Gravel: Great and Small

pequafrog(z7a/Long Island)March 29, 2005

I'm down to the part in Aquascaping of picking out the gravel. I know I like natural looking substrate, but I'm not sure if I should get larger pebbles or small-ish. Is it just a matter of opinion, or does it have a larger ecological impact? I'm planning on stocking the 75 with Mollies, Platys, Guppies, Cory's, Tetras etc.

What say you?

-andy

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imaginators(z6 KY)

This information below came from: raul_in_mexico 10

Gravel: gravel is not for holding the plants in place, gravel is the media to which the bacteria attaches. If you put the gravel above an undergravel filter then it becomes a mechanical filter, it traps suspended particles when the water moves through it and offers the bacteria a surface to attach itself, oviously, as the water flows through it exposes the bacteria to a constant flow of polluted water with dissolved contaminants on which the bacteria feed upon. The drawbacks of gravel are: since it serves as a mechanical device to trap suspended particles with time it clogs, also, as bacteria die it also clogs the spaces between the grains of gravel, therefore, it needs regular cleaning (siphoning) to remove those particles trapped in it; there´s a certain ammount of gravel that can be placed above an undergravel filter, if you place more than two inches of gravel above an undergravel filter as a bed only the first inch and a half will be "alive" (colonized by bacteria) the rest will be dead, why ? because oxygen is consumed by the bacteria as the water flows through the gravel, there´s no point and benefit in adding more; gravel, depending upon it´s nature, can alter the water quality parameters, most important are the pH, KH and DH, gravels made of crushed marble have a very negative effect on those 3 because they increase the content of calcium making the water hard and alkaline and only fish who show preference for such type of water are well with it (alawi and Tanganyka cichils) use only river gravel; size of the grain is also important, too large grain offers little surface, too small grain clogs easily and fast, the right grain for gravel in aquarium is between 4-6 mm (pea size grain.) Avoid crushed glass gravel, either crushed glass or volcanic glass like obsidian, it has little surface because it´s not porous and besides that, it cuts like knife.

I thought this information might be very useful for you.
Theresa

    Bookmark   March 29, 2005 at 12:33PM
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skygee(z7NY)

I like the 'natural' looking gravel that they sell in the aquarium section. I tend to use the small to medium sized gravel - essentially for the bottom dwellers (cories and loaches in my tank - although when the clown loaches get really big, they can literally suck up and move huge rocks around in their search for food!)

With super large rocks/gravel/stone, it makes it a bit harder for the fish to fish out the food that falls in between the stones. Then there's a lot of food wasted and more decay than you want.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2005 at 12:41PM
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imaginators(z6 KY)

Hi Skygee and PequaFrog,
I too like the natural look very much but this time I decided on a bit of the dramatic effect. I have small size, black gravel for the bottom of my aquarium with a "few specs" of colored gravel as an accent that i purchased at the aquarium section. Also a natural looking rock bridge with live Java Moss growing under the bridge. When the money tree comes my way, I plan to expand to a much larger aquarium since I am enjoying this hobby so much. But first I need to repair our pump's impellor to our 2,000 gallon pond. All I have going is the air pump. All other equipment is shut down. Major clean up is ahead for me and the help of my husband.
Theresa

    Bookmark   March 29, 2005 at 2:02PM
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skygee(z7NY)

Oh no!!! Did you get stricken with getting frozen over?! Luckily it's still cool that the fish aren't active in the pond!

    Bookmark   March 29, 2005 at 2:19PM
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pequafrog(z7a/Long Island)

What about sand? Have you guys used sand in a fresh water aquarium? It must be a pain to keep clean.

