PDA

View Full Version : Bare-bottom tanks.....



Dempsey88
02-28-2007, 06:32 PM
I decided to go with a bare-bottom on my 75 gallon. I have an AC500 on there right now that I am trying to cycle. Usually my tanks cycled much quicker than it's taking this time. Is it because I don't have gravel in their to hold the good bacteria? I read somewhere that most of the good bacteria is housed in the filter not in the substrate. Is this true?

jombi21
02-28-2007, 07:20 PM
Personally, i like a bare bottom. Try to get a pic up if you can. That theory would make sense to me. Do you have any fish in the tank?

Jeto
02-28-2007, 07:34 PM
anything solid in your tank will hold bacteria...

if you have fish in there, maybe the filter is not enough for the bioload...

RustyNut
02-28-2007, 08:10 PM
Originally posted by jombi21
Personally, i like a bare bottom.

I have to agree! :rofl2:

Dempsey88
03-01-2007, 12:53 AM
Originally posted by jombi21
Personally, i like a bare bottom. Try to get a pic up if you can. That theory would make sense to me. Do you have any fish in the tank?

I have a 4" Midas in their right now. I will take a pic tomorrow.


Originally posted by Jeto
anything solid in your tank will hold bacteria...

if you have fish in there, maybe the filter is not enough for the bioload...

No, nothing solid in the tank other than the intake tube of the filter and the heater. I am going for a clean look without any decor (as artificial as it gets). I doubt the 4" Midas is creating too much waste for the tank, Although I could be wrong since the filter may not have matured as yet.


Originally posted by RustyNut
I have to agree! :rofl2:

lol

Dempsey88
03-01-2007, 07:08 PM
Originally posted by jombi21
Personally, i like a bare bottom. Try to get a pic up if you can. That theory would make sense to me. Do you have any fish in the tank?

Here is a pic taken tonight.

mojarraman
03-02-2007, 12:44 AM
If you have more than one tank, a hydro-sponge (or two) in the spare acts as a truly "portable" undergravel filter. In my case, I always run both a hydro-sponge and a power filter. If the power filter fails due to clogging or mechanical failure, the hydro-sponge will pick up the slack. Plus it is five times cheaper.

At all times I run a couple of spare hydro-sponges in a 55 gallon plasic drum w/ two or three, medium-to-large "throw aways" (like Texas cichlids or something). Used cost of the drum: $5; new cost of the hydro-sponge: $10. New cost of the air pump: $25 at most. Longevity of the hydro-sponge: lifetime. That way I NEVER have to cycle a new tank. I always have at least one spare, seeded hydro-sponge on hand. And a spare couple of fish that I closely look at only about twice a year; species that I love/hate: hate to begin with but love later because they look dramatically different from the last time I saw them! Familiarity breeds contempt. BTW, the throw-aways BETTER be compatable and UNbreedable...otherwise it defeats the purpose.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, I prefer a large (male) Texas cichlid in the drum because I don't heat it. The room is pretty warm and my theory is that if this fish can survive South Texas winters then he can handle room temperature! Anyhow, two years in the drum and he looks like a champ! (At least two months ago.)

Wannabe
03-02-2007, 03:06 AM
Originally posted by Dempsey88
I decided to go with a bare-bottom on my 75 gallon. I have an AC500 on there right now that I am trying to cycle. Usually my tanks cycled much quicker than it's taking this time. Is it because I don't have gravel in their to hold the good bacteria? I read somewhere that most of the good bacteria is housed in the filter not in the substrate. Is this true?

I'm under the impression that you have other tansk. Can you use filter media from one of your established filters to jump start your cycling???:confused:

jombi21
03-02-2007, 03:18 AM
Thanks for the pic... ever since I got engaged a bare bottom is few and far between.

Is there any draw backs to eliminating substrate? I'm sure it probably effects mating... but what about just the everyday life of a cichlid.

Good point with the media.

Jom

mojarraman
03-02-2007, 11:47 AM
That was my next point. One of the beauties of dual-biowheel filtration is that anytime you buy (or simply install if you have a spare up and running) another dual, one of the old seeded wheels can be swapped with the new. It's sometimes (but not always) a better alternative than simply adding the
seeded hydro-sponge. Sometimes I do both. It depends a bit on the new/old bioload and the matters of convienence at hand. My understanding is that in the imporatant phase, bacterial genesis is geometric. If you're planning on adding a large bioload on day one, then you'd better have at least a quarter of the required media already seeded. (I'm guessing here because I've never had a bacterial bloom when using any form of seeded media - sponge or biowheel or both!)

