Although it is not a golden rule for people to use rocks in their aquariums, many people make use of rocks as a significant addition to their fish tanks. These rocks serve as a substrate for the fish tanks and have proved to be very useful.
Do You Need Rocks In A Fish Tank?
There are several reasons why you should add rocks to your aquarium. First, they provide a natural-looking environment, similar to the original habitat of the fish in which they can thrive and survive.
Aside from providing a natural environment for your fish, rocks have an aesthetic benefit as they help to beautify your aquarium. Also, they serve the added purpose of allowing water to flow smoothly through them, thereby prohibiting the growth of non-beneficial microorganisms. When choosing rocks for your aquarium especially freshwater aquariums, you should take care that the rock you are choosing should not have any effect on the PH and hardness of the water. In other words, they should be inert.
This is necessary because freshwater aquariums are supposed to have soft water. If you put in a rock that confers the property of hardness into the water, it will turn hard, and this will not be good for the fish in the aquarium. The best rocks for aquariums are inert rocks like basalt, rock lava, rock quartz and shale. Also, rocks are easier to clean out than sand or other substrates. Some benefits of using rocks in your fish tank are:
1. It serves as a substitute for the natural habitat of your fish: If you have fish that are bottom feeders, they will enjoy having rocks as a substrate for their fish tank as they can search for food that has fallen to the bottom of the tank. Putting gravel in your aquarium gives it a look akin to that of the natural habitat of your fish.
2. Rocks give the bottom of the aquarium a dark look which is beneficial to your fish: Fishes do not like bright lights as it stresses them. Most rocks would give the bottom of the aquarium a dark look that is similar to that of lakes and streams. The look mirrors that of their natural habitats, and they will feel more at home in an aquarium that is not too bright.
3. It serves as an anchor for live plants: Live plants are a great addition to many aquariums as they have benefits that they give the aquarium. Aside from beautifying the aquarium, they also help to control the growth of algae by competing with them for nutrients.
If you have live plants present in your aquarium, it will be better if you used gravel as a substrate as it would help to support the plants. Aside from giving your plants support by holding its roots, gravel enables your plant to get its nutritional requirements. The best rocks for live plants are gravel together with laterite and vermiculite.
4. It has excellent aesthetic purposes: The beauty that gravel confers on an aquarium is one of its most significant benefits. Gravels come in all sorts of shapes and colours, and so you can use them to beautify your aquarium. It also shows off the beauty of your fish, and you can choose gravel that brings out the colour of your fish.
For instance, if you have a silver-coloured fish, you could get dark-toned gravel as a substrate. This colour of the gravel would make your fish’s colour stand out, and it would be seen clearly. Also, you will quickly notice if your fish is behaving oddly, perhaps due to health problems or other circumstances.
5. It creates perfect housing for beneficial bacterial colonies: Every aquarium requires a healthy amount of beneficial bacteria if the fish living in it are to thrive and be in good health. These beneficial bacteria help to break down the waste products of your fish, the leftover of the food, and other waste materials in the aquarium. If these waste products are left undecomposed in the tank, they can be toxic to your fish.
Although the bacteria can still grow if there is no rock substrate in the tank, their number would be deficient compared to when there is a substrate in the fish tank. It is best, therefore, that you use rocks for your aquarium to encourage the growth of these beneficial microorganisms.
6. Rocks are instrumental in keeping your fish tank clean: Rocks have the property of allowing water to flow through them, thereby ensuring that waste products in the tank are eliminated. Aside from this property, rocks are very easy to clean compared to other substrates.
It has larger particles than substrates such as sand that enable it to be cleaned more easily without being sucked up. Also, you do not need to stay up gravel as often as you need to stir up sand as it does not lead to areas lacking in oxygen because of its large particles. If you use rocks as your substrate, it would be easier for you to maintain your aquarium.
7. It serves as a covering for fish eggs: If you have fish that lay eggs, and you use gravel as a substrate, it will serve as a covering for the eggs as the fish eggs are small enough to fall in between the particles of the gravel. In this place, they will be protected from bigger fish looking to eat them up. Also, some microorganisms that adhere to the gravel serve as the first food for newly hatched fry.
8. Its particles are large enough not to pose problems to your fish: Some species of fish love to pick up substrates in their mouth and even swallow it. If you have this species of fish as a pet, you will be better off using rocks in your aquarium as they will be unable to pick it up in their mouth.
Exceptions To The Use Of Gravel As A Substrate
Although gravel is very desirable in an aquarium as it has many benefits, there are some exceptions to its use. If you decide to raise young fish and you get an aquarium in which you put eggs to hatch, you would be better off leaving the bottom of the tank bare as opposed to using rocks in it.
The reason for this is because an aquarium with which you would want to raise a young fly is meant to be left very clean at all times. Besides, if you use a substrate for such an aquarium and you decide to clean the aquarium, fish fry and eggs present in the tank can accidentally get sucked up when you are vacuuming.
Using gravel as a substrate is beneficial to your fish in many ways. However, if you are choosing a gravel substrate, you’ll be better off opting for one that is pea-sized as it is large enough to allow water to flow through it and it is also small enough to prevent the passage of food particles through it.
Also, take note that if you are buying coloured gravel because of its aesthetic purposes, you should choose one with paint that is not toxic to your fish. This is because paint from the gravel can leach into the water. If you decide to purchase rocks for your aquarium, make sure you clean them at regular intervals so that the growth of harmful microorganisms in the tank would be kept at the barest minimum.