Vacuuming and types of substrate?
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Old 08-29-2012, 03:16 PM   #1
etgregoire
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Vacuuming and types of substrate?


I currently am using regular old aquarium gravel for my substrate, but have been reading some more on the pros/cons of the various types. My main question is though...

How do various types mesh with vacuuming and cleaning? I see some people describing various layering techniques of different materials and topping off with gravel. I also see that some of the substrates have smaller grain sizes, such as sand or other non-gravel types.

How does this affect in the long run? Do the layering techniques mix? Do you wind up siphoning out your expensive substrates when they are smaller grain sizes?

Any thoughts? Thanks!
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Old 08-29-2012, 05:05 PM   #2
Wasserpest
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Generally speaking, over time finer substrates work there way down, and coarser ones end up on top. With similar grain size, heavier ones tend to move down and lighter ones stay on top.

Regarding vacuuming, very fine substrates like sand can be difficult to clean. But the regular fired clay substrates like Flourite and Eco-Complete are heavy enough to remain in the tank while detritus goes up the gravel vac. Of course it depends on the diameter of the particular gravel vac, and the water volume/speed that you run it at. If particles being sucked out is an issue, a smaller hose diameter might be the solution.
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Old 08-29-2012, 05:07 PM   #3
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Generally, if your substrate isn't extremely porous like gravel, there's no need to vac the substrate. For example, if you use flourite, sand, finer substrates, there's no need to vac the substrate for poop. As it naturally gets broken down by the BB it won't turn toxic as it will in the case of porous gravel.
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Old 08-29-2012, 05:21 PM   #4
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Ther's really no need to vac the substrate in a planted tank. You can actually cause bacterial blooms just by disturbing it too much. I stay an inch above what little bit I can get to when I do water changes. What I miss either gets filtered or ends up as organic fert for the plants.

I use flourite in my tank and like it, but to each is own. There is pro's n con's of all substrates but they all have produced nice tanks including plain pea gravel.

Thats my 2 cents.
Hope it helps.
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Old 08-29-2012, 06:38 PM   #5
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So this is interesting... because I always vacuum the crap out of my gravel when I clean! I might be feeding too much, but it always seems like the gravel looks cleaner and not dingy after I vac.

What does BB stand for?

I'm trying to interpret your comments diwu13 and let'sget.tanked - so with gravel, should I or should I not be vacuuming? Not totally sure based on saying it could become toxic with gravel - but I also have a planted tank.

Thanks!
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Old 08-29-2012, 07:04 PM   #6
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I'm guessing BB stands for beneficial bacteria. I use Safe-T-Sorb (fired clay) on top of dirt and I never vacuum. It could be because my shrimp and snails are breaking everything down though.

EDIT: If you are using aquarium gravel they typically sell in stores, I believe you need to vacuum it.
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Old 08-29-2012, 07:48 PM   #7
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Heavy things like gravel get sucked up into the large tube, swirl around a few seconds and drop out. You can go over the whole tank and get it really clean all the way down and not lose any gravel.
The finer gravel will also do this, but sometimes a bit will go out the siphon. Not often, but if you are running a large siphon it can mean quite a bit of lost gravel over time.

Sand can get removed from the tank with the mid-sized siphons. If I want to deep vacuum it there are several tricks I use:
1) Put the bucket higher up, not on the floor. Water runs slower, so sand can drop out of the large tube.
2) Hold the outlet tube in my hand, ready to pinch it off. Stop or greatly slow the water flow and the sand drops out of the large tube.
3) Hold the large tube at an angle so the intake is no more than half buried in the sand. Then drag it through the substrate, do not push it.

I will do a similar method when I am moving or re-scaping a tank, and want to thoroughly clean Soil Master Select or Turface. It also is a lightweight substrate that can all too easily get inhaled by the siphon.

I do not generally clean a planted tank that deeply. I will use a piece of tubing that is just a bit larger than air tubing and move this through the plants if I see something I want to remove. It is slow enough flow that the leaves are not trapped in it.
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Old 08-29-2012, 10:05 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by etgregoire View Post
So this is interesting... because I always vacuum the crap out of my gravel when I clean! I might be feeding too much, but it always seems like the gravel looks cleaner and not dingy after I vac.

What does BB stand for?

I'm trying to interpret your comments diwu13 and let'sget.tanked - so with gravel, should I or should I not be vacuuming? Not totally sure based on saying it could become toxic with gravel - but I also have a planted tank.

Thanks!
With gravel, you should vac since there's areas where food/poop can get into. Then it gets trapped there and starts to break down. Then, it slowly releases toxins due to the uneaten food.

If you do decide to switch substrates, don't bother vac'ing the substrate.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Soujirou View Post
I'm guessing BB stands for beneficial bacteria. I use Safe-T-Sorb (fired clay) on top of dirt and I never vacuum. It could be because my shrimp and snails are breaking everything down though.

EDIT: If you are using aquarium gravel they typically sell in stores, I believe you need to vacuum it.
Yup all correct !
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Old 08-31-2012, 05:06 AM   #9
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I have sand and I've never vacuumed it. Any poop that accumulates on the bottom is broken up by all my loaches darting around, then absorbed by the plants. Sand is definitely the way to go.
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Old 08-31-2012, 11:15 PM   #10
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Suggestions
1) Malaysian trumpet snails
2) Nerites
3) Corydora(Pygmeus or hasbrous)
4) At least an 1" of 1/4"in river or aquarium gravel over whatever other substrate you choose(MGOPS, laterite, coarse sand)
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