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choosing the right aquarium substrate or gravel

Choosing The Right Aquarium Substrate

When setting up a new tank choosing the right aquarium substrate or gravel is one of the most important considerations to be taken into account.
Careful consideration is the key to your success or failure in many cases.

Why do you need substrate? You do not actually need it as many fish are kept in aquariums without substrate and would be easy to maintain, but would not look attractive and the fish are not going to act like they are in natural underwater environment.

The first considerations are what fish you are going to keep? What PH range is required?  Hard or soft water? Substrates chosen specifically for these will help.  Coral based sand for instance will give hard, alkaline water parameters and a silica gravel base will give a more neutral PH.

Additional consideration is do you want to have natural live plants? If so, choose a substrate that is designed for plant root growth.

What size substrate do I use?  Larger fish especially cichlids are better with coarser heavier gravels. Bottom feeders prefer a smaller gravel size or sand.

Adding Substrate

Gravel is probably the most popular substrate option for many aquariums. The variation in shapes, sizes and colors make gravel suitable for a variety of set-ups.

Substrate material should be between half to 2 inch thick especially if plants are going to be grown.

Wash it first under fresh running water to get all particles of dirt out to stop your aquarium going cloudy.

To calculate how much sand or gravel you’ll need to buy in order to achieve a two Inch (2″) gravel depth in your fish tank, please use the following formula:

  1.  Multiply tank length by tank width (in inches); Example: 36″ in. x 14″ in. = 893
  2. Divide the answer by 10; 504 / 10 = 50.4 lb or 23 kilo

Spread the substrate out evenly and try to create a slight slope in the front to allow cleaning to be a little easier.

Using proper consideration while choosing the right aquarium substrate will make your next new tank set up a proper success.

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