Vacuuming gravel - any tips? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-12-2011, 11:28 AM Thread Starter
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Vacuuming gravel - any tips?

Hello everyone,

In what might seem like a noob question I was wondering if anyone had any tips on this. I have the aqueon water changer/vacuum, the one that hooks to your sink, and while it is excellent at changing the water, the vacuum is somewhat of an issue as I literally empty most of the tank water before I get a chance to get it all cleaned up. It is sucking both the substrate and the water out too quickly and I wasn't sure if this was something I'm not doing right or what.

should I stop, fill it back up, clean some more, fill it back up, etc? seems rough on the fauna since i'm sure they dont like tap water that isnt conditioned for too long.
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-12-2011, 11:43 AM
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Hmmm...no experience with that vac unfortunately.

I don't do vac's unless my TDS readings get too high. Then I use a DIY vac I made with the top of a soda bottle and tubing. I control the flow by placing my finger over the opposite end of the tubing. This way, I wind up doing more "vacing" while drawing out less water.
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-12-2011, 01:10 PM
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You don't need to vacuum all the gravel at once. It's recommended to do 1/4 of the gravel per water change.

Not sure about your specific brand, but with my Lees gravel vac, if I turn the faucet off once the suction gets going it slows down the suction rate quite a bit, allowing me more time to do what I need to do.
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-12-2011, 01:25 PM
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I'm not sure if the Aqueon is exactly the same as the Python it seems to be copying, but the Python has a valve near the suction tube. By partially closing that valve, you can reduce the flow.

If you get too much substrate in the tube, totally closing the valve makes it fall out fairly quickly, while the detritus falls out slower and can then be vacuumed away when you open the valve again. Vacuuming in bursts like this seems to work best for me.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-12-2011, 02:31 PM
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Eheim makes a vacuum that doesn't remove water from the tank... costs like 60 bucks... check into that. You can't submerge it though...


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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-12-2011, 02:42 PM
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Most planted tank owners don't vacuum the substrate, possibly aside from the lighter stuff that floats easily and collects on decor and leaves. All that crud (mulm) that collects on the substrate is wonderfood for plants.

If I did want to vacuum the substrate, I'd do it with a generic siphon vac, skipping areas difficult to get to because plants were in the way. You could always aim a powerhead along the substrate and let the filter take care of the garbage as it floated around. Every once in awhile I'll take a powerhead and blow through leaves and stems during a water change just to clean plants off.
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-12-2011, 02:47 PM
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I own the python and just plunge the tube into the substrate and withdraw continuously. Since I am doing this in a planted tank you have to be careful not to suck out the soil so moving quickly allows the substrate to drop back while drawing the lighter waste out.
If you do water changes on a regular basis then just focus on the areas that it accumulates and break it into sections about a fourth of a tank at a time.

Changing the size of the tube can also help. The larger the tube the less lifting force and more area you can cover. I actually reduced the size of the suction tube on my python to increase the suction due to a high sink and low water preasure.

This also helped to move around the plants and do focused cleaning.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-12-2011, 03:57 PM Thread Starter
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Good ideas guys, I will try just doing a piece of the tank each week during WC's.

While my tank is planted, I kind of cheated and used Hydrophytes Tank Planters, so while they are IN the substrate they are really in self contained mini substrates so I don't know how much mulm they are actually processing.
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-12-2011, 07:54 PM
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I agree with kevmo. There's not much need to vac a planted tank unless it just gets to the point where it looks ugly and you really want to do some cleaning.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-12-2011, 09:36 PM
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I've been thinking of doing this with my python, any advice on how you did it would be welcome.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mindnova View Post
I own the python and just plunge the tube into the substrate and withdraw continuously. Since I am doing this in a planted tank you have to be careful not to suck out the soil so moving quickly allows the substrate to drop back while drawing the lighter waste out.
If you do water changes on a regular basis then just focus on the areas that it accumulates and break it into sections about a fourth of a tank at a time.

Changing the size of the tube can also help. The larger the tube the less lifting force and more area you can cover. I actually reduced the size of the suction tube on my python to increase the suction due to a high sink and low water preasure.

This also helped to move around the plants and do focused cleaning.
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