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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi. I have two ten gallon tanks with eco-complete. Years ago when I had goldfish and gravel, I was told that it was important to keep the gravel vacuumed so that there wouldn't be a build-up of toxic gasses that could be released. I don't have to tell you that between the plants and the eco-complete, the substrate vacuuming isn't working too well. :icon_roll From searching here, it seems that I don't actually have to vacuum the substrate. If I don't, is there any danger when I decide to move a plant, for example, of toxic gasses being released?

I have also gathered that one way to be sure the substrate gets mixed up is to get MTS. They seem to get out of control, however, and I have some nerites that I am rather fond of, so I wouldn't want to introduce assassin snails to deal with an over population of MTS:icon_eek:

So, nothing to worry about if I don't vacuum the substrate? Suggestions for ways to deal with it if would be a problem?

Thank you,
Leah
 

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Vacuuming Planted Tanks

Hello Leah...

If you have planted tanks, you don't want to vacuum up the nutrients and potentially damage plant roots. However, small, planted tanks will require frequent water changes to keep the water pure enough for fish and the plants, but don't push the syphon into the substrate too far.

I leave a small area open in one corner of each of my tanks just large enough to accomodate the vacuum and then remove about half the old water and replace it with new, treated water of roughly the same temperature.

B
 

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In my 72 gallon I have six or so assassin snails and ten nerites. I'm not saying it couldn't happen, but my assassins have never shown any interest in the nerites. I've seen them bump into each other on the glass, and just keep going by. I assume there are plenty of smaller pond snails and MTS for the assassins to eat, so that may be why. Just figured I'd throw it out there since they seem to be the best way to rid your tank of pest snails (IMO).
 

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I find my tank has a lower load of algae if I vacuum the substrate. That doesn't mean I stick the siphon down into the substrate and disturb plants. I hold it just over the surface and wait, a lot of fish poop and bits of leaves and snail shells float up. I can squish some plants like hairgrass and Rotala a little but that breaks some plants like Staurogyne and uproots some, like Marsilea. This gets out some organic matter but certainly not all.

The toxic gas is hydrogen sulfide and forms if the substrate goes anaerobic due to depth of substrate [critical depth depends on the grain size] and organic matter. Healthy plant roots are supposed to oxygenate the substrate. I see loads of bubbles in my substrate, both at the glass and coming up during the lighting period. They seem to be oxygen bubbles and certainly don't smell like swamp gas or rotten eggs.

My tank was set up for 10 years and when I moved the dirty substrate to another tank there was no smell and only dark brown rich looking fresh earth smelling mulm in the substrate. In that 10 years I did go completely through the substrate at least once but probably not more then 3-5 times.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hello Leah...

If you have planted tanks, you don't want to vacuum up the nutrients and potentially damage plant roots. However, small, planted tanks will require frequent water changes to keep the water pure enough for fish and the plants, but don't push the syphon into the substrate too far.

I leave a small area open in one corner of each of my tanks just large enough to accomodate the vacuum and then remove about half the old water and replace it with new, treated water of roughly the same temperature.

B
Thank you for the information. What size tanks do you have? I remove 50% of the 2.5g tank once a week, but only about 30% of the 10g ones. Ammonia and nitrite always test 0. Nitrates do as well, actually, as they are fairly heavily planted. All the same would it be safer to take 50% out of the 10g tanks as well?

Thanks,
Leah
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
In my 72 gallon I have six or so assassin snails and ten nerites. I'm not saying it couldn't happen, but my assassins have never shown any interest in the nerites. I've seen them bump into each other on the glass, and just keep going by. I assume there are plenty of smaller pond snails and MTS for the assassins to eat, so that may be why. Just figured I'd throw it out there since they seem to be the best way to rid your tank of pest snails (IMO).
Good to know. At the moment, I don't have any MTS and not enough pond snails to worry about, I know that could change!

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I find my tank has a lower load of algae if I vacuum the substrate. That doesn't mean I stick the siphon down into the substrate and disturb plants. I hold it just over the surface and wait, a lot of fish poop and bits of leaves and snail shells float up. I can squish some plants like hairgrass and Rotala a little but that breaks some plants like Staurogyne and uproots some, like Marsilea. This gets out some organic matter but certainly not all.

The toxic gas is hydrogen sulfide and forms if the substrate goes anaerobic due to depth of substrate [critical depth depends on the grain size] and organic matter. Healthy plant roots are supposed to oxygenate the substrate. I see loads of bubbles in my substrate, both at the glass and coming up during the lighting period. They seem to be oxygen bubbles and certainly don't smell like swamp gas or rotten eggs.

My tank was set up for 10 years and when I moved the dirty substrate to another tank there was no smell and only dark brown rich looking fresh earth smelling mulm in the substrate. In that 10 years I did go completely through the substrate at least once but probably not more then 3-5 times.
Ah, thank you for the information. The nerites would probably appreciate a bit MORE algae, so I'll experiment and see how much I need to do to get a good balance.

Leah
 
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