Gravel In A Saltwater Tank?

"That person"

Member
Hello, I have a 60 tank currently it is freshwater but I'm hoping soon to turn it to saltwater. I love the gravel that is currently in the tank. It is natural river rock. It's all smooth there isn't any sharp edges on any of it. And the bag says for freshwater or saltwater use.

I don't see anyone ever using gravel in a saltwater tank and from what I can read it's just a cleaning issue. Is there a reason I can't or shouldn't use the gravel in a saltwater tank?

Also if I should have some sand is it okay if I move the gravel around the edges and I have the sand in the middle?

Thanks
 

PoorBigBlue

Member
Well, in general, I don't find that it looks that good. But preferences aside, here are a few issues:

1) Aragonite sand (the stuff you want to use in a saltwater tank) will buffer your water and raise your PH. While most creatures can adapt to a wide variety of PHs, you're going to have more success by keeping your water in-between 7.8-8.4.

2) A lot of creatures love to burrow. Some can do that in gravel, but a lot will be stuck out in the open, especially if it's very coarse. Plus, some creatures sand-sift - they eat organisms in the sandbed, and they won't survive in a tank with gravel.

3) Your sandbed will hold a large part of your biological filter - some beneficial bacteria, but also a lot of microorganisms that'll help keep your tank clean. While gravel will hold some of that, I doubt that a lot of the creatures from the ocean would find themselves at home in a tank with gravel.

When it comes down to it, it's your decision - it probably won't make or break your tank. Reef tanks have been kept without any substrate at all. I just find that a substrate will usually make things a bit easier, unless you're working in a tiny tank.
 
  • Thread Starter

"That person"

Member
Makes since. I will most likely add sand to it or make it sand.
 

Jesterrace

Member
Gravel rarely does good things in a saltwater tank. As mentioned it provides no benefit to fish or inverts and doesn't really store beneficial bacteria but it will certainly trap nasties and be home to unwanted algae. with a argonite or live sand substate you have the option of adding sand sifting fish/snails thereby eliminating the need to clean them (no worries about manually cleaning the bottom of your tank). In short the gravel will be nothing but a pain for you to maintain with no gain other than short term aesthetics. After the uglies set in on the tank it won't look petty and you will be cleaning it more often than not. Furthermore gravel just looks unnatural in a saltwater/reef tank.
 

JB92668

freash water gravel won't work in a salt water tank your better using marine grade live sand for your tank u can collect some from the beach or from a rock pool
 

Jesterrace

Member
I would strongly advise against using stuff from the beach or rock pool, has goodness knows what in it (ie trash, pollutants, other nasties). Argonite Sand runs about 60 cents a lb and 40lbs of it should do. Pretty small investment
 

JB92668

good point mate
 
  • Thread Starter

"That person"

Member
Guys I ended up leaving about half of the gravel and pushing it to the sides then adding sand in the middle. I haven't had any issues yet and my copepods love it. They have plenty of place the hide where the fish can't get them. The gravel is crawling with them. I will let you guys know if I have any problems but right now everything is going pretty good
 

Jesterrace

Member
The issue with the gravel and sand mix is that it will be difficult to keep clean long term and a sand bed cleanup crew won't be able to clean gravel. In the long run it will become an algae/detritus trap (although the copepods will help.
 

Most photos, videos and links are disabled if you are not logged in.

Log in or register to view

Top Bottom