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Is This Bottom Covering Okay


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My tank has just started cycling after a rough start. I am doing a fishless cycle and will only be getting one fancy as it is a ten gallon...then I'm hoping to upgrade.

My question is about substrate. I've heard so many varying opinions. What I have now are smaller pebbles with much larger river rock on top. I have five small live plants.

I don't like the look of barebottom, so I do want some covering, but I've been reading that it would be better to go with a small gravel that a goldfish isn't likely to choke on (because it is small) and it won't allow for trapped food and waste. Since my cycle is just starting if I am going to make a change I think I should do it now. I'm attaching a couple of pictures of what I have now. What do you guys suggest?

Also, I've heard varying opinions about having a bottom feeder (like a loach, snail, or cory cat). Is this something that I should consider? Is it better for the health of the tank?

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Guest Danicole

The bottom feeder depends. If you overfeed a lot, or give larger pieces of food that the goldfish get all over the tank a small bottom feeder(cories are schoolers, so more than one :)) and can't siphon it out when you get too much you can do a bottom feeder to make sure the food doesn't spoil. BUT it'd be easier to not overfeed, especially since bottom feeders need food for themselves too, and unless you're feeding 2x what the fish need you'll need to supplement the bottom feeder too.

I've read both ways. That it's best to use huge stones so they can't get them in their mouth, or semi-small that can't get stuck. Though I've seen more people suggest large stones. As for the bottom, with my bigger tank(and am hoping when I get my 29 up I can still do it!) I got some slate tiles that were not treated with anything and had them cut to size then put a TINY layer of sand on the bottom so the underside of the tile(which is scalloped) couldn't trap waste under it. Could you do something like that? I'm sure if you looked around to find the manufacturer of the tiles you could ask if they were treated with anything or if they were made(for glazed ceramic ones) out of non-toxic glaze. That way you could find smaller ones and make a pattern or something and they definitely could not choke on it. And with the sand in a bare little covering(seriously, I think I've got 1/8" around the edges of them and they're close together) they can't get to it and you can still get to all of the waste in the cracks with the gravel vac.

I'm pretty sure I've read(and am about to do a topic in the other section just to make SURE) that rooted plants can be kept in pots on the bottom of the tank so their roots can grow, but you can make sure the fish can't get into the gravel to choke as easy.

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You can pot plants in little glass or ceramic pots. I'm not crazy about that look either. I really do like a more natural river kind of look, so I'm kind of struggling with that. I read about the slate tile idea somewhere, but I never heard of the thin layer of sand. Can bad bacteria get under there? I thought about using silicone to make a background out of slate tile for a larger tank whenever the tank fairy visits me so that is an interesting idea for sure. Thanks!

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Guest Danicole

I don't know about bacteria and if they can get under it or not. I just did the sand on my own since the bottoms of my tiles have ridges running all along them to make them easier to glue to a floor and I didn't want any poo or food to get stuck under them. I'm sure that if the tank was empty and not cycled yet and you were sure on the design you wanted you could use a bead of silicone to put them in place. Then REALLY nothing could get under them! BUT if you wanted to rearrange them ever you would have to be really careful to have not put them close enough to the sides so you wouldn't accidentally be pulling up the side seal when you were razoring it off(if you could pop any out depending on how much silicone you used)

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Here is how it goes as far as what is recommend.

Barebottom is number one.

Large river rocks is number two.

Next would be gravel. If gravel is chosen, it needs to be extra fine, about 1mm, almost like a coarse sand.

Sand is not advised as it can get into gills and cut and/or irritate and it has been known to cause the slime coat to fall off in sheets. Extra special care needs to be taken in buying just the right sand and it must be washed multiples of times, about 30 at least.

This is the advice I always give about bottom feeders. Buy a bottom feeder because you like it, not because you are looking for a cleaning machine. And if you do buy one because you like it, you must provide proper housing for it just like any other fish. Bottom feeders poop just like other fish, some of them are huge poopers, and they are not nearly as efficient at cleaning as we'd like them to be. Some of them also like to eat the slime coat off goldfish. Because they poop, they must be figured into the bioload just like any other fish. If you have a 10 gallon with one goldfish, you don't have anymore room to add more fish unless you want to do twice a week water changes.

If that's your tank, I think it looks great and I don't see it being any sort of problem to your fish.

Edited by lynda441
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Thanks, Lynda. That is my tank. I think the rock mixture is pretty good and I tried to layer it very thin. The smaller pebbles are probably about nickle sized and they are at about an inch at their deepest where they are holding the plants in place for rooting. The front is mostly one large layer of river rock with some smaller pebbles thrown in so it doesn't look disjointed. So I'm glad to know that looks okay. I checked out goldfish books in the library and one said never to use rocks because debris will become trapped, so I panicked.

And no bottom feeder. That is what I was thinking, but then I read someone else's post who had three goldfish and a group of bottom feeders and I thought mabye this would be smarter to plan on in my larger tank when I find one but really I would rather focus on goldfish.

