Some people have asked me which substrate is best for their set-up. Below are some random thought on the subject that always come up in these conversations
1 – Why do you even need substrate ? You can go “bare bottom” saving yourself some money and a little extra work. Pros: less work, less expense. Cons: waiting for coralline to grow on the bottom, doesn’t look as natural as you can have with substrate
2- What are you planning to stock? If you are planning jaw fish or some of the sand sifting fish, then you need to have a substrate that meets the specific needs of those fish.
3 – What about Live Sand. In my experience, it is not worth the extra expense. As this product is placed in a sealed bag and potentially exposed to temperature extremes, you will get a very large die-off of the beneficial bacteria’s that will be there.
4 – What type of flow are you planning for your set-up. If you are planning a high flow set-up, then stay away from finer particle sand. The flow within the tank can move the substrate around if you are not careful
5 – Stay away from crushed coral or excessively large particle substrates. It is very easy to have debris collect in the cracks and crevasses in these types of substrate were your cleanup crew cannot get to it. Without a lot of extra substrate cleaning, this will lead to higher than normal nutrient levels over time.
6 – Do not use substrates meant for fresh water aquariums. These fresh water substrates (especially sand) will contain higher amounts of silicates than what is normally found in marine substrates. This will put higher levels of silicates in your water which in most cases will lead to a lot more diatoms and other algaes in your tank.
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