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*Amanda*

Reasons for not having a thick layer of gravel

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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.

You are a patient man with a plan! :rofl :rofl :rofl

Sometimes it's not that they don't know any better, but they answer to the bottom line, which is making sales irrespective of anything else. :no:

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i have half inch diameter stones in mine and my goldfish love to push them around. i definitely think that substrate is a personal choice as you want to make the take appeal to you :)

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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. :)

I just want to add that even in a planted tank, 6 inches of gravel is excessive. Typically, 3 inches is the most anyone with a planted tank will need or recommend. I use around 2 inches of substrate in my planted tank, this depth is more than adequate for most plant roots. Without plants, there is simply no reason to have deep substrate. Aesthetically, you want enough to cover the bottom, but any more than that is unnecessary, 1/4-1/2 an inch is more than enough in this case.

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If you like substrate, I would definitely recommend black sand. I have had gravel, white sand and black sand.

Gravel: In addition to being a choking hazard, gravel traps all kinds of detritus and you have to clean it frequently (as you know). My other complaint with gravel is that the 1mm sinking pellets (which I prefer for goldfish) tend to get lost in the substrate.

Sand: Sand is finer than gravel and doesn't allow food and detritus to get below it's surface. So, you really don't ever have to clean it. You just give it a stir now and then. Of the sands I have tried, I prefer the Petco black sand. The white is finer, messier, shows every little spec of dirt and tends to turn green from algae growth. Currently, I have one tank with black sand and some larger river rocks and both my fish and I love it.

Bare Bottom: I am also experimenting with a bare bottom tank with only some loosely placed glass beads. So far, the fish seem somewhat amused with pushing the beads around.

Edited by jmetzger72

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If you like substrate, and you know it, clap your hands (clap, clap)

If you like substrate, and you know it, clap your hands (clap, clap)

If you like substrate,

Then your tank surely will show it.

If you like substrate, and you know it, clap your hands. (clap, clap)

:rofl

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If you like substrate, and you know it, clap your hands (clap, clap)

If you like substrate, and you know it, clap your hands (clap, clap)

If you like substrate,

Then your tank surely will show it.

If you like substrate, and you know it, clap your hands. (clap, clap)

:rofl

If you hate to vacuum gravel, clap your hands. (Clap! Clap!)

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I have never had gravel in my tanks but I can tell you from when I worked at a petstore for over a year that even a small layer accumulates an enormous amount of waste. I've had barebottom tanks with some river rocks until I got my water changer just to make cleaning easier, after that I switched to sand which my fish loved. However I was using a very fine grained sand and the pore space size between grains was causing compaction issues with my plants so I looked into planting substrates. Now I have a very fine layer of sand in my pond (so I can see my black fish :rofl ) and flourite in my tank. I had less than an inch of substrate and would consider my tank fairly well planted. I don't vacuum it much to be honest, as disturbing the substrate too much can damage the root structures, but it stays fairly clean and the plants use whatever waste does make it down there. My fish also do not have any foraging issues with it thus far, and I've been using it for around a year with many fish of many sizes.

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The only reason gravel is recommended is to make money. Pea gravel, in small quantities, sells for ~ $3 for 45 lbs, Aquarium gravel is dug out of the ground in the same way and sells for ~ $10 for 10 pounds. The only production difference is the size of the sieve it goes through. Putting the word "aquarium" on anything increases its value by orders of magnitude. What business wouldn't push a product that is that profitable?

If you go through the process of catching the fish that has a piece of gravel stuck and pulling out the gravel, few will die, although some suffer permanent jaw damage. Goldfish do not know better than to swallow gravel because gravel does not occur in their natural environments -- ponds and lakes. These have bottoms of sand or muck, and goldfish have no problem with swallowing these. The only natural aquatic systems that might have gravel are fast flowing streams -- not a goldfish habitat.

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I am reading a lot of people mentioning the negatives of small gravel.

...so why not get bigger ones?

I don't know if it counts as gravel, but I use 3/4 to 1 inch rocks to cover the bottom of my tank.

Looks nice (kind of look like mini river rocks) and I seriously doubt my fish will get big enough to choke on them.

Things sometimes get through the cracks, but it's nothing a vacume pump can't get.

Just an option.

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I am reading a lot of people mentioning the negatives of small gravel.

...so why not get bigger ones?

I don't know if it counts as gravel, but I use 3/4 to 1 inch rocks to cover the bottom of my tank.

Looks nice (kind of look like mini river rocks) and I seriously doubt my fish will get big enough to choke on them.

Things sometimes get through the cracks, but it's nothing a vacume pump can't get.

Just an option.

The issue with larger gravels is exactly what you mentioned, there will be larger spaces between the rocks for debris to fall and get trapped. Yes, gravel vacuuming will certainly help to trap a decent amount of of the waste, but it's near impossible to get all of it.

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I am reading a lot of people mentioning the negatives of small gravel.

...so why not get bigger ones?

I don't know if it counts as gravel, but I use 3/4 to 1 inch rocks to cover the bottom of my tank.

Looks nice (kind of look like mini river rocks) and I seriously doubt my fish will get big enough to choke on them.

Things sometimes get through the cracks, but it's nothing a vacume pump can't get.