-andy

    Bookmark   March 29, 2005 at 3:10PM
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skygee(z7NY)

It is a pain!! A lot of it will get sucked up when you're doing your siphon cleaning. Small gravel is easier to work with in my opinion! :)

    Bookmark   March 29, 2005 at 3:26PM
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pequafrog(z7a/Long Island)

That's what I kinda figured, Sky. The guy at Aquarium Adventures said if you angle the siphone tube just right, you can get the garbage w/o the sand but I'll probably spaz-out and suck up the sand. So when my daughter and I pick up the 75 tonight...we'll get some larger gravel. I ordered the light, filter and heater from F&S.
That's the best way to go for peripherals. Here's an example: My bro-in-law bought his 72" long strip light with hallide and moon lights at AA for $1200. Whe he told me I was like'hang on a sec...don't open it yet!' I found it at F&S.com for $799. Same manufacturer/Same everything! $400 cheaper!
So I got my light for about $80 cheaper than AA.
Crazy savings..ya know?

-andy

    Bookmark   March 29, 2005 at 4:21PM
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skygee(z7NY)

Sometimes on specials you can get a good deal at Big Als Online!

What type of filter did you decide on??

    Bookmark   March 30, 2005 at 11:42AM
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pequafrog(z7a/Long Island)

I never checked out Big Al's. I'll do that.
I ended up getting the tried and true AquaClear. I have great experince with those filters. I love that when you change the media, you don't have to change it all.

-andy

    Bookmark   March 30, 2005 at 4:00PM
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imaginators(z6 KY)

Hi Skygee,
We had a really bad freeze that part of the town was shut down. But I was fortunate all my fish survived and the air pump works so well bring air into the pond. Before I purchased the air pump, the pond was frozen over around 2" deep. Not frozen as deep as some had. I was pouring hot water on the pond to open it up. But the hole would quickly close up. Another internet place for aqua products, I recommend is:
www.aqua-mart.com

Andy,
I would not get sand for several reasons. What a mess it would be to siphone it and possibly unbalance your ph readings. I always try to find the best deal for my money and try for quality also. For the size aquarium you are getting, I would suggest a gravel bio filter. But do your homework on filters, a lot of new technolgy out there such as the bio wheel filter. Some people love it, some don't.
Theresa

    Bookmark   March 30, 2005 at 6:53PM
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pequafrog(z7a/Long Island)

I ended up getting a very fine, coco colored gravel. It's little rocks...but the smallest one's I've seen. I put 100 lbs in my 75 gallon tank. Nice!

-andy

    Bookmark   March 31, 2005 at 12:54PM
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skygee(z7NY)

Sounds like what I have in my tank! Great!

BTW - what bottom feeders will you be putting in again??

    Bookmark   March 31, 2005 at 2:13PM
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pequafrog(z7a/Long Island)

Different kinds of Corys and maybe a Plecostomus. Also, a pair of Clown Loaches. Red Tailed Sharks like to nose around too. Also, if I can find fiddler crabs, I'll put one or two in there.
Got any ideas for me?

-andy

    Bookmark   March 31, 2005 at 9:04PM
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skygee(z7NY)

Umm... I'd stick to clown loaches (would get three - they are happy in larger groups and will be more active and hide less) and forego the red tailed shark (which can become aggressive as they get bigger). With Corys - it's funny - but they really WILL stick with their own species. So also get at least three of each kind you pick up. It's funny, I have one lone bronze cory (the other two that I bought in the trio died. :( ) but he hangs out with the albinos. There are schwartzii (sp?) cories in there that you'd THINK he'd rather hang out with because they're darker in colour, but he doesn't. He's always hanging with the albinos!

I would forego the pleco (unless you're gonna pick up a fancy one that stays small!!) - if you're concerned about making sure food that falls to the bottom gets eaten up, the cories and loaches will do a good job of this. Also platys will nose around for food that falls below, too.

