dark gravel calming? - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 6 Old 10-29-2009, 07:21 AM Thread Starter
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dark gravel calming?

Some guy at the pet store was telling me that black gravel is more calming than any other colour gravel. I am no expert - I am just starting out. This guy also tried to sell me a CO2 pump that I just found out I don't need so I am now questioning almost everything he said. I want to set up my tank this weekend and use a light sand colour but if dark is the way to go then I won't hesitate!
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post #2 of 6 Old 10-29-2009, 07:51 AM
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Many fish feel more comfortable over a dark substrate. When placed over lighter substrates the fish often turn much paler in color in an effort to blend with their enviornment much the same way they do in the wild. Plants always look better in my view with dark substrate to provide contrast and fishes colors more vibrant. Opinions vary.

The most important medication in your fish medicine cabinet is.. Clean water.
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post #3 of 6 Old 10-29-2009, 08:41 AM
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i have very light play sand in my tank and IMHO my fish look pretty good.!
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post #4 of 6 Old 10-29-2009, 09:12 AM
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thats what I have in my 20G and I love it!
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post #5 of 6 Old 10-29-2009, 04:02 PM
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i have to agree with 1077 on this substrate question.......I have moved fish from a tank with a lighter colored substrate to a black substrate and the difference in color to me was a big WOW!........Some of the fish got their color almost instantly and some others it took a few days of adjustment, but it seems that they are more colorful with the darker substrate.......I also agree, plants lok better in a dark substrate tank, but thats just a personal opinion.......
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post #6 of 6 Old 10-29-2009, 06:38 PM
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Previous posts have all been correct, because it depends upon the fish and what the setup is intended for. Plants and forest fish certainly look more colourful and settled over dark substrates (black, dark grey, dark brown) whereas Mitch's rift lake cichlids are used to lighter sand and rock. You should choose your substrate according to the type of aquarium aquascape you are aiming for.

I have personal experience in this; my former 70g SA tank had natural buff-coloured gravel. I moved the fish and plants into the 90g with the darker gravel. The Corydoras panda and similis darkened quite noticeably in the new setup, as did a group of Hyphessobrycon metae. The other interesting point is that the H. metae had been very secretive in the 70g, but from the first day in the 90g they are out and about. The reason I believe is that the darker substrate eases their anxiety. In the wild they are used to very dark and dimly-lit waters; the substrate is very dark sand, mud or leaves depending. Recreating this appearance as reasonably as we can will help to ensure their comfort, and that means they will be more visible and normal in behaviours.


Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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