SUBSTRATE. What a great word. That’s why I wrote it all in CAPS. Sounds solid. Substantial.
noun, plural: substrata Word origin: Latin sub (under) + stratus from sternere (to stretch)
For me, setting up an aquarium is equal parts getting the ecology right and playing with aesthetics.
Understanding these objectives are linked marked a turning point in the difference between a tank that survives and one that thrives.
When I was a kid, I mixed my substrate with the same
colorful abandon that saw angel fish sharing their digs with goldfish and neon-tetras.
Now I understand the gravel
isn’t (just) there to express my sense of aesthetics!
No, it provides a purpose…
A purchase for plants to root:
Nooks for eggs to drop and fish to ‘hunt’ for food ~ one and the same?
It also serves as a natural filtering mechanism:
And provides fish with a sense of security: *
So, keeping in mind Aquariverse’s home-tank supports substrates suitable for fresh-water habitats, i.e, no pretty sea-shells…
I put it to you: Gravel or Sand?Gravel, sand … and an array of stackable, habitat creating rocks:Except, remember, not just any old rocks from the garden or river stones will do.Sure they might look particularly pretty and natural, but they could also harbor organisms and, more likely, chemical compositions that will dangerously (even lethally) disrupt your tank’s ph balance.
And with a balance in mind, there’s a greater habitat issue to consider… when I do finally choose the substrate best suited to my tank, I do my best to purchase materials packaged in recyclable containers. That can be especially difficult when it comes to the river rocks.
I simply will not buy those packaged in plastic netting. Nasty stuff and exceptionally hazardous to wildlife when it winds up in landfills or the world’s oceans. Instead, I support places that sell rocks and slabs in bulk bins.
“We may be floating on Tao, but there is nothing wrong with steering. If Tao is like a river, it is certainly good to know where the rocks are.”
― Deng Ming-Dao, Everyday Tao: Living with Balance and Harmony
*If you would like to read about how gravel meets your fishes’ instincitive needs: read this comprehensive article on the subject: “Aquarium Substrate”
By: Shirlie Sharpe