More importantly, my impression is that substrate always effects just about every aspect of any cichlid's behavior, to a greater or lesser degree, including (but certainly not limited to) mating and spawning.

Sometimes the influence is radical (and naturally to the detriment). In my experience, bare bottom tanks are to the gross detriment of almost any large, Central American species, first of all because they will seldom take anything like their "natural" color intensity over any form of highly reflective or extremely pale substrate. Some will almost blanch entirely over a major course of their lifetimes. Like many of you, I have kept species which have become barely distinguishable from other members of the same genus (especially as juveniles) for extented periods of time when housed in a bare tank. Unfortunately, that doesn't always stop us from doing it, especially with fry.

Furthermore, no complex creature is comfortable living in a room full of mirrors. I think it would be difficult to make better sweeping statements about the issue than Paul Loiselle has already done in his book _The Cichlid Aquarium_ on pages 63 & 70:

"The choice of furnishings is largely influenced by the purpose of the aquarium in question. The aquascaping of a display aquarium aims at providing a visually pleasing setting for its inhabitants. The objective is generally realized most successfully by the use of natural materials. In aquaria intended for a strictly functional role, such considerations as ease of maintenance and cost often dictate use of man-made objects to provide shelter or spawning sites. Overall, cichlids seem quite indifferent about how their quarters are decorated as long as the furnishings are
functionally serviceable. The aquarist can thus allow his approach to aquascaping be dictated by his circumstances."

And furthermore:

"The first concern in furnishing the cichlid aquarium is the choice of a suitable substratum. Cichlids are acutely uncomfortable in an environment that reflects light upwards from the bottom. They never look their best under such conditions. Many otherwise outgoing species become reclusive, while timid species may refuse to eat until this source of stress is eliminated. Furthermore, the excavation of either shelter pits for their newly hatched fry or of a spawning site is an important element in the reproductive pattern of most cichlids. Many species will adapt to an environment that does not allow them to express such behavior, but even behaviorally flexible species spawn more freely in one that does. Some sort of bottom covering is therefore essential in the cichlid aquarium. What substratum and how much is to be employed depend largely upon the cichlids to be kept."

That's pretty hard to beat.

Dempsey88
03-02-2007, 11:13 PM
Originally posted by Wannabe
I'm under the impression that you have other tansk. Can you use filter media from one of your established filters to jump start your cycling???:confused:

Yeah, I just set up an AC70 filter that I had running on a cycled tank. Let's see what happens.

Dempsey88
03-02-2007, 11:14 PM
Originally posted by jombi21
Thanks for the pic... ever since I got engaged a bare bottom is few and far between.

Is there any draw backs to eliminating substrate? I'm sure it probably effects mating... but what about just the everyday life of a cichlid.

Good point with the media.

Jom

Yeah, I am not trying to breed this fish at all. Just keeping him as a single specimen in his own tank.

Dempsey88
03-02-2007, 11:41 PM
Mojarraman, thanks for the detailed and intuitive comments complete with quotes and everything. lol No, seriously, it was very much appreciated. First off, transferring media from one tank to another seems to be the way to go. I have already transported an H.O.B filter to the tank. Hopefully, I will see some results in a week or so. About the sponge filters, I will definitely have to pick up a couple of them. They seem to be working very well for you and should work for me the same. And about the quotes in that book, I never knew it was written that fish didn't like a surface that reflects light upwards. That is very interesting. About the washing out of colors, IT'S TRUE!!!! I have attached a pic taken this evening showing my Midas with dull, white markings under his mouth and along his fins. This happened when he was placed in the "bare-bottom" tank. Before this, he didn't have these markings. Again, thanks for the great information. I will have to definitely do some further thinking about this "bare-bottom" thing. To defend the bare bottom tank, at least siphoning is a breeze. lol

mojarraman
03-03-2007, 08:06 PM
Thanks very much for the feedback. What's an H O B?

thatpetplace.com or drsfosterandsmith.com or petsolutions.com seems to have the best prices on hydro-sponges. They are hard to locate in any of the catalogues or even at those homepages. I usually just call 'em.

You're correct, bare bottoms are super easy cleanable. I've got a couple of species tanks, I can't recall which, where the plecos for certain periods up to a month or even two, seem to be chewing up even the detritus floating on the bottom, where there is NO siphoning ANYTHING but water, and squeezing out real heavy the hydrosponges in de-chlorinated water. I mean these tanks stay SPOTLESS because pleco eats all the algae too. I always do the fry tanks that way and rarely feed the pleco (a small one) because he helps prevent overfeeding by mopping up all the bottom food.

