Bare bottom tank vs. substrate (sand, gravel, etc.).
When I first started aquariums I thought it was mandatory to have a substrate in an aquarium. I never questioned the method for it made sense as to why it was done. It was more visually pleasing, made a more natural habitat for the fish to live in, and provided an area for the benificial bacteria to grow and thrive. This is great if you have lots of time for upkeep or you are only keeping the aquarium for a year or two. Substrate over time will not only build up a benificial bacteria colony but also will eventually build up bad bacteria, toxins, and can be a breading ground for certain parasites that you dont even know are there and one day when the immune system of your fish are compremised it will trigger a spiral effect and your once beautiful thriving aquarium will be a grave site for your fish. Now this is worst case scenario of course and only happens if the proper upkeep and cleaning of the substrate is ignored. The key word is PROPER because alot of people when they clean the substrate will either only clean off the top portion of the substrate leaving the bottom portion to rot,decay, and house all of the future problems or they go way to long between cleanings. But if you do a thurough cleaning every couple of weeks you MIGHT be alright because lets face it there will be times when the words lazy or procrastinate will strike and thats all it takes to set future problems into motion. It is alot of work to maintain an aquarium with substrate, plants, rocks, driftwood plus anything else that you put into the aquarium for the appearance of beauty but WAY easier when you simplify things without them present.
For me I believe in keeping a bare bottom aquarium with no rocks, no driftwood, and only one large surface plant which gives the fish a sense of cover. I do this because in the long term of the aquarium and fish this will provide a much healthier and problem FREE environment with supreme water quality.
The following is my basic list of maintanance:
Daily – Filter floss replacement in the overhead sump filter.(1 minute)
Every other day – 25% water change.(30 minutes)
Once a week – Clean glass from top to bottom. (10 minutes)
Bi-Monthly – Clean filter housing and bio media (1 hour). Clean aquarium lid (10min.). Clean heater and air lines (2 min.).