14 Aquarium Plants That Grow in Sand You Could Add to a Tank

sand friendly aquarium plant guide

Aquarium enthusiasts are always on the lookout for new and exciting ways to enhance their fish tanks. One aspect that often gets overlooked is the choice of plants that can thrive in a sand substrate. While there are numerous plant species available, it is essential to select those that not only add beauty but also provide a conducive environment for fish.

In this article, we will explore a list of 14 aquarium plants that grow in sand, offering a stunning display and contributing to the overall health of your tank. From the popular Amazon Sword and Vallisneria to the versatile Java Fern and Cryptocoryne wendtii, these plants will not disappoint.

But that's not all, there's more to discover, so keep reading to uncover the secrets of these amazing plants and the benefits they can bring to your aquarium.

Key Takeaways

  • Amazon Sword, Java Fern, Rotala indica, and Anacharis are low maintenance plants suitable for sand substrate.
  • Dwarf hair grass is a beneficial carpet plant that creates a vibrant foreground in the aquarium.
  • Understanding the specific needs of aquarium plants, such as lighting, pH, and nutrients, is important for their healthy growth.
  • There are various other aquarium plants that can thrive in sand substrate, including Ludwigia repens, Cabomba, Madagascar Lace, Tiger Lotus, Hornwort, and more.

Amazon Sword

aquatic plant for aquarium

The Amazon Sword (Echinodorus amazonicus) is a popular choice among aquarists due to its impressive height and lush green foliage. This plant is known for its ability to enhance the aesthetic appeal of aquariums when used as a centerpiece.

When it comes to proper care and maintenance of the Amazon Sword in a sand substrate, there are a few important factors to consider.

Firstly, the roots of the plant should be buried in a sand-based substrate, with the crown of the plant positioned above the sand.

Additionally, the Amazon Sword requires medium lighting and CO2 supplementation for optimal growth. It is also important to prune the plant by removing outside leaves or cutting at the bottom.

Lastly, the Amazon Sword needs at least 10 hours of bright light and a pH level between 6.5 and 7.5 to thrive in a sand substrate.


Vallisneria, a popular aquatic plant, is highly regarded for its ability to grow to a significant length and create a beautiful jungle-like environment in aquariums. When planted in a sand substrate, Vallisneria offers several benefits.

Firstly, its long, slender leaves sway gracefully in the water, creating a natural and soothing ambiance. Additionally, Vallisneria helps to oxygenate the tank and remove excess nutrients, promoting a healthier ecosystem for fish and other aquatic organisms.

Propagating Vallisneria in an aquarium is relatively easy. The plant grows by sending out runners, which can be trimmed and replanted to create new plants. It is important to ensure that the runners are planted deep enough in the sand substrate for proper root establishment.

With its stunning appearance and beneficial qualities, Vallisneria is an excellent choice for individuals seeking to enhance their aquarium's aesthetics and overall well-being.

Java Fern

aquatic plant with unique leaves

Java Fern, a highly popular and easy-to-care-for aquarium plant, is known for its ability to thrive in sand substrate and enhance the overall aesthetics of any aquatic environment. With its unique appearance and numerous benefits, it has become a favorite among aquarium enthusiasts.

One of the main benefits of using Java Fern in a planted aquarium is its ability to absorb carbon dioxide and inhibit algae growth. This helps to maintain a healthy and balanced ecosystem for your aquatic pets. Additionally, Java Fern is a low-maintenance plant that can grow in a wide range of lighting conditions, making it suitable for both beginners and experienced hobbyists.

To ensure healthy Java Fern growth, there are a few tips to keep in mind. First, it is important to avoid burying the rhizome in the substrate, as this can lead to rotting. Instead, anchor the plant by burying the roots deep into the sand.

Furthermore, providing moderate lighting and maintaining a pH between 6.5 and 7.5 will promote optimal growth. Regularly trim any yellow or decaying leaves to maintain the plant's health and appearance.

Cryptocoryne Wendtii

Cryptocoryne Wendtii, a versatile and visually striking aquatic plant, offers a captivating addition to any aquarium, seamlessly continuing our exploration of sand-growing plants. This plant species comes in different varieties and colors, allowing aquarists to choose the perfect one to suit their preferences. Some popular varieties include the green, brown, and red forms of Cryptocoryne wendtii.

