Graveled or Bare Bottomed Tank?

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It’s not something you think about until you do. That would be the gravel or substrate that you use.

There is no right answer here. Which you use depends on the look you are trying to achieve, what type of ornaments you are using, plants live or silk, and cleanability if I can make up a word. Other considerations might be tank size and whether or not it is cycled.

While this comes down to personal preference, you can use sand, gravel, decorative glass stones, marbles, polished rocks or glass. Yes there are quite a few choices actually. The one you choose should be the on you think works best with your overall plans. And don’t forget going with a bare bottomed tank is another perfectly acceptable option. Although most prefer some type of covering because the fish waste is less obvious.

Now the problem with marbles, polished rocks, or glass stones is if the food sinks and drops into that your fighting fish won’t be able to get to it. This will contribute to rising ammonia levels in the water.

Sand to me is simply too messy.

If you’ve got a smaller set up and will be doing many 100% water changes, not what I’d recommend, then you likely want less not more substrate.

If you are going with a cycled set up, your substrate is where the bacteria will live. It becomes part of the tanks bio filtration. While not exactly essential, it helps to keep the nitrogen cycle going strong in your tank. Which is the process that keeps harmful ammonia and nitrates in check.

When you get into the part of the tank setup it helps to remember you’ve got to have some way to keep it clean though as well.

This 2 minute video covers the basics of gravel in your tank.


  • Your pet store will offer a variety of gravel types, colors and textures.
  • When it comes to gravel your fish can take it or leave it.
  • Your substrate is often more about appearance and how the tank set up looks.
  • It’s a place to anchor plants real or silk.
  • Biological filtration is another benefit.
  • You always want to rinse the gravel before dumping it into your tank, bowl or aquarium.

And let’s not forget the need to pull out the ole baster or siphon to give your substrate the once over from time to time.

Again pretty basic stuff. Still to gravel or not is more of less a personal preference. Even better anymore there are lots of ways you can go. Just keep in mind you will have to clean it to get the accumulated gunk out of it periodically. Which means more often than NEVER! Plus whatever you use will add to the weight of your set up which may limit where you can put your betta tank or bowl.

About Lucas
Putting a name with a face I'm Lucas Smatana. Like you I'm passionate about betta fish and hope to share my enthusiasm. The idea here is to make sure you get helpful info and useful ideas on betta fish care that really work. To insure your betta keeping experience is a good one both for you and your fish. So that you and your pet enjoy a long, happy and healthy relationship.

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