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Gravel helps by making a place for plants to have roots, fish waste ends up in it, and excess food could also go there. My question is if we can have an aquarium without gravel. Or, maybe just a very small layer of gravel, just enough to cover the bottom but not stack on top of each other.

I'm interested because I want to have an aquarium that is easier to maintain but still looks nice. I don't want to have to clean the gravel, because that becomes a big hassle for me.

Here are my questions:
1. Anyone here have pictures of a tank that doesn't have gravel?
2. Will it look bad or somehow require more maintenance because the food/fish waste ends up on the floor and is visible?
3. What other kinds of issues could I run into?

I realize that some creatures really like gravel and so I won't be able to use them unless I have at least a small layer of gravel. I've heard of some shrimp breeders not having gravel and instead just have a lot of moss for the shrimp.

Overall, any thoughts on this topic? I'd probably have to stick to plants that can be tied to something like a rock or wood and creatures that don't need the gravel or have something like moss for them.

I did do a search but couldn't find much on this.
 

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Most people with planted tanks do not clean the gravel or only do it very rarely. If the mulm accumulates on top of the gravel, they usually sipnon it out while doing a water change. Mostly the mulm works down in the gravel and helps fertilize the plants.

In a tank without gravel, all the mulm will be visible. If that doesn't bother you, no problem. There are even a number of plants that can be grown floating, such as Ceratophyllum, various mosses, various floaters like duckweed and Ceratopteris, Other plants can be attached to driftwood, for example, Microsorum and Anubias.
 

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From my point of view gravel plays two major tasks in tank. First, it make aquarium looking more naturally and Second, it support biological filtration.
I was trying with tanks without gravel but unfortunately don’t have pictures. I was using small volcanic lava stones and second time, pieces of coconut shells to cover bottom of my tank. Finally I found it more difficult to clean dirt between lava stones and coconut shells then siphon gravel.
Mostly tanks without gravel are used as breeding or quarantine tanks.
 

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Long time ago, I did have tanks without gravel - just bare bottom. I relied on hang-on-the-back filters to keep the tank bottom clean. That was not a problem. However, I had to change water weekly and clean filers every couple weeks. Chores aside, fish did not seem to be happy or healthy.

Then I came across Ms. Walstad's book "Ecology of the Planted Aquarium":

http://www.amazon.com/review/product/0967377307

After finished reading the book, I converted the tanks to soil substrate with a gravel layer on top. With that, I no longer have to change water - just top up the tank. There is no filter to clean - just trim the plant growth. Best of all, fish are healthy and seem to be enjoying their environment.

Of course, Diana Walstad is at this forum. If you have issues, you can get her feedback here as well as that of the many other experts.
 

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My tanks are mostly no gravel. I grow Java Moss, Anacharis, duckweed, water lettuce, water sprite. My tanks are mostly used in breeding livebearers.
In addition to moss,floating, and stem plants, you can put plants in pots that require soil.
 

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what are soem of the moss species that can grow floating? I have some singapore moss right now that I'm debating on what to do with. It is in a zip lock back floating right now. I'm probably going to use a hair net and tie it to some drift wood.

Right now I have a 5 gallon with VERY minimal gravel in there. Basically just what got sucked up when I was moving water from my established tank to it. I'm growing 3 guppy fry in it right now. They seem to be doing well and growing noticably every other day.
 

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I have two tanks that are bare bottom and one's a hospital. The other one is for breeding livebearers and I simply toss hygro trimmings into it. Fry seem to enjoy that and my apple snails are clean up crew. Otherwise, I am a big fan of substrate.
 
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