The fish I have in the lower levels of my tank are rams, loaches and corys. My middle level fish are angels, neons, tetras and gouramis. The middle to top level are the platys and lamp eye tetras. The top level fish are killies, the bettas, white clouds and dwarf gouramis. Hmmm.. I think I listed them all! LOL

Sterbai (sp?) and Albino cories are two of my faves.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2005 at 8:22AM
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isis_nebthet(8b/11suns SoCA)

I guess I'm lucky in a sense I can have all the sand I want and it didn't change my pH because it's what makes the pH of the water what it is. Cleaning it initially is a pain but it looks pretty good when it's done since it's got a lot of small granite pebbles in it. I swish out my hob give the sand a good stir and turn the hob back on. The hob by itself is pretty good at keeping the substrate clean but I use stock tanks as aquariums and the one that has the sand is an oval so the hob's pressence is felt in the whole tank. This tank is temporarily holding three senegal bichirs, two marbled gobies, two violet gobies, three mollies, and four guppies that haven't been eaten yet.

The other tank is lightly tumbled rock (it only covers half of the tank though I'll have to wait until October when they have a rock show here to get more rock) and a pound or two of apache tears with some large granite to hold down the marginal plants. In that tank I have two gold gouramis, two giant danios, three dojos, two horsefaced loaches, one kuhli (buddy eaten by a koi overwintering inside), five neons, four platies, and zebra danios whiteclouds guppies that I can't count lol (I forget how many were in there intitially and just had a comlumnaris outbreak so I have no idea right now..). I'm going to get two more kuhlis and maybe some clowns to go in that tank next month (I'm waiting before I add anything else in there I lost a bala, a gourami, my betta, and lots of little fish due to cloumnaris introduced by the guppies).

Adrea

    Bookmark   April 1, 2005 at 10:23AM
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skygee(z7NY)

Oh dear!! I hate losing fish. :( How's your tank doing now?? Did you get control of the columnaris?

Horsefaced loaches are very cool-looking loaches!

I take it you have live plants in the tank??

    Bookmark   April 1, 2005 at 10:44AM
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booldawg(8 SW Oregon)

I completly disagree about the negatives of a sand substrate. I just set up my 100 gal as a paladarium and used a clay base, organic mulm and a thick layer of sand on the top. In the mulm was a large population of blackworms and a lot of tiny clams. They are to keep a living and active base. My idea based on things that I read about. The fish went in the same day with no problems or stress. My plants are thriving and the only setback was a case of Ich. The Ich I traced to the food I got from one of my ponds. I swiched ponds for food and things are great. I've used u/g filters with both air and powerheads. I spent years buying all black gravel(its in the garage in two lg trash cans, you never know). With my africans I used a wet/dry filter. I loved it, although it always would wake me at 3 or 4 a.m. sucking air, and when the power went out I was screwed. I don't vac the sand at all, that would defeat the point. The mulm that doesn't get caught by plants is pushed by one under water powerhead to a screened in area to settle.( Like a Hamburg Mattenfilter, but I have the sponge on the return pipe for the powerhead.) It was easy,looks great and so stable I can't believe it. By the way, I don't test the water at all, so I couldn't tell you the levels of anything. What I can see are healthy and happy fish that are nesting and soon to spawn! P.S. Just do a search on sand subtrates and here is a good link for the great filter. Scott W

Here is a link that might be useful: Hamburg Mattenfilter

    Bookmark   April 2, 2005 at 3:28AM
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isis_nebthet(8b/11suns SoCA)

I did get it under control. I'm just glad I didn't loose my dojos they're 8" each....I had them in the pond over summer last year and had them longer than the tank...

I have river rush, a couple of water lillies that are just visiting, some anacharis, draceana, parrot feather, hornwort, and I think pennywort. On top of the filter I have a pitcher plant, pothos, a plant I forgot it's name, and a different type of draceana. The smaller tank just has triangle rush in it.

