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Old 07-10-2013, 04:09 PM   #1 
TheTrojanBetta's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Texas
Gravel losing color + substrate questions

I just got my betta, Odysseus, last week. The tank has been running since Thursday, Odysseus has been in it since Friday.
The gravel in the tank is black with some other, colorful pieces thrown in. I got it from Petsmart when I was getting the rest of the supplies. However, it's only been a week and the black gravel has started to lose its color! A few days after the tank had been going I noticed the water had turned slightly cloudly, regardless of the water changes I made, and couldn't figure out why; could my color-leaching gravel be the culprit, or is it something else?
Is this going to be harmful to Odysseus? If the gravel is losing its color I would like to replace it regardless, but if it is potentially harmful I will change it sooner.
Also, any ideas what to put in instead of the gravel, and how to make the exchange? I was thinking maybe black sand, is sand really as messy as I have heard? Is there a certain substrate that is best for growing live plants? I currently have a branch of water wisteria in there, it's not dying but I can't really tell if it's growing.
I'm still very new to this, so sorry for all the questions, but I thank you for your help and greatly appreciate it!
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Old 07-10-2013, 07:39 PM   #2 
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Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Eugh yes, it sounds like the cheap paint they've used to "dye" the gravel is leeching out. It might not be bad, but it's certainly not good either. I highly recommend sand because it's inert. I use Quikrete Fine Grain sand (it looks like beach sand) because the sand particles are so tiny and evenly sized that the sand doesn't cause a mess and you don't need to pre-rinse the sand. It's around $4 for a 50 pound bag, you'll never run out. Pool filter sand will also work. Any other sand will need to be well-rinsed to get rid of dust. I don't like most sand sold for fish, if it's weirdly colored chances are it's dyed with the same cheap pigments as gravel, so go with something that's naturally black, or beige.
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Old 07-11-2013, 06:23 PM   #3 
TheTrojanBetta's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Texas
Thanks for your reply and the recommendation! I will definitely be switching out the gravel for sand this weekend, and hopefully do a one hundred percent water change because there's a ton of plant debris that I can't seem to get out with the gravel vacuum. I'm a little concerned about messing up the cycle of the tank by switching out the substrate, the tank has only been running for a week and is not yet fully cycled. Would it best to replace only some of the gravel at first?
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Old 07-11-2013, 07:49 PM   #4 
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Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Well if you are going to be planting the tank quite heavily then even though your tank is cycling it will do a "silent cycle" so removing that gravel and replacing it with better substrate will probably make no difference or improve the silent cycle. Just keep in mind certain substrates do cause ammonia spikes or nutrients so you have to keep a good amount of plants to have it work out. Look in the planted tank forum and check out the sticky on natural planted tanks/NPT and see if that's the route you want to go.
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