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Arguments against substrate?

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So i'm still very torn about either leaving my goldfish tank bare bottom, or using substrate.

 

I love the look of substrate, and since the tank will be filtered by two fx6's with the fluval gravel vac, it will be super easy to do frequent touch ups between water changes.

 

My main concern then is if the goldfish will be okay.

 

Has anyone had any issues with using substrate, specifically a smaller grain of gravel type substrate?

 

 

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I found even with powerful filtration and regular gravel vacuuming my gravel (that was only fine) got really filthy and was impossible to get it clean. When I took it out only a couple months later there was so much crud released I could barely see in the tank :o I vacuumed it until the water in the siphon was clear in each spot whenever I did WC but there was still a lot hidden in there. I've also heard so many horror stories about fish choking on gravel and getting it stuck in their mouths.

 

 

I have sand in my tanks at the moment and while it's not as easy as bare bottom it's a lot easier than gravel. It's fine enough that any waste that avoids the filters just sits in top so can be easily removed. I just have to remember to move my driftwood pieces each WC to clean underneath them (which I needed to do with bare botto anyway).

 

So IMO If you really want a substrate I'd go with sand over gravel

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Thanks Mandy.  I really don't like sand.  Especially with Fx6's, they push it around too much, and since goldfish like to sift, i don't want it getting in my filters.

 

Then if I go bare bottom, I'm torn on whether or not I want to paint the tank. ugh.

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In nature, goldfish live in ponds and lakes with sand/mud bottoms.  They grab mouthfuls of the substrate and skillfully spit out the sand and retain the foodstuffs from it. They swallow some sand in the process,  which acts rather like fiber in the gut.  A thin layer of fine sand on the bottom of the tank shouldn't get into your filters unless you have the uptake too close to the bottom.  Fancy goldfish tend to eventually rest on the bottom of the aquarium.  The sand makes a soft place to do this. Since it doesn't have the biofilm you get on bare glass, a bottom-sitter they rarely gets "bed sores" from this.

 

Bare bottom is easiest to clean.  

 

Mandy described the problems with gravel very well. Fish treat it like sand, but swallowing it can cause damage.  Organic waste decays in it.  

 

On the other hand, some people get a population of denitrifying bacteria in a gravel layer, and have near zero nitrate in their tank water (nice), but most don't.   

 

Gravel makes the tank look like a proper aquarium.  People who have no familiarity with natural lakes and ponds call this a "natural" look.  

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More work.  That is enough for me to just have a very thin layer. Does not even cover the entire bottom.  Just keeps the poo from sticking out like a soar thumb.

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I had the same problems mentioned above when I still had gravel. Even with weekly thorough vacuuming - as in draining 85% of a 55 gallon tank entirely by vacuuming the gravel - it would still end up with a lot of crud in it.

 

Most of my tanks are now bare bottom with large river rocks in them. Only one of the tanks has a couple hand fulls of gravel left over.

 

As far as painting a bare bottom tank goes... I wouldn't do it.

Not if you tend to like to change up the look. I usually neatly tape big pieces of paper onto the back of the tank. Not the ones that are made for aquariums, but I get those nice big rolls at craft stores, or you may even find some interesting gift-wrapping paper.

Eventually it will get a bit messed up - either by getting wet or by getting crinkled or torn when I remove and replace the HOB filters for filter maintenance - but it is cheap and easy to replace, and you can always change up the look of it - either a solid color or a nice pattern.

 

Just keep in mind that you do want to wipe down the bottom of a bare bottom regularly, and move any decorations to loosen the little bit of waste that might get caught underneath.

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Thanks again for the responses ladies. I'm still torn.

I may just start off bare bottom until I get to use the fluval gravel vac on the Fx6 on my tropical tank to see how well it works for daily maintenance between water changes.

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i love a bare bottom tank. i used to have gravel and i got rid of it. i could never clean it enough to get a sense of 'it's clean'.. no, i don't have OCD, but i get creeped out by understanding that my fish are sucking up their own poop or uneaten and possibly decaying food all the time.

 

now, i have anubias on driftwood. 3 pieces of driftwood in my tank with plants growing from them. no substrate. instead, i have about 15 filter bioballs in the water which sink to the bottom and the fish push those around. they still forage all the time, only now they forage on the driftwood and plant leaves with the occasional soccer match ;)

 

i have not noticed a disadvantage to them having gone from substrate to bare bottom.

 

and as for the cleaning of the base with every water change, yes, this must be done. just like you would do a gravel vac. there are scrubber sponges on a long arm and instead of using the water changer to vacuum the base, you are using the scrubber sponge to wipe it down. in all honesty, it's the two tasks are not that much different.

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I have used gravel and it was horrible. Now I have bare bottom or a thin layer of sand. Both great.

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Imho I will never go bare bottom again with Goldfish, they are way more Active with a sand substrate to sift through :)

Carp in the wild do this so it's nice to provide that for them.

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My fish seem to enjoy grubbing around in the substrate; I have a 2:1 mix of fine gravel & sand. I do have a sponge pre-filter over my HOB intake, to avoid sand issues in the filter - my other filter is a powerhead on a big hydro sponge. I think the fact that I have a ton of plants in my tank makes things different too - the roots are all through the substrate, & I think the plants suck up a lot of the waste. And any loose stuff I take out when I vacuum every week. I did have to take my tank apart for a week at around the 1 year mark, & I washed the substrate real well before putting it back in - it wasn't very dirty at all, just had a lot of broken off root bits in it I didn't want to decompose.

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I love the look of gravel, but after a fish ate it and it caused her severe issues (ultimately fatal), and with how hard it is to keep clean, especially with my stocking levels, I decided against it. I tried sand, not a huge fan. I absolutely hate bare bottom and even with no substrate, I load tanks with decorations to cover the bottoms. I think I will pot my live plants and give up on proper substrate entirely.

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I had a sand bottom tank and wound up removing all of it for bare bottom.  Even with vac'ing it still held a lot of fine particulates and I didn't like the look of the algae and diatoms that I could never completely clean from the glass at the sand/water layer.  I am very envious of the tanks with sand that look so clean.

 

In my one tank with a the stronger light i seem to be cultivating a layer of carpet algae on the bottom which is actually quite pleasant to look at.  I have had plants in gravel in containers and they have done quite well.  For me I am happy with this.

 

If I had different filters I would probably go with a scant sand bottom.  I made some DIY intakes that sweep the bottom of the tanks quite well.  I am hoping to get some tile on the bottom of my tanks in the near future.

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