Dark or light substrate - that is the ??? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-05-2012, 12:02 AM Thread Starter
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Dark or light substrate - that is the ???

PLEASE help me decide if I should go light or dark on the substrate! I'm going to set up my 40g B with a simple hardscape, mainly driftwood and a few stones. No CO2, 1 55W cfl, weekly 25% wc. I want to stock white cloud mountain minnows and either hardy cory-type bottom feeders or snails, so water will be cooler than normal tropical temps. Was going to attach some hardy/cool temp. mosses on the driftwood, but after seeing some GORGEOUS hardscapes with no moss, I might even opt for that further simplicity.

The nicest austere hardscapes seem to go with white PFS, but I hear it can be a pain to keep white and algae-free. Is it less risky to use black diamond? What say you? Thanks in advance...
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-05-2012, 12:24 AM
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I have used light and dark sand and at the moment I am loving my black diamond. I like how the colors just pop against the black. I have some tanks with river sand too and they also look nice but again I love my black diamond. Maybe after I have it for a while the novelty will wear off though. Go with dark.
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-05-2012, 12:27 AM
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I second that. Also I notice the colors of my fish are way more pronounced over a darker substrate. I always thought they looked washed out or faded over my tan PFS but not so with the black.

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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-05-2012, 12:40 AM
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Another vote here for black diamond, it looks much nicer than my pfs tanks. Not even a question in my mind anymore what I will use in future tanks. Don't get me wrong, the pfs looks nice, just not as nice as the black diamond.

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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-05-2012, 12:45 AM
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I went with black, and I love it. I've also heard that many fish species feel less anxious with a dark substrate...

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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-05-2012, 12:57 AM
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White...
I love white.. its goes so well in tanks..
Black does make the fish pop more, but I really do like white better.
I've had no issues keeping it algae free.. Or clean and white..
Black just has never appealed to me. I only use it when I have to..


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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-05-2012, 01:47 AM
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Just remember... unless you do really good maintenance, white substrate will "turn" black after a while from the waste that collects there.

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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-05-2012, 02:43 AM
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Matter of personal tastes, I think. I have black tank as well as a PFS tank. I agree with what everyone says with using black. I also think the white looks good too, it seems to look brighter because of the light reflecting back up. However, it doesn't stay white for long without attentive maintenance. Mulm is very noticeable, and whatever breaks down seeps in the PFS giving it a dirty look on the glass. Not to mention algae on the glass just under the substrate.

White looks good IMO, but black is more forgiving on maintenance, or rather the looks of the black because of the lack thereof.
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-05-2012, 02:57 AM
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Definitely a matter of personal opinion. My pfs tanks don't really look dirty, just natural, but you will see every bit of waste that settles on it. I have no problems with algae on the glass or the pfs itself however.

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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-05-2012, 02:44 PM
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I'll put another vote for black. As the others say, black makes all the other colors, on the plants, fish, or other pieces, look more vivid.
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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-06-2012, 04:07 AM
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I really think black (or at least dark) is the way to go with substrate.

as mentioned above, it helps to make wast less conspicous, it can bring out the colors of fish and plants, supposedly some fish are less stressed (although I've also read this, I have no idea if it's actually been tested, and how the results bear out...).

personally, I think having white substrate and brightlighting tends to give a 'wash-out' sorta effect.

I've really liked how my past tanks have looked with black substrate, black background, and a bunch of plants - I think it draws more attention to the plants and fish, and somewhat softens the boundaries/edges of the tank, giving it the illusion that it is not quite as small as it appears.
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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-07-2012, 03:01 AM
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I did both! Just like the "force" it has a light side and a dark side



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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-07-2012, 03:39 AM
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Well... as someone said, it's all a matter of personal preference.
But to me, a lighter-colored substrate makes the plants and fish coloration much more acute than dark substrate, which tends to make fish colors, in particular, darker than they should, and actually do, look.
And contrary to what seems to be a more popular opinion, whitish substrate is not difficult to keep clean, and free of algae and dirt - just takes a little more work and attention. A few simple steps will keep it looking like new all the time.

Here's my low-tech, planted discus tank, with white silica PFS which had been in the tank for over 1.5 years when the pics were taken:
http://s1105.photobucket.com/albums/...spaul/Sept2011

It's not rocket science, and I'll never be convinced to go back to drab black.
Many of those using black substrate feel more comfortable, ime, because it shows the dirt and imperfections far less than white - but the 'crud' is still there - you just don't notice it as much.
My .02
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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-07-2012, 12:54 PM Thread Starter
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THanks for everyone's opinions and I realize there is really no wrong answer, but the answer that appeals to the viewer. As I mentioned, I'm not going to do a heavily planted tank. Have had that for years and it's just getting too much to maintain. So going to do the austere, yet beautiful hardscape-only route with driftwood and a few stones. The only examples of this type of aquascape I've seen have had white/tan sand substrates, and the choice of fish used have colors that are very subdued (silver, lemon tetras, white cloud mtn. minnows, etc) so the need for "pop" isn't the issue. Believe me, I'd done a lot of research into the Black Diamond/Beauty blasting sand and now I'm really on the fence. Since there will be no plant maintenance and extensive water testing/dosing, I can do light vacuuming/wc no problem. Also, can keep light duration to a minimum if needing to control algae...
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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-08-2012, 12:39 AM
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I'm setting up my first tank with a light substrate--CaribSeaTorpedo Beach. It's a littler coarser but sand colored. I've always used eco-complete black before but this is a bigger tank with a black background.

The stock will be one platinum angel, some rummynose tetra or emerald eyed rasbora and some cories.

The focal point is a large stump and most of the plants are java and anubias growing on it--very low maintenance. After thinking about it a long time, I thought the dark substrate, the black background and the big dark stump would be too depressing. The Torpedo Beach is exactly what it needed.....

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