Does fish waste/ food eventually end up under the gravel? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-17-2017, 06:56 AM Thread Starter
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Does fish waste/ food eventually end up under the gravel?

Does fish waste/ food eventually end up under the gravel? Reason I am asking such a strange question is because I am thinking of building some kind of DIY self cleaning system for my aquarium.

Maybe with intake pipes under the gravel.

Thanks.
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-17-2017, 07:20 AM
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Yes,dissolved fish food/fish waste along with some solid form's of both will find it's way into the substrate mix = food for plant's.
See "Reverse flow under gravel filtration" for something along the lines of what you might be thinking of doing.
I have a 55 gal full of wood and anubia attached to same,that houses one adult Royal pleco, One adult Farlowella,Three Adult bristlenose (one female),and gobs of cherry shrimp,and baby bristlenose.
These fish make a lot of waste and I feed them more than I would other tank's yet I have not vacuumed the substrate in nearly two year's.
With the tank crammed with wood,anubia,duckweed,couple crypt's,I just change 50% of the water each weekend.
Would have to pull everything out to clean substrate so I rely on large weekly water change and filter material is cleaned in this tank each week or two.
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-17-2017, 07:43 AM
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-17-2017, 11:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roadmaster View Post
Yes,dissolved fish food/fish waste along with some solid form's of both will find it's way into the substrate mix = food for plant's.
Until you stir the gravel the wrong way some day and then it will mess your stuff right up!

Having a powerhead low enough to push crap up into the water column will shift much of it into the filter. I keep my high waste fish on bare bottoms or sand... which turns into mud rather than just a nitrate store.
I collected my sand from a sandy beach on the Berg river so it is not totally inert.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-17-2017, 11:39 AM
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It all does. But as it breaks down, you have fertilizer for plants, unless you don't have any or it's very sparsely planted, then it's a good idea to keep up on water changes and vacuum what you can see. I would not stir up your gravel or substrate. Feed only what your fish will eat in a couple minutes and it shouldn't be a problem. Have a good clean up crew and it shouldn't be an issue either.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-17-2017, 11:45 AM
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Lol, I'd be broke if I fed these bastards enough to feed for minutes, It's like watching piranhas when I throw food in, and they get fed maybe 5 or 6 times a day in small amounts.
Especially the tank with the 14 juvenile angels.

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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-17-2017, 12:17 PM
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Gotta have gobs of plant's to really ignore substrate detritus ,or at least I do.
My spray bar's are mounted high on the back glass both pushing water against front glass, and across the substrate from front to back where it travel's back up the back glass and is repeated.
Most of the detritus gather's along the back corner's where filter intakes are mounted.
I shut down the filter's when I feed so filter's don't immediately draw in the flake food's I offer.(don't forget to turm em back on, says sheepishly)
I also have cory's,shrimp's,snails, that move about the substrate and eat what fishes might miss.
Really not much of an issue with heavily planted substrate and regular water changes for me.
Have not seen the Royal pleco in the 55 gal but twice in the last few month's ,but see the wood re-arranged and some of the anubia moved from spot's where I wedge it among the wood pieces which is a sure sign he/she has been out and about.
As I chose wood and slow growing anubia to attach to it,,It took a lot of anubia to make me feel comfortable.
Some of the anubia is several Year's old and has produced lot's of small plant's, and I bought a anubia plant or two every time I went to buy fish food's at chain store.
Fast growing stem plant's would be better suited to help assimilate the fish poo/fish waste that dissolves and or is in possibly solid form on the substrate along with water changes and vaccuming where you can, but if your seeing lot's of the stuff,then I might wonder if flow from filtration is lacking ,or filter material possibly in need of more frequent cleaning.
Or possibly reduce feeding's and or stocking level's.
More fun to add more plant's IMHO
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-17-2017, 02:38 PM
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I think you will find that sucking water through the gravel will just embed the detritus into your substrate (see undergravel filters). You need to go bare bottom or maybe use large pebbles as substrate.

Its easier to provide enough flow to keep detritus in suspension until it is caught by the filter.


