Should I Gravel Vac Every week?

  • #1
Once a week I use my gravel vacuum on my fish tank when I do my 25% water change. Is it a good idea to continue this or should I be doing this only once a month. Oh and I only do half the tank when I vacuum on my 55, but I do the whole floor bed on my 29 gallon every week. What do you think.
  • #2
Gravel vacuuming half the tank every week is a good idea. Leaving it for a month will likely lead you to many many problems. Because you have large waste producers in both of your tanks, it would be a really good idea to up the amount of water you change per week to 50% while doing a really good gravel vac on the 1/2 of the tank that is scheduled for that week. This will help ensure healthy water for your fish to live in. The cycle will not be affected by doing this, the main bulk of the bacteria live in your filter media. If anything this will help keep nitrates lower by removing decomposing waste that will contribute to the amount of nitrogen the cycle has to deal with (less nitrate as an end result) and the extra water will help to dilute nitrates (and other toxins that enter the water) so this also means lower nitrate levels.
  • #3
I do gravel vacs weekly both 55 gallon & 28g with about 30% water change. My random water tests are always incredible! I've never had any diseases or issues.
  • #4
I've always vacuumed the gravel at each and every water change, and never had problems with it. I would imagine that gravel vacuuming weekly would help the benifical bacteria since the force of the suction would strip away any dead/weakened bacteria from the substrate, leaving only the healthiest bacteria that can process the most nitrogen, therefor having a more efficient cycle. I also agree with toosie with that you should up you water changes to 50%
  • #5
I vacuum 50% of the gravel in my smaller tanks and 30% of my larger tanks with each water change. This way I can only affect part of the good bacteria that is living in the gravel with each water change. This keeps my tanks more stable and never causes even the slightest minI cycle.

Over cleaning a tank can be just as bad as not cleaning one in my opinion. If you over clean the gravel and the filter you will cause the tank to go into a minI cycle which is stressful and harmful to the fish. Regular maintenance is a must in keeping a tank healthy for the fish but over doing it can have the opposite affect from what you intended.

The reason I vacuum a larger area in the smaller tanks is because the water can foul quicker in the smaller volume of water. I also do larger and more frequent water changes on my smaller tanks verses my larger tanks for the same reason plus my smaller tanks are for breeding and fry so I want to keep the water as pristine as I can in them.
  • Thread Starter
  • #6
Great thanks bowcrazy great advice.
Gold Coast
  • #7
For me on my 75 and 40 gallon I vacuum and do at least a 30% water change every week like clock work. Especially if you have a large bio load. I at the same time clean the filters thoughly and in the E-HeI'm canister the filter floss gets changed also every week. There is no better medicine than clean water. Your fish will love you. Its a good habit.

  • #8
I do 50% gravel vac/WC on both of my larger tanks and about 60% on the 3gal but I don't get the gravel in the 3gal.
  • #9
I think your schedule is fine. If it works for you I wouldn't change a thing. You know your tanks.

I vac half of my largest tank, well because it's 6 feet and 18" wide, it's a lot of work when I used to do the whole thing weekly. Never had any problems when I did vacuum all the substrate on a weekly bases.
  • #10
There is a secret to doing gravel vacuums that I will let you in on. If you start out doing the complete bottom every time you do a water change the filter will build a larger bacteria colony because you don’t allow it to get started in the gravel. So once the tank is cycled the bacteria colony is large enough in the filter that vacuuming the substrate clean is not going to affect it hardly at all. Now if you weren’t doing substrate vacuuming in the beginning a large bacteria colony is going to form in the substrate because it was allowed to develop there. Then if you all of a sudden start doing large vacuum jobs on the substrate you cause a minI cycle which in time will correct its self by growing a larger colony in the filter.

A good cycled tank will get use to our maintenance and will compensate somewhat for what we do. My advice here would be if you started it, keep it up, if you didn’t slowly increase the amount of the bottom you vacuum over time until you are doing the amount you want to with each water change. Too much too quick is bad no matter what we talk about when it comes to fish and their homes. Too many fish added to quick causes problems as we all know but going from not cleaning to super cleaning to quick is also bad for the fish. I hope this is as clear as mud – it makes sense to me, I hope it does to you.
  • Thread Starter
  • #11
Yes bowcrazy that makes perfect sense, thanks for the tip
  • #12
Now for my questions for you TayJay76. I live about 3 hours from Wichita but the last time I was up there was in the mid 70s. Are there lots of fish stores up there? I normally end up shopping in Amarillo or Oklahoma City but Wichita isn’t any farther then they are so I could run up that way sometime to check them out. The mater of a fact I will be only about an hour and a half straight south of there in February on sort of a vacation so I might run up there then. My daughter will be having her baby around February 10th so I am taking vacation so my wife and I can go help take care of her two boys while she recovers and that would make a good day trip for me and the boys. --- you can private message me back with the info so we don’t clutter up your thread with chit chat.
  • #13
Back when I had gravel, I always vacuumed the whole tank with each water change. Now that I have sand I never vac. The bacteria isn't going to get sucked off the gravel from the minimal amount of suction provided by the vacuum.
  • #14
I couldn't help but reading all, and it is good to learn from all of you since I am a beginner who is cycling a 5 gallon tank, I was wondering if adding to not cleaning too much and making the proper WC every week, how does it work for the caltridge? If you change it, will the beneficial bacteria die? I am sorry to interfere in the conversation but I am pretty interested . Thanks
  • #15
Yes, when you change a cartridge, the bacteria living on it go with it. Hopefully there is enough bacteria elsewhere in the tank to make up the difference. Often there is not, which is why many filters come with dedicated biomedia - media that is not replaced every month. Some biomedias are better than others.

That's why many of us use custom media - so that we don't have to replace the mechanical media all the time. It saves money and is far better for the health of the tank.
  • #16
Thanks now where do I find custom media? I have caltridges it is a shame, I did not know that.
  • #17
You have a whisper 10i? I would just get an AC50 sponge and use that as your only media. It will never need to be replaced. In order to make the transition, cut the sponge in half - you should be able to fit it in after the cartridge. Then after a few weeks, replace the cartridge with the other half of the sponge. Now, when it's time to clean the filter you can clean half at a time, which is better than cleaning all of it at once. You can also start new tanks with this media - take out half and replace with new stuff.

Any time you mess with the filter its a good idea to fast the fish for a day or two. The more they eat, the more waste they produce - not something you want when the bacteria colonies are playing catch up. It takes 24 hours for the bacteria to double in size.
  • #18
Thanks, I will get the sponge

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