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Old 12-02-2003, 10:15 PM   #1
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your opinion is wanted

I want to change the color of the gravel in my 20 gallon tank. I am looking for color suggestions and what do you think of getting black gravel? Would it enhance the color of the fish?

I have tiger barbs, a blue crawdad, and just got some zebra danios.

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Old 12-02-2003, 10:20 PM   #2
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As much as I hate to admit it...being an exclusive user of 'natural' gravel...my daughter put black gravel in her guppy tank and it looks great! The guppy colors really jump right out at you!
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Old 12-02-2003, 10:27 PM   #3
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I really like the look of black sand or gravel. It does show the mulm much more than regular natural gravel, though, so be prepared for that! Just be cautious about switching out the gravel so you don't have a mini-cycle.
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Old 12-02-2003, 10:33 PM   #4
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mulm ? what is that?
I have black sand in my 10 gallon tank right now but that tank just has glass cats in it so it's not a good measure of fish color showing up.
I want to use black gravel because while the sand looks cool it is too expensive to fill a 20 gallon tank. Plus I think i might be easier to clean the 20 gallon if it has gravel and not sand.
What do you suggest to prevent a mini-cycle? I have slowly been removing the old gravel in preparation.

Fruitbat - Right now I have natural gravel because I do like the idea of a natural looking tank but it seems to me like it drains the color from the fish.
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Old 12-02-2003, 10:39 PM   #5
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I love black gravel and have it in all but one of my tanks (that came with natural gravel). This is a very good article that I recommend reading:
http://forums.about.com/n/mb/message...ria&msg=2021.1
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Old 12-02-2003, 10:42 PM   #6
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You may have to log in to read that so I'll copy and paste the message here.




Experts Tips - Gravel color is important Subscribe
From: Art (ARTZURHORST2) 7/15/2001 6:50 pm
To: ALL (1 of 41)

2021.1


I hope everyone isn’t disappointed in this, but here are several reasons the color of gravel can be important.



I know an ichthyologist that likes working with students, especially science fairs. His favorite demonstration experiment is to set up a 20-gallon tank. He will put no décor in the tank, but divide the tank down the middle. Without décor, the only place fish can hide is on or in the gravel. On one side he will put black gravel and on the other white. He then puts a sign by the tank with a piece of paper divided down the middle like the tank. On one side of this paper he will put “white gravel” on the other “black gravel”. The sign with the display asks students to look into the tank for the baby fish he has put in there. He tells them notice which gravel they are over and mark the paper in the appropriate place. The students are amazed to find that in a two or three-day period there are no marks on the “white gravel” side (he says only will an occasional mark be on the white side), all the marks, sometimes a thousand, are on the “black side” Why?



Baby fish basically do two things, look for food and try not to be food. They instinctively, scientists say, know that over light colored gravel they will be easier for predators to see, therefore easier to eat. Like many things, this instinct carries over into adult hood. A fish instinctively tries to “blend in” to minimize notice by anything that might eat it. In some cases the reverse is true. A predator matches its surroundings to “sneak up on fish it might catch”. The Northern pike in a weed bed is a good example.



This avoidance of the “light background spotlight” is so strong, that in some places, like Lake Malawi in Africa, white sand beaches provide enough of a geographical barrier that fish like the Mbuna (local word for fish that live among the rocks) will not cross it ever! When the lake level lowers for several tens of thousands or millions of years and the beach comes out of the water so it is no longer a barrier, the fish will spread out into the newly available habitat. Later when the water level rises again, the beach separates two populations of fish who may evolve independently. This is how you have P. zebra, for instance in many locals identical except for coloration! In Tanganyika, N. Brichardi have done this over and over, so that a Brichardi expert like Ad Koenigs can tell you exactly what isolated area of the lake a particular fish came from just by studying the colorful markings on its cheeks.



Some fish swim in open water and above light sand or clear water. We seldom keep these in aquariums because nearly all of them are silver sided fish with dark or dusky sides.



What this means for the aquarist is that neutral gravel like natural to dark gravel will bring out the colors the fish find most comfortable displaying. This means brighter colors. Also a good cameo for fish is stripes, bars, blotches, etc. This breaks up the outline of the fish and makes it blend in with the plants, logs, rocks, whatever in its environment. With light substrates, light décor, the fish will “bleach” out its color and remove bars, blotches, etc. as much as possible since this is the best cameo in this circumstance.



