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lasojuju

Bare Vs Gravel

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I look at it like this: if someone was going to keep me in a 20'x20' concrete pit I would rather have soil and trees than a concrete floor with maybe a few potted plants.

Good thing you're not a goldfish then :) Heh, a beginner with a goldfish bowl would be more like a 3' x 3' concrete pit with a plastic palm tree in the middle. Ugh. Maybe thats how we should explain it to newbies...

But as far as you're concerned, sand vs barebottom is better for the fish, but wouldn't speed up cycling any noticeable amount right?

And I don't know, with gravel I think it takes a lot less than serious neglect to run into problems. If you let waste build up down there, bad bacteria break it down to amonia like you said, which will spike your amonia levels because the nitrifying bacteria in the filter can't keep up with it. So you gotta do your weekly gravel vacs or your water quality will quickly deteriorate to unhealthy levels. Barebottom makes it easier to do this, but I'm with you on that one, I don't like the look of it. I can't comment on which the fish like better, I've never kept goldfish in barebottom.

Edited by balashark

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The heterotrophic Bacillus spp. bacteria that breakdown waste into ammonia are not bad. This is a natural part of the nitrogen cycle in our aquariums, all of them. The extra ammonia is easily handled by the nitrifying bacteria, the next steps in the aquarium nitrogen cycle. The problem is the end result, excessive nitrate.

And actually anyone who lets their filters go more than about a month between cleaning are relying on these bacteria to breakdown waste since the fishkeeper won't remove it. Every filter needs to be cleaned monthly to remove all debris. Yes, even Eheims need to be cleaned monthly. Not cleaning them often enough turns the filters in to nitrate factories because of all that debris being unnecessarily converted into nitrate. This is the problem with Bioballs (especially in reefs), under-maintained UGFs (effectively all of them), etc.

No, no substrate will help the tank cycle faster. Effectively all the nitrifying bacteria are in the filter, not on the substrate. If you want the most surface area in the substrate just in case, sand greatly exceeds all other substrates with surface area.

Edited by Fishguy2727

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Like Balashark, I have gravel in my tank. I have never had problems keeping my tank clean and I prefer the look of fine gravel over that of a bare bottom tank.

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The nitrate can actually become a big issues. For a balanced planted tank you need a ton of plants and a small bioload. Water changes are a better way to deal with water quality. Nitrate is what we test for, but there are lots of other things that can cause problems (growth inhibiting hormones, dissolved orgabic compounds, etc.) and these are not dealt with by plants. Plants will remove the nitrate and phosphate, even then not completely in almost all cases.

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