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*Amanda*

Reasons for not having a thick layer of gravel

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Hi all,

I recently read on Koko's that a thick layer of gravel is bad, but can you guys elaborate on why? Is it only because more waste gets trapped in a deep layer of gravel, or are there other issues? Mario and I have always been told by the stores to keep a thick layer of gravel, so at the time we purchased all our tanks, we poured 2 bags into each.

Yesterday as we were doing water changes, I took out a significant amount of gravel. Mario was concerned and I'd like to explain to him exactly why a thin layer is more beneficial. The gravel is about 3 inches now; it was about 6! Again, the pet stores said this was important. I know this is wrong but Mario tends to take what they say at face value unless I can give him a really good reason not to. I'm the one who does the research and some things we've done as a result are pretty "out there" compared to what pet stores recommend - but there is no denying that our fish are healthier and death rates have plummeted since we made those changes.

One thing that he does like now is that less gravel = less to clean! (He hates maintenance.) Still, I would like to remove more - how many inches is ideal?

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Here are the reasons:

1. Goldfish can choke on them. This is actually a reason to stay away from gravel entirely.

2. Only about the top 1/4 to 1/2 inch of any substrate is well oxygenated. So the deeper the gravel bed, the bigger the chances of anaerobic pockets. These pockets are perfect for some pathogenic bacteria to occur, and also for hydrogen sulfide producing ones. When goldfish dog through one of these pockets, the hydrogen sulfide can be harmful to them.

3. Food and poop and other debris will get trapped in them. This can foment unhealthy conditions, or at least cause you to have very rapid rises in nitrates, from the accumulation of all these wastes in the tank.

4. More gravel = less water. Water real estate is always an issue, and you have more gravel at the expense of water.

5. Having that much is just unnecessary, except perhaps if you have plants. Then, gravel is not the right substrate.

These are the immediate ones I think can think of. I'm sure others will add. :)

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I changed from gravel to medium sized river rocks. I found the gravel too easy for goldies to get into their mouths & it kinda stayed rather dirty trapping stuff within the substrate. I would be amazed at the ICKY stuff when I did gravel cleaning!! I was going to go bare bottomed to have a cleaner look but I just found it boring to look at & the fish really seem to enjoy poking around in the rocks!

Edited by Jeana727

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It seems strange and unlikely, but in my 2 years of reading this forum, I have encountered many people trying to help/reporting they helped their goldfish choking on gravel.

I never had it because I don't like mess but these stories alone would have convinced me not to use gravel.

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There is also the other side of the coin....under gravel filters!! I am old school and still use them with about 3 inches of gravel, I have never lost a fish by choking, not trying to be contrvesial but this is my take on it. :-D

Edited by fingers

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There is also the other side of the coin....under gravel filters!! I am old school and still use them with about 3 inches of gravel, I have never lost a fish by choking, not trying to be contrvesial but this is my take on it. :-D

Hi Steve,

As with any warning about anything, it can happen, but it doesn't mean it will.

Take smoking, for example. Smoking can lead to lung and other cancers, but it doesn't mean that everyone who smokes will get cancer. So while you may never experience any of the adverse effects listed above for gravel, it can happen. As far as frequency, I don't know, but it seems it's not a very rare event.

I think it's a great testament to your abilities as a fish keeper that you successfully maintain a healthy goldfish tank with UDGs. It also shows that while there are certain absolutes (fish need food lol), the rest requires individual customizations when it comes to keeping (gold)fish. :)

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Oh no I realise this can happen!! and didn't mean it to sound like I am a know it all!! lol

I also run a 1400 Ltr per hour canister alongside, I also vacuum the gravel weekly, the fish spend hours rooting through it seems to keep them happy! oh until I found you good people on this site I never knew there was such a thing as bare bottom tanks :-* I think gravel is a UK thing.

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Oh no I realise this can happen!! and didn't mean it to sound like I am a know it all!! lol

I also run a 1400 Ltr per hour canister alongside, I also vacuum the gravel weekly, the fish spend hours rooting through it seems to keep them happy! oh until I found you good people on this site I never knew there was such a thing as bare bottom tanks :-* I think gravel is a UK thing.

