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Old 03/18/2006, 04:31 PM
bertoni bertoni is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Foster City, CA, USA
Posts: 35,743
An Introduction to Substrate Choices

When setting up a new tank, one choice the aquarist must make is what (if anything) to put on the bottom of the tank. There are an infinite variety of choices, but for beginners, the three most common choices are:

&nbsp &nbsp 1) a shallow sand bed
&nbsp &nbsp 2) no substrate at all
&nbsp &nbsp 3) a living deep sand bed

Each method has its adherents and detractors. These introductory threads are intended to clarify the basic issues for beginners, not provide an in-depth guide to each approach. Furthermore, some animals have specific substrate requirements that must be met. For example, burrowing animals may require a specific size of substrate, along with a minimum depth. Some research into the animals one wishes to keep can avoid trouble in the future.

This chart summarizes some of the tradeoffs for the basic choices:

Shallow Sand Bed&nbsp &nbsp

Deep Sand Bed&nbsp &nbsp

Bare-Bottom

Filtration Capacity(1)&nbsp &nbsp

&nbsp&nbsp Low

&nbsp&nbsp High

&nbsp&nbsp Low

Maintenance Time

&nbsp&nbsp Low(2)

&nbsp&nbsp Low(2)

&nbsp&nbsp High

Maintenance Cost

&nbsp&nbsp Low

&nbsp&nbsp High(3)

&nbsp&nbsp Low

Food Production(4)

&nbsp&nbsp Low-Medium

&nbsp&nbsp High

&nbsp&nbsp Low


1) The filtration of any system can be augmented by a refugium
2) Until the sandbed must be replaced (if ever)
3) Includes the cost of restocking, which is considered optional by some aquarists
4) Again, a refugium can produce many types of live food

Although summarizing the expense of each system would be useful, the costs are too variable to make such a rating feasible, since they are dependent on location and various setup choices.
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Jonathan Bertoni
 

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