Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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-   -   Quick Question about Gravel vaccuming. (http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/beginner-planted-aquarium/quick-question-about-gravel-vaccuming-70709/)

Austin 05-17-2011 05:56 PM

Quick Question about Gravel vaccuming.
 
Hello,

I recently consolidated my aquariums into a 50g tan and will be getting rid of some fish shortly as well as plants. (Got really busy and couldn't take care of the tanks, so some plants got neglected etc =/ I feel bad about it already.) But I know I can handle a 50g tank and it's in my room so I will be reminded daily to take care of it. :)

So, my question is : How do you keep the gravel clean with plants? I have about 2-3 inches of black gravel. It seems like quite a bit. But I noticed in my 44g tank before, even with a TON of plants, the gravel got DISGUSTING!!! I thought you did not need to vacuum it with plants... And, the plants roots, like the small saggitaria, do not reach out very far. So how do I help the bottom of the aquarium from getting so bad? =/ My tanks seemed to get so dirty before and I never vacuumed the gravel because I thought the plants took care of it....

Edit: :P It's actually not so quick... sorry!

Rip 05-17-2011 07:02 PM

you can vaccuum the gravel, but just lightly get the surface to remove any plant debris or decaying food just under the surface. there's no need to dig deep, and stir up beneficial bacteria or the nutrients that the plants will use.

Byron 05-17-2011 07:14 PM

I'd like to know what you mean by "disgusting" and "so bad."

I have planted tanks with a fair number of fish in some of them, and I never touch the substrate. I don't see anything...and yes, I know my eyesight may be that of an old geezer, :brow: but I wear my glasses when sitting in front of the fish and I would notice anything if it were there.

The less disturbance to the substrate the better. But of course if the fish load is beyond the capacity of the tank and detritus is everywhere, that is quite another matter.

Byron.

Mikaila31 05-17-2011 08:16 PM

when you tear down a planted tank it is normal for the gravel to be full of mulm and stuff. It should look clean though unless you disturb it.

Austin 05-18-2011 02:49 AM

Yea, I guess it is mulm. I can see the mulm against the glass in the rocks. This brown stuff settled into the rocks. Do you have to clean the gravel in unplanted tanks? It seems my fish never do too well and im wondering if this causes bad water. My water has always looked clean. Like, for example, a large potion of my tank will be plant free, but it is a hassel to gravel those certain areas.... i might just suck the stuff of the top part of the gravel but i don't want to steal the nutrients either. When I gravel vacuum, the water is BLACK. It is disgusting and I do not feel like that can be healthy for the fish to be living with that...

Byron 05-18-2011 09:28 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Austin (Post 677062)
Yea, I guess it is mulm. I can see the mulm against the glass in the rocks. This brown stuff settled into the rocks. Do you have to clean the gravel in unplanted tanks? It seems my fish never do too well and im wondering if this causes bad water. My water has always looked clean. Like, for example, a large potion of my tank will be plant free, but it is a hassel to gravel those certain areas.... i might just suck the stuff of the top part of the gravel but i don't want to steal the nutrients either. When I gravel vacuum, the water is BLACK. It is disgusting and I do not feel like that can be healthy for the fish to be living with that...

As Mikaila and I have both indicated, the substrate is meant to be "dirty" when you have plants. And that is not unhealthy, quite the opposite. There is an army of aerobic and anaerobic bacteria living throughout the substrate and these break down organics (fish waste, uneaten food, dead plant/animal matter, dead bacteria, etc) into various substances including nutrients. The plant roots are part of this "team" and provide considerable oxygen, and a steady flow of water throughout the substrate (this occurs naturally) is another important part; Malaysian livebearing snails are also a good component because they work through the substrate helping to keep it loose so all this occurs even better, and they break down large bits into smaller bits that are more easily handled by bacteria and plants. Provided the tank is not overstocked such that the organics are overloading the system, this is not unhealthy.

The fish not doing too well is something we can explore, if you could be more specific. And if so, please include tank size, fish in it, and plants. If something is out of balance, it will affect the natural biology.

redchigh 05-18-2011 09:43 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Austin (Post 677062)
Yea, I guess it is mulm. I can see the mulm against the glass in the rocks. This brown stuff settled into the rocks. Do you have to clean the gravel in unplanted tanks? It seems my fish never do too well and im wondering if this causes bad water. .

Do you think someone gravel-vacs the substrate in the amazon river? ;)


Perhaps you are overfeeding or the tank is overstocked... If all you have is dwarf sag, then I don't really see a problem with gravel vac'ing the unplanted areas... Definately not required though.

Austin 05-18-2011 11:18 AM

Well, I just don't understand... if you do not have plants do you have to vacuum?

redchigh 05-18-2011 12:25 PM

If you don't have plants, and you have the recomended inch (no more) of substrate, then yes, vacuum all you want. The substrate will not be deep enough to choke bacteria on the gravel by turning it..

If you have the typical 2-4 inches, then it's 50/50... I don't think it will hurt, since the nitrogen-fixing bacteria is mostly in your filter. The bacterial films in the sludge are great at breaking down mulm into nutrients, but without plants you don't need it as much...

Austin 05-18-2011 03:51 PM

Are the nutrients toxic to the fish? Like, should I bother vacuuming the unplanted areas?


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