Rinse plant substrate well before placing in aquarium.

What Substrate for a Planted Aquarium? Plants 101 - YouTube
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Finding silica sand can be tricky because fewaquarium stores actually sell it. Instead find a garden centre or a petstore that deals with reptiles. Garden centres sell the stuff for usewith indoor plants and as a dressing for potting compost, but do makesure you avoid the 'sharp' grade of silica sand, which isunsuitable for use in aquaria. Reptile stores sell smooth silica sandfor use with things like lizards and snakes that need a soft substratefor digging into, especially when laying their eggs. Not all the sandsold in reptile stores is silica sand though: there are several sandsproduced that include a mixture of sand types including calcareous sandthat work as dietary supplements.
I talk about all different types of substrate for a planted aquarium
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Substrates are important; their depth, size, granuleshape and composition can make or break an otherwise ideal live plantset-up. Here are my ideas on what to look for and avoid in choosing andusing aquarium sand and gravel for the aquatic gardener. Do I Need Special Substrate For Aquatic Plants? | My Aquarium Club
Photo provided by FlickrAquarium Substrate for Aquascapes and the Planted Aquarium
Photo provided by FlickrSubstrate in the aquarium is important for plant growth and bacteria production
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The advantages of decorating a fish tank with live plants instead of plastics are numerous.A healthy planted aquarium is essential to maintaining a population. Most importantly, plants contribute to balancing the oxygen level and algae growth while providing hiding places for fish. However, it is hard to cultivate plants in an aquarium because it requires some effort. Plants need lighting, water circulation, and good aquarium substrate to grow healthy. Substrate is the medium where plants and beneficial bacteria grow due to the rich nutrients. Each plant requires different care and each substrate type depends on the plant species in the tank.Sand is one of the most common substrate materials for plants because it gives the aquarium a natural look. Silica sand, onyx sand, pool sand, and other commercial types of sands are available for an aquarium environment; however, these do not contain adequate nutrition since sand compacts too tightly with the plant’s roots and can obstruct oxygen and nutrient intake by plants. Fortified sand can be purchased and commercially sand is available, such as Fluorite, to be used together with common sand in the planted tank. One important detail to remember is sand can be dusty, so before using any type of sand, especially silica sand,wash it to remove any dirt.Gravel is one of the most common substrates for freshwater aquariums. This substrate is cheap and easy to use in the tank. Plain and uncoated gravel between one to three millimeters in size is suitable. Gravel size should not exceed 5 millimeters. Gravel should be free from any kind of chemicals because they can be toxic for the fish. Your surface should be covered with peat moss or laterite layer and the gravel should be placed on top of this layer; these under layers provide the necessary nutrients for your plants. The gravel should cover the roots of the plants. Nevertheless, the cheapest gravel will not contribute to plant growth; plants need iron (Fe) to grow. A high-quality substrate will provide the proper iron needed for the plants. Therefore, a combination of gravel and commercially ready (eco-complete) substrate is a good choice for plant growth in the aquarium.The substrate you plant in your aquarium needs to be carefully selected. Think about what you need your tank to represent. Should your substrate be penetrable? Will it provide enough nutrition for the living aquatic creatures to survive? Will it provide enough support for your plants and other objects you would want to add to the tank?