Adrea

    Bookmark   April 2, 2005 at 9:36AM
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james_ny(z7 NY)

Scott, I looked at the Mattenfilter site and don't understand how it works. Is there any waterflow through the foam part? Also if you just set up this tank how can you say its so stable? If it runs for over a year or so without problems than I would consider it stable. That said if the sand works out it looks better than gravel if it can be kept clean.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2005 at 10:53AM
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skygee(z7NY)

I found that the parrot feather in my pond overwinters pretty easily... even when the pond has frozen up! Of course it sets back the plant overall, but I like the idea I don't have to keep purchasing it every year (without bringing it in)... Is there a reason to bring in the parrot feather?? (maybe I'm missing something!) :)

    Bookmark   April 2, 2005 at 11:09AM
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booldawg(8 SW Oregon)

When I said it was just set up, it was relative. I think I did it around January, so it's been two or three months. To begin with I've kept fish in one way or another since the seventies and think that I have a feel for what is good and what is better. Please don't think I'm being smug or rude. As much as I love the tech and gizmo's, a lot of my technic is just good husbandry and perhaps some buffering to head off problems at the start. I added what I thought would be a heavy arobic and anarobic bacteria load in the substrate. The both consume different things, so the idea is the anarobic one do the denitrification for me. I get a few soil bubbles that have no sulfer smell at all, so I think that it's generating its own carbon dioxide. I didn't have the funds left for a lot of commercial plants, so I scoured my ponds and creeks for temporary ones.I knew that they were ephemerals and I have more stable ones now. I think that both of those factors let me have an instant bio-filter. The only losses were my beloved madtoms when I stupidly treated for the Ich. I knew all about scaleless fish and meds, but thought that I was careful in what I used. I've never really had desease problems ever, so I'm not used to treating them. I'll concede the point of the tank is really to new to have a long term test of viability to a limit. My Blackbanded sunfish and Montezumae swords are heathy and have no signs of discomfort at all. I try not to overpopulate. I like to have a healthy buffer of space for less stressful interactions and closer to natural observations. My tank setups have changed over the years and I really don't have the time for something high stress and maintinence. I'm hoping that my four new Blue spotted sunfish don't upset the balance of territories too much.The eco-system/filtration won't even notice. As far as the Mattenfilter, do a search on them. Yes a lot of it is German and Dutch, but it is discused on the Krib and many other sites. Mine is not an actual one, but very close. I set up at the start to do one and then thought that it would be overkill, so I modified for my current needs. I will probably go ahead and add the foam later. I know that it is easier to see things, so here is a google link for images of what some people have done along these lines. I made a corner version. It is my version for my needs. For more strength I used two of my old U/G filter plates. They where siliconed across the right back corner as a screen to keep the fish out of the fiter area. It wasn't the plan but it also serves as a refugarium/nursery. The mulm that settles is host to tubifacid worm and other that break it all down. The water is run through large foam filters as it is pumped to the waterfalls and the one powerhead for water movement. The link is just to narrow a search for other ideas and visuals. Scott W

Here is a link that might be useful: filter photos and diagrams

    Bookmark   April 2, 2005 at 6:29PM
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isis_nebthet(8b/11suns SoCA)

Sky,
It overwinters just fine...I just like it lol. The only thing I have in there temporarily are the water lillies because it's not quite warm enough to put them out and I just bought them.

Adrea

    Bookmark   April 2, 2005 at 7:38PM
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booldawg(8 SW Oregon)

Here is another link that is really good. It is a collection of emails from some really expert people with a wide variety of aquarium experience. Most of it is in lay terms so it's easy to understand. A lot of what I'm doing now as far as the sandbed and having a living system has come from here. There are articles all over the Net, but I think that this is the best. The only other time my planting was ever successful, I had my 125 gal set up with 200 cardinal tetras, panda cats and some tiger botias for snails. eventually I had to break it down for a move and never could duplicate it. All my plants, including the Apnonogotons(lace, etc)are growing really fast and the algae is minimal. Since my chosen fish like it cool the tank is unheated and most of my plants are cool growing.To me the number one thing has always to been to find out what everyone else has done, but realise that individual experiences can be very, very different. I've heard people say things with expert(?) advice that that have totally amazed me. I've learned to give my experiences and opinions carefully or else I get cranky. Scott W

Here is a link that might be useful: sandbed discusion!

    Bookmark   April 3, 2005 at 8:31PM
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