Vacuuming planted tanks
Not to say my tank is "well" planted but the plants that I do have get in the way, or come out of the gravel.
I was looking at pictures of people with the baby tears, or the grass that covers large areas of their aquariums. My question is this, HOW do they vacuum their gravel?
I slowly run the siphon above the gravel surface around plants, only pushing it slightly into the gravel where there are no plants and where I put tablets etc. for bottom fish.
What kind of plants do you have and what size is your gravel?
If your gravel is too large and the plants have no way to root in properly then they'll always come up. Or if its plants that rather need to be tied to a piece of driftwood they'll never root into the gravel.
And while its advisable to vacuum out leftover foods and such. To super vac your hole gravel weekly is no very good for your bacteria in the tank. When I had carpeted large areas in the tanks with eg.g Hair grass, I'd always ensure a "free" corner which was used for feeding & that I vacuumed. Left the rest alone, worked just fine.
Most with densely planted tanks don't vacuum the substrate. Some of my planted tanks, haven't seen a gravel vac in over a year. Others only get certain areas vacuumed. The gravel vac is used to suck up lose leaves and waste on top of the substrate and in the plants.
Ok vacuuming extra food, which shouldnt be there in the first place, but sometimes is inevitable from a certain corner does make sense... You cannot choose where fish choose to poop though, and they DO really poop.
Doesn't this rot away and become harmful?
What about the stuff trapped in the gravel, the stuff that doesnt get sucked up with a surface vac? The only plants that bother me is the cabomba, which does not root, and one of the bananas refuses to grow its root out (does grow leaves though).
When I vac, if I disturb the gravel a bunch of debris comes up, I even considered doing a super vac for a few days in a row, but would like to hold on to my bacteria, and overall just doesnt seem like a good idea to me without a veterans input.
You don't want to "super clean" all your gravel. That along with your filter is where your beneficial bacteria lives and you need that, taking it all out would be harmful.
If the Cabomba buggs you too much, you can also attach it to a piece of Driftwood or a rock or whatever you like, that way it stay's where it belong and doesn't float on your with the weekly w/c.
Thanks for asking the question demin... I've always wondered about that myself but since I wasn't quite there yet with my tank there still wasn't a point for me. And... as I've recently found out, over cleaning isn't really a good thing either so since the plants actually help with keeping the nitrites and nitrates levels low... siphoning around the plants seems like a good idea!
The waste that works Its way into the gravel gets broken down. The plants can use it from the substrate similar to how we use manure in gardens. They stuff that breaks down into ammonia can be processed buy the filter or obsorbed by the plants. If it is turned into nitrates, the plants will use it too.
Because I'm one of the few that still uses an UGF, I have to vacuum the gravel every-other week when I change the water. I will sometimes skip areas where I don't want to disturb the plants. But most of the stem plants have to be cut and replanted about every 4-6 weeks. That's when I'll vacuum those areas. But if you have hair grass or something similar, I'd do as Byron stated. Be careful not to diusturb them.
I don't get too concerned about disturbing any bacteria in the gravel. I'm convinced that the bacteria holds on to gravel and tank surfaces pretty well.
I'm so glad for this thread because I vaccuum the crap out of my gravel, thinking that if any particles are still rising thorugh the vac, then I haven't done my job thoroughly. I wonder if leaving some of that stuff would help my plants.
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