Substrate Cleaning vs. Not
My tank is pretty heavily planted, which makes it nearly impossible to use a vacuum system to really clean the gravel. I even bought the thin and long Fluval product, but I still have to really dig around in the gravel, which upsets my roots, and I can only get into the easy areas in front.
I've had my tank set up for a couple of months now, and I'm worried I'm building up a toxic sludge under the surface of the gravel.
Do the plants help absorb some of this stuff? I've heard of folks who never vacuum their gravel. Does it bio-degrade and become inert over time?
I have lots of snails, shrimp, some corys, and a pleco to help scavenge leftover food, but obviously they don't get everything. I'm very careful not to overfeed, but there's still feces. And while I try to collect as much dead/decaying plant matter as I can, obviously there's still a lot that I don't.
I also bought some Microbe-Lift Gravel and Substrate Cleaner, but I don't know how effective the stuff is or how safe it is. I've used it once. It turned my water brown for a couple of days. It's supposed to do that, but if it's not really going to do what it says (which is clear up all the muck), I don't want to keep using it.
How do other folks cope? Just leave it alone? Do what little I can with the vacuum? Are there other products?
--Chris in Pensacola, FL
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Fluval Edge 12 Gallon Planted
1 HM Betta, 9 Cardinal Tetras, 3 False Julii Corys, 1 Clown Pleco
3 Golden Apple Snails, 5 Tiger Nerite Snails, Cherry & Amano Shrimp