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happyfish 03-02-2009 07:27 PM

Totally confused about gravel and substrate
I have had my goldfish "tank" and betta "tank" for a while. I decided to go bigger..I will have a 60gl freshwater planted community tank (set up soon) and a 30gl salwater tank (3 to 6 months). So I started doing research about 2 months ago. I want to do this right. Thought I was doing good w/ the gold fish and betta till I realized though all the researching how unhappy they probably are in their little tanks. So...will be clearing out the guest room for bigger tanks for the goldfish and betta's. problem is I am confused about the gravel and substrate...are they one and the same or different? I can't figure out if I mix the substrate with the gravel for the plants or do I mix something totally different with the gravel for the plants? Am I making any sense?

fishkid 03-02-2009 07:37 PM

Substrate is any type of stuff that is on the bottom. Gravel is a type of it. Don't put put the goldfish and betta together.

happyfish 03-02-2009 07:53 PM

So if I am going to have a planted aquarium what do I put down for them? Is gravel ok or do I need to mix something in with the gravel? I am getting different tanks for the goldfish and betta's :)...

NaomiiSmith 03-03-2009 01:21 PM

hi happyfish :)
i have a heavily planted tank and it has gravel as a substrate and my plants have thrived in it.
there is certain soil that can be used when potting plants.

dramaqueen 03-03-2009 03:18 PM

I think that there is soomething called Eco Complete that you can use with plants.

wendex 03-03-2009 03:31 PM


In my community tank I've got sand and gravel and I haven't had much luck with a lot of the live plants in the sand although the grass like plant seems to thrive. But then I didn't put any plant food in the tank regularly so maybe this is where I went wrong.

For my new tank - which I would like to be planted I put a layer of Tetra Plant - CompleteSubstrate under the gravel (I couldn't find the Eco-complete but I think they're pretty similar) and I've been told it's good stuff for planted tanks. But I don't know yet since the plants only went in today. But I'm also planning to use plant food this time and make sure the tank gets at least 10 hours of light each day.

iamntbatman 03-03-2009 03:35 PM

There are many different types of substrates for aquariums. Gravel, sand, crushed coral, aragonite, substrates designed for planted tanks (like Eco-complete), etc.

Cost is a major factor. You can buy pea gravel or play sand from a home improvement store for around $5 for a 50lb bag. If you're willing to spend more money, sand or gravel designed for aquarium use usually runs about $15 for a 20lb bag. Specialty substrates like crushed coral or Eco-complete run something like $20-$25 for a 20lb bag.

What type of substrate you get depends largely on what's going to be in the tank. If you're getting African rift lake cichlids, generally you want aragonite sand or crushed coral substrate. For other freshwater fish, rougher substrates like gravel are fine in some cases, but if you're planning on getting bottom dwellers that root through the substrate looking for food or burrow, sand is usually a must. You'll also want to research the nutrient requirements of the plants you're looking to have in the planted tank(s). Some plants really need a nutrient-heavy substrate like Eco-complete, while others will do just fine in an inert substrate like sand or gravel as long as they are provided with fertilizer, and yet others don't even require fertilization.

Saltwater tanks usually have live sand as a substrate, although some people use crushed coral or even have barebottomed tanks.

happyfish 03-03-2009 08:08 PM

All of you thank you so much. You have all helped answer my question. Thank You!! Thank You!!...I was so afraid everyone would think I was such an

dramaqueen 03-03-2009 08:14 PM

There are no dumb questions here. There are a lot of knowledgeable people here who are more than willing to answer any questions you have.:)

wendex 03-04-2009 04:05 AM

I know how you feel happyfish - it's sometimes hard to ask if you don't know - but I've got all the good advice I've needed from here it's a great forum. Let us know what you decide to go for and specially how you get on with your plants :-)

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