Just an option.

I also didn't think my fish could swallow something 3/4" in size, and then Clem decided to swallow algae wafers whole, from the widest angle.

Also, +1 on Tithra's post. That kind of substrate almost defeats the purpose of 'rooting' while forging.

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I guess some debris never really goes away in a tank.

For some reason, I thought it was not a bad thing if the water is not prestine.

But I understand both your points: Feeding sinking pellets, they can fall through the cracks.

I never had an issue with it, most likely because it is a single layer and I am feeding only gel food.

Water tests well, and with a single layer of pebbles, I have no issue getting any debris during my weekly water change.

However, if my fish ever do get to the point where they are big enough to scarf down a 1" rock, it may be a time for a change.

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I personally have not found that most lakes have rock bottoms. It is usually more like a muck or sand. I have had a fish with a rock stuck in it's mouth as well. I agree with what dnalex said about why 6 and even 3 inches is too deep. There will be some benificial bacteria that will grow in the top layer of the rocks, which is helpful for processing ammonia and nitrite. When I took out my rather thin layer of gravel I was disgusted by how much poop was in there. Yuck!

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I guess some debris never really goes away in a tank.

For some reason, I thought it was not a bad thing if the water is not prestine.

But I understand both your points: Feeding sinking pellets, they can fall through the cracks.

I never had an issue with it, most likely because it is a single layer and I am feeding only gel food.

Water tests well, and with a single layer of pebbles, I have no issue getting any debris during my weekly water change.

However, if my fish ever do get to the point where they are big enough to scarf down a 1" rock, it may be a time for a change.

A tank absolutely does not need to be pristine. Some would argue that less than pristine may even be better. But we do want to limit the amount of things like old food just hanging out in a tank as much as we can ;) Ultimately, you have to do what works for you :)

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When I get my 125 gallon I am going to have 2' worth of it with plants and substrate. I am interested to see how the fish respond to the different sections if the tank.

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:borgg: Now say "black sand, black sand, black sand" :rofl

:rofl :rofl

I use substrate in my tank that isn't necessarily 'ideal' for my fish... it's more ideal for the plants. It lowers ph (I buffer to counteract this effect) and I cannot use small pellets because they slip through the substrate too easily, so my fish get gel food or larger pellets. We all make trade offs in some way or another in our tanks :idont I think as long as we are aware of the potential effects of the decisions we make and try to counteract any potential negative effects as best we can, then we are being responsible. A tank itself is not necessarily the perfect/ideal home for a fish, but we do our best to make it suitable while also setting things up in a way that pleases us ;)

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I agree. I only have various Anubias which are all glued to large river rocks or wood above the substrate. So, my substrate doesn't need to be plant friendly.

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If you like substrate, and you know it, clap your hands (clap, clap)If you like substrate, and you know it, clap your hands (clap, clap)If you like substrate,Then your tank surely will show it. If you like substrate, and you know it, clap your hands. (clap, clap):rofl

CLAP CLAP! :-)

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:borgg: Now say "black sand, black sand, black sand" :rofl

I have to say, it does look nice...the black sand, not the Borg Goldfish. That looks creepy. :P

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Wow so much action since I went to bed!!

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:borgg: Now say "black sand, black sand, black sand" :rofl

:rofl :rofl

I use substrate in my tank that isn't necessarily 'ideal' for my fish... it's more ideal for the plants. It lowers ph (I buffer to counteract this effect) and I cannot use small pellets because they slip through the substrate too easily, so my fish get gel food or larger pellets. We all make trade offs in some way or another in our tanks :idont I think as long as we are aware of the potential effects of the decisions we make and try to counteract any potential negative effects as best we can, then we are being responsible. A tank itself is not necessarily the perfect/ideal home for a fish, but we do our best to make it suitable while also setting things up in a way that pleases us ;)

I have seen pictures of your tank...totally unacceptable for goldfish...you should give it to me :P

But seriously, your tank landscaping is probably one of the best I've ever seen.

I want to print it up and have it as a background for my tank. :rofl

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Thanks guys for all the input! I'm considering black sand. A few people mentioned Petco's black sand, but I don't have a Petco in my area - only Petsmart. Why is the Petco black sand recommended in particular? Is it much better than Petsmart's?

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I think I'm the only one on this forum who doesnt love sand :P

I have it in my betta tanks and if one betta can fill it with waste every week im afraid to see what the goldies would do! When I run my fingers through it during the weekly cleaning its awful how much waste etc comes out of it. I have removed a bunch of it this week so now only a thin layer which seems better. Plus even siphoning gently over the top it picks up alot of sand into the bucket.

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Thanks guys for all the input! I'm considering black sand. A few people mentioned Petco's black sand, but I don't have a Petco in my area - only Petsmart. Why is the Petco black sand recommended in particular? Is it much better than Petsmart's?

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Amanda, for me, the better "sand" is the Tahitian moon sand by Caribsea, which you can get at Petsmart. The Petco sand is good also (I have some as well), but the other is quite fine as well.

As for having debris/muck etc, this is normal. Ponds and river/lake beds have them, along with the organisms that break them down. The idea is that as just don't want to have too thick a layer of substrate, which can bring about some other issues.

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