort, and Lush.

  • Background Plants

    They are the tallest and fastest-growing among all aquarium plants. For example- Aponogeton Boivinianus, Anacharis Aquarium Plant, Potted Tall Hairgrass, and Coontail.

Did You Know?


Some fish species eat plants or even uproot them. The tropical fish community is the least harmful to plants.

Aquatic plants FACTS!

  • Plants help in regulating the aquarium ecosystem.
  • tem by eliminating harmful chemicals from the water
  • They grow up to 12 inches (30 cm) tall
  • They can live from 1 to 5 years
  • Aquatic plants thrive in a tropical community aquarium

Which plants grow quickly in gravel?

Want to know those tough dudes that grow quickly in gravel? Refer below for some easy aquarium plants!

  • Anubias nana

    It is a short plant that has broad leaves. Besides being attractive, it also helps to keep your tank water clean and oxygenated. It is very hardy and is a great choice for beginners.

  • Java ferns

    Scientifically known as Microsorum Pteropus, Java Fern is a very popular aquarium plant. It is widely used due to its unique shape and ease of reproduction and care.

  • Java Moss

    Java moss is one of the easiest as well as fast-growing aquarium plants. It is found in abundance in moist tropical climates and grows on rocks, river-banks, and tree trunks.

  • Amazon Swords

    With their bladelike appearance and impressive endurance, the Amazon Sword Plant in an invincible aquatic plant. If you have ever wondered what the ideal plant choice would be for any fish tank, you have found the answer right here!

Did You Know?


The leaves of submerged aquatic plants rarely have stomata- the minute opening through which plants respire.

Steps to plant aquarium plants

Wondering how to set up an aquarium for aquatic plants? Check this out!

  • Aquarium plants need 8 to 12 hours of simulated sunlight daily to grow properly. Set up the aquarium near a window or door that gets direct sunlight.
  • The amount of light your aquarium requires depends on the size of the tank. A 10-gallon tank should have a 15-watt tube installed. With every increasing gallon, you must increase the tube’s watt by 10 - 15 units.
  • While considering plants for your tank, do not choose so many that there is no room left for the fish.
  • Layer the bottom of your aquarium with about 2-3 inches of gravel or substrate as per the plant’s requirements.
  • Add aquarium-plant fertilizer as per the instructions on the label and fill the aquarium halfway with water.
  • Bury the plants in the gravel up to the base of their stems. In the case of bulbs or tubers, cover the bulb with gravel up to its growing tip.
  • Add your favorite aquarium accessories and fill your tank with water.

Sand and gravel for planted aquarium

The material that sits down in your aquarium is called the substrate. There are several options available to choose from for your aquarium substrate. Sand and gravel are the most common ones. Having healthy aquarium plants depends on what you use as gravel!

Aquarium gravel and its types

This has a major benefit. The water can flow through it, thereby preventing any amoebal and bacterial buildup in the substrate. Moreover, a gravel substrate is too heavy to get pulled into your aquarium filters. Hence it prevents clogging that could decrease their efficiency. Gravel also comes in many colors so that you may customize your tank that would complement your fish. Refer below for various types of gravel.

Easy To Clean - Best Choice
  • specially selected to stand out under the blue lighting
  • Easy to clean and requires low maintenance
  • decorate with plants and add your GloFish
  • GloFish gravel

    It is bright colored gravel and looks amazing under blue and white light.
  • Decorative gravel

    These are the perfect attractive decor for your aquarium. They also
    ensure a better habitat for your fish.
  • Pebbles

    This gravel is the safest gravel substrate for your tank inhabitants.

  • Shallow creek gravel

    This gravel is best for small fish tanks.

Aquarium sand and its types

Substrate or aquarium soil restricts the water to flow through it. However, if you have fish that likes to scavenge in the sand, they can very efficiently filter the substrate. Moreover, sand substrate looks more natural and mimics the lake and riverbeds that are natural habitats of the fish. It needs less frequent changing because its particles are tightly packed together. Smaller gaps between the sand particles prevent old food and decayed plant matters from sinking in and they tend to stay on top. This avoids such particles to rot thereby lessening your cleaning sessions. Refer below for types of aquarium sand.

​Promotes the growth - High Quality
  • Helps simulate a positive natural environment
  • Reduces the amount of unhealthy debris in the water
  • healthy bacteria which breaks down waste
  • River Sand

    It is a cheap and simple substrate. Make sure that the sand is clay-free.

  • Black Quartz Sand

    This type of sand can be used in the aquarium without any restrictions. This is because it does not affect the water chemically.

  • Sea Sand

    ​This aquarium sand is also known as beach sand or marine sand. It may be difficult for you to get this sand because the purest forms of such sand are found about 30 - 60 feet down the ocean. If at all you manage to find good quality sea sand, it will have great benefits on your plants and fish.

  • Pool Filter Sand

    The grains of a pool filter sand is relatively larger than other types of aquarium sand.

  • Play Sand

    ​Play sand is also widely used in aquariums. Play sand is smaller as well as lighter in weight. It is cheap and you can easily get it in any hardware store.

  • Estes Marine Sand/Ultra Reef sand

    Its grain size is perfect and is big enough to allow the oxygen to penetrate into the inner areas of the sand bed. Further, it does not create toxic gas pockets.

  • Live Sand

    ​This sand is coral sand that is extracted directly from the ocean. It contains the living organisms that were present in it at the time of collection. Transportation of live sand is the same as transportation fish and corals. It is placed in long-term storage packages to prevent it from getting dry and preserving microorganisms and beneficial bacteria present in it.

  • Coral Sand

    Coral sand mostly comprises limestone fragments of marine organisms. It is calcium-rich and is often called limestone sand. Putting it in your aquarium will increase the water’s hardness. Hence, it is used only in saltwater tanks and brackish tanks.
gravel-in-plants-3

Benefits of Aquarium plants

You may think of an aquatic plant as a beautifying gesture to your aquarium. Nevertheless, they provide multiple benefits. Knowing these can help you decide which plants you’re going to buy.

  • Better Oxygenation

    ​Aquatic plants convert carbon dioxide into oxygen that would be utilized by your fish.

  • Filtration of Water

    ​Live plants can use the nitrates to grow. This helps to remove the unnecessary nitrates waste from your tank and keep your tank water cleaner and healthier.

  • Aeration

    ​Oxygen saturation helps to aerate your tank. This is beneficial for the fish.

  • Aesthetic Appeal

    Plants give your tank a natural and aesthetically pleasing appearance.

  • Shelter and Security

    Plants give your fish places to lay, rest and breed.

  • Hide Aquarium Fixtures

    Aquatic plants can very effortlessly hide unsightly fixtures like the aquarium pumps and filtration systems.

Video Introduction

Overall, it may be said..

Choosing your plants smartly and following a maintenance schedule are 2 major things you must keep in mind. Further, getting the right gravel according to the plant’s needs is a necessity for all aquarists who love the charm of a planted aquarium.

Fish tanks and aquariums are personally my favorites when it comes to pet-co-home-decor. Choose wisely and maintain religiously and you are all sorted.

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