Growing aquarium plants in sand can be challenging, but it is not impossible. There are still options to choose from, and these plants will make your aquarium an aquatic paradise for your fish.

10 Aquarium Plants In Sand

However, when you select some plants to grow in sand, there are some extra cautions you would have to keep in mind to ensure the plants grow well in that environment. Now that we know the necessary factors, let’s look at the aquarium plants you can grow in sand.

Different Types of Aquarium Plants in Sand

1. Amazon Swords

Amazon swords are the first on our list; a large and lush green plant grows exceptionally well in a sand substrate. This does not mean it is easy to care for it, but with the right conditions, the amazon sword will grow to be a fantastic plant in your aquarium.

Amazon Swords

– Characteristics

The key factor that you must keep in mind is this plant is a heavy root feeder, and you will have to provide the necessary nutrients to its roots. For this reason, many root tabs are required for amazon swords to grow healthily and thrive.

An additional aspect to keep in mind is that this plant is a rather big one, so it needs a decent amount of space to be able to grow with comfort. As mentioned earlier, Amazon swords grow quickly under the right growing conditions, and if you do not have enough space in your aquarium, it will become too big to fit.

Although they might cause problems for your fish, and it will not look good either, of course if you have a smaller tank, if you upgrade it to a bigger tank, this plant is an ideal one.

To promote growth, you can prune the plants as well. Cut the leaves on the outside as new leaves grow inside the plant. You can also cut the leaves at the bottom of the plant. The maintenance may seem extra, but it is essential for the plants to survive in the sandy environment.

– Growth Conditions

The reason why they are easy to grow is that they prefer a neutral type of soil. However, the water temperature should be between 71 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, which is ideal for tropical fish, the same way as the fish require medium lighting, the same condition applies for this plant as well.

2. Vallisneria

Vallisneria is a plant with long and wavy leaves that will give a unique look to your fish habitat. It grows very well in a sand substrate, and under ideal conditions, it spreads pretty quickly. Although it is easy to grow, like amazon swords, Vallisneria also needs root tabs to meet its nutrient requirements.


– Characteristics

It is an excellent option for your sandy aquarium as a background plant. The waving leaves present a lively sight. The shoots of the plants run along the soil, propagating the plant’s growth, and for this reason, they are called runners. It is also very easy to remove the plant if it is growing somewhere undesirable, and you can easily replant it.

An aquarium filled with Vallisneria would be an ideal jungle for your fish. This lush greenery will not only look good on the outside, but it is also helpful for the fish, which is what allows them to break the line of sight with other fish and the people outside. Furthermore, some fish may feel stressed and threatened in an empty tank, and this is the perfect solution for them.

In addition to all this, many species of these plants are readily available if you want variety in your aquarium. These varieties all have their signature wavy ribbon-like leaves and only differ slightly in their appearance. Some have thin leaves that look like threads, while others have leaves with a smaller length.

– Growth Conditions

What you should know when you are growing the Vallisneria, is that it can grow in neutral and slightly alkaline soil, as it would also prefer tropical temperatures in the range of 68 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition to this, when you provide it with medium to high lighting, it is ideal for proper growth.

3. Cryptocoryne

Cryptocoryne, also called “crypt,” is a small hardy plant that does well in a sand substrate. Unlike the previous ones on our list, these plants vary in size, color, and shape. These plants need nutrients for their roots to grow, which is easily solved using root tabs, and there is also the option to use liquid fertilizer.


– Characteristics

Stable water conditions are necessary for these plants to thrive. So, keeping the temperature and underwater environment uniform is a good idea. When you plant the crypts, they might undergo a common phenomenon known as melting. The plants start to shed leaves, and it looks like it is dying, but what really happens is that they shed their leaves to grow new ones.

This usually happens because the plants we buy in stores are not grown underwater and are not accustomed to that environment. So, when they are transferred to an aquarium, they shed their old leaves and replace them with new ones better equipped to survive in their new submerged surroundings.

The new leaves might also change their shape or appearance, which is out of your control. If you do not want to risk this phenomenon, you can ask the store owner whether the plants you are about to buy were grown underwater or not. Thus, crypts are an excellent option to populate your aquarium using small plants with different varieties.

– Growth Conditions

Crypts prefer neutral soil, which is why sand is the soil that they will thrive in, in addition to this, the aquatic plant would also prefer the tropical temperature of 68 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

Lastly, what you need to keep in mind is that the plants prefer low light and a shady environment as they can sustain damage from high-intensity light, as you provide these, it will thrive in your aquarium.

