Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources (http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/forum.php)
- Freshwater Aquarium Equipment (http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/freshwater-aquarium-equipment/)
- - Power head (http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/freshwater-aquarium-equipment/power-head-14115/)
I have a 37 gallon eclipse with a retrofit light kit, live plants and plenty of livebearers. What is a power head exactly and will it help with getting more oxygen for the fish and plants. Is it something that is good for getting stuff kicked off of the bottom so that the filter can suck it up.
A powerhead is simply a pump that circulates water... mostly they are submersible now days, but I believe there are still a few on the market that are not.
In answer to your question about cleaning the stuff on the bottom... first off, if regular maintenance is being done, there shouldn't be anything on the bottom to cause a problem. Feedings should be light, whatever the fish can completely finish within 1 - 2 minutes, and once/day. If food is reaching the bottom, then you are giving them too much, so decrease the amount you're offering at each feeding. Some people find it easier to feed much much less, and do it twice/day instead of once. Water changes should be done weekly, about 30%, and 1 - 2 times each month during those changes, a gravel vac should be done. This is just standard and basic care for any aquarium. With a fully planted tank, simply vac between and around the plants. From your photos I can say that your tank isn't "fully planted", so gravel vacs should not be too difficult.
With all live bearers in the tank, or a large number of them, watch your water params closely. These fish are known to have 30+ fry every 30 days if male and female are together in the tank. While the adult fish will usually eat some of the fry, it is always very possible for fry to survive and grow up, which adds to your population, which in turn adds to your waste levels. Populations should be thinned out regularly. Also, the process of childbirth will add more waste to the tank, so even if the fry are being eaten, your water params will likely jump when someone gives birth. Extra water changes of 10% each day can be done to help aleviate the rapid changes.
A powerhead in addition to filters is basically there to pump water around better and avoid dead spots in the tank. If you have a HOB filter hanging at one end, chances are there are dead spots at the other end that don't get as good circulation. A power head at the other end won't do much to keep the tank bottom from getting dirty but will help prevent large temperature variations from end to end in the tank and other things that result from poor circulation.
Another use for a powerhead is to power a UGF or a sponge filter. In this case, the power head ends up mounted on the filter and drives the water flow through the filter. Most powerheads have a tapered inlet just for the purpose of powering a filter. They are more or less just set on top of the filter tube and provide water flow through the tube.
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