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Should You Use Gravel for the Plants in Your Aquarium?

Should You Use Gravel for Planted Aquariums San Diego, CA

In May 2021, British newspaper The Times published a lifestyle feature about a trend observed among middle-aged men across the United Kingdom. Instead of motorcycles and grueling CrossFit challenges, British men of a certain age are taking up aquascaping, the art of keeping lush aquarium gardens. A few celebrities, such as BBC host James Wong, have been chronicling their new hobbies on social networks such as Twitter, and they’re now fielding questions such as whether freshwater aquarium plants can be grown on gravel substrates. The answer is yes, some aquatic plant species will benefit from gravel being part of the ecosystem.

The Main Types of Aquatic Plants

Without getting too deep into marine botany, we can split aquarium plants into three broad categories: floating, submerged, and erect. As you can imagine, floating plants have no real use for gravel or any kind of substrate. Submerged plants are pretty dynamic and have the ability to attach their roots to various surfaces, which may include gravel. Erect plants grow pretty strong and strive to break the water surface. Some of them will need a substrate that’s specifically made for aquatic plants.

Best Gravel for Planted Aquariums

Only a few exotic aquatic plants will exclusively thrive in gravel substrates. Decorative gravel that features colorful river rocks won’t do much in terms of promoting healthy plant growth. However, it looks pretty stylish as part of a lushly planted tank. In general, gravel and sandy substrates serve mostly decorative purposes, but they can be easily mixed with fertilizing soil filled with nutrients. The best approach in this regard is to arrange the soil in two layers: aquatic plant substrate at the bottom and decorative gravel on top. Some people promote using terrestrial soil, like Miracle-Gro. But we and many others who have tried this find that it’s VERY messy to deal with and can cover your plants in silts that never seem to go away.

Planting Java Moss in Gravel

This species is one of those plants that are usually sold to beginners to start their aquatic garden tanks. Java moss is a resilient plant with low lighting requirements that doesn’t need high levels of carbon dioxide to reach its growth potential. Moreover, this plant will attach to gravel by means of its rhizomes, which are highly flexible roots.

Planting Amazon Swords in Gravel

Here we have another aquarium plant that can easily adjust to tanks that hold at least 10 gallons of water. The lighting conditions for Amazon swords are moderate, and the same can be said about its required water temperature. Since Amazon swords are true rooting plants, the aquatic plant substrate they need to be planted into should be at least 2.5 inches deep. This plant doesn’t really need extra fertilization, but it will definitely benefit from it.

The Versatile Ludwigia

Also known as creeping primrose or water willow, this plant features striking red colors, and it can root in aquatic plant substrate, although it doesn’t really need to. Ludwigia Repens is a species that can also float around in an aquarium if it fails to take hold, but it does need a good lighting system.

Whether you need beautiful plants or the necessary fish tank supplies to keep your plants and fish healthy, you can find what you’re looking for at Aquatic Warehouse. Come visit our store in Kearny Mesa, or order your supplies from our website and have them shipped directly to you. If you have any questions, please call 858-467-9297 to speak with one of our knowledgeable aquatic experts.



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    San Diego, CA 92123
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