Gravel vacuuming - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-15-2014, 05:02 PM Thread Starter
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Gravel vacuuming

Just wondering if you vacuum the gravel during a water change in a planted tank. I have always vacuumed the gravel but just curious if it is in any way detrimental when keeping a planted tank? Thanks
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-15-2014, 05:19 PM
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the answer cannot be given off that type of description because it ranges among tanks and tank designs. I have one planted tank thats 13 yrs old that needs the top layer vac'd every few mos so its not black w shrimp waste, and another planted tank of opposite design id never vac it, so it depends. need tank pics to see

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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-15-2014, 05:46 PM Thread Starter
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Fair enough. Thanks. I'll try to get a pic up later today. The hardscape is not done yet. Haven't been out collecting driftwood and rocks yet, but I'll try to get a pic up nonetheless.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-15-2014, 07:35 PM
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For most of my tanks I don't stab into the substrate with the siphon but whirl or make up and down motions with the siphon near the substrate to stir up loose debris to be sucked up. The only tanks I will clean substrate during a water change are the 20g long and 55g where there's un-planted areas. The 20g has a ton of snails including mts which till some poop under the top layer of substrate, the 55 also has mts. These tanks have no soil but black diamond sand, I sue a long siphon to try to keep from sucking substrate too far up the siphon.

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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-15-2014, 07:45 PM
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I do vacuum but never more than 20% of the tank at a time and never more than the top inch. I've never had problems with either fish or shrimp using this approach but as Brandon stated there is no one answer to this. I tend to overfeed and for this I must pay.

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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-15-2014, 08:23 PM
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+1 only vac'ing the very surface to get up excessive surface debris.

In a non-planted tank, the decomposing organics serve no purpose other than mucking up your water quality; in a planted tank, those decomposing organics act as fertilizer for your plants. Plus, if you're using root tabs, a deep gravel vac is just going pull out the very material you paid to put in there.

If you've good flow--which benefits your plants anyways--and filtration, a good bit of the fish waste and plant debris will get swept up and removed via the filter. An occasional manual clean up of dead plant material (snails are great for polishing off the bits you can't get) and watching that you don't overfeed will go along way to ensuring you don't get excess debris--and a quick vac of the surface only will take care of the rest.
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-15-2014, 09:10 PM
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its also valid to consider the ongoing repeating habits, its how you start the tank that matters. its the unusual interruptions like working a non worked bed, putting up waste into suspension which wont really kill the tank as long as its not rotten sulfide or pockets of ammonia but it can cause algae outbreaks. in the dirted but capped tanks, Id prob not ever siphon below the extreme top layer, let that stuff cook or have burrowing animals that do turnover, consistently is the key and slowly and in small amounts.

if you aren't doing a Walstad capped then you can likely siphon with ease. My oldest tank is flourite gravel and it can be siphoned over and over as deep as you want with zero impact to plant loading simply because its a higher channeling substrate (between the rock hard grains, vs soils that mud breakdown and exlude incursion of whole physical particles) so any clean I impact is quickly outdone in the next 5 mos of hundreds of shrimp in a five gallon tank. the dirt comes back, always. its a higher tds tank, they are adapted to what always occurs and thats siphoned 100% water changes.

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