• Stingray Safe Substrate

    So what's the best substrates for rays? Thats what we are going to take a look at. People use a wide variety of different substrates for their rays. Each having its own benefits and disadvantages. I'm going to talk about a few of these in this thread and tell some goods and bads about each. Also i will let you know of some that you just don't want to use for the sake of your ray.

    Not all substrates are safe for a stingray. Some sands are to sharp and can actually tear up the bottom and outer edges of the rays disc. Also some gravels can do the same so when buying your substrate you need to feel and rub it in the palm of your hand to make sure your not to sharp. if any sands stick in your hand then chances are it will stick into the soft belly of your ray. Most of the time silica sands are jagged and not round so i usually stay away from these sands. People have had success with silica based sand but since it does pose a risk i will let you decide for yourself and i wont recommend it.

    You can also look at it under a microscope to see if its more of a rounded grain or jagged. Rounded is the preferred where as jagged is dangerous. The same goes with gravel. When you are buying your gravel you will want to buy small gravel stay away from the larger stuff. Large gravel can hide uneaten food and will pose a threat to the water levels. Also you want to buy the rounded instead of jagged edged gravel. This is easier to see in gravels as well, it's bigger.

    Sand and gravel are also areas for beneficial bacteria (bb) to grow. This is a huge plus on using them but with the good also comes the bad. They also can harbor bad bacteria the type you don't want. This can cause bacteria infections and if not treated can kill a ray. So clean sand and gravel is a must not just for the look of your tank but the health of your rays

    Now that you know a little about what to look for in buying sand and gravel it's time to talk about some of the advantages and disadvantages of each type. This will help you on deciding on what kind of substrate you would like to go with.

    We will start off with sand as that is one of the most common for a stingray tank. Sand in appearance is hard to beat. It comes in a variety of colors and in most tanks look great when its clean. when buying sand also see how it floats in the water. You will come across some very light sand that will end up in filters when the rays are moving around. There is some heavier sand that usually even when brought up will float straight back down, and i recommend this type where as the light stuff can get into props and tear up filters.

    The stingrays will cover themselves up with sand and hide in it like they would do in the wild. This provides a sense of security so if the ray is scared it can hide. This is definitely a plus, but after you have had the ray for a long time they usually get use to everything and seldom hide anymore. The bad part of hiding in the sand is that sometimes the sand will stick to the rays disc. Not a bad thing but in a way its an eye sore and sometimes makes it hard to get a good picture.

    Sand is fairly easy to clean as food and detritus usually stays on top of the sand and doesn't usually get down into it. So a gravel vac once or twice a week usually cleans and get what has made its way down into the sand. Also your rays will be constantly moving the sand and rearranging it. Most of the time a front area where they move around allot.

    One thing about sand is that deep sand can be a killer if your not careful. Sand needs to be constantly stirred even if you think rays are doing a good enough job when they are pounding the sand for food and making craters. If its not stirred and clean it can create anaerobic areas that can be very deadly. So i usually suggest 1/2"-1.5" of sand and not much deeper.

    So some pluses are they are fun to watch pounding the sand looking for food, sand looks great when kept clean, gives a place for bb to grow, and the rays can hide when stressed.

    The minuses would be if not properly taken care of can be deadly, has to be cleaned often, light sand can tear up propellers in filters, gives a place for bad bacteria to grow, will usually be moved around to bare bottom in some places, and can stick to the rays.

    Gravel also is another great looking substrate. It still has a wide variety of colors to choose from, and makes the tank look great. When buying gravel the smaller is usually better and remember to buy rounded gravel. If your gravel is small enough the ray can usually bury themselves still.

    When a ray buries its self in gravel the plus is it wont stick to the ray when coming out. For this to work you need very small gravel though. Big gravel or sharp gravel can hurt a ray trying to bury its self. Another thing i like about small gravel is when the ray is pounding on it you can hear it. Gives a nice little sound and is fun to watch.

    One thing about gravel is that food and detritus can work its way down into the gravel so like sand still needs to be cleaned with a vac once or twice a week. This usually takes a while to get all of the little stuff so takes a little longer than sand. But this has to be done to keep your water clean and params in check.

    So like sand the pluses are: Looks great, some types the rays can still bury themselves, gravel wont go into props and ruin filters, gives a place for bb to grow, harder for the rays to rearrange so much and it wont stick to the rays.

    Minuses: Has to be cleaned, its harder for the ray to bury itself, and gives a place for bad bacteria to grow.

    Bare Bottom or Tiled
    Bare bottom and tiled tanks are becoming more popular these days so i feel its a must to say some things about these two as well.

    Bare bottoms don't looks as great as a sanded or graveled tank but it has some good benefits. Cleaning a bare bottom is a very easy task. Easily done by power heads or the pumps power from the filter if done right. if these don't take care of it a quick netting will do.

    Another thing i like about bare bottom tanks is you can see under the tank in some cases. this really help to see the rays stomach at all times. The stomach is usually a good health indicator so bare bottoms in this case help tremendously. I think all Quarantine tanks should be bare bottom just for that reason.

    Some people like to use tiles as this gives a tank a good look and keeps the ease of cleaning of the bare bottom. Plus its easy to change colors of the base of your tank if you just want a different color. Some people even paint the bottom of the tanks (from the outside) so its not as dull as just regular bare bottom. This will also take away your underside look though.

    Another thing that attracts bare bottom tanks and tiled tanks is that you don't have to worry about bad bacteria. This is very nice but you are also getting rid of space for bb. But in all honesty your filters should be able to handle your tank not your substrate.

    So time for some pluses and minuses. Pluses: Easy maintenance, no bad bacteria, and easy to see rays underside.

    Minuses: Does not look as good in most cases, rays cannot bury themselves, and no area for bb to grow.

    So there is your basics on what some benefits and disadvantages of each substrate is. What works for some will not work for others. Even if you are buying the same type as your friend sometimes the bags differ in quality, grade, and sharpness. so be careful when buying your substrate, always test first. Remember your rays and their discs are sensitive.

    I haven't covered all areas of each substrate but this is whats in my head right now. As i think about it more i will add and edit more for each one. If you have something to add or think i have missed something just send me a pm. Thanks for reading everyone!!

    Happy Keeping
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Stingray Safe Substrate started by Jeffers View original post

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