The solution to bare-bottom is the "bare slate-bottom." I use the thinnest "Pennsylvania steppers" which are a dark, hard,
quartz-like slate (that are widely available in the US is my understanding). NOW is normally the best time to buy decorative rock like that because the garden centers and decorative rock dealers are all stocked up for spring. They ship these things in pallets, tho, and sometimes you've got to dig around to find a pallet that has some of the thinner (about an inch) pieces, normally on top (in my area). The others are too thick for convienence, about 2" and I hate that. BTW, these stones should be jostled around a bit more than normal to prevent lethal, anaerobic bacterial accumulation: better yet, prop them up on one side a bit with tiny pieces.

I haven't kept midas. Aren't they SA's? He looks mean. Does he bite?

Dempsey88
03-04-2007, 04:04 AM
Mojarraman.... an HOB is an abbreviated term for a "Hang on the Back Filter" (a.k.a Powerfilters such as Aquaclears or Whispers).

Midas Cichlids are from Central American waters. Yeah, they are generally pretty aggressive, and mine is no different. He bites at the glass when he sees his reflection, never at my hand though (for now at least).

Thanks for the "slate - bottom" idea. I will have to do some research on that. It seems like a great alternative to a bare-bottom tank. Easy to clean and more natural looking than just a bare glass bottom - I can't ask for better than that right now.

Yeah, I have checked my past Drsfosterandsmith catalogs and cannot find the sponges in any of them. The next time I order I will try to do it over the phone so that I can ask about them. Thanks for your advice and comments. You have been a great help.

mojarraman
03-04-2007, 09:36 AM
Emperor & Penguin I guess are the two other most popular HOB's, and those are the ones I happen to use.

Naturally, there are lots of other types of "slates" available but true slate I didn't really refer to. I think most of the others would work. I've bought some tan and brown and even reddish stuff too. If the species doesn't eventually take the color I think it "should," I switch to a different type/color of quote-unquote slate. And especially if they're riverine fish, I add some big rocks and/or boulders and/or lace rock to sorta simulate their "natural" habitat. I sometimes use melamine, a black colored pressboard for the background, but now I've decided that the black vinyl tablecloth that comes on a roll that you can but at the partyshop is by far the cheapest for multiple tanks.

I think aquascaping is the challenging aspect of the hobby. Requires artistic touch, and I spse I have a little tiny bit but it's hard as hell to get myself to put it to use. I'd almost pay somebody to do it for me. I gave up on plants years ago.

I know for certain that thatfishplace.com has the sponges - the others I'm not 100% on.

There is one other huge advantage to hydro-sponges in addition to HOB's. If I happen to neglect water changes for a month or whatever, the sponge tends to accumulates nitrogenous waste in a more particulate form. By that time, the pH may have dropped from perhaps 8.0 to 7.0. Most of the time, if I do a huge 90% water change - which I might need to - I don't squeeze out the sponge 'till a day or two later (in a seperate bucket). The waste in the sponge tends to act as sort of an improvised buffer so the pH only jumps from about 7.0 to 7.6 or something after the change. I think that's less stressful to the fish. It's a bad thing to wait that long, and I don't recomend it, but I'm not afraid to admit that it happens some times.

I hate vacuuming gravel. Vacuuming gravel & aquascaping: those are the two things that have caused me more grief than all other aspects of fishkeeping combined. I don't like siphoning either. I bought a submersable pond-pump and a garden hose, "plumbed" the pump to the hose with standard, threaded plumbing connectors from home depot, and incorporated garden hose "quick connects" for the pump/hose quick release.
___That step literally changed my life.___
I might recomend the Supreme Mag Drive #7. It pumps 700 gallons per hour. I broke down and bought the Mag Drive #9 too. It does 900 per hour, I think. I use it on the larger, 120 & 125 gallon tanks.

Best As Always

mojarraman
03-04-2007, 09:50 AM
PS I used to do ponds. Once I jumped to 75 gallon tanks or bigger, I found that virtually everything I did with ponds somehow translated. With the setup described, it takes about 12 minutes to drain a 75 gallon tank and 14 minutes to fill w/ a 90% change. I've got two showers upstairs and one I've even plumbed the showerhead w/ garden hose quick connects. So now I can water my lawn from out of my shower window he he he.

soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo the rest of the time I spend sleepin' or makin' money or whatever. Or aquascaping or watering the lawn LOL