How do you clean your planted tank? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-26-2010, 05:05 AM Thread Starter
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How do you clean your planted tank?

How do you clean your planted tank?

My tank is relatively new and vacuuming the gravel would remove many of the plants, especially the smaller ones like HC and some of the grasses?

Also, do you remove your fish when you make minor plant adjustments?

Thanks,
Kelly
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post #2 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-26-2010, 05:43 AM
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I dont think you should vacuum very deep in the gravel, just get the mulm that is on top that looks ugly. Your plants will enjoy the mulm in your substrate. I vacuum around plants that will get sucked up but thats only new plants, just wait till they grow better roots and you wont have that problem.

Your fish should be fine with minor plant changing etc. I never remove my fish unless doing very MAJOR things, like completly changing substrates. If I disturb the substrate alot and its really cloudy i might do a water change, but i ussually do my plant rearanging during water changes so its not a problem.


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post #3 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-26-2010, 06:39 AM
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i place my vac unit over the sand 1 inch....I never ever cleaned the gravel, maybe only the front of my tank in gravel tanks.

I clean the glass then cut some plants....fill and enjoy.


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post #4 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-26-2010, 07:08 AM
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Everyone has their "magical" routine. I scrape the glass and clean the gravel religiously every single Sunday (I don't scrape the back of the tank at all so my ottos have something to do). I use a Python and cover the entire surface of the tank in one water replacement cycle (50% every Sunday). Considering how much fish poop and other detritus gets sucked up I can't imagine NOT doing this. If your plants are young and will get sucked up or uprooted then just avoid those areas until the plants get some roots.

I've also re-scaped my tank, rearranging some large crypts, stems and rocks, many a time without removing my fish. I've always done it on the same day, and right before, I do the 50% water change, and had no ill effect on the fish, snails or shrimp in the tank. In fact my rainbows go nuts flashing their colors every Sunday afternoon after I've done all the tank maintenance so I look at that as a sign that I'm doing right by them. SO their is your anecdotal story of the day!
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post #5 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-26-2010, 09:17 AM
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Usually when a tank is fairly new, there isn't a big fish or bio-load in the first place (cycling and all that), and this is a good time for your plants to get well rooted and established.

This being said, I do feel there is a difference between a fish tank that has plants, and a planted tank that has fish.

In all my planted tanks, I hardly ever vacuum the substrate. I feel it can disturb and possibly harm some of the plants/roots, especially if they are a more sensitive plant in texture and character.

If you have a higher plant load than fish load, and keep an eye on parameters, I find that over time, the tank becomes a natural ecosystem.
For me, all I do is trim the plants and replant the tops if I can/need/want too, and wipe off the algae from the glass if there is any, or if the otto's aren't doing a good enough job. After that, I do either a water change or a top off.

To constantly vacuum your tank I would find a little excessive. If you are noticing that there is more mulm on the surface than what your tank can break down naturally, before a water change, stir it up a bit so the filter catches it and then siphon out the water like you normally would.


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post #6 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-26-2010, 10:34 AM
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Removing all the fish every time would be a massive PITA. It's difficult enough in a non planted tank.


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post #7 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-26-2010, 01:15 PM
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LOL! My fish attack me when I put my hands in the tank. They bite and slap anything that gets introduced to the tank. It makes things interesting when I'm testing the water parameters, because they slap the tubes. The big one (5") slapped it out of my hand completely, and I about had to dive in to get it! Such attitudes for swordtails, and they aren't starving by any means!

This was a question on my mind too. I've only ever had non planted tanks, despite my drooling over them at the LFS, and I thoroughly vacuum the gravel every week. In fact, my scape looks very little like what it used to. I was told to just be gentle, and vacuum above and around the plants, to pick up the unsightly mulm.

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post #8 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-26-2010, 02:16 PM
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The turkey baster is a must have aquarium tool. Use it to get detritus into the water column so the filter can pick it up. Or use it to suck up small amounts of detritus. I use mine every day.
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post #9 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-26-2010, 02:25 PM Thread Starter
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The turkey baster is a must have aquarium tool. Use it to get detritus into the water column so the filter can pick it up. Or use it to suck up small amounts of detritus. I use mine every day.
I tried this and then I watched as the debris floated around the tank in sort of a whirlpool effect, a lot of which didn't seem to enter the filter intake ports. I'm wondering if something like the Hydor FLO rotating deflector may help mix things up a bit.

http://www.fosterandsmithaquatics.co...m?pcatid=11363

My only concerns would be it uprooting the plants and making it more difficult for my betta. Is anyone using the Hydor FLO and would you recommend it in a planted tank? My tank size is 29 gallons.
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post #10 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-26-2010, 02:39 PM
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I have a Betta in my 20 gallon. He's the only fish in the tank, everything else is plants.

My problem isn't with vacuuming, rather it's with the Betta as he likes to chase the syphon. Bonehead! What should take 5 minutes ends up taking 20 because I don't want him to get sucked up in the tube.

I agree with the turkey baster idea. I have one, but I rarely use it.
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post #11 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-26-2010, 02:47 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Scottso View Post
Everyone has their "magical" routine. I scrape the glass and clean the gravIn fact my rainbows go nuts flashing their colors every Sunday afternoon after I've done all the tank maintenance so I look at that as a sign that I'm doing right by them.
I love the look of rainbows. Is a 29 gallon tank large enough for them? Are the better in schools? How would they get along with a betta?
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post #12 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-26-2010, 05:43 PM
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I just swish the vac around about an inch above the gravel during water change. If I am up rooting plants, I will swish it around in the top layer in the spot where the plant used to be. I generally don't up root more than 25 % of the plants at a time and that is just before the 50 % water change. If you up root too many plants without a good water change, you risk greenwater problems. I've fought greenwater after a couple of massive rescapings so, I limit my changes to 25 %.

Old flourite grows plants better than new flourite IMHO. If you have a high plant load, don't over clean the substrate, you are only removing good nutrients.
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post #13 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-26-2010, 06:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Snipe View Post
I have a Betta in my 20 gallon. He's the only fish in the tank, everything else is plants.

My problem isn't with vacuuming, rather it's with the Betta as he likes to chase the syphon. Bonehead! What should take 5 minutes ends up taking 20 because I don't want him to get sucked up in the tube.

I agree with the turkey baster idea. I have one, but I rarely use it.
I have a giant danio that tried to commit suicide this way. It got sucked onto the end of the siphon tube a few days ago, and still has a visible red ring on it's side. Not dead though.


Put a piece of sponge or something on the end


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post #14 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-26-2010, 08:09 PM
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I try to just get the mulm that might easily get kicked up accidentally. I hate having a tank where I have to do everything gingerly for fear of nuking the tank because I uprooted a plant and it kicked up a mulm storm.

I had a tank going for a few years that I never gravel vacced and it was fine, just took a day to settle all the debris after a water change or whatever..

If you're not having troubles accidentally kicking up tons of mulm, then I would feel comfortable just leaving it alone..
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post #15 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-27-2010, 12:49 PM
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First I use an acrylic pad to wipe down the front and sides of the tank interior. Then I pull out my trusty cvs card, and use the white side facing out, to see and scrape any green spots on the inside tank.

Then I trim all the plants, then python about 40-50% of the water, vacuuming all the goldfish poop I can see....and there is always an insane amount.

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