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Substrate or no...?

Discussion in 'Freshwater Newbie Forum' started by Mummbly1, Mar 14, 2012.

  1. Mummbly1

    Mummbly1 AC Members

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    So I have had my 40 gallon tank setup for just short of a year. There are 2 Tiger Oscars and 2 common Pleco's. I do my weekly cleaning and have an (over) filtrated system. Last week I decided to take out the gravel to see if cleaning would be less of an effort. Since then however, my Pleco's have been acting a bit odd. That is to say it looks like they are trying to jump out of the tank! If I didn't have a full hood, they would've hopped out last week. Is this something to worry about? The ph and other water levels are fine. ***????????***
     
  2. cradlefan

    cradlefan AC Members

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    Why would you take out the substrate? Easier to clean yes, but substrate is really important to the biological filtration in an aquarium. If you have the biological filtration, you wouldn't have a problem with ammonia, or nitrites, because of the beneficial bacteria.....The reason your fish are trying to jump out is because with no substrate, they are getting the light reflected of the bottom of the tank which is really stressful, it's like a highly reflective mirror on the bottom, the glass just reflects the light. They are getting scared and trying to get away, which is by jumping out of the tank. For God's sake, put the substrate back in, it is far less trouble. Plus, I have never "Gravel vac'd" the bottom of my tanks, just don't overfeed and I keep lots of plants......
     
  3. Hebily

    Hebily My Tank \/

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    What are your actually numbers for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate?

    Does the water appear cloudy?

    How large are the each of the fish right now? So that you can prepare, please know that each and every one of those fish will get too large for that tank.
     
  4. WildForFish

    WildForFish AC Members

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    Hello Mummbly1,

    Do you have any driftwood in the tank?

    Most of our tanks are bare bottomed, the 125 & 135 house an assortment of plecos.

    Previously the 135 was planted with plenty of driftwood, we just moved thus the the gravel was removed, in setting the tanks back up we decided to keep it bare bottomed and only use the driftwood.

    Not sure if the bottom of the tank being covered in driftwood makes a difference but we have not had a problem with the plecos so far. Most of the plecos have been in the tank for several years.
     
    #4 WildForFish, Mar 14, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2012
  5. cradlefan

    cradlefan AC Members

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    I'm not sure I am understanding you. You had gravel in there before.....so, you had the plecos in the tank and there was a substrate....then you moved and took it out, and then when you put the pleco's back in, they were trying to jump out? I still think the bare bottom tank is the issue, whether there is driftwood in there or not, it's not a substrate. I really think you should put a substrate in and your problems would probably go away. Most fish feel much better without the light being reflected off the bottom like you have it.
     
  6. stephcps

    stephcps AC Members

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    I too, would like to know your exact parameters. As cradlefan said...a lot of your beneficial bacteria is in your substrate. Removing all of it could have put you into a cycle again. you could also try taping poster board underneath the glass. I found when I had bare botom discus tanks, that some fish spooked if they weren't sure what was beneath them.
     
  7. WildForFish

    WildForFish AC Members

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    Cradlefan,

    Seeing as we just did the same thing a couple of months ago (removing the gravel ), I was just offering the information as we are not having a problem.

    I did not mean it as a solution to the posters issue.
     
  8. bradlgt21

    bradlgt21 AC Members

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    I have seen pictures of people using that sand colored spray paint on the bottom. It keeps it bare bottom but adds the appearance of having sand on the bottom. It might be eaiser on the fish but it won't really help with the reflection.

    I second though that a lot of bacteria lives in the gravel. Remove that and you remove a lot of your biological filter.
     
  9. AbbeysDad

    AbbeysDad AC Members

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    +4 or more - you absolutely should have a substrate. If there are concerns relative to cleaning, keep the substrate only 1" thick, but absolutely have small gravel or sand in there. The substrate provides an amazing structure for beneficial bacteria - that's right, it's not all in your filter ;-)
     
  10. stephcps

    stephcps AC Members

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    You can have a tank without substrate. Discus owners do it all the time. Taking it out once you've had it in can be problem. But you don't HAVE to have a substrate.
     

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