4. Dwarf Hygro

Hygrophila Polysperma, or Dwarf Hygro, is a medium-sized beautiful green plant that is unique in a way because it can grow in almost any aquarium habitat. Thus, growing it in a sandy aquarium is also a great option. The plant will grow quickly with enough nutrients in its environment, as a result you can provide these nutrients by using liquid fertilizer for the plant.

Dwarf Hygro

– Characteristics

A significant difference between Dwarf Hygro and other plants on this list is that it is not a root feeder, so you do not need to install root tabs in your aquarium. You can even opt not to plant it in the sand altogether, as a unique feature, it can stay floating in your aquarium.

The plant can afford this because it absorbs most of its nutrients directly from the aquarium water. The choice is up to you you want to have floating plants populating your aquarium or if you prefer them to be rooted into the sand.

This plant is perhaps one of the hardiest plants among aquarium pants to the point where you will almost need to try if you want this plant to die in your aquarium.

This plant’s remarkable adaptability and resilience make it the best option for any water type, temperature, and nutrient level. However, some factors must be kept in mind to avoid any unpleasantness. In some regions, it has been deemed illegal, so do research before buying it. It also grows rapidly and can overrun your aquarium without proper pruning.

– Growth Conditions

Dwarf Hygro can survive in acidic and alkaline conditions, which is what makes it simple to grow. It prefers temperatures within the range of 64 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit, which is a big range of scale, making it resilient. Although it can survive perfectly well with little light, ideally, it would need moderate lighting to grow to its potential.

5. Anacharis Elodea

Commonly known as water weed, Anacharis Elodea is an excellent option if you are looking for a fast-growing plant for your aquarium. It is a beautiful green-stem plant that needs little to no care to populate your sandy aquarium. It only requires liquid fertilizer to meet its requirement of nutrients.

Anacharis Elodea

– Characteristics

The plant has a long stem that is filled to the brim with small green leaves. If you are using liquid fertilizer, it will not even need any root tabs. They would help, but they are by no means necessary for proper growth.

In addition to the ease of growth and low maintenance, there are other advantages to growing water weeds as well. They are a unique way to keep the water free of harmful pollutants and bacteria.

They absorb most of the nutrients, and hence, they exhibit harmful germs from growing. Microbes are not the only thing Anacharis Elodea can prevent from propagating.

They are also known to prevent the propagation of many harmful chemical products from the water. When you finally decide to get water weeds for your aquarium, it is important to avoid specimens that have changed their color from green, as it is a form of stress. Nonetheless, remember that you should also remove anything tying many plants together and give them room to grow correctly.

– Growth Conditions

Anacharis Elodea prefers neutral soil, where the acidity range or the pH is exactly a 7.0 and its water temperature is 60 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit in order to grow properly and thrive. Not only that, but when you adjust a moderate light, it is ideal for the aquatic plant’s proper growth.

6. Hornwort

Hornwort is a long green plant with thin, rigid leaves. In the wild, the plant can be seen floating on the water surface and easily reach the top of your aquarium. It has lush, dense green foliage that provides cover and protection for baby fish and is a great way to make them feel relieved.


– Characteristics

Hornwort is an extremely hardy plant that can withstand many conditions. They are found in all the continents except for freezing Antarctica. This is not a positive thing for the local plant life, but in the context of an aquarium, this is a great ability. The plant will grow easily without any special care and maintenance.

Due to its resilient nature, it is an amazing option for beginner and veteran fish owners to keep in the tank. Like Hygrophila Polysperma, it is not a root feeder and, thus, does not require root tabs and a lot of care to meet its requirements, which is why it is kept most often. It absorbs most of its nutrients directly from the water of the aquarium; thus, it grows great in the sand.

It is also easy to propagate the plant. When the plant is overgrowing, you can simply cut a part of it and put it back in the sand, and it will continue growing. In no time, your aquarium would be run over with hornwort.

– Growth Conditions

Hornwort can grow in both acidic and alkaline soils, which means that you can place a range. Furthermore, it can withstand temperatures ranging from 50 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Ideally, you should provide medium lighting to this plant.

7. Cabomba

Cabomba is a beautiful plant with dense foliage. It is quickly grown without root tabs, but it is not a beginner pant because it is not easy to care for it. Instead, it is very easy for it to wither away if inexperienced aquarium owners handle it. If you want a plant for a low-light and low-tech aquarium, this is not the ideal option.


– Characteristics

Lack of proper lighting is the most common cause of death for Cabomba plants. This plant can come in different colored varieties like green, red, and purple. The lighting requirements for the green variant are above the average lighting setup, and the red and purple variants need even more consideration to grow and survive.

Although Cabomba can absorb nutrients from the aquarium water, they are by no means enough for them. They require supplementation from liquid fertilizers and root tabs. They also benefit from adding carbon dioxide, as all these additional requirements make Cabomba more demanding than other plants on this list.

