Vacuuming the substrate
I was just curious what folks do with heavily planted tanks and vacuuming the substrate. I find that I knock the plants quite a bit while moving the syphon around inside the tank so I've been trying to be really careful around the plants. The problem is that the syphon head is larger than a lot of the passages around the plants/rocks and I don't want to pull the plants up every time I go to clean the tank. Some of my rocks are also partially buried to stabilize them.
It can be hard to do but needs to be done. I have not found one yet, but i have and idea for a planted tank gravel vac. The bottom end would be oblong instead of round and about 3 inches up the side there would be slots that would be used to release the gravel. A sleeve would go over the slots that could be pulled up when you need to release the gravel but you wouldn;t let any of the debris back down because of the suction. I haven't had the guts to modify mine, yet but I think I am going to make one out of pvc pipe.
Other than that you might try a small stick or rod that is used to stir up the gravel around the plants so the suction can pick up the debris and not disturb the plant as much.
Hmm, the stick might work.
This is a problem for me also and I just use a Python as best as I can without significantly disturbing the plants but several items:
1) With my current feeding levels the only deleterious material which I began removing were snail shells (very small - typically less than approximately 3MM) whether vacuuming once per week or once per month.
2) I believe (in my very, very humble opinion as F4A has much more experience than I) a minute quantity of organic waste on the surface of the substrate is good for the plants.
3) Due to 2) above I now only vacuum when the snail shells begin becoming unsightly.
4) Please note that I have a significant quantity of biological filtration media in my filtration process.
Well, my tank is 90g and the filter is rated up to 159g, so that may help. I'm not sure really if I'm just pulling up dirt that settled from the flourite or what not right now. Not all of my plants are rooting plants, such as the hornwort. I'll keep an eye out for a while. Right now I'm doing regular changes anyways as I'm still cycling. .25ppm Ammonia & Nitrites at last reading.
Don't sell yourself short Jones, I have been back at this for 2.5 years so I too have a lot to learn still. The only thing I have going is spending a lot of time working with some really good keepers. There are those that keep heavily planted tanks and NEVER gravel vac. They can't because the plants are so thick and they have a ground cover that they can not do it. Gravel vacs are not technically needed in a planted tank. The only time you really have to worry is if you get a release of gas bubbles AND they smell like rotten eggs. This means there is a buildup of anaerobic bacteria creating sulfur gas that can be deadly to fish if released in a large enough quantity. If you think you can get away with it, simply wave your hand around in the tank to get the larger stuff of the bottom and suck it up with the syphon. If you can get ahold of them, and keep them alive, get MTS and you may never have to gravel vac again.
I gravel vac my tanks because I over feed. I admit it and do it because I want the snails to grow fairly well. That and I have such a diverse fish population that I can never tell what is being eaten when.
I want everyone to remember something and I want to encourage more of this on the forum. Anyone can read a book and think they can do it. Anyone can find an article online and think they can do it. None of these compare to the quality of first hand experience and the amount of accurate and complete information you can get from someone who has done it. This helps to add to a database of knowledge that should never stop growing. Like I have said before; I can and have set up two almost identical tanks side by side and could not get them to work the same nor grow the same plants. Why, who knows but every tank is different and the more information we have the better chance we have to get our tanks to work for us.
Post your results whether you are new to the hobby or not. Just remember that this your experience and that it may not work for someone you are giving advice to and may not work for anyone else at all. Don't try to force your ideas on others but try to make the advice just that, advice on what has worked for you. Jumping on someone for doing something different than you won't encourage someone else to try it the way you have made it work. Also, try to be open minded enough that you can see similarities in techniques that you have success with and try to help someone incorporate them in their setup and maybe solve a problem in the process.
We all can learn a thing or two in the hobby and there is no reason why someone can't learn from us. We just need to be willing to accept that someone else may not be able to take our setup and simply recreate it and be successful.
Thanks fish_4_all. I agree, experience beats book knowledge. Book knowledge is a good foundation to start learning. :)
1) With respect to you last post as Charlie Chan told Number Two Son "One Ounce of Experience Worth Two Pound of Detective Book".
2) From others' posts the actual capacity of filtration units is typically 25% to 50% of the rated capacity (ie. you may not be over filtering).
3) When I say significant quantity of biological filtration I am not "whoofing".
My tank is 110G and the biological filtration process is through
approximately 3 cubic feet of bioballs;
approximately 2 liters of ceramic toroids and 2 liters of ceramic cylinders placed in parallel
and then approximately 4 liters of sintered glass.
4) I set forth Item 3) above because it and my feeding protocol are what, I believe, allow me to virtually do away with vacuuming.
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