When you do your 100 percent water change do you just siphon the rock as usual? Is there ever a point when I need to remove the rock to clean it?

Every time I think I know what to do I read so many different opinions that I get confused...I just want things to go more smoothly this time. I'm a worry wart.

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Oh, and to jump into the future, Amy, what kind of gf are you dreaming about putting in that some day soon?

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Into the future...hmm. I have a few favorites that I am leaning towards. I really love Pearlscales, but I am going to wait on trying them again until I master this small tank and move to a large tank. I love the Calico Orandas that I've seen, but my husband thinks that stuff on their face is weird, so that will again be for the larger tank unless I can convince him they are really cute. The funny think is that I've never liked them before, but the more I look at them the cuter they get. I'm leaning towards a Calico Ryukin again, but this time I think one that is more heavily white to pop against the blue background I painted on. I loved the mostly white ones in the auction. I've also been looking at some great pictures of Veiltails, but I'm not sure I've ever seen one at a store before. Are they common or sometimes confused with regualr fantails?

Do you have a suggestion for a good first fish to start with in this little tank as far as hardiness goes?

We are going to do a big rerranging project in the next few weeks to clear a space for this large tank that I'm hoping will come about on Craigslist. I just missed out on a forty gallon for $40, but more will come around.

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I checked out goldfish books in the library and one said never to use rocks because debris will become trapped, so I panicked. When you do your 100 percent water change do you just siphon the rock as usual? Is there ever a point when I need to remove the rock to clean it?

Well, yeah, debris can and will get trapped, but it's not like you can't move or take out the rocks! Silly book! In fact, when you do your water changes, you should push the rocks around a bit, get your vacuum down in between them as much as you can and on the 100% changes, take them out and store them in a bucket of the old, removed water while you change out the water.

Every time I think I know what to do I read so many different opinions that I get confused...I just want things to go more smoothly this time. I'm a worry wart.

We all worry sweetie. It just shows you care! ;)

Into the future...hmm. I have a few favorites that I am leaning towards. I really love Pearlscales, but I am going to wait on trying them again until I master this small tank and move to a large tank. I love the Calico Orandas that I've seen, but my husband thinks that stuff on their face is weird, so that will again be for the larger tank unless I can convince him they are really cute. The funny think is that I've never liked them before, but the more I look at them the cuter they get. I'm leaning towards a Calico Ryukin again, but this time I think one that is more heavily white to pop against the blue background I painted on. I loved the mostly white ones in the auction. I've also been looking at some great pictures of Veiltails, but I'm not sure I've ever seen one at a store before. Are they common or sometimes confused with regualr fantails?

Do you have a suggestion for a good first fish to start with in this little tank as far as hardiness goes?

Veiltails are extremely, extremely rare; almost becoming the elusive and mythological unicorn. Ryukins can be hardy, but because of their deep bodies, they can be prone to floating, constipation and/or SBD like pearlscales. I think keeping the deep bodies almost comes more down to mastering feeding techniques. Orandas are a good, stable starter fancy as are, of course, fantails. So, maybe telling your husband that the oranda is one of the most stable fancies might be enough of an incentive to get him to let you have one. And, they don't all have to have the gigantic wens. And not all of them grow the wen on their cheeks and operculum either. If you choose one that has the least amount of wen to start with, it will be that much less wen he will ever have to deal with. Blue orandas, for whatever reason, don't tend to always grow wens well. So, you might consider a blue oranda.... Ranchus and lionheads I think would also be good. They can have wens too though.

We are going to do a big rerranging project in the next few weeks to clear a space for this large tank that I'm hoping will come about on Craigslist. I just missed out on a forty gallon for $40, but more will come around.

Oh, how fun for you! Craigslist is a killer place to find great aquarium deals. That's where I got mine. 60 gallon with cabinet for $80. But, I made a new cabinet so I don't even need the old one now. Need a 48" cabinet?! lol! :rofl

Edited by lynda441
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I know...is it really that hard to move rocks around, especially in a thin layer. So when I do my monthly 100% water change if I remove the rocks to clean them (I would leave the ones for the plants), but keep the filter media in place my good bacteria should be still there, right?

I think I might actually need to stop reading books...it is so dangerous. Just like when I read dog training books. I can almost see my dog thinking, "Uh-Oh."

Well, if I see a Veiltail I'll snatch it up, but I thought they were next to impossible to find since I haven't seen one. I really love the look of the Ruykins and if I fall in love with one I might be really to try it (I have a whole batch of gel food in my freezer), but it will most likely be a fantail or an Oranda. I showed Geoff a picture of a Calico Orando last night and he said if I liked that it is my fish and my choice (probably because I am driving him crazy with pictures--good for me!). Have you ever had to trim a wen? That is the only thing that scares me is a wen that covers eyes or gills. I love the chubby faces, though. So cute!

You know what, I would love a 48" cabinet if you know you have no use for it. Right now that ten gallon is on a bookshelf which makes me nervous and then I would have a stand for my larger tank when it comes from the Craigslist heavens. But you should try and sell it or save it for another tank. You know you will get one :D

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