An extreme example of this is some 15 years ago I was fishing a bass tournament. I have found a large school of bass on a rocky point a few days before the tournament. On tournament day I went straight to the point. The wind was blowing directly into the point, roiling the water to a muddy brown. My partner and I fished the 60 to 80 yards comprising the point without the first bite. Right at the end of the rocks, I caught one fish. I told my partner we would fish right back through the same place and this time I expected to load the boat. He was shocked, but did it anyway. That is exactly what happened and in the next hour won the tournament catching fish after fish. The clue was what we are talking about. I pulled the first fish out of the roiled, muddy water but he was in rich color, black on top, green on the side, white on the bottom, with well-defined dark markings. He had just moved into the area to feed from deeper more clear water and had not adapted yet to the muddy water. The other interesting thing was as we fish right back through the area, noticing how the fish we were catching became lighter and lighter and bleached out as time went on.

So medium to darker substrates make for prettier fish. The other important thing is health. We often talk about hiding places, plants, decorations, logs, things that reduce stress and keep fish healthier. Now you also know that the right shade of gravel also helps reduce stress in fish and helps them remain healthier.

Like I said, not mind boggling, but something I find interesting, and another little thing to put the odds of my fish being healthy a little more in my favor.
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Old 12-02-2003, 10:52 PM   #7
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I have 2 cents to add:

I've kept my blue crayfish on both white and black gravel. Their color comes out really well with darker gravels, so I think you can expect as much from your crayfish.
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Old 12-03-2003, 12:36 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Megalofyia
mulm ? what is that?
mulm is just short for fish poop, decaying stuff & all the ugly, icky stuff in your tank.

One interesting thing to note is that some fish (like my goldies) will change color to blend in to the gravel. So if you have white substrate, the fish will get lighter & might lose its color, and with black gravel, the fish will get more colorful.
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Old 12-03-2003, 08:29 AM   #9
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Just voicing from my own tanks...

My goldfish tank has white gravel. It stays fairly clean because they pick at it all day. The fake plants add color and dull the brightness some what

My convict tank has black gravel and looks awesome with its fake plants, its a darker looking tank that seems to suit them.

My guppy tank has sand.

My tropical community still has blue neon gravel. Always has, probably always will :P It still looks good.

All other tanks contain river gravel/pebbles.
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Old 12-03-2003, 09:13 AM   #10
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What do you suggest to prevent a mini-cycle? I have slowly been removing the old gravel in preparation.
Well it sounds like you are doing it already! I like to remove the substrate gradually rather than taking it all out at once, because when I did that in my 12-gal Eclipse (even with a Biowheel) I did have a mini-cycle, or spike in ammonia and nitrite.

Sand definitely has its issues in terms of vacuuming, and it has to be stirred up periodically, so if you can find some black gravel that is easier to deal with. I totally agree about the dark substrate bringing out colors better in the fish. My krib tank has regular sand and one of the fish does not show its bars hardly ever, except when I feed something really delicious, so I am thinking about a darker substrate for that tank. My African tank has "salt and pepper" colored substrate, which I think is the best of both worlds because waste does not show up as well as it does with straight black, and it has a mottled appearance that shows of the fish colors well. It is a buffering type sand (raises KH and pH) so it is not a good choice for everyone.

I think one day I will have a tank with completely black sand and a large school of neons, someone mentioned that setup in another thread and I think that would be stunning!
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Old 12-03-2003, 09:13 AM   #11
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My puffer tank has natural gravel. I don't really like it because sometimes it hard to find the lil guys. My community tank has a misture of black, blue and purple gravel. I love the looks of the black gravel, it does bring out the colors of the fish a lot more. And yet the other stones still add some color to the stones.

Now my sister mixed white and black stones together and the results were quite stricking. So that's a thought too.

My vote is for black gravel!
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Old 12-03-2003, 10:10 AM   #12
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when i started my tank i used all black gravel and had brightly colored fish b/c the light i was useing was a black light and really made the fish (painted glass) and fake plants look awsome. about 1 month after that i got rid of the black light, had the painted glass fish all die (obvious reasons) and got some other fish but i still only use black gravel because even with normal lighting it still looks great.
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Old 12-03-2003, 03:06 PM   #13
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A do not have black gravel as I cannot find the right pebbles sizes but do also consider a black background too. I have a black background (and not just the colour is enhanced but you can really see the fishes details too
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Old 12-03-2003, 07:36 PM   #14
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I am actually going to get a black background for the tank too.

Today was an exciting day. I switched the gravel out to black and I love it. If my dad ever returns my digital camera I will upload pics of the tank.
On my ten gallon tank today I added a background I got from the LFS. It just looks like plants but I really like it.

Oh and the cats got to finish off the sushi I didn't finish so they are pretty happy too.
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Old 12-04-2003, 08:52 AM   #15
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Id go with Seachem Onyx Sand if your looking for something decent, otherwise i really like the look of black gravel mixed at a ratio of 2:1 with another colour. Ive used red, which is very striking, or terracotta which looks a bit more natural. But black and green might look quite funky.
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