Bare Bottom Tanks
Bare bottom tanks are not right for goldfish or any fish for that matter. It’s becoming more common in recent years for keepers to leave the bottom of their tanks bare and without gravel or any kind of substrate. In this article we’re going to explore the reasons why this trend is creating unhealthy environments for our fish.
When reading from various sources online, including an article by Dr Erik L Johnson, I found there are many myths around bare bottom tanks; the most common one being that substrate encourages the growth of bad bacteria. It seems even veterinarians themselves ignore scientific facts. Our tanks are ecosystems, they not only house the fish but also millions of different types of bacteria
Each bacteria plays an important part in ensuring the tank or aquarium remains healthy. In an environment in which the water is heavily oxygenated and kept fresh, no bacteria should become a major issue. Unfortunately with people relying on air stones we continue to see unhealthy ecosystems being built and with the misconception the gravel is the cause of poor conditions. With a good pond pump installed you have no fear of low oxygen levels and uncontrollable amounts of bad bacteria.
Substrate goldfish aquarium
As our tanks are small environments, all bacteria is competing for surface space to build their colonies. This is why it’s important to have a thin layer of gravel and places for these different organisms to live. Each little pieces of gravel you may have on the bottom of your tank will be providing a home for various bacteria all of which contribute something to their community. A good example is de-nitrifying bacteria; in all healthy fish tanks a small amount of this should exist.
It is this bacteria that reduces nitrates, although not eradicating them completely as there is only a small colony. This bacteria prefers to live in areas such as gravel where the water is still and the oxygen is low. The reason people tend to encounter nitrate spikes when they over clean or are inconsistent with their routine is because they’ve upset this balance of bacteria. A light gravel vacuum once per week, ensuring all the gravel gets a turnover will keep levels of bacteria under control, the waste reduced and makes sure any gases forming will be released, thus reducing any risk to the fish.
Gravel aquarium bottom
Bare bottom tanks
One thing we regularly hear is the myth that rivers and ponds do not have gravel. A river bed is made up of many things foliage, pebbles and waste. The floor of a natural river or pond is certainly not made up of a smooth glass bottom. Sand is also not a suitable substrate, a very small amount of it may exist in a natural river but it is lost under the abundance of other matter on the river bed.
A further reason for us to use gravel or substrate is for the mental stimulation of the fish. Carp are actually the most intelligent of the fish species. With some believing they may very well have the mental intelligence age that would match that of a three year old child. Many still believe these creatures have a three second memory. The reality is these are beautiful creatures with a great deal of intelligence and sensitivity.
Goldfish have proven to show all ranges of emotion. You may very well see it today when you feed your fish, they’ll be excited for and this is a fine example. Goldfish need the gravel to peck through and play with. They also need decorations to hide behind such as rocks, shells or plants. Without these things available the fish will encounter stress and this in turn can cause stress related illnesses.
Bare bottom tanks
There are many types of gravel and substrates out there. Generally we recommend natural pea size gravel which will not only provide all of great things we already know about gravel but it will also help to keep