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8 Best Aquarium Plants for Sand Substrate (Easy to Care and Maintain)

Personally, I think that any aquarium is incomplete without plants.

There are lots of benefits of keeping live plants in your aquarium and it also offers you a chance to customize your aquarium that suits your style and make it unique.

But what to do if you have a sand substrate in your aquarium.

You may have heard that sand is not a very good substrate for planting aquatic plants.

And there is a truth to that because there are some plants that are root feeders which basically means that they get most of the required nutrients from the substrate.

Also, it is a bit difficult for some aquatic plants to get their roots anchored in the sand substrate.

But there is another category of plant that doesn’t get required nutrients from substrate instead they get it from the water column.

Also, if you prepare your sand substrate by adding some root tabs before planting your aquatic plants then it will help it anchor its roots in the sand substrate.

And these are the plants that you can keep and grow in your aquarium having a sand substrate.

In this article, I am going to show you the best aquarium plants that you can use in your sand substrate aquarium.

I have categorized them as

  1. Low light plants – The plants that can grow in low light.
  2. No fertilizer plants – The plants that can do well without any fertilizers.
  3. Others – And I have mentioned some other plants you can keep in your sand substrate aquarium.

Before getting into the list, let’s first clear out some doubts or questions.

Can aquarium plants live in the sand?

Yes, water column feeder aquarium plants live can live in a sand substrate. 

It is also important to prepare your sand substrate before introducing plants into the aquarium. You can do so by adding some root tabs so that it will help plants to get their roots anchored in the sand.

As water column feeder aquarium plants get the required nutrients from the water column so they can easily survive in a sand substrate.

Also, you can provide them nutrients by adding root tabs regularly if the plant gets their nutrients from its roots.

Can I use sand in the freshwater tank?

Definitely, you can use sand in your freshwater tank.

And actually, there are some benefits of using sand in your freshwater aquarium than other substrates.

For example

  • Sand provides more surface area than the gravel for the colonization of the beneficial bacteria
  • Some freshwater fish species come from the environment where the substrate is sand. So when you keep sand as a substrate for these fish species it will help to make them feel like home.
  • There are some fish species that only breed when there is sand as a substrate. So, in this case, the sand will help in breeding the fish.
  • Sand can be ideal for certain aquatic plants. And you can always provide the essential nutrients to the plants by adding some root tabs.

On the other hand, there are some drawbacks of using sand as a substrate as well, for example, it is a bit difficult to clean than a gravel substrate.

With that out of the way, let’s dive into the list now…

Best Aquarium Plants for Sand Substrate

8 Best Aquarium Plants for Sand Substrate (Easy to Care and Maintain) pin

Low Light Plants

Firstly, we will see the plants that can do well in low lighting conditions. 

Some of these plants can do well without fertilizers as well (I’ll get deep into it later in this post, so keep reading)

1.Cryptocoryne wendtii

Cryptocoryne wendtii

Image by Haplochromis under CC BY 2.5

PARAMETERSVALUES
PLANTCryptocoryne Wendtii
COMMON NAMESWendt’s Cryptocoryne, water trumpet
SCIENTIFIC NAMECryptocoryne Wendtii
FAMILYAraceae
CARE LEVELEasy
LIGHT REQUIREMENTLow
GROWTH RATEMedium
TEMPERATURE72-82° F
pH6.0-8.0
HARDNESSKH 3-8
PLACEMENTBackground
MAXIMUM SIZE6 inches
MINIMUM TANK SIZE5 gallon

Cryptocoryne wendtii is an easy to maintain stem plant.

It is good for beginners as well as experienced aquarists. 

This plant is also very popular in aquascaping because of its different color and size variations.

This plant comes in red, brown and green color and its leaf size range from 5 to 18 inch.

How much light does it need?

Cryptocoryne wendtii is undemanding when it comes to light.

It can survive in low light and it can also tolerate high lighting conditions.

You can use a fluorescent bulb or any LED light bulb for this plant.

What’s the best place to keep it in the aquarium?

As mentioned earlier, Cryptocoryne wendtii comes in different size variations.

You can use this plant in the foreground of a large aquarium.

You can use it as a midground plant in medium-size aquarium.

The green cryptocoryne wendtii is a smaller variation of this plant. 

It grows a maximum of 10-15 centimeters so you can use it as a background plant for small aquariums.

Ideal water parameters

The ideal temperature for the proper growth of Cryptocoryne wendtii is 72 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

The pH tolerance range of this plant is 6-8 and the hardness tolerance range is between 3-8.

