August 18, 2019, 08:50:19 pm

Did You Know?

Started by TheProfessoR, December 31, 2018, 08:10:06 pm

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December 31, 2018, 08:10:06 pm Last Edit: December 31, 2018, 08:11:45 pm by TheProfessoR
Generally speaking, most aquariums have some sort of substrate covering the bottom of the tank. This substrate is available in a variety of materials and color, which gives aquarium owners a broad range of options when first setting up their tank.

Given this substrate is not as easy to change as other factors, it's very wise to spend a bit of time in selecting both type and color of this material before setting up your tank.

Its Purpose.

This substrate serves a number of purposes, not least providing a healthy habitat, as well as acting in an aesthetic capacity.

Substrate plays a role in the nitrogen cycle as a medium by which those beneficial bacteria may colonize and grow. Even though the substrate is not the only host in your tank for these very important bacteria, it is going to be a place where a significant number of them end up residing. Additionally, substrate is also one medium for live plants to develope their roots and to take up nutrients, with specialized substrates available designed to provide many key nutrients for live plants.

Substrate creates a natural habitat for any aquatic anaimals and it's extemely important for those fish that are keen to burrow. Bottom dwelling species enjoy foraging in the substrate for morsels of food that have inadvertantly been deposited there. The natural hues of substrate also add to the feeling of being safe. Some types of fish scatter their eggs around the bottom of the tank, and if the bottom is bare and eggs are clearly visible then it is very likely those eggs will end up as a meal for adult fish.

The substrates color means any eggs should be less noticeable and if this medium is coarse enough some eggs should fall between the gaps and end up protected.

Substrate importantly contributes to the aesthetic appeal of the aquarium and when combined with rocks, driftwood, plants and those other factors that come togethor in a tank it creates a vista that is pleasing to the eye and has a soothing effect overall. A well thought out and put togethor aquarium promotes a positive health benefit for those who spend time gazing at it.

The Material.

Substrate is available in a broad range of materials with the majority of aquarium owners choosing standard type gravel that is readily available online or at pet stores.

This gravel comes in many different sizes and colors and even the shape can be chosen with any gravel marked for aquarium usage being treated prior to use. Apart from gravel, sand is very popular with burrowing type fish and snails particularly fond of it.

Another commonly used substrate is coral which has been crushed, providing the effect of raising pH and increasing the waters buffering capacity, with this being particularly helpful if keeping some species of cichlids that have a preverence for harder alkaline water.

Larger river rocks are sometimes singularly or with some form of gravel beneath it. Such rocks are attractive and make for a more natural setting. Marbles, while not being natural are frequently used when breeding those egg scattering species of fish, where the eggs will fall down between the marbles and out of reach of anything that might make a meal of them. They are also commonly used in fish bowls which allows for easy maintenance.

Should live plants be introduced it is very common to use vermiculite  or laterite as a lower layer and then covered by gravel with these materials storing and releasing important nutrients for these live planted tanks.

The Quantity.

Substrate is usually added to a depth of about one and a half to two inches with more depth being warranted if intending to keep live plants that produce a vigorous root system and as a result require that extra depth.

If using sand then the depth should be less, perhaps an inch and a half, because much more than that can cause anaerobic zones that may prove to be troublesome.

The Color.

This is a topic that often provokes quite heated discussion with some feeling strongly that colos should reflect natural habitats whilst others make a selection based on their personal preference, such as electric blue, hot pink, fire engine red or a plethora of other vivid hues.

Plainly, those are not the natural colors that fish would experience in the wild but its unlikely its going to cause harm to your aquarium inhabitants and if you do a good job of caring for the inhabitants then the color of the substrate is of a minor consideration given that the majority of fish are very adaptable and if housed in a properly maintained tank with the correct water conditions and good food, they will flourish regardless of the color of the substrate