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Hi guys!

I got a new betta over the weekend, and currently he is living in a 1 gal jar, while I set up his new home. I have another betta and he is in a 5 gal with gravel, but I don't reaaaally love the look of it. I was thinking of getting sand but I was told it gets dirty and it shows.

Can you guys lend me your expertise on this? Do you have sand and how do you clean it? Does it tend to look dirty over time? And how well does it do with live plants? Would it be enough with liquid fertilizer or do I need to add substrate tablets? What other substrate options have worked well for you?

I don't have any fancy equipment to really vacuum the substrate, just a siphon with a hand pump, so keep that in mind :laugh:
 

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Sorry this ended up being a long response, I love talking about plants . . . and substrate for plants I guess

I have black sand in most of my aquariums, and it doesn't look dirty unless I don't siphon the gravel. I just use a regular siphon, sometimes one with a bulb, which works pretty well, though I do tend to suck up a bit of sand every time. Especially if I shove the siphon tube in the sand to try and get stuff that might have fallen underneath. The only place I regret this substrate choice is in my 20 long which has soil, capped with sand. here I don't so much regret the sand as the soil, because that has been a pretty annoying experience as the soil I chose was probably not the best for an aquarium. plus I have corydoras in that tank, so their sifting makes some areas of the sand thinner which allows the soil to get on top of the sand.

I really like using sand for plants though. I find it easier to bury plant roots in sand rather than gravel, especially if the sand is already under water, or you want to move plants around later. The plants you get determine how you feed them more than the kind of substrate. plants like anubias, java fern, and some other stem plants get most of their nutrients from the water column, so they need liquid fertilizer, and plants like swords, crypts, and others which create an extensive root system need root tabs. I suggest researching the plants you plan to get so you know what kind of fertilizer they need. Also, you probably won't need to add liquid fertilizer right away in most cases, just when the plants start to show signs of deficient nutrients. Root tabs can be added when you put the substrate in if you plan to plant stuff in the substrate
 

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RusselltheShihTzu
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I prefer sand in a planted tank and in tanks with bottom dwellers. I use a piece of airline tubing as a siphon so I can get closer to the base of the plants.
 
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