Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: South Wales, UK
What do you mean the water was worse than when you started? was it cloudy? If so, that was probably the start of your cycle.
Gravel isn't the only choice, there is also sand which is a lot more trickier to clean but gives the tank a natural feel.
If you go with gravel make sure its pea sized, anything bigger will let the water through and your plants won't anchor down. I've never had silk plants so i'm not sure if the same thing applies :)
If you go with sand then I don't think it will be as messy since you will be having just one fish, so less work for you :)
Treating the water? by this I assume you mean adding de-chlorinator? I waited until I had the fish before I put any in, IMO there isn't much point if there are no fish but others may have different opinions on that :)