Substrate

Cryptocoryne wendtii comes with a solid root system.

Ideally, you should use any gravel or soil substrate for this plant.

But you can also plant this plant in a sand substrate and it will easily get anchored in the sand because of its very good root system.

Fertilization requirements

When you plant Cryptocoryne wendtii in a sand substrate, you should supplement it with some root tabs that are rich in macro and micronutrients as well as rich in iron.

Check the latest price of this plant at Amazon here

Check out My Tips to Take care of Live Plants

2. Java fern

java fern
PARAMETERSVALUES
PLANTJava Fern
COMMON NAMESJava Fern
SCIENTIFIC NAMEMicrosorum pteropus
FAMILYPolypodiaceae
CARE LEVELEasy
LIGHT REQUIREMENTLow to Moderate
GROWTH RATELow to Moderate
TEMPERATURE68-82oF
pH6.0-7.5
HARDNESS60-160 ppm
PLACEMENTMid to Background
MAXIMUM SIZE13.5 inches
MINIMUM TANK SIZE5 Gallons

Java fern is one of the most popular plants in the aquarium hobby.

It is a very hardy plant and can tolerate a wide range of water parameters.

It can tolerate temperature as low as 68-degree Fahrenheit so you can use it in a cold water aquarium.

This plant is very easy to care for which makes it ideal for beginners.

How much light does it require?

Java fern doesn’t require a lot of light for its growth.

Low to moderate light is ideal for this plant.

If you keep it under strong lighting then its leaves will turn brown and transparent.

Ideally, you should provide it at least 1.5-2 watts of light per gallon.

What’s the best place to keep it in the tank?

Java fern is not a fast-growing plant but it can grow very large so ideally, you should keep it in the middle or in the background of your tank.

Ideal water parameters

Java fern can tolerate a wide range of water parameters.

With that being said, the ideal temperature for the proper growth of Java fern is from 68 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

The pH tolerance range is from 6 to 7.5.

And the hardness tolerance range is from 3 to 8.

Substrate 

Java fern is a water column feeder so it gets all its nutrients through water.

So, you can use any substrate for this plant.

You can even put it in a bare bottom tank and it will do well.

So obviously, you can keep it in a sand substrate aquarium.

Java fern comes with rhizomes.

Ideally, you should not burry its rhizomes in the substrate.

Instead, you should tie it to any ornament in your aquarium that could be driftwood or any rock and then keep it in your sand substrate aquarium.

Fertilization requirements

Java fern doesn’t really require any fertilizers for its growth.

But if you supplement it with some fertilizers then it will grow faster.

as Java fern is a water column feeder you should add supplements in the form of liquid.

You should add it after weekly water change.

No Fertilizers Plant

Now we are going to see some aquatic plants that you can keep in your sand substrate that can do well without any fertilizers.

Now like most plants, some plants in this list like Amazon sword, Ludwigia repens, etc if you supplement them with fertilizers it will certainly increase their growth rate and coloration.

Check the latest price of this plant at Amazon here

3. Amazon sword

amazon sword
PARAMETERSVALUES
PLANTAmazon sword
SCIENTIFIC NAMEEchinodorus grisebachii
FAMILYAlismataceae
CARE LEVELEasy
LIGHT REQUIREMENTModerate
GROWTH RATEFast
TEMPERATURE 60.8-82.4°F
pH6.5-7.5 pH
HARDNESS8-15°dH
PLACEMENTBackground
MAXIMUM SIZE16 Inches
MINIMUM TANK SIZE10 Gallons

Amazon sword is one of the most popular aquatic plants in the hobby.

It is a tall aquarium plant that can grow up to 16 inches.

This plant is very hardy and easy to care for which makes it ideal for the beginners.

It can tolerate as low temperature as 60 degrees Fahrenheit so you can use it in cold water aquarium.

How much light does it require?

Amazon sword requires decent lighting for its proper growth.

You should provide it moderate lighting for at least 11 to 12 hours every day.

You can use any light weather that is fluorescent or LED for this plant.

What’s the best place to keep it in the tank?

Amazon sword grows tall and wide with its long wide leaves.

So ideally, you should keep it in the mid-ground of your tank if you have a medium-sized aquarium.

You can keep it in the background of your tank if you have a large aquarium.

Substrate

When it comes to the substrate for Amazon sword you can use any substrate you want.

It will do well in a sand substrate.

It is actually recommended to use a large grain sand substrate for this plant.

One thing you should keep in mind when it comes to the substrate for this plant is that the substrate should be at least 2.5 inches thick.

Ideal water parameters

Amazon sword can tolerate a wide range of water parameters.

