How deep to clean the gravel?

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H20girl

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Wondering if just the surface of the gravel should be vacuumed or if we should clean down the the bottom of the tank? Thanks!
 

flyin-lowe

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I usually stick the tube as far down in the gravel as I can. I have plants in my tank so when I am close to them I just get the surface but the deeper I go the more junk that comes up.
 

jerilovesfrogs

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i would say to clean mostly the surface debris.....if you dig down too deep, you could over clean and it could possibly put you in a mini cycle. a lot of goo gets sucked up without even putting the vac down into the gravel.

i think you may have the same aqueon starter kit...the 20H right? i really like it. though i did upgrade to an aquaclear 50 filter. it's good to have more filtration, rather than the minimum. think about it!

and welcome to the site, you'll love it!
 

Prince Powder

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I would say clean as much as possible. Debris will naturally settle on the bottom of the gravel and if allowed to accumulate it could lead to old tank syndrome. Even if your bio filtration is sufficient to convert the ammonia released by the decaying debris, having too much debris will, over time, lead to excessive build up of nitrate as well as a lowering of your pH. It's also wise to move things around while vacuuming so you can clean up underneath the decor as waste will build up there as well.
 

LyndaB

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flyin-lowe said:
I usually stick the tube as far down in the gravel as I can. I have plants in my tank so when I am close to them I just get the surface but the deeper I go the more junk that comes up.
Ditto.

I do a deep gravel vac every other week and a water change every week.
 

Aquarist

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Hello.

I see you just started your tank on May 3, 2010. I wouldn't suggest a vacuum at this point unless you think you've over fed your fish.

If you've used Tetra Safe Start to jump start your cycle I suggest you do nothing to the tank for 10 days.

If you're cycling with fish, daily water changes is what is really needed and there is no need to disturb the substrate until your tank cycles and even then not all of it at the same time.

Can you elaborate as to where your tank cycle stands? I see you are aware of it.

Thanks!
Ken
 

Jrobber

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I always swirl the gravel around inside the vacuum and it collects a ton of debris. My tank houses mostly Mollies and they produce a lot of waste so it's always good to get as much as you can.
 
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H20girl

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Thanks for the advice... sounds like the consensus is to do a deep gavel vac every 1-2 weeks, but not all the gravel at once. I was mostly asking for future reference (though we did vacuum the gravel some when doing the water change last night). We'll hold off on any further vacumming until after the tank has cycled.

Ken, I talked about what's going on with the cycle in this thread:


Thanks again!
 

jerilovesfrogs

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ok, so apparently i'm wrong? i swear i read somewhere not to over clean the gravel, as some good bacteria lives in there..... and getting rid of too much could lead to trouble?

i want to do what's best for my tanks......so i guess if i should be deep cleaning the gravel, then i will......
 

kwesdog

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That answer will depend on who you hear it from.

I am from the deep clean camp as I have been on the receiving end of not doing it. Over time no matter if you overfeed or not organic matter will accumulate in your substrate and no amount of snails or cleaner of the month will stop it. If you let it go long enough your nitrates and phosphates will go through the roof even with regular water changes. Your PH will eventually crash which can lead to a mass die off for no visually obvious reason.

Depending on your filter the majority of benificial bacteria should live on your media inside it. It should also live on the surfaces of things that you are not vacuming such as plants and decorations. Also or at least from what I read from people far more experianced than me is that even with gravel vacuuming you are not really sucking up much of the bacteria because it lives on and adheres to the substrate and not on the gunk you suck up thus you should not be causing a mini cycle unless you have other issues.

Harry
 

jerilovesfrogs

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thanks harry, that made sense.....i guess i thought bacteria could be "sucked up". i didn't know they were that well stuck to things. luckily my tanks haven't been going long enough to have crashed from not vacuuming enough....but long enough to have gunk. so the next water change i'll do a good one.
 

potatos

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Well i used to do deep cleans, but i developed algae and my plants went doing so great. I posted here and people told me to do only surface cleaning, because the jun i do not get will break down, releasing co2 for my plants and act as fertilizer. I used to do complete deep gravel vaccs, not just partial. maybe there is a happy medium here somewhere. perhaps deep cleans monthly?
 

jerilovesfrogs

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well i guess i'm wondering what the experienced fish keepers do? not that a lot of you aren't...but i'm mean many many years of experience. where are you seasoned fish keepers?!
 

Jaysee

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When i had gravel, i would vacuum down to the glass. in a NEW tank, vaccuuming too much can disrupt the balance, but once the tank is established there is nothing to fear in doing deep cleans. the overwhelming majority of the bacteria is in the filter, and if that colony is strong (established), any loss you get from vaccuuming will be picked up by the bacteria in the filter.

where people get into trouble is assuming that because the tank is cycled that its established. newly cycled tanks are still setting up infrastructure, if you will, and can be overwhelmed because of the extra work theyre doing. an established colony is poised and ready to multiply, quickly picking up the slack.
 

potatos

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Would you vaccume the entire gravel bed, or only do sections at a time?
 

Meenu

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I do the thorough vacuum on my tank 1/2 at a time. So one week I do 1/2 the tank, then the next time I do the other half. And I have one area that gets really gross - that part gets done every week.
 

ayelie

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Jaysee said:
When i had gravel, i would vacuum down to the glass. in a NEW tank, vaccuuming too much can disrupt the balance, but once the tank is established there is nothing to fear in doing deep cleans. the overwhelming majority of the bacteria is in the filter, and if that colony is strong (established), any loss you get from vaccuuming will be picked up by the bacteria in the filter.

where people get into trouble is assuming that because the tank is cycled that its established. newly cycled tanks are still setting up infrastructure, if you will, and can be overwhelmed because of the extra work theyre doing. an established colony is poised and ready to multiply, quickly picking up the slack.
So what your saying is once we get out tank out of cycle we should do light vacuuming for the first month or so to keep things stable?
 

jerilovesfrogs

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ayelie, i am not sure if a month is long enough.....maybe several months. maybe jaysee will be back later and let us know for sure.

PS. jaysee, one of my small tanks now has sand.....i assume to vacuum that you don't dig down like you do for gravel? just let it hoover over the sand and let it get the debris that way?
 

Meenu

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jerilovesfrogs said:
ayelie, i am not sure if a month is long enough.....maybe several months. maybe jaysee will be back later and let us know for sure.

PS. jaysee, one of my small tanks now has sand.....i assume to vacuum that you don't dig down like you do for gravel? just let it hoover over the sand and let it get the debris that way?
Well, I'm not Jaysee, but I think several months is too long. In my tank, which is 7 months old, I started the thorough gravel vacs (1/2 tank at a time) maybe 5 or 6 weeks after the tank cycled.

And, yes, I think you are right, Jeri - you wouldn't vac the sand up. But I think you do need to stir it so it doesn't get gas pockets. There are fish/snails that will sift it for you, or you can do it with a stick. (I don't have sand, this is just from what I have read).
 

jerilovesfrogs

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oh haha meenu.......well i do know about the stir the sand thing. i also have MTS for that as well.

soooo i guess i'm not sure on the gravel vac thing still......
 
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