You didn't sound like a know-it-all, at all, and it fantastic that you offered up your experience, especially because it runs counter to what others may be pushing. :)

I actually had gravel for many many years, and I absolutely hate bare bottom tanks, after having tried it as well. I am a big fan of substrate. :)

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Oh no I realise this can happen!! and didn't mean it to sound like I am a know it all!! lol

I also run a 1400 Ltr per hour canister alongside, I also vacuum the gravel weekly, the fish spend hours rooting through it seems to keep them happy! oh until I found you good people on this site I never knew there was such a thing as bare bottom tanks :-* I think gravel is a UK thing.

Gravel is definitely a US thing also! Shops in my area don't recommend anything else, and before I joined this forum I didn't even know there was another option!

My goldies do seem to enjoy rooting through the gravel, so I wouldn't want to take it away completely for these fish - just lower it to a safe level. I also vacuum mine weekly. I'm considering mostly bare bottom with a few plants tied to rocks for my next tank.

Sent from my SCH-I535 using Tapatalk

Edited by *Amanda*

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Oh no I realise this can happen!! and didn't mean it to sound like I am a know it all!! lol

I also run a 1400 Ltr per hour canister alongside, I also vacuum the gravel weekly, the fish spend hours rooting through it seems to keep them happy! oh until I found you good people on this site I never knew there was such a thing as bare bottom tanks :-* I think gravel is a UK thing.

Gravel is definitely a US thing also! Shops in my area don't recommend anything else, and before I joined this forum I didn't even know there was another option!

My goldies do seem to enjoy rooting through the gravel, so I wouldn't want to take it away completely for these fish - just lower it to a safe level. I also vacuum mine weekly. I'm considering mostly bare bottom with a few plants tied to rocks for my next tank.

Sent from my SCH-I535 using Tapatalk

welcome to the gravel lovers team!! your bare bottom idea sounds great!! but I can't seem to get my head round a bare bottom tank! surely in the wild lakes and rivers have gravel bottoms! in the UK we have old gravel pits converted into fishing/ornamental lakes.....all a matter of taste I guess :-)

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I used to have really small gravel and even with an inch or inch and a half I was amazed at how much waste accumulated in it. I switched to the CaribSea Super Naturals substrate and don't use their sand (though alot of others do) but do use their super tiny black gravel Voodoo river. I only use maybe one half of an inch and this way its super easy to vacuum really thoroughly and the fish can dig through it and also as they do dig through it they throw up any waste in it and it gets sucked up by the filters. You would need more if you have a planted aquarium which I don't (only anubias).

Also the thing to remember is petstores or even fish stores for that matter mostly cater to tropical fresh water fish and not to fancy goldfish. Their needs are very different :)

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Oh no I realise this can happen!! and didn't mean it to sound like I am a know it all!! lol

I also run a 1400 Ltr per hour canister alongside, I also vacuum the gravel weekly, the fish spend hours rooting through it seems to keep them happy! oh until I found you good people on this site I never knew there was such a thing as bare bottom tanks :-* I think gravel is a UK thing.

You didn't sound like a know-it-all, at all, and it fantastic that you offered up your experience, especially because it runs counter to what others may be pushing. :)

I actually had gravel for many many years, and I absolutely hate bare bottom tanks, after having tried it as well. I am a big fan of substrate. :)

"and I absolutely hate bare bottom tanks, after having tried it as well. I am a big fan of substrate"

Can you hear the army of Bare-Bottomers plotting to get you?

:P

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Oh no we are back to the show us your credentials thread, !! Lol

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Can you hear the army of Bare-Bottomers plotting to get you?

:P

I'll just throw sand and rock at them! :o:rofl

Oh no we are back to the show us your credentials thread, !! Lol

Always. It's always about the credentials! :rofl

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Alex, I believe your Street Cred is in tact.

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Alex, I believe your Street Cred is in tact.

:o

Why are we talking about my credentials? :o:rofl

Check the jailbeak thread. :rofl

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I had gravel and had a GF choke (not to death but nearly scared me to death). Out came the gravel and I had a barebottom for YEARS.

Now I've turned to the dark side. :lol2

Black sand. And I love it. :nana The foraging that goes on in that tank is nonstop. :Dancing:

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I had gravel and had a GF choke (not to death but nearly scared me to death). Out came the gravel and I had a barebottom for YEARS.

Now I've turned to the dark side. :lol2

Black sand. And I love it. :nana The foraging that goes on in that tank is nonstop. :Dancing:

Is there a specific type/size?

Just wondering, for when I upgrade.

