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kiiarah

Gravel Disintegrating?

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As I was siphoning the goldfish tank about a month ago I noticed a strange piece of something white in the tank. When I picked it up I realized that it was a half empty shell of a piece of gravel. The substrate in this tank is dark blue painted gravel, just the cheap stuff. I figured at the time that it must have been a fluke, just a defective piece or something, but I have been finding more and more of these blue empty shells and white particles in the substrate since. When I was cleaning the tank on Tuesday there was so much white junk tumbling around the filter that I could hardly tell if the waste and food was gone from the gravel. The white junk doesn't come up in the siphon, it is almost like ground up chalk with little bits and an almost baking powder consistency of dust. I would hope anything they used to make this stuff is safe for the fish, but I just don't trust W-mart to sell anything high quality and I am concerned about leaving it in there. Has anyone ever had this happen and would you agree that the best move is to replace it?

If replacing it is the safest option (I am guessing that it is) what would be the best replacement. I know lots of people use bare-bottom tanks. Does this reduce the amount of BB in the tank and do the fish seem to miss rooting through the gravel? I had considered using a few bags of medium sized river rock, but I am afraid they would be bored without the gravel. I also had considered the Tahitian moon sand that everyone has been talking about, but I read a few people on here express concerns that the sand is too abrasive and can damage the fish's gills. I also read comments by people who use it and have had no trouble. In the end, it is much more expensive so I will probably reserve that for the corydora tank. Another option would be to get round natural gravel rather than painted, as this seems to be made of actual rocks. This is what I have in all the other tanks. If I do have to replace the gravel I want to make sure I use the opportunity to make any changes (like partial bare-bottom) at the same time. I have always liked the bare-bottom tanks aesthetically but I want to come as close to a natural environment as possible. I plan to use netting to make two media bags of the old gravel and hang them so that the cycle survives the swap. What would you suggest for substrate and why? :thanks

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Have you added anything like crushed coral or coral rocks that could be what you're finding? The gravel that you have, if it is losing color and falling apart sounds bad. If you are going to remove it only do it a little at a time. It is true that some of the bb's will be in your gravel so what you should do first is buy more bio media to put into your filter so that when you are removing the gravel any of the bb's that get knocked off and are floating around will have a new home to settle on. I'm a total bare bottom person myself, so I don't really have any ideas to pass along about what you could do for a new substrate. However I do like your idea of putting some of the old gravel into some media bags to keep your cycle going. I would also do regular testing just to make sure you won't get surprised by a possible bump. gudluksn.gif

Edited by Martha

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As I was siphoning the goldfish tank about a month ago I noticed a strange piece of something white in the tank. When I picked it up I realized that it was a half empty shell of a piece of gravel. The substrate in this tank is dark blue painted gravel, just the cheap stuff. I figured at the time that it must have been a fluke, just a defective piece or something, but I have been finding more and more of these blue empty shells and white particles in the substrate since. When I was cleaning the tank on Tuesday there was so much white junk tumbling around the filter that I could hardly tell if the waste and food was gone from the gravel. The white junk doesn't come up in the siphon, it is almost like ground up chalk with little bits and an almost baking powder consistency of dust. I would hope anything they used to make this stuff is safe for the fish, but I just don't trust W-mart to sell anything high quality and I am concerned about leaving it in there. Has anyone ever had this happen and would you agree that the best move is to replace it?

Yes, the best move at this point would be to remove the gravel. Do it slowly, like Martha said, and you should have no problems with your cycle.

If replacing it is the safest option (I am guessing that it is) what would be the best replacement. I know lots of people use bare-bottom tanks. Does this reduce the amount of BB in the tank and do the fish seem to miss rooting through the gravel?

Barebottom tanks DO NOT reduce the amount of BBs in the tank, as the media in your filter will hold most of the bacteria anyways. Gravel actually holds very little as there is no water flow through and around it, making it less than ideal for BB colonization.

I had considered using a few bags of medium sized river rock, but I am afraid they would be bored without the gravel.

Goldfish don't have the mental capacity to be bored. I don't say this to be mean, but they are kinda stupid. Any "feelings" we think our goldfish are showing are actually just the owner projecting onto the fish. If you want to use a gravel, this would be the bet choice, as there is no chance of it getting lodged in a goldfish's throat, or harboring bad bacteria.

I also had considered the Tahitian moon sand that everyone has been talking about, but I read a few people on here express concerns that the sand is too abrasive and can damage the fish's gills. I also read comments by people who use it and have had no trouble. In the end, it is much more expensive so I will probably reserve that for the corydora tank. Another option would be to get round natural gravel rather than painted, as this seems to be made of actual rocks. This is what I have in all the other tanks.

Also a good option.

If I do have to replace the gravel I want to make sure I use the opportunity to make any changes (like partial bare-bottom) at the same time. I have always liked the bare-bottom tanks aesthetically but I want to come as close to a natural environment as possible.

The "natural environment" for goldfish is actually barebottom tanks. Goldfish as we know them are not found in the wild. They are all tank raised and bred in huge ponds with no substrate to speak of. If you want to talk historical, the Chinese kept them in large porcelain containers and gave them water changes several times a day. Or they would keep them in small glass bowls on staffs so they could walk around with them. When they weren't in the bowls they were in large indoor "ponds" made from, you guessed it, porcelain. So if you want to create a "natural environment" you'd be best to go with a barebottom tank.

I plan to use netting to make two media bags of the old gravel and hang them so that the cycle survives the swap. What would you suggest for substrate and why? :thanks

Making those baggies sounds like a very good idea.

Hope this helped!

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Thanks guys! Very helpful input. I just got back from the store a minute ago and I think I have a pretty solid plan now. I got some large river rocks in black for one tank and natural color for the other. I also picked up various clear glass vases and candle holders that I am planning on using as "planters" for the artificial plants. I figure this way I get the gravel off the bottom without actually having to remove it. I may also hang a bag of media so that the bacteria can get knocked off. Perhaps I will rotate media from bottom, to vase, to bag, and finally remove it about a handful or two at a time. I decided because of the risk of choking I am going to take the natural gravel out of the moor tank as well. In regards to the powder, there is no coral or anything like that in the tank. The only substrate/decor in there that isn't glass or plastic is the gravel so I am sure that is what it is. It is filled with a powdery white substance and it looks like the blue coating/sealant is breaking down releasing the powder into the tank. Fins crossed that this will work as planned, but I have my ammonia test kit at the ready just in case. I will post pics when it is all finished! ^_^

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The gravel falling apart is kind of normal on the colored stuff. I never use colored gravel myself as I find it unaesthetic. I have bought dozens of used tank with colored gravel and have seen this in those tanks. I don't think it really matters on the brand either. I've seen this happen for over 20 years and I've never heard of a problem caused by this.

Edited by Goldfish Chris

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