Adding Cryptocoryne wendtii to a sand substrate aquarium brings several benefits. Firstly, it is a hardy plant that is easy to care for, making it suitable for both beginners and experienced aquarists. Secondly, it thrives in low to medium light conditions, eliminating the need for intense lighting setups. Additionally, Cryptocoryne wendtii is adaptable to different water parameters, including pH levels between 6.8 and 7.2.

Lastly, its vibrant colors and attractive leaf shapes create a visually appealing and natural-looking environment in the tank. Overall, incorporating Cryptocoryne wendtii into a sand substrate aquarium enhances the aesthetic appeal while providing a low-maintenance plant option.

Anubias Barteri

aquatic plant with broad leaves

Anubias barteri, a popular and versatile plant choice for aquarium enthusiasts, offers a range of benefits and features that make it a valuable addition to any sand substrate tank. This plant is known for its sturdy roots, long-lasting green leaves, and thick rhizome. It can grow up to 9-18 inches, with the rhizome reaching 4-6 inches. Anubias barteri requires minimal maintenance, making it suitable for foreground, midground, or background placement in the aquarium.

The benefits of Anubias barteri for aquatic environments are numerous. It provides shelter and hiding places for fish, reducing stress levels. The plant also absorbs carbon dioxide and inhibits algae growth, contributing to a healthier tank ecosystem.

To propagate Anubias barteri effectively, the rhizome can be divided into smaller sections, ensuring that each section has at least one leaf and a portion of the rhizome. These sections can then be attached to rocks or driftwood using fishing line or aquarium-safe glue. With proper care and maintenance, the plant will grow and thrive in the sand substrate, enhancing the aesthetics and functionality of the aquarium.

Java Moss

Continuing our exploration of plant options for sand substrate aquariums, we now turn our attention to a versatile and highly adaptable plant known as Java Moss.

Java Moss, scientifically known as Taxiphyllum barbieri, is a member of the Hypnaceae family and is widely used as an aquarium carpeting plant.

One of the key benefits of using Java Moss in a sand substrate is its low maintenance requirements. It does not require much care and assistance, making it an ideal choice for beginner aquarists.

Additionally, Java Moss provides aesthetic appeal to the aquarium, creating a natural habitat for fish.

To propagate Java Moss in an aquarium, you can simply separate small portions of the plant and attach them to rocks, driftwood, or other aquarium decorations using fishing line or glue.

With proper care, the Java Moss will grow and spread, creating a lush carpet effect in the tank.

Dwarf Sagittaria

aquatic plant with arrow shaped leaves

Dwarf Sagittaria, scientifically known as Sagittaria subulata, is a small plant with grass-like leaves that is suitable for sand substrate aquariums. This plant is known for its ability to create a natural-looking carpet effect in the aquarium. It propagates through runners, which allows it to spread and form dense clusters.

To ensure the healthy growth of Dwarf Sagittaria, it is important to provide moderate lighting and maintain a pH level between 6.0 and 7.5. Additionally, regular care is necessary to maintain the plant's appearance. This includes trimming any dead or decaying leaves and providing proper fertilization.

Micro Sword

Micro Sword, also known as Lilaeopsis brasiliensis, is another aquarium plant that grows well in sand substrate. It is a carpeting plant with grass-like leaves that creates a lush carpet effect in the aquarium.

Here are the benefits of using micro sword in a sand substrate:

  1. Aesthetic Appeal: Micro sword adds a vibrant and natural look to the aquarium with its dense carpet of grass-like leaves. It enhances the overall aesthetic appeal of the tank, creating a visually pleasing environment.
  2. Oxygenation: The dense growth of micro sword plants helps to oxygenate the water, creating a healthier and more balanced ecosystem for the fish and other inhabitants of the tank.
  3. Nutrient Absorption: Micro sword plants have a strong root system that efficiently absorbs nutrients from the sand substrate. This helps to maintain water quality by reducing excess nutrients and preventing the growth of algae.

