Best ways to clean and maintain your aquarium without losing your cycle? I have under cleaned and over cleaned. I am getting there with my cycle and don't want to over or under clean again and lose my bb.
Well, it's not hard at all.
You should stick to a weekly schedule, that's easiest for most people. You will need to have a gravel vacuum, such as a siphon to remove water. If you normally like to clean the gravel with it, don't push it down too far, just agitate the top layer slightly.
When you refill, always use a water treatment, and then fill up the tank normally.
Usually, just change around a quarter to half the total amount of water volume.
The biofilm that contains the beneficial bacteria resides on the filter media, the gravel, the sides, and any tank decorations. The biggest concentration is with filter media. I always used HOB filters that had a piece of foam in it that you would seldom clean. I could change the filter cartridges monthly or so, and never had a problem. As long as you're not cleaning out too many things at once, there shouldn't be a problem.
The only trouble I had was one day when I went on a manic cleaning tear in my fish room. The tanks had been cycled for years. I took a razor blade to the glass, changed the filter cartridges, rinsed out the bio filters, and vacuumed the gravel. Thank goodness I checked the water parameters a couple days later and found an ammonia spike. I'd wrecked my cycle. I did a big water change then, and a regular water change every other day after that, and it got back to normal in about a week.
As long as you don't clean everything at once, and you keep an eye on your water parameters, you shouldn't have any trouble, or at least you'll see trouble if it pops its head up.
I have an aquaclear filter. I have a polishing pad, the foam pad that came with it, a bag with charcoal and ammonia reducing chips and then the bio balls. My plan was to replace the foam pad and charcoal/Ammonia chips every month. Leave bio balls alone and rinse foam pad in tank water if needed. I was also going to do lightsand cleanings and 30%-40% water changes weekly. Is this too much? When should I clean the glass for algae? I also know to do the filter media replacement a few days before or after a water gravel change.
Unfortunately my tank is very low to the floor so I got a siphon gravel cleaner but I can't get it to work since the tank is practically at the same level as the bucket.
30% or so water change weekly sounds good, depending on your stocking level. You'll be able to tell what's working by your water readings. As long as you don't clean everything at once you should be good. I know some people who rinse out their foam or other filter media by sticking a big bag into the tank, then pulling the foam and putting it into the bag, then mushing it around to rinse. It keeps the foam from releasing a bunch of gunk into the water when you pull it off the filter and out of the tank. It can also be done to remove water when you do water changes.
You might consider a python for water changes. The python hooks up to a sink faucet and uses running water to create suction. Once you have the water you want removed, you flip a switch and it fills the tank. You can dose water conditioner (recommend Prime) according to the tank volume when you do this, instead of just dosing the amount you're adding back in.