With that being said, the ideal temperature for Amazon sword is from 60 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

The pH tolerance range is from 6.5 to 7.5.

And the hardness tolerance range is from 8 to 15 degrees DH.

Fertilization requirement

Amazon Sword is a very hardy plant and it can do well without any fertilizers.

It gets nutrients through its roots and from the water as well.

So, if you supplement it with some liquid fertilizers and some root tabs then it will benefit from it though it is not necessary.

Check the latest price of this plant at Amazon here

Plants Help to Lower Temperature in Aquarium

4. Jungle Vallisneria

PARAMETERSVALUES
PLANTJungle Vallisneria
COMMON NAMESJungle Val, water celery, tape grass or eelgrass
SCIENTIFIC NAMEVallisneria Americana
FAMILYHydrocharitaceae
CARE LEVELIntermediate
LIGHT REQUIREMENTMedium
GROWTH RATE Fast
TEMPERATURE65° – 85° F
pH 6.8 – 8.0
HARDNESSModerately Hard to Very Hard
PLACEMENTBackground
MAXIMUM SIZE6 feet (2 meters)
MINIMUM TANK SIZE10 gallon

Jungle Vallisneria is one of the few earlier plants that were introduced in the aquarium hobby.

And it is still a favorite of many aquarists.

Jungle Vallisneria is a fast-growing tall plant that can grow as tall as 6 feet.

It is one of the best oxygenating plants.

It is a pretty hardy plant and can survive in diverse environments.

This plant does require a little bit of care so you should consider it if you have some experience with planted aquariums.

How much light does it require?

Jungle Vallisneria is not very demanding when it comes to light.

It can survive in low lighting light and if you provide it high light then it will grow faster.

What’s the best place to keep it in the aquarium?

As Jungle Vallisneria can grow very tall up to 6 feet, you should keep it in the background of your aquarium.

Ideal water parameters

Jungle Vallisneria can tolerate a wide range of water parameters, especially the temperature.

The ideal temperature for the proper growth of Jungle Vallisneria is from 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

The pH tolerance range for this plant is 6.8-8.

And it does well in moderately hard to very hard water.

Substrate

You can use gravel or sand as a substrate for Jungle Vallisneria.

Fertilization requirement

Jungle Vallisneria is a pretty hardy plant and can do well without any fertilizers.

But if you provide it with some iron-rich fertilizers in the form of liquid then it can help to better nourish it.

You should add this fertilizer after weekly water change.

Check the latest price of this plant at Amazon here

5. Ludwigia repens

Ludwigia Repens
PARAMETERSVALUES
PLANTLudwigia Repens
COMMON NAMESLudwigia repens, Ludwigia repens Rubin, Red repens, Ludwigia sp. Weinrot, Red-Leaf Ludwigia, Creeping Primrose-Willow
SCIENTIFIC NAMELudwigia repens
FAMILYOnagraceae
CARE LEVELEasy
LIGHT REQUIREMENTLow to very high
GROWTH RATEModerate to Fast
TEMPERATURE60- 86oF
pH5 - 8
HARDNESSVery soft to hard level
PLACEMENTBackground
MAXIMUM SIZE7-19 inches
MINIMUM TANK SIZE10 gallon

Ludwigia repens is a very popular coloring plant in aquascaping.

The color of this plant range from deep green to deep red.

It is a tall stem plant that can grow up to 19 inches.

This plant can tolerate low temperatures as low as 60 degrees Fahrenheit, so you can keep it in a cold water aquarium.

This plant is very easy to care for which makes it ideal for beginners.

How much light does it require?

Ludwigia repens requires moderate to high light.

You should provide it at least 2 watts per gallon light.

For faster growth and red coloration, you should provide it 4 watts per gallon light.

You can use any fluorescent or LED light for this plant.

What’s the best place to keep it in the aquarium?

Ludwigia repens is a tall stem plant that can grow up to 19 inches.

So, you should put it in the background of your aquarium.

Ideal water parameters

Ludwigia repens can tolerate a wide range of water parameters.

The ideal temperature for the proper growth of Ludwigia repens is from 62-86 degrees Fahrenheit.

The pH tolerance range is from 5 to 8.

And you can use very soft to very hard water for this plant.

Substrate

You can use any substitute for Ludwigia repens. 

You can plant it in a sand substrate as well.

When you keep it in a sand substrate there is a danger that its roots might suffocate. 

But there are a lot of people who have successfully kept in sand substrate aquarium.

Fertilization requirements

Ludwigia repens is a very hardy plant and it doesn’t need any fertilizers for its growth.

