I have been hearing different opinions about gravel cleaning in a planted tank. Some people tell me to clean every week or so. Other tell me to wait longer and only clean part of the tank at a time. Still, one person told me not to clean the gravel in a planted tank since it will adversely affect the plants.
I have maintained a 40-gallon fresh water tank for years. I used to clean the gravel (half the tank at a time) every month. I also had carbon, phos-zorb and nitra-zorb in my filter system. ~6 months ago, I stopped putting that stuff in my filter when I made the leap from plastic/silk plant to real plants. I have a lot of plants in the tank and I like the look. The plants are doing OK. The fish continue to do well.
I have the following fish:
4 clown loaches
5 cardinal tetras
4 red-eye tetras
3 yellow fin tetras
3 tetras that are small and have gold and red color (?their name)
I do a 50% water change every week. I have not done a gravel cleaning in 3 months.
My tank's parameters before each water change remains about constant at the following values:
pH: at least 6.0 (the API indicator is at 6.0 so the pH could be lower).
NO2: 0 - 0.5
Phos: 0.5 - 1
I don't directly measure the CO2 but look at an estimate of it on a chart and it seems to be ~60
I have minimal algae in the tank (I had more before I put in real plants).
Because my tank has been doing well for so long, I don't want to focus only on the #s I am measuring from my API test kits since I don't want to mess up the tank.
However, what should I do with gravel cleaning?