How to Clean Tanks with Soil Substrate - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-18-2015, 03:04 AM Thread Starter
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How to Clean Tanks with Soil Substrate

Hi, I posted this on a other forum but nobody actually answered me so I am hoping to find some help here. I have a small tank with fluval plant and shrimp stratum (or volconic soil) as my substrate, its really light and easily disturbed.

I added a bunch of river rocks to hold the substrate in place so the filter doesn't push it around but when I try to clean the bottom of the tank, it goes everywhere. If I suction, it gets sucked up, if I try to just stir it so I can get some of the guck out, it goes all over the tank.

Is there some sort of trick to cleaning with something like this? I mean, I just want to give it a weekly clean so poop and dead plant matter don't collect.

Thanks.
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-18-2015, 03:44 AM
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I don't vaccuum my substrate any more and my plants have never looked better. I guess a bunch of things depend on if you have to, such as how much you feed, fish load, etc. I feed once a day, with a little extra for the plants.

Otherwise, can you put some window screen or something over the end of the siphon?

I hope this helps. Unless you are getting high nitrates all the time I'd say at least you can cut back on your cleanings.

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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-18-2015, 03:52 AM
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I have this stratum in a shrimp tank. I just gently wave the siphon an inch or so above the substrate, this blows about some mulm which then gets sucked up. The stratum moves sideways a bit using this technique. Not enough to blow all over.

I use a Marina gravel vacuum, the kind that you plunge up and down to get going. It doesn't suck up the stratum, the vacuum is not that strong.

Other than that, the small bits of decaying matter etc just breaks down into the substrate and becomes plant food. Yes, I can see it below the top layer (through the glass), but then it's where the roots can get to it.

I don't have a cap on the substrate.

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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-18-2015, 12:13 PM
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Just like Wannaberooted, I don't vaccuum either. The only solid matter I remove from the tanks are plant trims.
Heck my 29 gal's bottom is a pile of mulm and the more I look at it, the more I want my other tanks to be like so.


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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-18-2015, 04:46 PM
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I may not have been clear enough about using the gravel vacuum. I don't actually vacuum the gravel with it, I just use it as a siphon for water change. I do try to get some big pieces of mulm sucked in when I move it around. I don't worry about the small pieces.

I don't like disturbing the gravel at all.

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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-19-2015, 04:09 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the tips. I will go to home depot to see if I can get anything that go around the suction.

Is mulm harmful to fish or invertebrates? I don't have anything that digs around in the substrate but just wondering if its harmful at all. I don't have much in the tank, just a betta and a lot of ramshorn snails. Its not too dirty but the snails do poop a lot.
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-19-2015, 05:46 AM
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The mulm is not harmful, really, it turns into food for plants.

I just don't like the look of too much of it, eventually it just decays and your beneficial bacteria take care of it.

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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-19-2015, 05:55 AM
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It depends on how many plants you have. The bacteria will break down the fish and snail waste, but the tank will build up nitrates if the plants aren't using up the ammonia at a fast enough rate.

If you have lots of snails, you may be over-feeding. Their numbers fluctuate directly with how much food there is for them. You might want to remove some from the tank if you cut back feeding, or they can die and cause an ammonia spike which your filter can't handle.

Good luck.

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