How often to vacuum the gravel in my 40-gallon freshwater tank? The tank has lots of plants. Fish are doing well, including my clown loaches. I have been vacuuming every 2 weeks. I went a couple of times 4 weeks. Is vacuuming the gravel disruptive to the plants? Should I stop and only vacuum if the tank water gets cloudy from debris? I do 50% water changes every week. My tank's parameters hold up steady each time I check them (once a week checks).
I uased to vacuum the open areas, but now I don't even do that in planted tanks. The major source of CO2 is the breakdown of organics by bacteria in the substrate, and in a natural planted setup you want to retain and use all the natural CO2 you can. There are also other bacteria and de-nitrification issues that should not be messed with. Some aquarists suggest no aquarium should have the substrate "cleaned" but I certainly think the substrate in a planted tank should be left alone.