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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-17-2017, 03:01 PM
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In tanks with gravel (sand is a better option), detritus will descend down under as it decomposes. As mentioned, it does provide organic fertilizer for rooted plants, but in the average tank, there will not be enough rooted plants to handle every bit.

I prefer silica (pool filter) sand and an army of Malaysian Trumpet Snails to make short work of any detritus the filters don't get....and I rarely if ever see detritus on the sand.

Tip: Also, feed high quality fish food resulting in less waste. Many fish foods are made with fishmeal and copious amounts of grain starch used as a binder (often the 1st ingredient in the list). Fish can't process grains so it passes through as excess waste. Read the ingredients on the label.
(just some food for thought - [I so punny])

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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-19-2017, 02:05 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roadmaster View Post
Yes,dissolved fish food/fish waste along with some solid form's of both will find it's way into the substrate mix = food for plant's.
See "Reverse flow under gravel filtration" for something along the lines of what you might be thinking of doing.
I have a 55 gal full of wood and anubia attached to same,that houses one adult Royal pleco, One adult Farlowella,Three Adult bristlenose (one female),and gobs of cherry shrimp,and baby bristlenose.
These fish make a lot of waste and I feed them more than I would other tank's yet I have not vacuumed the substrate in nearly two year's.
With the tank crammed with wood,anubia,duckweed,couple crypt's,I just change 50% of the water each weekend.
Would have to pull everything out to clean substrate so I rely on large weekly water change and filter material is cleaned in this tank each week or two.
I have watched videos in this " reverse flow under gravel filtration" and its all about pumping water down the tubes and having it come up from under the gravel.

I'm talking about water changing device that will suck all the waste from the gravel, perhaps the opposite of what this is doing.

Unless you are suggesting I can use this but reverse to do water changes with a more powerful pump? Is that what you mean?

Thanks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AbbeysDad View Post
In tanks with gravel (sand is a better option), detritus will descend down under as it decomposes. As mentioned, it does provide organic fertilizer for rooted plants, but in the average tank, there will not be enough rooted plants to handle every bit.

I prefer silica (pool filter) sand and an army of Malaysian Trumpet Snails to make short work of any detritus the filters don't get....and I rarely if ever see detritus on the sand.

Tip: Also, feed high quality fish food resulting in less waste. Many fish foods are made with fishmeal and copious amounts of grain starch used as a binder (often the 1st ingredient in the list). Fish can't process grains so it passes through as excess waste. Read the ingredients on the label.
(just some food for thought - [I so punny])
What brands would you recommend to buy or avoid?

Thanks.

Last edited by Darkblade48; 01-19-2017 at 01:53 PM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-19-2017, 04:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Overwatch View Post
I have watched videos in this " reverse flow under gravel filtration" and its all about pumping water down the tubes and having it come up from under the gravel.

I'm talking about water changing device that will suck all the waste from the gravel, perhaps the opposite of what this is doing.

Unless you are suggesting I can use this but reverse to do water changes with a more powerful pump? Is that what you mean?

Thanks.
In reverse flow filtration there really isn't any waste on /in the substrate to clean/vaccum,(get's pushed up into water column for external filter to grab) which is what I thought you were aiming at (my bad).
Water changing device I use is 50 feet of Python hose with mag pump attached and pre filter over the pump intake to prevent shrimp's/fishes from being sucked up.
With sand substrate's, the waste stay's on top of the sand, and just need to hover over the surface close enough to suck up the debri but not close enough to suck up sand/plant's.
I would take pump off the hose and just use hose to suck up around the plant's .
Put the pump back on the hose for water changes.(works for me).
Automated drain and fill system's for aquarium's are plentiful but for cleaning substrate/trimming plant's,,,you bout gotta get wet IMHO.
I just plant as much as will fit in the tank, and then can say I couldn't vaccum if I wanted to.
Good water movement,clean filter material regularly,regular water changes,netting out loose plant matter /leaves when I see them is my method.
Was always inpressed by the large fluidized sand filtration plant at largest aquarium in U.S. at Atlanta Ga.

Last edited by roadmaster; 01-19-2017 at 06:08 AM. Reason: Additional
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