Alternative to sand for puffer fish species tank

desull

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As we all know, puffers are extremely messy eaters and heavy poopers. This can cause our sandbeds to get dirty quickly and cleaning a sandbed kinda sucks (also some debate on how much you should clean/stir), nor can you ever get it 100% clean. Additionally, (most) puffers love to eat out clean up crew buddies, so it's tough to keep a tank clean without heavy maintenance.

I currently have a baby stars and stripes puffer (<2") in quarantine/observation and working on setting up its own tank. With my qt being bare bottom, it became very apparent to me that I don't want sand in his tank, so I'm looking for alternative that looks better than plain ol bb.

So far I have seen people using pvc sheets or starboard. I like the look of this (kinda) and it's better than just painting the bottom of the tank bc it's not reflective, but as a trade off, it won't grow biological bacteria, which is essential in a heavy nutritiant tank. Also, I don't think it would be easy to stack rocks on it, as I'm sure it's slippery.

I have seen people who use limestone tiles..i love the look of this, but it's tough to find limestone tiles that are definitely raw/uncoated and to be safe, you need to soak them for a minimum of 1 month.. This is a pain bc I want to have my tank setup in a month and would prefer to silicone them down.. Which won't be possible when the tank is filled. I'm also concerned about leaching and phosphates, regardless of how long they soak.

I thought about using ceramic media blocks, but it would cost hundreds of dollars for enough to cover the bottom..but I love this concept.

This leads me to my most recent and promising idea - ceramic media balls. A mixture of marine pure and brightwater media balls of various sizes. I would lay down egg crate first and then place them on top. This would give a nice variation in the bottom, lots of room for bacteria to grow and easy to clean (well, easier). They would also be able to support rocks easier than tiles/blocks/pvc. However, they are not the cheapest either.

So, what are your thoughts on a happy medium between barebottom vs sand/clean bottom vs biological filtration/plain and boring vs aesthically pleasing? Just curious what others are doing and what your thoughts are on using media balls instead of sand.

Thanks!
 
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desull

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Ugh.. Just realized the typo in my title... Not easy to post on the mobile browsers, since tt and the r2r app are now defunct..
 

Michael Lane

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I'll be upgrading a couple of my tanks soon, and I'm considering something similar. I was thinking of covering a piece of acrylic with cement or grout to provide some crevices and texture to the bottom of the tank.
 
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desull

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I'll be upgrading a couple of my tanks soon, and I'm considering something similar. I was thinking of covering a piece of acrylic with cement or grout to provide some crevices and texture to the bottom of the tank.
I had also heard of people mixing sand with epoxy and coating the tank bottom. Seems like an interesting idea, would give the look of sand without the downsides or the upside of additional bio filtration. The more I think about it, the more interesting of an idea it is.. You could "mold" in spots for rocks too..
 

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