When do you use a gavel vac?
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When do you use a gavel vac?

This is a discussion on When do you use a gavel vac? within the Beginner Freshwater Aquarium forums, part of the Freshwater Fish and Aquariums category; --> I'm getting confused. I've read "Never ever, ever, ever, ever, ever vacuum your gravel or it will ruin the nitrogen cycle and your fish ...

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When do you use a gavel vac?
Old 05-23-2009, 06:19 PM   #1
 
When do you use a gavel vac?

I'm getting confused. I've read "Never ever, ever, ever, ever, ever vacuum your gravel or it will ruin the nitrogen cycle and your fish will get sick and dieeeeeeeeeeeee!"

AND I've read that you are supposed to vacuum with every water change because that is where most of the ammonia/ammonia producing things are.

I've also read that a partial gravel vacuum once every month or so is the way to go because it will keep it from getting to icky but it also won't deplete bacteria levels to the point that it would matter.

I was always kind of under the impression that you're supposed to vacuum unless you have an under gravel filter because that is were most of the bacteria will live.

So what's right? What do you guys do? Does it change depending on what type of filter you have or what the bio load of your fish is in relation to the size of your tank? Does it even matter WHAT you do?
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Old 05-23-2009, 06:43 PM   #2
 
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I vaccuum at every week during water change time. It's true that a large portion of your bio lives in the substrate. Picking a different area each week and giving it a thorough cleaning with the gravel vac isn't going to disrupt a cycled tank.
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Old 05-23-2009, 06:45 PM   #3
 
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Not that I am right, lots of people have different opinions on this.
I do a complete gravel cleaning on most of my tanks every week. The tank with an UGF, gets an extra good gravel cleaning, because it can get pretty nasty.
My planted tanks, I cant really do a full vacuum on, but I get it as clean as possible.
On my 210, I do 25% water changes every week. On that tank, one half gets a gravel cleaning, the other half the next week. Thats all the gravel cleaning I can get to and only change out 25% of the water.
Even doing fish cycles, I have cleaned in the same manner, which some say is a terrible thing to do.
Anyways, I have had no problems with water quality and for the most part my fish stay healthy, so it works for me.
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Old 05-23-2009, 06:56 PM   #4
 
Thanks for responding, guys. I kind of basically do what you guys do, but the woman at the store where I bought my goldfish was so adamant about never ever vacuuming the gravel, I thought I better ask and see what the general consensus was. Her fish all looked quite healthy and everything else she told me I already knew was true and correct from doing a lot of reading on these forums.
Anyway, it must work for her.

But boy was it foul in her substrate! Truly disgusting. Pure brown sludge. The tanks couldn't have smelled too lovey with all that below them. : P
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Old 05-23-2009, 09:24 PM   #5
 
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I also always vacuum at each weekly water change (usually about 1/2-2/3 of the tank each time). I like to keep my gravel clean. My filters (biowheels) handle all the bacteria load needed. As you observed if you never vacuumed your gravel it gets totally nasty....layers of fish poo. Yuck!! This can breed all kinds of nasties like bacteria and such. Not too healthy for the fish, especially bottom dwellers such as cories. I believe keeping the gravel clean helps to keep healthy barbels on the cories.
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Old 05-24-2009, 01:51 AM   #6
 
Well yes and no to vacuuming substrate. With your average tank cleaning the gravel is ideal, so there is not a build up of waste in the substrate. As this can increase nitrates. However on planted tanks, vacuuming tends to be a no-no. Some of my tanks haven't been touched in over a year. The reason for this is that the plants use the fish waste for nutrients, also vacuuming disturbs and damages the plant roots. My tanks have never had any bad smells. Even when I took a planted tank down, as soon as I started scooping gravel the water just turned BLACK. There was no smell though. My 55gal planted tank has such a large bioload with my two caecilians in there that I do vacuum some of it. Its my belief that almost all the good bacteria resides in the filter. A gravel vacuuming or very large water change is not doing to harm a established tank.
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Old 05-24-2009, 12:40 PM   #7
 
That's kind of what I was thinking. My filter is so big (comparatively) and has so much media with so much surface area for bacteria to grow, AND such a flow of water through it (unlike the gravel/rocks) that it has to have a lot more of the bacteria in it.

My tanks are planted, but lightly (so far) so I can easily vacuum around them. One of them is a few months old, and the other is freshly set up with its first fish, so I'm still kind of experimenting with the plants on both fronts, anyway. So far, so good.
My goldfish has nibbled at bit at the very small plants (I got cheap ones since I thought he might kill them anyway) but he didn't seem to like them much. It could change as he gets bigger and as I add more fish.
Hopefully, with his much waste as this guy produces, these plants will take advantage of that and grow fairly well.

I think I'll keep up on vaccuuming my goldfish tank because he likes to root around in the substrate so much and I'm sure that's going to just get more extreme as he gets bigger (and as more goldfish are added to the tank) And maybe this is just silly and human-ish of me, but there's something about him rooting around in brown sludge of his own poop that I really don't like :(

Anyway, thanks again for all the info and opinions. I'm a little more sure that i'm doing the right thing now.
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Old 05-24-2009, 01:46 PM   #8
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikaila31 View Post
Well yes and no to vacuuming substrate. With your average tank cleaning the gravel is ideal, so there is not a build up of waste in the substrate. As this can increase nitrates. However on planted tanks, vacuuming tends to be a no-no. Some of my tanks haven't been touched in over a year. The reason for this is that the plants use the fish waste for nutrients, also vacuuming disturbs and damages the plant roots. My tanks have never had any bad smells. Even when I took a planted tank down, as soon as I started scooping gravel the water just turned BLACK. There was no smell though. My 55gal planted tank has such a large bioload with my two caecilians in there that I do vacuum some of it. Its my belief that almost all the good bacteria resides in the filter. A gravel vacuuming or very large water change is not doing to harm a established tank.
Yes, you are correct. I forgot to post that if you have a planted tank that is a different matter as you want some mulm to feed the plants. A light vacuuming between plants is fine.
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Old 05-24-2009, 08:14 PM   #9
 
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i vacuum my tanks on a weekly basis as part of the weekly maintenance
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