Pros/cons Of Substrate Free Tank?

Discussion in 'Freshwater Substrates - Gravel, Sand' started by Civanna, Apr 22, 2017.

  1. CivannaValued MemberMember


    Since getting new fish I've decided against any substrate at all, although I do have plants and decor.

    It looks so much cleaner in there, the water is crystal clear and it's so easy to clean. Also, no algae.

    My fish still forage around at the bottom looking for food so I don't think they're affected by the lack of substrate.

    Also, they were in a substrate free tank (at the pet shop) before I got them so they don't really know any better?

    Your personal preferences & thoughts?
  2. DiscusluvWell Known MemberMember

    I'm all for having no substrate... as you mention, it is so much easier to keep clean because you can see everything. I have only a light dusting of sand and every tank cleaning I thoroughly vacuum what little is there. The only reason I have a substrate at all is because my discus spook at their reflection in the glass.

  3. PiaelliottWell Known MemberMember

    I think substrate is mandatory for the welfare of fish.
    - like mentioned, the reflection spooks fish
    - foraging fish NEED appropriate substrate
    - important surface area for beneficial bacteria - contrary to popular belief, BB grows on substrate and not only in the filter

  4. DiscusluvWell Known MemberMember

    It is definitely true, you lose the beneficial bacteria that would colonize on the substrate, so if went this route would need a filter that had good biological filtration and pay particular attention to water changes.
    As far as foraging fish "needing" substrate I am interested in hearing more about this as mandatory... do you have any information to link to for this assertion? This is new to me... and interested in reading more on this.

  5. OnTheFlyWell Known MemberMember

    I much prefer substrate. If I was a pro breeder with 50+ tanks to maintain, then no, most would be bare. I think substrate is best if you have time to maintain it. A bare tank looks like a lab experiment to me, no matter how nice the fish are. Just my opinion of course.
  6. BottomDwellerFishlore VIPMember

    I think it depends what type of fish. I wouldn't keep loaches without substrate but I wouldn't have substrate in a fry tank.

    Pros of a bare bottom tank
    Easier to clean
    Easeir to spot eggs/fry
    Better for quaritine tanks
    Easier to monitor fish

    Reflection can scare fish
    Bottom dwelling fish can't burrow
    Can't plant live plants easily
    Doesn't look as good
    Fish can't forage
  7. CivannaValued MemberMember


    The sides and the back of my tank are all mirrored too. So even if I had substrate, they see their reflection all over the tank anyway. And wouldn't this be something they would get used to?

    Obviously I want to do what's best for them, I'm more than happy to go and buy substrate if they desperately need it.
  8. PiaelliottWell Known MemberMember

    I read a lot on other countries' websites as well. I came across welfare articles and scientific research about preferences in substrates, I remember something about corydoras needing them. Obviously eartheaters should have sand since this is how they eat by filtering through the sand. I should make it a habit to bookmark interesting things I come across, sometimes it is difficult to find info just by googling :( I try to remember to let you know if I come across something again.
  9. BottomDwellerFishlore VIPMember

    I think it is more weird for them to see their reflection on the bottom. When they see their reflection in the sides it kind of looks normal, like another fish swimming along. It depends on the type of fish though and their individual personality. They might get used to it or may not. My goldfish are fine in a bare bottom tank but most of the year they are in a pond so it's not permanent.
    You could just put some paper below the base of the tank so they can't see their reflection as well.
  10. DiscusluvWell Known MemberMember

    Bottomdweller- Maybe that is weird to come to that conclusion :/. I don't know, it just appeared to me when foraging off bottom they would spook. After put a scattering of sand, no longer did this. Maybe just coincidental association.ll
  11. BottomDwellerFishlore VIPMember

    Sorry, that's not what I meant. I'm not making sense sorry. I meant it must be weird for them to see their reflection in the bottom.
  12. DiscusluvWell Known MemberMember

    Oh, okay!
  13. CivannaValued MemberMember

    Oh okay, they seem fine though. Like I say, they're still foraging as normal and the only time they get a little shocked is when I turn the tank light on (they're brand new fish though, they'll get used to that). Otherwise they couldn't be happier.

    They are both Blackmoors so their vision isn't amazing anyway.

    As long as it's not dangerous, then I'll leave the tank as it is without substrate.

    I'm not overly concerned with them being a bit spooked because from what I've read, goldfish seem to be scared/stressed out by just about ANYTHING.
  14. BottomDwellerFishlore VIPMember

    That's weird. My goldfish are the calmest and bravest fish I have. As soon as I go over to the tank or pond they swim straight over.
    One of the cats managed to know the lid off their tank once and got her paw in the tank to try to catch them. The goldfish tried to nibble her paw!
  15. CivannaValued MemberMember

    Hahaha! That's really cute!

    Well yeah, my goldfish seems absolutely fine but like I say, it's just what I've read!
  16. HoodedHeroNew MemberMember

    I would use a couple inches

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