Gravel for Fish Tanks and Aquariums
Have you ever thought that fish tank gravel serves no purpose at all—other than something ethereal and aesthetic? Interestingly enough, fish tank gravel actually does serve a purpose: it covers the bottom of the tank, which is a significant part of the nitrogen cycle in your mini ecosystem.
Hey! That sounds pretty ethereal, too. And it is. But it's true. Because you have both fish and plants in your tank, nitrogen is both created and broken down. As your fish makes fecal deposits in the tank, sheds skin, and otherwise uses all biological means to make a mess, biodeposits collect on the bottom and stick to the gravel.
In addition to what your fish decides to unleash on the tank, plants also leave deposits on the floor of the tank, adding to the mass. If the fish tank gravel weren't there, the biodeposits would move across the tank floor—creating an unsightly, disgusting picture for anyone looking at the tank.
Instead, the deposits stick in the fish tank gravel and begin to decompose slowly, as bacteria acts on them.
If you find that the bacteria in your tank isn't working very hard, you may want to purchase a tube of fish tank cleaner with an active culture in it. You will, however, want to make sure that it matches up with your salinity, ph, and environmental specifications.
Once the bacteria breaks up the deposits, the compounds that are created in the process either float to the top of the tank and escape in gas form or are consumed by the plant life.
So does fish tank gravel serve any other purposes than strictly aesthetic ones? Not really. It might aid the nitrogen cycle slightly, but its primary purpose is to act as an aesthetic improvement to your mini ecosystem.
More Aquarium and Fish Tank Info:
Aquarium & Fish Supplies (home)
Cleaning a Fish Tank
Fish Tank Maintenance
Fish Tank Pumps
Aquarium Screen Savers
Aquarium - Fish Tank Stands