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Do I need to gravel vac ?

307 Views 3 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  somewhatshocked
I have a planted tank with a small-medium sized grain gravel substrate. No aquasoil or any dirt underneath. I also have some root tabs in the gravel and dose flourish.

I have kuhli loaches (which I feed blackworms) and Malaysian trumpet snails that both burrow into the substrate.

I've been deep gravel vacuuming all throughout the tank for a while in this tank, however, I always end up sucking up blackworms (which I don't want to do as I want them to reproduce and feed my kuhli loaches) and I heard it's better for the plants for fish poop to pile up and become fertiliser.

So with the kuhli loaches and snails moving the substrate and the snails and blackworms consuming leftover food, is it necessary to gravel vac and would my plants do better if I didn't?
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Technically no, you can do whatever you want.

But your substrate looks very clean, I wouldn't vac for awhile and when starting to would only do a portion at a time (like one corner at a time, then the middle right, mid left, repeat or something). Generally, I just clean up the dirty pockets and only gravel vac a few times a year to be honest. And that's after not gravel vac for the first 6-12 months depending on the setup. Point is I rarely do and only do to pull up thick amounts of dirt.

Your worms will like that gunk in there, so I would gravel vac less than what it appears you do at the very least. Also, there are layers of bacteria that builds up and it takes a long time, months probably to fully establish. And gravel vaccing upsets this process. So by not gravel vaccing as much you will build an environment for two types of beneficial creatures.

Gravel vaccing the front for its unsightliness is up to you, and again, I do use the gravel vac as a water syphon to pick up all the detritus and poop on the surface of the substrate.

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is it necessary to gravel vac and would my plants do better if I didn't?
It's not necessary. In fact, I'd argue is generally frowned upon by experienced hobbyists. Removal of detritus from the surface of substrate should suffice. Vacuuming substrate can cause problems with sensitive livestock and if you have snails, they're taking care of any large chunks of detritus anyway.

Your plants could potentially do better if you didn't because there'd be additional nutrients in the substrate for them to consume.
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