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Discussion Starter #1
My question is how does one siphon the gravel if nearly all of the substrate is covered. Am right to think that it is not necessary, because of all the plants, or is there a trick?

Although it is not completely grown in, It is near imposable for me to do a through cleaning without doing an entire replant.
 

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I've read many times, and found that gravel cleaning is not generall necessary. If you don't overfeed too much then the mulm build up shouldn't become that problematic. What you can do is hover over your lower plants and "brush" your siphon around your plants. Water may get cloudy, but thats the only way to do a "clean"
 

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doing by parts

I've read that you ought to do a good cleaning in parts, 1/3 or 1/4 at a time. Pull the plants, gravel vac and replant. I never did that but after 5 years the entire tank was declining, the red wentii crypts were almost gone. Yes, I'd slacked on the ferts as well but when I did add ferts it seemed to do no good and my fish slowly died off one by one. So, maybe letting it go that long was a mistake.

I recently did a full tank teardown, took the gravel to the yard to rinse and replanted, restocked. Hopefully I will remember to to a partial cleaning from time to time.
 

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I have fashioned a brush out of the container of a film role. Made 1/5" holes in the bottom. Used the bristles from a coat brush (that my dog had chewed in part) to make the brush, by sticking it to sides of the container with synthetic rubber adhesive, bristles forming a ring type broom. I slip this on to the mouth of the siphon when I am using it between the plants. I feel it safer for the kulhis/corys/plants while I am siphoning and easier in my task of cleaning during the usual weekly WC.
 

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I've always just used my siphon tube to swoosh the plants a bit and get all the "dust" off of them. You get a nice gentle current going and most of the stuff from the bottom and off the plants starts to move around and it gets sucked right up.

Now, after a number of years, perhaps that's another story. I dread even thinking about tearing the whole thing down.
 

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Unless you have been running your tank for years, which I get the impression you haven't, I would just use the swish method. A good, deep vac isn't all that necessary unless you haven't done one for years. Then it might not be a bad idea.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Sorry for the late response. :smile: Thanks for the input.

So what I gather is that although it is necessary, the frequency is much much much less than once a week.

Again thanks to all that replied.:biggrin:
 

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I find a combination of Malaysian Trumpet Snails and Ramshorn Snails do an excellent job of keeping my gravel from ever needing a vacuum. they both reproduce without making any distracting mess in your tank. but the key is to under feed your fish. ever since I learned to feed my fish far less then they'd want, my tank and my fish seem much healthier, and my nitrates are finally under control.
 

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I second the Malaysian Trumpet Snails. They have done a great job in the substrate of all my planted tanks. They keep it aerated. I also have Red Cherry shrimp in some of the tanks and they eat all of the mulm on top of the gravel caused by old plant leaves decomposing.

Mike
 
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