Can You Grow Aquatic Plants in Gravel?

The short answer is yes, you can grow aquarium plants in gravel. These plants don’t necessarily need dirt in order to grow. The aquarium doesn’t have to be new either, as growing these plants in an established one also works.

This page may contain affiliate links, which will earn us a commission. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

For the planting, get some rubber bands, pond rocks that are safe for aquarium fish and, of course, the plants you want to see in the tank. It is really simple, as you only need to take one rock and attach it to your plant with the help of the rubber band.

The rock has to be above the root part of the plant. You end up with a plant that has a weight on it that will keep it steady underwater. Keep in mind that not all aquarium plants can survive in gravel. Below, we are going to talk about the plants you should choose from.

But first, let’s take a look at the best gravel you can choose for a planted tank.

Best Gravel for Planted Tanks

When looking for a good type of gravel to grow your plants in, your best choice is the pea gravel. A widely popular distributor of high-quality gravel is Miukada. I can recommend pebbles from Miukada as they are well-polished and look nice in every home aquarium.

There is a wide variety of colors in every one of their packages, while all the rocks are rather similar in size. Since rocks are basically products of nature, not every one of them is shaped perfectly. Miukada is well aware of this fact, which is why they include extra rocks in every one of their packages.

No matter if you want to use these pebbles for interior or exterior design, you are going to be pleased with the final result. Although gravel from Miukada is rather clean, we still recommend you to wash it thoroughly before placing it in the tank.

Best Plants to Grow in Gravel

So, now that you know that plants can grow in gravel, let’s see which are the best plants for this purpose.

– Amazon Sword

Amazon Sword Plant

Amazon Sword Plant

The Amazon Sword is one of the most beginner friendly aquarium plants for gravel. It tolerates a wide range of temperatures and light levels. Many fish keepers love this plant for its sword-like leaves that grow long and sturdy with little effort required from your side.

The gravel for the Amazon Sword should be between 2.5 and 3 inches. The roots need to have enough space to grow, which is why a loosely packed gravel is ideal.

– Java Fern

The Java Fern is probably the most popular among all the plants on the list. This one requires little to no attention to thrive and it looks amazing too. No matter the water conditions, the Java Fern can adapt easily to pretty much any well-kept tank.

It grows many big leaves that can provide shelter to your fish and other aquarium pets. Keep the lights low as exposure to a lot of light can kill the Java Fern on the long term.

– Anubias

The Anubias is rather leafy and has a nice light green color that can spice up the atmosphere in every home aquarium. You only need to plant it the right way, preferably into shallow gravel and it will thrive without requiring much attention.

Anubias do like to be exposed to medium or high light conditions. If you want to see huge and healthy Anubias in your tank, then increased light is required. You might need to add nutrients in the gravel as well.

– Vallisneria

The Vallisneria is rather a grass-type plant that grows in warm waters out in nature. This plant is not demanding at all and it can cover up a large part of your aquarium in a short period of time. On the long term, the Vallisneria has to be trimmed repeatedly.

Otherwise, it is slowly going to take over your aquarium. It requires a shallow layer of gravel in order to thrive.

– Cryptocoryne

The Cryptocoryne Wendtii is another decorative option. It is available in various colors, which allows you to choose one that matches to your aquarium décor. The Cryptocorine is not demanding at all when it comes to water conditions. However, you need to ensure the lighting is low all the time.

This plant requires about 3 inches of gravel and you need to ensure the roots are firmly fixed.

– Water Sprite


With the Water Sprite, it is up to you to decide whether you want to plant it in the gravel or just let it float in the water.

Those dense leaf blades are going to make your aquarium beautiful. With its strong root structure, it is not going to be a problem to plant it in a rocky gravel.

Water Sprite is mostly light green with its stems being slightly darker.

– Arrowheads (Sagittaria)


The Sagittaria is another grass-like plant that will look great in your aquarium. This one is similar to Vallisneria, although it grows a bit smaller.

You can keep it in low light conditions, which will cause it to grow bigger and stronger. In stronger light, the Sagittaria won’t grow as much.

The Sagittaria has roots that can easily grab a hold of the gravel and spread to other areas in the tank.

Should You Clean gravel in Planted Tank?

In a planted tank, cleaning the gravel is definitely recommended but you only need to clean the surface of it. That is where fish waste can accumulate and contaminate the water as a result.

You definitely don’t want to deal with that, as it only makes the chemical balance worse in the tank.

What you need to do is to vacuum the surface of the gravel regularly. The reason you don’t need to vacuum below that is because there are some precious mucks that plants like to feed on.

By vacuuming those mucks, you would deprive your plants from their nutrition.

Wrap Up

As you can see, you have plenty of options when it comes to aquatic plants that can be planted in gravel. The top-quality Miukada pebbles are going to look outstanding no matter which plants you choose from our list.

We also focused on picking plants that are easy to take care of and beginner-friendly.

When planting in gravel, the only thing to keep in mind is to make sure that the roots are firmly attached to the pebbles. If you, do it right, the plant is going to have a firm base and the root is going to be able to feed on some fresh mucks that accumulate below the gravel’s surface.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *