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Gravel Or Pebbles And River Rock


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  • Regular Member

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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I wouldn't add a bottom feeder for the sake of keeping the tank clean. Goldies feed from the bottom quite well and an extra fish will only produce more waste.

As for gravel, here's my experience. I had regular aquarium gravel for a while, but it was extremely hard to keep clean and my nitrates were always too high. So I switched to small river stones and my fish nearly choked on them several times! Now I have large river rocks on a bare bottom with no problems.

Having said that, I do understand that bare bottom isn't for everyone. My suggestion is to go with larger gravel and stones, but make sure it's big enough not to get stuck in a goldy's mouth. This depends on the size of the fish you get of course, but you'd be suprised what they'll jam in there :P

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Thanks. I think when my fish grows (I'm going to start with a little guy) and I upgrade to the larger tank I want to do all large river rock. Do you ever remove the rocks to clean or will that crash your cycle? My only concern is trying to get my siphon to clean around such large rocks.

My gut instinct is no bottom feeder as well. Thanks!

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  • Regular Member
Do you ever remove the rocks to clean or will that crash your cycle? My only concern is trying to get my siphon to clean around such large rocks.

I typically don't clean them, but if you did I don't think it woudl affect the cycle as long as your filter has a lot of established media. What I usually do if the rocks get really green/brown, is to flip them to their clean side - that way, the algae faces away from the light and dies off. As for getting the siphon around, I don't have a problem with it, I just shove it under them violently :P

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