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Aquarium Gravel


macbeth110

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I've been looking at the photos of everyone's goldfish (which are beautiful, by the way) and I've noticed that many tanks don't have gravel, or just have a few stones scattered around the tank. Is there a benefit to not having any gravel in the tank? I always thought gravel was good for building up good bacteria...

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Some people prefer to have no gravel as it means less places for bad bacteria to hide, but if you are doing good gravel vac every week that I dont see that as a worry in a healthy maintained aquarium. some also worry that the fish will get stones stuck in their mouths, but I prefer gravel as I feel it is more natural for them to route around for food and gives them something to do. I also have loachs that like to bury themselves.

I have gone completely barebottom and used small stones before, but I found that my fish were more skittish and stressed without gravel, so now I have black mixed gravel of larger size and granite stones, with 2 pieces of Mopani wood and plants, I feel that it gives it a more natural look and the fish seem a lot happier.

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Less gravel makes it much easier to clean all the poo during water changes. :) And having lots of gravel gives nasty bacteria places to hide and multiply if you're not thorough with your siphoning. Beneficial bacteria does grow on gravel, but not nearly as much as what's in the filter. I've also heard that the BB only grows on the top surfaces of gravel because of the greater amount of oxygen. :o So they do house BB, but not enough to make them mandatory. :)

Personally, I like having some gravel; my goldfish tend to feel more secure with a "floor". :D

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Goldfish are poop machines... gravel traps poop. Tanks without gravel are easier to clean and KEEP clean. Many members here keep their tanks "bare bottom", meaning there is nothing on the bottom except maybe a few large stones or decorations such as pots, plants, etc. The few people on this site that keep gravel in their tanks do it because they like the look, and are willing to put in the MASSIVE ammount of extra work (comparatively speaking) required to keep it clean.

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I have all bare bottomed tanks and I will NEVER go back to gravel! I feel like the fish are so much healthier since I changed about 6months ago. :)

When I had gravel, or sand - I felt like I could do all the gravel vacuuming in the world and gunk would STILL come out. :doh11:

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My tank has gravel, well, first becasue I diden't know how much goldfish poop when I first got them, second becasue I think it looks better- I've always used gravel :P

The gravel is vacuumed every time I do a water change, which is twice a week.

In my opinion, it isn't a HUGE amount of extra work if you do it at the same time as a water change

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I've had bare bottomed tanks in the past, but I just plain prefer the look of a tank with some gravel in it. I thoroughly vacuum the gravel every time I do a water change, and honestly, it's not that much extra work -- I mean, it takes the same amount of time to drain my tank with my Python, whether I'm cleaning the gravel or just sucking water out of a bare bottomed tank.

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I agree with RanchuDressing, It isnt that much more work to gravel vac whilst doing a water change. I hardly get anything out of my gravel, perhaps because I have the loachs, or that my filters work well or that my fish eat up all their food! I dont know, it is a matter of persoanl opinion, and I guess there is no right or wrong answer to this.

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I have gravel in all of my tanks as I've always liked the look of it. It's not a problem at all for me to do gravel cleaning when doing my water changes. I don't think it's a hassle at all...I've had gravel for a long time in my tanks. It's all about what you prefer. ;)

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As you can see, both have their pros and contras. It is just a personal preference; do you mind vacuuming the gravel once a week for the sake of a more natural look and a feel of security for your fish? I sure do. And if you use only a thin layer of gravel (you can see the bottom of the tank between the gravel in some areas of my tank because the layer is so thin) it is no big deal to vacuum at all. Actually I have fun doing it!

But I just don't like how obvious poop is in a bare bottom unless you vacuum daily. Sure, it is more likely for poop to get sucked into the filter because it doesn't get trapped in the gravel, but some still stays in the tank unless you vacuum every day. But really, who does that?

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But I just don't like how obvious poop is in a bare bottom unless you vacuum daily. Sure, it is more likely for poop to get sucked into the filter because it doesn't get trapped in the gravel, but some still stays in the tank unless you vacuum every day. But really, who does that?

I feel the same way. I tried going barebottom once, and I simply couldn't stand watching the goldfish constantly play with their poop. I like how a thin dust of gravel just hides the poo until you're ready to vacuum. :)

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I'll offer my thoughts here.

Sand

Pros:

1. Much easier to clean as the wastes are lighter than sand.

2. Makes it easier for most fish and invertebrates to burrow around.

3. Friendly to fish with delicate barbels.

Cons:

1. If I change my mind on rescaping tanks, sand is a pain to remove.

2. Becomes compact easily and becomes potentially dangerous if it binds and forms anaerobic pockets. For this reason, you need to stir it or rely on your trumpet snails to do the job for you (though the MTS will not burrow too deeply).

3. Can damage powerheads if the powerheads are turned on while the sand has not settled completely yet.

Gravel

Pros:

1. Allows oxygen to penetrate through plant roots much better therefore, it is more suitable for planted setups.

2. Easier to remove if you change mind rescaping the tank.

3. Much easier to rinse around unlike sand before setting it up.

Cons:

1. Pain to vacuum around as the wastes are trapped especially if it is deep.

2. Most fish choke on gravel easily although this rarely happens.

Bare Bottom

Pros:

1. Very easy to clean. If you have issues with poop, direct the powerhead carefully along the bottom to sweep them into the filter.

2. No anaerobic pockets or breeding bed for bacteria, virus and parasites to worry about.

3. Even if plants are placed in pots, maintenance remains easily done without the necessity to vacuum around.

Cons:

1. Unnatural or boring for some. Personal taste varies.

2. Cannot be used for planted setups unless you intend to keep the plants in pots instead.

3. Fish that need them especially loaches and other known burrowers/diggers will never be comfortable in this kind of setup.

There is no right or wrong answer. That is totally up to you and/or your fish's requirements. Whether your fish needs it or not, that is one of the basis to consider aside from personal preference. Goldfish do not really need substrate for them to forage. I've done all three of these (except for the tile setup). Barebottom is best. Sand comes second. I have no issues with using barebottom setups for goldfish. Their poop will simply be filtered. You just need patience for that if you find it unpleasant. I do not believe it is as bad as you really think.

As for quaranitne and hospital setups, there is no ifs or buts. The tank SHOULD be BAREBOTTOM at all times. Some can argue why not. The problem with having substrate in a quarantine setup is that it prevents you from monitoring their discharge, it prevents meds from seeping through thus destroying the eggs and larva, it prevents you from vacuuming the eggs and larva and it encourages bad bacteria to produce thus worsening the health issue as it is.

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I find that my fish enjoy sucking on the pebbles so much that it would be cruel to take that passtime away from them. I only have JUST enough to cover the bottom, and generally it get scooped up into piles so there is always some bare parts showing.

Plus, hoovering the gravel while changing the water gives me somthing to do, and the fish always love going through last weeks tea :P

it's like children cleaning a room and getting preoccupied :P

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