In addition to all of these, the plant is not suitable for every type of fish. Goldfish is a common pet in many people’s aquariums, but it is not a good match for this aquatic plant. Some other aquatic species may be interested in eating away at the plant. So, keep these precautions in mind if you want to grow a Cabomba.

– Growth Conditions

Cabomba prefers neutral soil for ideal growth which means that the pH should be 7.0, furthermore, it requires water temperatures in the range of 71 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Medium to high lighting for prolonged periods is required for ideal growth.

8. Tiger Lotus

The Tiger lotus is a beautiful plant if you want something other than greenery. It is a stunning plant that grows up to produce large red leaves. When the plant is thriving, the stems rise and form red leaves that look like lily pads.

Tiger Lotus

– Characteristics

When you buy the plant, it comes in the shape of a small round ball. Furthermore, when planting it, make sure there are enough nutrients in the soil, in this case the root tabs can solve this issue.

When the tiger lotus is thriving in your aquarium, the red leaves and the green foliage provide a stunning contrast. You can get this plant from your local store, which is also available online.

The plant is easy to grow and requires low maintenance to do well. It can also easily overrun an aquarium, so precautions should be taken to avoid such situations. One thing you could do is to keep the plant in a separate container and then place the container in the sand to keep it from overgrowing.

Tiger lotus is a great option to add beauty and interest to your aquarium’s greenery. The red leaves will stand out from their surroundings and add to the visual appeal. The bright red leaves can also develop a stripped variegation under intense light, further adding to the variety.

– Growing Conditions

Tiger lotus grows best in neutral to slightly alkaline soil, in addition, it prefers water temperatures in the range of 68 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. Lastly, note that it can grow in poor lighting conditions, but medium to high-intensity light is ideal for it to be healthy.

9. Java Moss

Java moss is a common aquarium vegetation. It can grow easily in aquariums and is a versatile plant often used in aquascaping. The moss grows over the sand substrate instead of growing in it. As such, it is essential that the aquarium does not have strong currents, or the moss will be uprooted from its place.

Java Moss

– Characteristics

There should also not be any disruptive fish that can hinder the growth of java moss if it is the option you will choose for your aquarium. Nonetheless, in order o grow a moss carpet over the sand substrate requires patience.

If your aquarium has sufficient light and nutrients, the moss will spread across the sand over time.

As the moss is susceptible to drifting away, it is a good idea to bind it to some driftwood or any other anchor to keep it stable and in place. On the other hand, note that it is an excellent option for any beginner or veteran who wants a moss carpet in their aquarium.

– Growth Conditions

Java moss prefers slightly acidic soil, which means you need be aware of this aspect, in addition, the water temperature should be within the range of 68 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. You do not have to adjust any LED lights surrounding it, because it grows fine in moderate lighting.

10. Anubias Barteri

Anubias is another famous plant that lives in the sand. It has strong, dark green leaves and can survive in several growing conditions. This is a unique plant on this list because, technically, it cannot grow in the sand substrate; however, you can add it to your sandy aquarium because it does not require its roots to be planted on any substrate.

Anubias Barteri

– Characteristics

Although the plant will not grow when buried in sand, it is still an excellent option for an aquarium with sand as a substrate. The plant gets most of its nutrients directly from the aquarium water. To anchor the plant in place, you can use a small piece of wood or rocks and tie the plant to them to keep it stable and in place.

Anubias is a popular plant among fish keepers, so it is readily available in any fish store, or even online. However, it is a slow-growing plant compared to others types of aquatic plants. It can even withstand destructive species of big fish. Thus, Anubis is a unique option that will gradually grow in your aquarium to its full potential, hence this is one of its key aspects.

– Growth Conditions

When you are growing the Anubias, note that they grow best in neutral soil, which is why they do best in sand, furthermore, the water temperature should be in the range of 70 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit.

Lastly, Anubias can grow in almost every lighting condition, but higher light intensity will encourage rapid growth.


There are tons of options for growing aquarium plants in sand. Many have lush green and dense foliage, and some offer varieties of different colors to make your aquarium more visually appealing. When you are deciding on what plant to grow in your sandy aquarium, keep in mind the following factors:

  • Many of these plants can overrun an aquarium, so ensure there is enough space.
  • Pure sand does not have any nutrients for plants. Thus, the most affordable way to counter this inconvenience is to install root tabs to help the plants receive the necessary nutrients to be healthy.
  • Some plants need nutrients from the soil, while others absorb them directly from the water.
  • Most plants prefer neutral soil, moderate lighting conditions, and tropical water temperatures for ideal growth.

Which one of these is your favorite plant on this list?

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