To care for micro sword in an aquarium, it is important to provide high lighting and CO2 supplementation for optimal growth. Regular trimming and maintenance are also necessary to keep the carpet effect neat and prevent overgrowth.

Sagittaria Subulata

aquatic plant with narrow leaves

Sagittaria Subulata, also known as the dwarf sagittaria, is a versatile aquatic plant that thrives in a sand substrate, making it an excellent choice for aquarium enthusiasts. This small plant with grass-like leaves grows in clusters and spreads through runners, allowing it to create a natural-looking background or midground in the aquarium.

To propagate Sagittaria Subulata, simply separate the runners and plant them in the sand substrate. Care tips for this plant include providing moderate lighting and maintaining a pH between 6.0 and 7.5.

Creating a natural-looking aquatic landscape with Sagittaria Subulata involves planting clusters of this plant in strategic areas of the tank, such as the back or middle, to add depth and visual interest. Its grass-like leaves provide a lush and vibrant appearance, enhancing the overall aesthetic of the aquarium.

Dwarf Hairgrass

Dwarf Hairgrass, a small aquatic plant with thin, grass-like leaves, is an ideal choice for aquariums with sand substrate due to its remarkable growth potential and ability to create a vibrant and natural-looking foreground. Here are some benefits of using dwarf hairgrass in a sand substrate:

  1. Oxygenation: Dwarf hairgrass releases oxygen during photosynthesis, which improves the overall oxygen levels in the aquarium, benefiting fish and other aquatic organisms.
  2. Aesthetics: The dense carpet created by dwarf hairgrass adds visual appeal to the tank, giving it a lush and natural look.
  3. Nutrient Absorption: The extensive root system of dwarf hairgrass helps in absorbing excess nutrients, preventing algae growth and maintaining water quality.

Tips for maintaining healthy dwarf hairgrass growth in an aquarium:

  1. Lighting: Provide high-intensity lighting to mimic natural sunlight and promote photosynthesis.
  2. CO2 Supplementation: Supplying adequate amounts of CO2 will ensure optimal growth and vibrant green color.
  3. Trimming: Regularly trim the grass to maintain its carpet-like appearance and prevent overcrowding.

With its stunning appearance and numerous benefits, dwarf hairgrass is a must-have for aquarium enthusiasts looking to create a thriving and visually appealing underwater landscape.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Aquarium Plants That Grow in Sand Survive Without CO2 Supplementation?

Aquarium plants that grow in sand can survive without CO2 supplementation, but their growth may be slower and less vigorous. CO2 supplementation provides several benefits, including enhanced photosynthesis, faster growth, and healthier plants.

What Is the Ideal Lighting Requirement for Vallisneria?

The ideal lighting requirement for Vallisneria is moderate to high lighting. LED lights are a beneficial choice for aquarium plants as they provide energy-efficient, customizable lighting options that promote healthy growth and enhance the aesthetic appeal of the tank.

How Do You Propagate Java Moss in an Aquarium?

Java moss can be propagated by attaching small pieces to rocks, driftwood, or mesh. It thrives in low to medium light and requires minimal care. Providing stable water conditions and regular trimming will promote healthy growth.

Can Cryptocoryne Wendtii Adapt to Different Light Conditions?

Cryptocoryne wendtii is adaptable to different light conditions, making it a versatile choice for aquariums. It requires low to medium light and a pH between 6.8 and 7.2. Proper care includes providing relevant nutrients and maintaining suitable lighting levels for its healthy growth.

What Are the Different Varieties of Anubias Barteri Available in the Market?

Different varieties of Anubias barteri available in the market include Anubias barteri var. nana, Anubias barteri var. barteri, and Anubias barteri var. angustifolia. To care for Anubias barteri, provide low to moderate lighting, avoid burying the rhizome, and maintain a pH between 6.5 and 7.5.


In conclusion, choosing the right aquarium plants for a sand substrate can greatly enhance the aesthetic appeal and overall health of a fish tank.

With a wide range of plant species available, such as the Amazon Sword, Vallisneria, and Java Fern, aquarium enthusiasts can create a harmonious ecosystem that benefits both the fish and the plants.

By understanding the unique requirements of these plants and providing the necessary care and conditions, a stunning and functional aquarium can be achieved.