Best way to clean substrate in a nano tank - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-01-2013, 06:46 PM Thread Starter
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Best way to clean substrate in a nano tank

How do you guys clean the substrate on your nanos? I've had my Spec 2 for about a month and haven't cleaned the gravel. However, I do multiple water changes a week. The tank had 8 guppy fry, but I had to move them into my 20 gallon because I needed to quarantine new male guppy I bought. I'm still trying to determine if this new guppy has ich or not, which is hard to tell given its coloration. At any rate, catching the guppy fry stirred up the gravel quite a bit, and I realized just how filthy it was. Right now, I'm think of using airline tubing wrapped with some spare window screening. The tubing by itself gets clogged with single pieces of gravel, so I'm thinking the window screening will work using the "stir and siphon" method. Still, I'd like to know what you all do to clean your gravel. Is there a specific product that works well for nano tanks?
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-01-2013, 08:26 PM
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I use a turkey baster for cleaning my Spec. I don't have to clean too much off the bottom because I only have shrimp and snails with sand substrate, but it works well enough when I need to grab something. You can get one at the dollar store too. Funny because I recently saw Petsmart sells them for cleaning Betta tanks, but they are around $8-9.
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-01-2013, 08:29 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by retrocity View Post
I use a turkey baster for cleaning my Spec. I don't have to clean too much off the bottom because I only have shrimp and snails with sand substrate, but it works well enough when I need to grab something. You can get one at the dollar store too. Funny because I recently saw Petsmart sells them for cleaning Betta tanks, but they are around $8-9.
I do have a turkey baster, but it's difficult to see any waste on my black substrate. I guess my biggest problem is that I've been rearing guppy fry in my Spec 2. The little boogers need to be fed multiple times per day and obviously create a lot of waste. This won't be a problem once I go with shrimp and a nano fish or two.
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-02-2013, 03:19 AM
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This method gets really messy, IME, but since you need to clean it, here it goes: use the turkey baster to blast air into the substrate so that the detritus is released into the water, then siphon up the water, add more water, repeat steps. I do this with my tanks all the time, but not with shrimp tanks, as it could cause a spike in parameters. But guppies are pretty hardy, IMO, so they'll most likely survive it, if it happens. The downside is that the detritus can dust the plants and it leaves it ugly and non-appealing.
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-02-2013, 05:56 AM
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airline hose?
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-02-2013, 01:33 PM
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Is this a planted tank?

If so, you probably shouldn't be stirring up and cleaning your substrate. Only remove what's unsightly and visible on the very top.

The mulm and other yucky stuff in your substrate feeds your plants.
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-02-2013, 04:52 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by somewhatshocked View Post
Is this a planted tank?

If so, you probably shouldn't be stirring up and cleaning your substrate. Only remove what's unsightly and visible on the very top.

The mulm and other yucky stuff in your substrate feeds your plants.
It is planted but only with anacharis and anubias for now. I eventually want to put some moss in the tank. The tank is currently being used to quarantine a male guppy with ich, and before that, I had guppy fry occupying the tank. I just didn't realize how much those little babies pooped and was a little shocked to see how much waste was stirred up when I had to net them out. At some point, this tank is going to be an RCS tank, so I want to keep the substrate relatively clean on a weekly basis so that I don't have to do a major substrate cleaning prior to getting my RCS.
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-02-2013, 04:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by somewhatshocked View Post
Is this a planted tank?

If so, you probably shouldn't be stirring up and cleaning your substrate. Only remove what's unsightly and visible on the very top.

The mulm and other yucky stuff in your substrate feeds your plants.
Exactly! I never clean substrate. For my gravel tanks, ramshorns and otos keep the top looking good, while cories and MTS keep my sand tanks presentable. No need to clean under the surface of the substrate, just plant some heavy root-feeders.

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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-02-2013, 04:58 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Indychus View Post
Exactly! I never clean substrate. For my gravel tanks, ramshorns and otos keep the top looking good, while cories and MTS keep my sand tanks presentable. No need to clean under the surface of the substrate, just plant some heavy root-feeders.
The problem is that I don't have any heavy root feeders in my Spec 2. Maybe I'll try planting a couple of young vals for now and see how that works out.
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-02-2013, 05:03 PM
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Even without any heavy root feeders, I'm sure the anacharis appreciates it. All of that fish poop down there is fertilizer!

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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-02-2013, 05:05 PM Thread Starter
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Even without any heavy root feeders, I'm sure the anacharis appreciates it. All of that fish poop down there is fertilizer!
OK. I guess I'll just attach some mesh to one end of my airline tubing and vacuum just the surface without disturbing the gravel.
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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-02-2013, 07:47 PM
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Your mileage may vary, but in alot of my nano/pico tanks, I'll use a pipette (turkey baster will work too) to "puff" water at the substrate to stir up any loose debris--then pull off water as usual for the water change. With weekly water changes (10-20%) enough of the loose stuff gets sucked out to keep it at reasonable levels.

Deeper cleans wait til I'm ready to re-scape or change the stock--then I pull the majority of the stock (there's always a few shrimp or snails left behind) and any plants I'm moving, skim the bottom to get the loose stuff out with minimal water loss then stir the upper layers of the substrate with a bamboo skewer to do a 50-75% wc to get out a good percentage of the muck that's now suspended in the water column/re-deposited on the floor of the tank. Pretty rare that I do this, though--and usually only a period of severe neglect.
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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-13-2019, 12:25 AM
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I have seen Rachel OLeary (spelling) use a chopstick on the end of her mini siphon and stir up the substrate in front of the siphon.
The gunk sucked right up.
Easy to use in tight spaces.
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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-15-2019, 08:38 PM
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I use this (mini 5 ")
https://www.chewy.com/aqueon-siphon-...avel/dp/128928
If I have a dense plant mass at the substrate level I use a pipet to stir up the water around the substrate and knock loose poop/uneaten food.
Granted I have all sand substrates not gravel, but gravel is easy if its not planted you can just stab the siphon into the gravel and sick up the mulm then pinch the hose to release gravel, or raise it up a bit.

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