11-18-2006, 12:06 AM
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Even when cleaning the gravel, the fish should remain in the tank. The proper way to clean the gravel, the safe way... is with a gravel vac system. There are many types available. Be careful not to clean the gravel too often, you need the bacteria culture that is growing there to break down the waste product of the fish. You can find information about the nitrogen cycle here: http://hofferstropiclife.com/nitcycle.htm
There is such a thing as "over cleaning" an aquarium, and this can do more harm than good. When doing your daily water changes, simply take water from the top, and replace it with clean water that has been treated with a good water conditioner like AquaSafe. If you deplete the bacteria culture in your gravel bed, it will prolong the cycling process, which will stress and harm the fish more. Also, be sure not to over feed. With water params what yours are reading, I would feed every other day, what the fish can completely finish within 1 minute. On this schedule they won't starve, and you won't have anything extra falling to the gravel bed making it necessary to clean it.