Depth Of Gravel?

Tyler Peck

New Member
Member
Messages
9
Reaction score
1
Location
Utah
Experience
Just started
I am fairly new and when setting up my tank, I read somewhere that 3 inches of gravel was needed to allow good bacteria to grow. Lately I have been reading that deep gravel just makes it harder to clean, so now I am worried I have too much gravel in my tank, probably about 3 inches throughout. Is that too much, will it trap food particles? If so how do I remove gravel with fish in the tank, that seems kind of difficult.
Thanks
 

Shrimpie

Active Member
Member
Messages
65
Reaction score
41
Location
Chicago, IL
Tyler Peck said:
I am fairly new and when setting up my tank, I read somewhere that 3 inches of gravel was needed to allow good bacteria to grow. Lately I have been reading that deep gravel just makes it harder to clean, so now I am worried I have too much gravel in my tank, probably about 3 inches throughout. Is that too much, will it trap food particles? If so how do I remove gravel with fish in the tank, that seems kind of difficult.
Thanks
as long as you do your water changes and syphon the bottom you will be fine, it shouldn't be squeaky clean either.
 

yinoma2001

Well Known
Member
Messages
510
Reaction score
222
Experience
1 year
How deeply do people siphon their gravel during water changes?
 

Drav

Active Member
Member
Messages
171
Reaction score
59
I don't know if it works well for gravel, but deep sand beds are a beneficial thing, they essentially become their own bio filter. For my aquarium I have it about 3 inches deep. The thing about deep sand beds though, is you will want to let waste collect on top of it, the muck is usually inert, I think its called mull. But its needed for providing nutrient to the substrate. If you do clean out the gravel, only clean the top layer, don't disturb the gravel, you will harm the bacteria by doing that. You can also look up deep sand beds online as well, there's plenty of info I probably forgot.
 

Marzahtha

Active Member
Member
Messages
308
Reaction score
174
Location
Minneapolis, MN
Experience
4 years
Depends on if it's planted or not. If I don't have live plants in a section, I push the siphon all the way down. If I have to be careful with roots, I just siphon the top.
 

A201

Fishlore VIP
Member
Messages
4,536
Reaction score
4,181
Location
Oklahoma
Experience
More than 10 years
IMO, 3" of small grain gravel provides plenty of area for a large bed of Benificial Bacteria to get established. I don't vacuum the gravel beds of my tanks during WC's. The tanks remain clean & clear, the fish stay colorful and healthy. The waste & bio-matter in a tank are constantly being broke down by BB and dissolve in the water column. A weekly non-vac, 50% WC removes a large percentage of the impurities, reulting in a healthy tank.
 

mattgirl

Fishlore Legend
Member
Messages
12,548
Reaction score
12,434
Location
Closer to Heaven every day but for now-Arkansas
Experience
More than 10 years
It seems there are at least 2 schools of thought on this.

Back when I had gravel in my tanks I vacuumed my gravel with each water change. I switched over to sand a couple of years ago so had gravel for many many years. I stuck the tube all the way down to the bottom kind stirred it up and kept the suction going until the water ran clear. I would keep moving from spot to spot until I had removed enough water (normally 30% of the volume in my 55 gallon tank). If this is done with every water change there is no chance of gas pockets building up even in a deep gravel bed.

If one has a deep gravel bed and has gone years without deep cleaning their gravel it is possible gas pockets have built up in the gravel and deep cleaning will disturb those gas pockets and can cause problems.

In my humble opinion Vacuuming the substrate is not removing enough bacteria to hurt ones established cycle. It is just removing the waste that builds up from uneaten food and fish poop. It is the waste building up that can cause gas pockets to build up over time.

All this to say. If you decided not to deep clean your deep gravel bed then just leave it alone from now on. If you decide to deep clean it go ahead and do part of it with your water change and a different part with the next one if you are doing a big tank. In smaller tanks all of it can be done with each water change.

In a planted tank I can see where deep cleaning the gravel wouldn't be as necessary. That sludge I pulled out from the gravel made for a very good fertilizer for my house plants so I can see where it would be good for root feeder plants in a planted aquarium.

