Aquarium gravel which is also know as substrates, come in many different shapes and sizes to fit your aquarium needs. It comes in fine and course grades with different shapes from smooth to chipped. Fine gravel is like sand and medium gravel is what's usually sold in your neighborhood retail stores. Aquarium gravel plays a very important role with beneficial bacteria. It's also great for anchoring your plants and other decorations. I'll help you choose the right aquarium or substrate for your aquarium.
Gravel that is usually the best for your aquarium is usually manufactured and can be found in your local pet store. It comes in many different shapes and colors. Some gravel are better than others and most gravel is lime free which doesn't change the ph of your aquarium water or the hardness. Gravel does not supply any type of nutrients to your water so if you want to add live plants to your tank, you'll have to supply extra nutrients for your plants.
Putting the right substrate in your aquarium is as important as providing the right water conditions. Some substrates can affect the ph of your aquarium water so make sure to buy the correct type for the species of fish that you have. Plants are the same way. Some plants grow better with different types of substrates. Check with your local dealer to find the right substrate for you. No matter what substrate you choose for your aquarium, make sure that it's safe for all your fish. There are a few substrates to avoid.
1) MARBLE - Many beginner's like to use marble. They are not very suitable for your tank because marble are quite large and allow debris to become trapped between the surfaces, which will lead to your water getting dirty and making your fish sick.
2) DISCO GRAVEL - This type of gravel takes away from the natural beauty of your fish. This type of gravel tends to reflect a lot of unnecessary light upward into your water which can be an annoyance to your fish. For best results, us simple and natural colors. This type of gravel also keeps your fish from spawning and make them shy.
Choose the right size of aquarium gravel for your tank to avoid water fouling. Try to avoid the large gravel because they allow food and waste to fall between the gravel and are hard to vacuum. Try to use a medium size substrate. Gravel with the size of 1/8" works best for most aquariums. Small gravel such as sand can quickly clog your undergravel filter plate and can subsequently cause a rise in waste. If you plan on using sand, lay down a mesh plate beneath it to stop the sand from falling through the filter.
Before adding aquarium gravel to your tank, make sure you clean it thoroughly by rinsing it with fresh water. Carefully check and remove large clumps, foreign matter and sharp pieces. The amount of substrate that you add you your tank varies but use the following guidelines.
1) If you have an undergravel filter, lay down about 2 to 3 inch layer of substrate in order to create a proper bacterial bed.
2) If you are not using an undergravel filter, use about an inch of aquarium gravel to cover the bottom of your tank.
3) If you plan on using live plants, use about another 1/2" to 1" of extra gravel.
4) That's what the experts say. I say use 1 lb of gravel per 1 gallon of water. I've been doing that all my life and it works for me.
It's also a great idea to slope the gravel higher in the back, so that debris will tumble down and collect toward the front of the glass. It makes it easier to vacuum and keep clean.
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