Best Substrate for Monte Carlo Plant. Can It Grow Also in Gravel or Sand?

Monte Carlo Plant, also known as the New Large Pearl Grass, is relatively new to the world of aquariums. Since these plants are “root feeders,” the best substrate for a Monte Carlo plant is a fine-grained or small-grained substrate. They make the Monte Carlo easier to plant and it helps them take root.

Substrates such as Caribsea Eco-Complete Aquasoil, Seachem Flourite Black Sand, and Fluvial Stratum will help your Monte Carlo plants grow. 

These substrates contain essential nutrients such as Calcium, Potassium, Sulfur, and Iron. They support oxygen uptake, are easy to find, and last a long time. 

Can It Grow In Gravel Or Sand? 

Good question. The Monte Carlo does not grow well in either sand or gravel because both lack the proper nutrients for a Monte Carlo plant. That is why it is best to buy a nutrient-rich soil substrate.

In addition to that, because these plants have such small roots and find it hard to stay rooted in the substrate, it is important to use a finely ground substance instead of one with pieces that are too big. 

Gravel would not be a good choice for your plants. Depending on the type, your plants would not be able to properly grip the rocks and might be easily uprooted. It might be cheaper, but to ensure the health of your plants, use a finer substrate. 

On the other hand, sand granules are tiny compared to gravel, but they are so tightly packed that your Monte Carlo plants will find it hard to push roots deep beneath the surface and spread. 

  Is Boiled Fish Water Good For Plants?

How Do You Carpet a Monte Carlo Plant?

Before You Plant 

Unless you bought tissue culture plants (grown in a lab), you want to clean and quarantine your plants before you plant them to make sure no snails or other creatures are hiding among the leaves that will disrupt the ecosystem in your aquarium. This process will also prevent you from introducing harmful toxins or diseases to your fish. 

If you buy tissue culture Monte Carlo plants then you want to rinse off the nutrient gel before planting them. If you buy your plants from a plant nursery then you want to remove the rock wool from the base of the plant and rinse it in cool water. 

How to Plant 

Since these plants grow quickly and laterally, you do not need a lot of pots to provide a beautiful aquatic landscape for your aquarium. One or two will probably be all you need.

To prevent overcrowding, you should split up your plants into several pieces (8-10) and plant them a few centimeters away from each other. 

To make the planting process easier and to ensure that you do not damage the plants, use tweezers to insert them into the substrate. Take care to push them deep enough into the substrate so that they do not unroot. 

Some fish keepers dry start their Monte Carlo plants before filling the tank with water to make sure they are firmly rooted. You fill a spray bottle with water to mist the substrate, plant the Monte Carlo, then cover the top of the tank with a clear wrap to trap the moisture inside.

  What Plants Can Go In Freshwater Aquarium?

Trimming Your Plants

If your plants unroot soon after you have planted them, just use your tweezers to push them back into the substrate, deeper than before. Since these plants grow quickly, you won’t need to wait long for them to grow strong roots. 

It only takes about 4-8 weeks for these plants to create a lush green carpet along the bottom of your tank and with growth comes the need for maintenance. 

Regular trimming is necessary with all carpet plants. They need to be trimmed around every 2 weeks. You have to use special, curved trimming scissors with a sharp blade to get the cleanest cut. 

You should trim the excess growth until the plants stand a few centimeters from the ground. Trimming the tops of the plants prevents them from growing too tall and keeps them from clumping together. 

Do Monte Carlo Plants Need Co2?

These plants do not require Co2 dosing to survive. Decomposing soil beneath the Monte Carlo carpets will provide the plants with enough carbon dioxide to survive. 

Co2 might help them to grow denser and faster, but not dosing your plants with extra Co2 will not harm the plants. Most fish keepers inject Co2 into their aquariums every so often to increase growth rates. 

Injecting Co2 into the tanks can also help the plants overcome transition shock. The boost from the Co2 helps the plants to adjust faster to the differences in light, temperature, nutrients, etc. 

Can Monte Carlo Plants Grow In Low Light?

Proper lighting is essential for your Monte Carlo plant. These plants need moderate to high lighting. Although they can grow under low light, more light will ensure that they thrive. The taller your tank is, the more light you’ll need. 

  What Eats Fish Poop In Tank?

What Happens If These Plants Do Not Get Enough Light?

If your Monte Carlo plants do not receive enough light, they will grow vertically instead of spreading like they are supposed to. Plants grow in whichever way will allow them to receive the most light. 

Monte Carlo plants can also turn brown if they do not get enough light. This can happen simply because you are not using sufficient light or because the carpet that the plants formed is too dense for light to penetrate the base of the plant. You can trim the plants to help this issue. 


Monte Carlo plants will make a wonderful addition to any freshwater aquarium you own with their bright green hue and low maintenance. They are quickly becoming a favorite among fish keepers and other plant enthusiasts and they will just as quickly become yours. 

If you decide to purchase some Monte Carlo plants to provide your aquariums with a natural look, make sure you stick closely to the guidelines outlined above to ensure that your plants and fish are healthy and happy. 

Available for Amazon Prime