With that being said, you can always supplement it with additional CO2 to speed up its growth and improve its coloration.

One study shows that CO2 affects the growth and the leaf size of Ludwigia Repens.

Check the latest price of this plant at Amazon here

6. Italian Vallisneria

PARAMETERSVALUES
PLANTItalian Vallisneria
COMMON NAMESItalian Vallisneria
SCIENTIFIC NAMEVallisneria spiralis
FAMILYHydrocharitaceae
CARE LEVELEasy
LIGHT REQUIREMENTModerate
GROWTH RATEModerate to Fast
TEMPERATURE72-80℉
pH6.0-7.5
HARDNESS4 - 18°N
PLACEMENTBackground
MAXIMUM SIZE11.81 - 21.65 inch
MINIMUM TANK SIZE10 gallon

Italian Vallisneria is a very hardy and easy to maintain plant which makes it ideal for beginners.

This plant is very cheap and it propagates very fast so you don’t need a lot of it.

How much light does it require?

Italian Vallisneria can do well in moderate light of at least 2 Watts per gallon.

But if you provide it more than that it will grow faster.

What’s the best place to keep it in the tank?

Italian Vallisneria is a tall plant that can grow up to 21 inches which makes it a very good background plant.

Ideal water parameters

The ideal temperature for the proper growth of Italian Vallisneria is from 72 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

The pH tolerance range is from 6 to 7.5

And the hardness tolerance range is from 4 to 18° N.

Substrate

You can use any substrate (even send) for planting Italian Vallisneria in your aquarium. 

It propagates very fast and you will see a lot of runners in a very little time.

Fertilization requirement

Italian Vallisneria doesn’t really need any fertilizers for its growth.

But for the faster growth, you can supplement it with some fertilizers.

Italian Vallisneria can get nutrients through its roots so you should add fertilizers in the form of root fertilizers.

Other plants

Now we will see some other plants that you can keep in a sand substrate aquarium. 

These plants will require a decent light or fertilizer for their growth.

Provided with that, they can easily survive and grow in a sand substrate.

Check the latest price of this plant at Amazon here

Plants help to Lower Ammonia Levels in Your Aquarium

7. Aponogeton Crispus

Aponogeton Crispus
PARAMETERSVALUES
PLANTAponogeton Crispus
SCIENTIFIC NAMEAponogeton Crispus
FAMILYAponogetonaceae
CARE LEVELEasy
LIGHT REQUIREMENTModerate
GROWTH RATEFast
TEMPERATURE64-86° F
pHbelow 7.5
PLACEMENTBackground
MAXIMUM SIZE 9-10 inches
MINIMUM TANK SIZE20 gallon

Aponogeton Crispus is very easy to maintain plant but it does require a lot of nutrients for its proper growth.

It is a fast-growing plant that can grow up to 10 inches.

You can keep it in a cold water aquarium because it can survive in temperature as low as 64 degrees Fahrenheit.

How much light does it require?

Aponogeton Crispus is not very light-demanding.

But you should provide it at least 0.5 watts of light per liter.

What’s the best place to keep it in the tank?

Aponogeton Crispus is a tall plant that can grow up to 10-inches so people usually keep it in the background of their tanks.

Ideal water parameters

As mentioned earlier, this plant can tolerate a wide range of water parameters, especially the temperature.

That being said, the ideal temperature for the proper growth of Aponogeton Crispus ranges from 64 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit.

The pH of the water should be below 7.5.

Substrate

As mentioned earlier, Aponogeton Crispus requires a good amount of nutrients for its proper growth.

Ideally, you should plant it in a nutrient-rich substrate but there are some people who you have successfully kept it in a sand substrate.

This plant doesn’t have real roots instead it has rhizomes that are 2-3 cm long and up to 5 cm in diameter.

You can burry these rhizomes in the sand substrate.

Fertilization requirements

Aponogeton Crispus requires a good amount of nutrients for its proper growth.

And when you keep it in a sand substrate you should definitely supplement it with root tabs so that it can get sufficient nutrients and its root can get anchored in the substrate properly.

Besides, you should also supplement it with liquid fertilizers, especially after the weekly water change.

8. Giant Hygro

giant hygro
PARAMETERSVALUES
PLANTGiant Hygro
SCIENTIFIC NAMEHygrophila corymbosa
FAMILYAcanthaceae
CARE LEVELEasy
LIGHT REQUIREMENTMedium
GROWTH RATEFast
TEMPERATURE 72-84° F
pH6.0-7.5
HARDNESS71.43 - 321.43 PPM
PLACEMENTBackground
MAXIMUM SIZE24 inches
MINIMUM TANK SIZE10 Gallons

Giant Hygro is commonly known as Temple plant.

It is a very hardy plant and can tolerate a wide range of water parameters which makes it ideal for beginners.

How much light does it require?

Giant Hygro does well when you provide it with moderate light.

Ideally, you should provide it at least 2 to 3 watts per gallon of light.

What’s the best place to keep it in the tank?

If you have a medium-size aquarium then you should keep it in the background of the tank.

if you have a large aquarium then you can keep it in the middle ground of the tank.

Ideal water parameters

The ideal temperature for the proper growth of Giant Hygro is from 72 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit.

The pH tolerance range is from 6 to 7.5.

And the hardness tolerance range is from 3 to 8 KH.

Substrate

You can use gravel or sand substrate for planting this plant in your aquarium.

Planting this plant is very easy, you just have to lay it on the substrate and its stem will start producing roots that will get into the substrate.

Fertilization requirements

You should supplement Giant Hygro with regular dozing of fertilizers.

You should use nutrient-rich root tabs as well as some liquid fertilizer for this plant.

Check the latest price of this plant at Amazon here

Check out my Tips to Maintain a Healthy Aquarium

FAQ

Can I use play sand in an aquarium?

Yes, you can use play and in your aquarium.

But it will take a lot of work to prepare it for the aquarium.

First of all, you have to remove any visible impurities and debris from the play sand.

Then you have to put it in a large container and then stir it up with a wooden spoon and then drain all the water.

You will have to repeat this process for at least 10 times so that no impurities remain in the sand.

Then you have to put the wet sand in a baking tray and bake it for at least 20 minutes at about 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

You can also put the wet sand in a pan, cover it with some water and then boil it for 20 minutes.

This is to remove any harmful microorganisms from the water that may be harmful to your fish.

And now you can use this sand in your aquarium.

How can I make my aquarium sand settle faster?

Honestly, you can’t do much to make the aquarium sand settle faster.

Sand is very light and it is going to take a few days to settle in your aquarium.

But there are some mistakes that can cause more time for the sand to settle in your aquarium.

Also, there are some precautions you can take so that the sand will settle in as less time as possible.

  • Do not run the filter – when you add sand in your aquarium and run the filter it will clog your filter and it cannot wreak it. The filter also causes water agitation so when you keep the filter off it will help to settle the sand faster.
  • Put the send carefully – Now this is very obvious but it worth mentioning. When you put sand in your aquarium which already has water in it, you should be very careful. You should add sand in your aquarium little by little with your hands.

Just take some sand in your hand, close it tightly and put your hands into the aquarium to the bottom and then slowly release it.

  • Do not move the aquarium – After putting the sand into the aquarium does not move the aquarium because it will cause water agitation and that can cause more time to settle the sand in your aquarium.
  • Perform frequent water changes – Now by performing water changes you are not necessarily making the sand settle faster but you are actually removing some sand that is floating around in your aquarium.
  • Do not put anything in the aquarium – You should not put anything like plants, submersible filters, etc in your aquarium until the sand is completely settled in your aquarium. Because this can cause water agitation which results in more time settling the sand in your aquarium.

How long does it take for sand to clear in aquarium?

Usually, it takes about seven days to settle sand in your aquarium completely.

It really depends on how much sand you are putting in your aquarium and the type of sand i.e. very fine or normal sand and also the elements in your aquarium like plants, filters, etc. 

How do you clean fine sand in an aquarium?

There are two ways to clear clean fine sand in the aquarium.

  • Use a tube – Just put a tube into your aquarium and hover it over your sand substrate. The suction will remove any debris sitting on the surface of the sand substrate.
  • Use a siphon – Now this is a very obvious way and probably many of you may know it. While using a siphon for cleaning the fine sand in your aquarium you should be a little bit more careful because the sand can easily get sucked into the siphon. 

So the trick is to not keep siphon for a long time into the substrate i.e. sand. 

The following video will help you to understand it better.

Check out our recommended Vaccum Cleaner or Siphon

How often should you change aquarium sand?

You don’t really need to change your aquarium sand ever, as far as you are keeping it clean.

Conclusion

So these are the best plants that will do fine in a sand substrate.

I hope you found this article helpful.

Let me know which plant you are going to plant in your sand substrate.

Also, let me know if you have any other suggestions.

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Happy fishkeeping!

8 Best Aquarium Plants for Sand Substrate (Easy to Care and Maintain) pin
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