My 10 gallon aquarium is documented on the photo below.

After the wood sinks completely I want to add a proper substrate and plant some seeds (bought a few online) of various sorts of grass.

I also bought natural substrate gravel, but I'm not sure if the grass could grow on it or on the driftwood.

I want to add gravel and plant all over the bottom and on the driftwood if possible.

If anyone has any advice or ideas of what I could buy/change in this setup or my planning.

Also - recommendations for good gravel for plants (mind the reasonable budget) would be appreciated.

enter image description here


Wood is from shop, and gravel from www.ebay.com.

On description it is noted as 2 - 4 mm in diameter.


2 Answers 2


Dependant on what plants you're looking to grow, it can be a difficult job getting good consistent growth.

Firstly, to get your wood to sink, you can boil it which will help it to absorb water faster so there's no need to weight it down. When boiling wood, you'll release the tannins which will stop the water being stained brown/yellow (unless you're going for that look).


Grasses come in a huge range and can be tricky to grow. I assume that you're talking about 'carpeting' grass which is notorious for being a difficult first plant to grow. You'll probably need to inject CO2 to get a good strong carpet going and you'll need to have a good watt-per-gallon ratio (more on this later) to get the light to the bottom of the tank. If you want to plant something like 'dwarf hairgrass' you'll need a good substrate (probably something like Active Substrate). Watch out for 'root compression' if you're going to use a very fine substrate with a small grass plant.

To ensure the best growth, you need to carefully balance all of the required elements if you're going to proceed with a carpeting plant. You can use this fantastic plant diagnosis chart to determine which nutrient you're missing if you're having problems but be patient and don't toss all of the different supplements in if you're not sure.

Planting on driftwood

This is a good option for your first plant (especially in a smaller tank). It's relatively low maintenance and you can usually even pick up 'pre-planted' branches at your local fish store. Plants which get their nutrients mainly through their leaves are a good bet. You'll commonly fine Java Moss, Java Fearn and Anubias (amongst many others) are frequently used. If you're going to do it yourself, just make sure that the plants are firmly attached with string. Some people also choose to use Silicon or something similar but make sure you check that whatever you use is aquarium safe before putting it anywhere near your tank.


In my experience, one of the biggest factors in good plant growth is the light you provide. For grasses which are at the bottom of the tank, you'll need a powerful light to make sure that it can reach all the way to the bottom of the tank. Here's a good guide on what lights can help your tank plants thrive but to summarise: make sure you size your light to the requirements of the plant. There's various scales but for best growth, do the calculations (don't forget the affect depth has). For the classic easy-to-grow plants, I've found that 0.5 watt per litre is perfectly adequate.

Easy plants

You may not want to make it too hard for yourself at the start. There are some plants that will just grow no matter what conditions they are in (within reason). Some of the easiest I've come across are:

There's plenty which grow in low light and are hardy enough to avoid the beatings of fish, poor water etc. I'd definitely start with something that will grow more easily and then graduate through the different difficulties as you gain more experience. I've bought a great looking plant, put it in my tank and watched it die despite my best efforts and it's not that enjoyable.

Plants can really make or break the look of your tank so decide how you want it to be aquascaped and then read up on the requirements for the specific plants you've picked.

  • 1
    another major benefit of boiling the wood is that it kills off parasites and other nasties that otherwise might lift a free ride into your acquarium.
    – jwenting
    Jul 10, 2019 at 9:57

This might be a little short for an answer.

You need to get a finer type of gravel, like 1-3 mm. It is best if it is white or grey, as in not a dark type of gravel. The gravel needs to reflect the light so the plants can grow better -- this is at least the idea behind it. Most pet shops have gravel or sand and you don't need to buy an expensive type; using sand from an unknown source is not safe, as it can contain toxins or things you don't want to have in your tank.

If this is a plant-only and no-fish type of tank, you can mix in some fine sand.

Most types of grass spread by runners in or on the gravel and often grow very slowly in the beginning before they take off, and then you need to cut the runners and remove some of them to keep your tank where you want it to be.

The wood can be made to sink faster if you put it in a kettle with water and boil it. Be sure it is covered by water, and let it cool down still covered in water. When you now put it in the tank, it sinks like a rock (normally).

To make plants grow on the wood, you just buy a little plant. Try to find a crack in the wood and use a rubber band to fasten the plant on, or better, in the crack you need to cut off 2/3 of the roots if they are long. The length of the roots differs depending on the type of plant. Be sure the rubber band is not too tight; it only needs to hold the plant in place.

You use the same method to make the grass grow on the wood. Add some fertilizer and wait... and wait; it takes time, sometimes a long time.

  • why does the gravel color matter? do you have any recommendation of 1-3mm gravel? Sep 3, 2017 at 16:14
  • 3
    the gravel needs to reflect the light so the plants can grow better this is atleast the idea behind it,most petshops have gravel or sand and you dont need to buy an expensive type,using sand from an unknown source is not safe as it can contain toxins or things you dont want to have in your tank. Sep 3, 2017 at 16:36

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