Planted Tank Guru
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Contra Costa CA
As bare bottom as you can. Less places for disease organisms or parasites to hide. Easier to vacuum.
Yes, fish may not like bare bottom.
You could set the tank on a dark surface (dark furniture, or put something black under it).
I put barely 1 layer of small gravel over the bottom. When I am vacuuming the debris tends to stay in place better, less swirling around into the water column.
I toss in plant trimmings, which pretty much all float.
If it is a bottom dwelling fish that would feel safer with something to hide under I will add a few rocks. The fish is still visible, but can at least hang out near the rocks. A couple of rocks are easy enough to move to see the fish all over, if needed.
Anything used in the q-tank is either throw away or can be sterilized, just in case...