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Stratt14goldies

Substrate or no substrate?

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I need help. I found this cool black aquarium sand at my LFS, but I was also thinking about a bare bottom tank. Will no substrate mess with the cycling of the tank? I was also going to add a few plants, and I know goldfish sometimes eat plants. I just wanted to try.

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Hi, the more experienced fish keepers can give you solid advice on the role of substrate in the cycle. Personally, I doubt it has much of an effect. Our goldfish - we have only one - does eat plants but slowly. He does not eat the large leaved anubias.

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I need help. I found this cool black aquarium sand at my LFS, but I was also thinking about a bare bottom tank. Will no substrate mess with the cycling of the tank? I was also going to add a few plants, and I know goldfish sometimes eat plants. I just wanted to try.

There are lots of people here who have very strong and stable cycles with barebottom tanks. Of course, you must ensure that there is sufficient media for the beneficial bacteria to colonize, but this should not be an issue.

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Normally unless I plant my tank they are barebottom, I've had no problems with cycling or holding a cycle as most of the beneficial bacteria is held in the filter box. Keep in mind that substrate should be below an inch in depth to prevent the build up of gas pockets which can be harmful to your fish if disturbed.

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Well, I've always had substrate in my tanks... But that's more for aesthetic purposes, rather than "to help the cycle". However, one time my aquarium had white gravel in it... But after a while, the gravel turned into a horrible...browny, dirty colour. And it really made the tank look VERY unclean, even though my water quality was 0 ammonia, 0 nI and 10-15 nA. So, I changed the gravel to new stuff. It messed up my cycle only a tiny bit... The biggest ammonia spike I got was 0.5 ppm I think.

Another reason I'm quite fond of gravel is, it gives the fish something to..."play" with, you know, whenever they're pecking it etc.

A pro for a bare bottom is, it makes cleaning up their waste, on a day to day basis with a turkey baster or similar, extremely easy... So in a way, it could perhaps help you keep the tank cleaner...

But it really is personal choice!

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I'm a big fan of sand substrates. They are cleaner than gravel, and the fish can't choke on sand. If you use sand, the Carrib Sea sands come in slightly larger grains, which are great for the tank. Maybe that's what you saw at the lfs. The black Tahitian Moon sand is very popular, but you also can get it in lighter colors.

If you want plants, you can plant in the sand or use plants that attach to driftwood or rocks. If you plant in the sand, you'll need a deeper substrate. If you have sand for looks, it shouln't be deep. There definately are plants that should be Ok in a goldfish tank. I've always had my goldies in planted tanks with few plant casualties. I think the fish enjoy the plants and sand. :)

Edited by ShawneeRiver

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I think it's a personal preference,I myself love bare bottom for goldfish,I tried the black sand & plants but it always looked dirty to me :(

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I have tried both, barebottom and sand and like both ways.

The only thing I can say is that barebottoned tanks look much more dirty because the fish poo is on the bottom of the tank and normally, with the fish movements, it loos like a cloud of poo all the time and mainly in the morning...and with sand the poo is not so visible...with sand, a piece of wood or some plants, whatever but something.

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Bare bottom leads for cleanliness and ease of care. As rms pointed out, you can see all the poop and other debris in a bare bottom tank, which makes it easy to remove. If you have strong filtration and a filter intake that gets down to the bottom, there actually will be little debris to remove. You can do plants in bare bottom by putting them in pots of gravel, topping the gravel off with flat stones to keep the fish out. The biggest advantage of bare bottom is that if you change your mind and want something else, there's nothing to take out. Also, bare is free!

Bare bottom is the only way to go with hospital or quarantine tanks.

Gravel looks nice, gives the fish something to root in, and hides debris, making the tank look clean. It needs to be vacuumed regularly and thoroughly. Fish can and do get gravel stuck in their mouths/throats. You can plant in a gravel substrate, but fish love to dig up the plants. A thick layer of gravel can develop anaerobic pockets with bacteria that produce toxins.

Sand is the substrate the fish would have in a natural pond/lake, and will be best for planting. Goldfish root through the sand, taking mouthfuls, rolling it around to get the edible stuff off and spitting the sand out. They also swallow some and that's harmless "roughage." It doesn't hide debris as well as gravel, but if you choose a variegated color it does pretty well. If you have sand, you have to keep your filter intakes up higher to avoid getting sand into the filter pump which will eventually clog it. Cleaning sand requires a little technique. You have to hold a siphon far enough above the sand to get the debris and leave the substrate. I find it easiest to take a small net and swish it just above the sand to get the larger debris in suspension, then scoop it out. Then you can use the siphon to clean up the very small stuff.

I use bare bottom in aquaria, but I have a thin layer of sand in some of my ponds. This makes it possible to see dark-colored fish, which are invisible against a black pond liner/stock tank. Some of the originally white sand is now a pretty shade of green since the particles have become coated with a layer of green algae.

Each choice has advantages and disadvantages, and this forum has knowledgeable and experienced people who support each option.

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