All of this to say. We each have to decide what is right for our situation. And to say gravel vacuuming does not remove enough beneficial bacteria to impact the cycle in an established tank. It removes waste that if left to build up over years might end up causing problems if eventually disturbed.
 

86 ssinit

Fishlore VIP
Member
Messages
6,391
Reaction score
6,798
Location
Long Island
Experience
More than 10 years
I have 3+ inches of gravel in my tanks. That are planted. I try to vacuum out a different area of the tank weekly. Where the plant roots are too dense I leave alone. Most of your bb is in your filter.
 

Thunder_o_b

Fishlore VIP
Member
Messages
9,629
Reaction score
6,183
Location
North East Ohio…USA
Experience
More than 10 years
The reasoning behind keeping substrate at less than 3” (important for sand) is to prevent anaerobic bacteria from forming and releasing hydrogen sulfide gas.
 

Shrimpie

Active Member
Member
Messages
65
Reaction score
41
Location
Chicago, IL
Thunder_o_b said:
The reasoning behind keeping substrate at less than 3” (important for sand) is to prevent anaerobic bacteria from forming and releasing hydrogen sulfide gas.
some people throw in MTS to help with that from forming
 

yinoma2001

Well Known
Member
Messages
510
Reaction score
222
Experience
1 year
So when I do a deep vacuum of the substrate and that initial cloudy stuff comes up, it's a mixture of decomposed food/poop/other organic matter that would otherwise sit there and possibly be a ticking time bomb if left to fester?

I've heard from others that BB resides in the substrate too, ergo, do only 1/2 of the tank at most vacuuming-wise. Would love to understand this better.
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #12
OP
Tyler Peck

Tyler Peck

New Member
Member
Messages
9
Reaction score
1
Location
Utah
Experience
Just started
Very helpful information - Thank you All!
 

angelcraze

Fishlore VIP
Member
Messages
5,852
Reaction score
4,153
Location
Canada QC
Experience
More than 10 years
I have both dirted and gravel tanks. The gas that builds under the substrate where there is no oxygen (no MTS or plant roots to aerate) is called anaerobic bacteria. I actually leave it accumulate in my dirted tanks. I poke the substate now and then during a water change, releasing a bit of it out of the tank as nitrogenous gas, but not all of it because anaerobic bacteria eats up nitrate, essentially fully completing the nitrogen cycle. My tanks with anaerobic bacteria never register any nitrate. The danger is releasing a lot at once, like uprooting a deeply rooted plant. But little bubbles of nitrogenous gas is not harmful. You do have to understand it and use caution though.

In my gravel tank, I siphon all the way to the bottom where there are no plants (like shady areas) but I only skI'm siphon where the plants are. The mulm seeps into the gravel to feed the plants along with microorganisms that break it down.
 

mattgirl

Fishlore Legend
Member
Messages
12,548
Reaction score
12,434
Location
Closer to Heaven every day but for now-Arkansas
Experience
More than 10 years
yinoma2001 said:
So when I do a deep vacuum of the substrate and that initial cloudy stuff comes up, it's a mixture of decomposed food/poop/other organic matter that would otherwise sit there and possibly be a ticking time bomb if left to fester?
Correct

I've heard from others that BB resides in the substrate too, ergo, do only 1/2 of the tank at most vacuuming-wise. Would love to understand this better.
Some does. Bacteria grows on every surface in your tank. As long as your tank is cycled and it has sufficient media in your filter the tiny bit you might remove by vacuuming your gravel should not cause any problems.
 

yinoma2001

Well Known
Member
Messages
510
Reaction score
222
Experience
1 year
mattgirl said:
Correct


Some does. Bacteria grows on every surface in your tank. As long as your tank is cycled and it has sufficient media in your filter the tiny bit you might remove by vacuuming your gravel should not cause any problems.
Thanks. So I'll continue my regimen of semi-deeply gravel vacuuming 1/2 of the tank, with spot vacuuming for visible poop/food/other stuff.
 

New Threads

Similar Threads

Follow FishLore!

FishLore on Social Media

Online statistics

Members online
223
Guests online
3,719
Total visitors
3,942

Aquarium Photo Contests

Aquarium Calculator

Top Bottom