Gravel Vs Bare Bottom Tank

SSJ

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Hi All, i am confused whether to go for gravel or not, was thinking of using medium sized white stone..right now its a bare bottom tank. The advantage insee with bare bottom is that i can see the poop and siphon it out when needed. How will that happen once i put gravel?? Woudnt the poop get excessively settled under or above gravel and increase nitrate and ammonia levels? Please advise.
Some details:
45 gallon tank
Sun sun canister filter with activated carbon and ceramics
Tetra neons and guppies in the mix
Around 5 potted plants
 

Fashooga

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It's really personal preference.

Bare bottoms are nice, they are easy to clean but they can't hold any beneficial bacteria (substrates can). So your filter, like all aquariums houses most of all the BB. It is boring to look at and if you want plants it's either plastic foilage or plants in a terracotta jar.

Gravel looks some what natural but yes...it can hold all kinds of muck. You would have to deep clean it once or twice a month but not to over clean it as well. With Gravel you can plant stuff, cory fish are not fan's of gravel.
 

Aquafina

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Yes the gravel will trap food and poop, but that is exactly why you should want it. One of the reasons that gravel is good in a fish tank is so that it can trap debris and keep it from floating all around the tank. Otherwise, evertime the water stirs even slightly, stuff at the bottom of the tank would fly off everywhere. Unless you plan on doing 100% water changes (which I advise against) you wouldn't be able to capture it all.

The other main reason is that gravel and substrate is where most good bacteria resides besides the filter.
 

aussieJJDude

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Thats why many suggest and use sand (or extremely fine gravel, under 1mm). Has the benefit of being easy to clean - waste settles ontop - and provides enrichment for fish and a medium for plants.
 
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SSJ

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Fashooga said:
It's really personal preference.

Bare bottoms are nice, they are easy to clean but they can't hold any beneficial bacteria (substrates can). So your filter, like all aquariums houses most of all the BB. It is boring to look at and if you want plants it's either plastic foilage or plants in a terracotta jar.

Gravel looks some what natural but yes...it can hold all kinds of muck. You would have to deep clean it once or twice a month but not to over clean it as well. With Gravel you can plant stuff, cory fish are not fan's of gravel.
I have plants potted in glass jars, see attached pic. Is that ok?
ebad1ac834c9c29e9dd633ee17eed449.jpg
 

SFGiantsGuy

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Also keep in mind that with fine sand some rooted plants can have issues with their root penetration. (density)
 

InsanityShard

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If you do go for gravel, you use something called a gravel vaccum to siphon food, poop and other stuff from the gravel about once a month depending on how many fish you have. If it's a fully schooled tank, you'll want to up that two two or 3 times a month, but it shouldn't be done at the same time as cleaning the filters because of the beneficial bacteria living there and needing to feed off the ammonia. It's harder, but the plants love it and it can be great for some fish. Personally I'm going for a sandy tank on one side and gravel on the other, so my plants can be properly planted and there's fine gravel to play with, using larger stuff to help hold down plants and mark roots while the corydoris still get their nice sandy nest on the other side. But I'll also be putting into 2 or 3 plates for feeding to help with the gravel mess. You could try that. Just note corydoris barbels, as well as other bottom dwellers barbels and fins, can easily get caught in larger gravel and get hurt.
 

ParrotCichlid

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Bare bottom should only be considered for overstocked tanks and ones containing large fish such as Oscars and Arowanas.

Basically only go bare bottom if you fear you wont be able to keep the water parameters stable by adding a substrate.

For example if i was going to use a 40g breeder as a grow out for 3 x 6" Oscars then i would keep it bare bottom. If i was going to use a 120g tank for them same Oscars then i would add gravel as its not a real concern keeping it clean.
 
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SSJ

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InsanityShard said:
If you do go for gravel, you use something called a gravel vaccum to siphon food, poop and other stuff from the gravel about once a month depending on how many fish you have. If it's a fully schooled tank, you'll want to up that two two or 3 times a month, but it shouldn't be done at the same time as cleaning the filters because of the beneficial bacteria living there and needing to feed off the ammonia. It's harder, but the plants love it and it can be great for some fish. Personally I'm going for a sandy tank on one side and gravel on the other, so my plants can be properly planted and there's fine gravel to play with, using larger stuff to help hold down plants and mark roots while the corydoris still get their nice sandy nest on the other side. But I'll also be putting into 2 or 3 plates for feeding to help with the gravel mess. You could try that. Just note corydoris barbels, as well as other bottom dwellers barbels and fins, can easily get caught in larger gravel and get hurt.
shaking the gravel...to flare up the debris shuold help? i believe the canister should do the job here...right?
 

InsanityShard

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Gravel vac, or you'll just cloud your tank for next to no reason. You'll be amazed at the difference, a gravel vac will take not only the waste but the cloudy water itself, it's great for water changes in small tanks. But if you just shake it up your tank will be cloudy and still have all the ammonia from it for a couple of days, without actually getting rid of the ammonia either. Even if you clean the filter right after, a lot of that stuff will just settle straight back into the gravel. If you use gravel don't forget to vaccum even under unmoving ornaments, stuff still gets in there.
 
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