Is the substrate colour important?
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Old 01-13-2004, 12:59 PM   #1
AussieTanker
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Hi all,.....

when i set up my first planted tank i used a white gravel substrate ... i am not sure of the exact type, but it is one of the most common brands of aquarium substrate sold in most lfs here in sydney australia .....

i chose the white colour, rather than the more common brown sandy colour because i had seen some pics of planted tanks on the net and i thiought that the white clour provided a great contrast and look against the black driftwood and the rich green of the plants ...

i also thought that it may help to "distribute" the light a little better ( my tank is quite deep, ... really too deep for a planted tank at 24 inches ).. slightly off topic here ... but any thoughts on this aspect ?

now for a question ...

i have recently read that white / lighter coloured substrates can cause freshwater tropical fish ( .... not the marine style fish ..... ) to gradually lose their colours by somehow causing the brighter colours to dull or fade over time ... and therefore it is better to use darker coloured substrates in aquariums of freshwater tropicals .... is this correct? ... and if so, does anyone know the mechanism for this ?

i think i also read that lighter substrates cause the fish to be more "nervy" or "timid" ... again, any personal observations on this ?

hope that someone can offer guidance on this ....

regards,
aussie tanker
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Old 01-13-2004, 01:19 PM   #2
Buck
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I cant speak for the fish but darker substrates tend to accent fish and plant colors a little better then very light colored sub's... but that is all up to personal taste.
I have done both and now prefer a more natural "dark" substrate.

With most fish, not all , I have found that water quality determines the fishes health which effects the fishes coloration, not its surroundings and also how "we" see them is dependant on lighting and the surroundings.
Lights are the biggest quirk with fish color I think.
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Old 01-13-2004, 09:45 PM   #3
2la
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Actually, yes, substrate color can play a big role in fish health and color. For most fish, there is definitely a preference for darker substrates. Few fish enjoy a reflective substrate, and most all are adapted to an environment where the substrate is of a subdued tone. That's why many fish have color on their sides and backs but have light-colored bellies. If you're a predator spying the water from above, a fish against a darker substrate will be MUCH more difficult to find if its back is also darkly colored than if it's back were bright or white. Likewise, if you're a predator looking for prey from the substrate up, a fish against sunlight will be much harder to spot if its belly is lightly colored and even reflective than if its belly were dark. Fish such as upside-down catfish have dark bellies because they swim in a different orientation.

Many fish put in a tank with very light-colored gravel will tend to blanch. This is both an adaptive response to the lighter gravel (to reduce their visibility from above) and a response to increased stress (won't generate full color when stressed). A prime example is the lemon tetra. Kept above a light-colored or even earth-colored gravel and it will be lemon-yellow to yellow-white. Kept above a black substrate, and they'll turn slaty grayish yellow--quite attractive, actually. For this particular fish, it's usually best to keep them above a neutrally colored substrate, since most people purchase this fish because they prefer its color to be a luminous yellow. For most other fish, however, a darker substrate is almost always preferred, and fish such as neons and cardinals will actually live longer when kept in such a manner. This does not exclude water quality as a factor as Buck mentioned, however: A fish kept over a dark substrate cannot be expected to demonstrate deep, rich colors if its in a constant state of poor health.
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Old 01-13-2004, 11:15 PM   #4
AussieTanker
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cool , ....

thanks for the help people ... just what i wanted to know ...( boy you guys know so much! ) .....

gotta go now! .... need to head off to the lfs to find some darker substrate .... ... thanks again ...

regards,
aussie tanker
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