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After having a fish with a piece of gravel stuck in her mouth that needed to be tweezed out, I knew I couldn't keep it with goldies. One time was enough to make me change over to sand because I didn't want there to ever be a "next time"...

I can't believe you stores told you to use THAT much gravel! :yikes

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I had gravel and had a GF choke (not to death but nearly scared me to death). Out came the gravel and I had a barebottom for YEARS.

Now I've turned to the dark side. :lol2

Black sand. And I love it. :nana The foraging that goes on in that tank is nonstop. :Dancing:

Is there a specific type/size?

Just wondering, for when I upgrade.

I think she has Petco sand...?

Correct me if I'm wrong, of course. :o

... Aww poo, thought I was in time to make the posts merge. Hate double posting. :rofl

Edited by Chai

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Oh no I realise this can happen!! and didn't mean it to sound like I am a know it all!! lol

I also run a 1400 Ltr per hour canister alongside, I also vacuum the gravel weekly, the fish spend hours rooting through it seems to keep them happy! oh until I found you good people on this site I never knew there was such a thing as bare bottom tanks :-* I think gravel is a UK thing.

Gravel is definitely a US thing also! Shops in my area don't recommend anything else, and before I joined this forum I didn't even know there was another option!

My goldies do seem to enjoy rooting through the gravel, so I wouldn't want to take it away completely for these fish - just lower it to a safe level. I also vacuum mine weekly. I'm considering mostly bare bottom with a few plants tied to rocks for my next tank.

Sent from my SCH-I535 using Tapatalk

welcome to the gravel lovers team!! your bare bottom idea sounds great!! but I can't seem to get my head round a bare bottom tank! surely in the wild lakes and rivers have gravel bottoms! in the UK we have old gravel pits converted into fishing/ornamental lakes.....all a matter of taste I guess :-)

This. My pass time on summer holidays back home was goin down to the gravel pits haha

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I had gravel and had a GF choke (not to death but nearly scared me to death).? Out came the gravel and I had a barebottom for YEARS.?

?

Now I've turned to the dark side.? :lol2

?

?

Black sand.? And I love it.? :nana? The foraging that goes on in that tank is nonstop.? :Dancing:

I've also been considering sand! My main concern about having a bare bottom with large rocks is that the waste would be SO obvious, lol. IMO it takes a lot of plants to make a bare bottom look interesting, and I'm not sure I have the dedication to care for that many plants. I've always been much more focused on the fish.

Sent from my SCH-I535 using Tapatalk

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My ponds are bare bottom (if you don't count the layer of muck) by the end of the summer I guess there is grass clipping, leaves, bugs, sticks, pebbles etc etc..

Now back to the tank, there is a smattering of gravel that hasn't been siphoned out yet, some glass gems and a bit of gravel (maybe 1/4 cup) the amount I have in there doesn't even pile up to 1/4 inch in height. I feel satisfied with that amount.

I think easy maintenance is important with fish keeping. It is so overwhelming for beginners that with just a little bit of substrate you learn as you go how to siphon and keep it clean. If you find you have more time to commit to maintaining your tank after you learn the basics then you can play around with a lot of options for decorating your tank. :)

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After having a fish with a piece of gravel stuck in her mouth that needed to be tweezed out, I knew I couldn't keep it with goldies. One time was enough to make me change over to sand because I didn't want there to ever be a "next time"...

I can't believe you stores told you to use THAT much gravel! :yikes

They could have just told me this to sell an extra bag ... but on the other hand, it's possible that they just don't really understand the needs of goldfish. The employees in both the local chain store and the LFSs are all aquarium enthusiasts, and their turnover rates are very low (the employees genuinely seem happy to work there), but I think they're way more into tropicals.

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it's possible that they just don't really understand the needs of goldfish.

:bingo: They do not know goldfish keeping. My local Pet Stupid will give you 3 baby koi for a 5 gallon tank. They just dont know any better.

The proper amount of substrate for tropicals (this is something I read in a tropical aquarium book) is 2 inches min. The reasoning is that it somehow prevents "white water" issues. With that in mind, it is understood by GF keepers that when we see white water we do a wc. Heck, even if we dont see anything we do a water change. I have 1/2 inch of gravel substrate in the tank. I hate it, but my wife couldnt stand the tank bare. She likes decorations and bottom color. Her pretty gravel is getting algae covered and I am thinking she is going to ask me to remove it soon. When I do, it will not be replaced.

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