Top Fin Colored Gravel
I found this old thread on the forum. I was searching for accounts similar to mine with PetSmart's Top Fin Aquarium gravel.
I bought a bag of blue gravel and a bag of red gravel and mixed them to put in my new aquarium. I was told to wash them for "dust". I did indeed wash them, but dust wasn't the problem. The blue dye from the blue gravel washes off and colors the water, no matter how many times I swirl it around. My hands are bruised from the tiny abrasions I get swirling the gravel with my bare hands (now I'm using a spoon to do it!).
Thinking I was done the first time, I spread the gravel onto the floor of my tank, only to find the water becoming a cloudy blue. I left it two days and when I got around to changing the water and gravel, all the water on the bottom was clearly a dyed blue.
I'm not sure about the red gravel. I see no red coloring. Whether that is because it does not wash off, or because the blue dye overwhelms the red, I do not know.
Needless to say, I am rather disappointed, and I find it rather peculiar and frustrating that gravel sold and intended for a fresh water tank would color the water like this. The gravel isn't cheap, but it sure seems cheap. Now, what do I do? Should I boil the gravel? Will this get rid of the excess dye, remove it completely, or what? Or is there another brand out there that won't color the water?
I had hoped I could be looking forward to putting my first fish in the tank by now, but this issue has surely made me blue (pardon the pun).
Boiling it would probably be the most effective but it is hard to say how much Blue or Red would remain. :(
Personally I'd put all of it in a bag, bring it back to the store and show them how the stuff comes off in the water. From what I've heard, yours probably will not be the first complaint they've had.
Would you guys have any suggestions on other brands or types of gravel? After this experience, I would really prefer to avoid painted gravel if possible.
I have wasted so much water on that horrible gravel that I'd rather not do it again if only for environmental reasons!
Also, would it be advisable to fill the tank and treat the water before I put in the gravel? I'd just like to recover some time here...
I would look for some fine pea gravel that was not coated with epoxy or anything else for that matter. sometimes garden shops or nurserys carrry it. There are also places online to order it as well. Many fish appreciate dark substrates as opposed to light colors . If i might ,I would respectfuly suggest that one of the most valuable traits needed in caring for fish is patience.
I've recently discovered that a lot of aquarium products and fish stores in general are a huge ripoff. While I can't say that's true of some products (for example specialty substrates for planted tanks), for some of the more basic products it's certainly true.
Fish stores sell pea pebble gravel for $3-5 for a 5 lb bag and usually about $15 for a 20 lb bag. You can buy a 50 lb bag of the same pea gravel at Home Depot for less than $5. All it needs is a good rinse, just as any aquarium substrate would need. My LFS also sells larger rocks for aquarium use. They had a beautiful red shale that was running about $4 a pound. I went to a local store that sold bulk stone for landscaping work, and found the same red shale at $0.14 a lb. I've built a massive stone cave system in my 29g tank that cost me maybe $4.
Thanks for the feedback, guys.
Now I'm starting to wonder if I should worry about decorations dyeing the water. I find them very expensive, but I see that's no indication of their quality.
After my first tank, I get out of the whole "decoration" business. Some of the silk plants look decent and if you aren't ready for live plants yet they can be a good option. They're also great for tanks where plants wouldn't normally work (such as with silver dollars, many African cichlids, and the American cichlids that uproot your plants). I've found that you can decorate a tank for much less money and end up with a better looking environment for your fish if you stick to natural looking decor, such as driftwood and rockwork.
Just my opinion, though. There's certainly a market for more traditional decor like the resin castles and treasure chests but it's just not my thing.
well in the topfins stuff defensive i have white gravel from them that is fine and works great
Anyway, I marched on to PetSmart and I'm glad to report that they gave me a full refund after I handed the gravel back in two ziplock bags, and they didn't give make it difficult for me. I was pleasantly surprised. This means I'll probably be going back for some fish supplies there later.
However, now it's on to find some decent, not too expensive, unpainted gravel elsewhere...
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