Substrate Maintenance - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-07-2015, 01:44 PM Thread Starter
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Substrate Maintenance

I've just started my first planted tank. I'd kept fish only tanks for years so I did, clearly, not enough research before jumping into live plants. I hit up my LFS and got +/- 3.5" of Flora Max substrate and now that I have it I realize I've got no idea if I'm supposed to do gravel vacuums with my partial water changes. Should I rely on the roots and biofilter to deal with whatever falls in there?

I'm running a low tech set up. 19wat on 20gal (65quarts actually in the tank, I measured as I filled. So that's 16.25gal, I'm not sure which you use for WPG calculations).
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-07-2015, 02:27 PM
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The accumulation of those organic elements within and under the substrate is a benefit to your plants. The accumulation of is, mulm, on top of the substrate is an eye sore to us... but still beneficial. Typically I just swirl the water around a bit where I'm putting my water change pump and let it go.


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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-07-2015, 03:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Absolver5000 View Post
I've just started my first planted tank. I'd kept fish only tanks for years so I did, clearly, not enough research before jumping into live plants. I hit up my LFS and got +/- 3.5" of Flora Max substrate and now that I have it I realize I've got no idea if I'm supposed to do gravel vacuums with my partial water changes. Should I rely on the roots and biofilter to deal with whatever falls in there?
I don't touch my substrate at all, of course I have a dirt/clay cap sub so any mulm blends into the sub and isn't noticeable.

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I'm running a low tech set up. 19wat on 20gal (65quarts actually in the tank, I measured as I filled. So that's 16.25gal, I'm not sure which you use for WPG calculations).
One thing that is going to matter is the spectrum of the bulb (I prefer around 6400kv). WPG is old school, the standard now and days is PAR.

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...d.php?t=184368


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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-07-2015, 04:10 PM
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Substrate Maintenance

Hello Ab...

You don't need to vacuum the bottom material. The organic material that collects on the bottom will dissolve. If you have no plants, you remove it through the weekly water change. If you have a planted tank, the dissolved material feeds the plants. If you change half or more of the tank water weekly, you'll have no tank problems. It's that simple.

If you use florescent lights, then make an effort to get the watts per gallon to around 2. This will be enough light to grow the majority of the aquatic plants you get at the pet store. Check into shop lighting. It's both cheap and it works.

Don't make the mistake of making the water keeping hobby a mystery. It's not.

Have fun!

B

"Fear not my child, just change the tank water."
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-07-2015, 05:01 PM
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I agree with the others in that you do not need to remove the mulm that builds up. Still, I like to muck out the worst of it once and awhile. I'll use siphon to get it only disturbing about 1/4" of substrata. This is once case where there is no need to get it all.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-07-2015, 09:12 PM
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If you swirl the syphon tube about an inch above the substrate it will stir up the most of the gunk. What you don't want to do is disturb the roots or suck the nutrients out of the substrate.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-07-2015, 09:36 PM
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What you should do is only hover the vacuum over the substrate to get what is sitting on the surface and not suck up the substrate as you would normally have done with a fish only tank. Shredders like shrimp and MTS help greatly in helping break down the larger pieces of fish poo into smaller organic matter so that the bacteria and plants can use it.

75 gallon planted low tech
10 gallon quarantine planted low tech
5 gallon planted (sons) low tech
Plant heavily, fertilize well, stock lightly, change water weekly, and most importantly do not use too much light.

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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-08-2015, 01:18 PM
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If you swirl the syphon tube about an inch above the substrate it will stir up the most of the gunk. What you don't want to do is disturb the roots or suck the nutrients out of the substrate.
+1 this is what I do

Pulls out any fish crap that is sitting in my hairgrass. Gets built up pretty bad in some spots


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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-08-2015, 01:27 PM
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I never touch my substrate (dirt capped with black diamond).
The snail's and shrimp eat bit's of food that the fish miss and that which they eat,they excrete back onto the substrate where it is food for plant's.
When the snail's and shrimp can't keep up with their clean up duties,it is a sign for me,that I'm feeding too much.
Another indicator is how dirty the filter material get's between monthly cleaning of the foam pad's.
Normally,I feed my tank's three times a week, and only feed more if I have baby fishes I'm trying to grow out.
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