Should I vacuum gravel?

Andres391

Member
I have a 10 gallon tank with 2 inches of gravel, tank is already fully stocked with fish everything has been stable for a week after a mini cycle. Should I vacuum my gravel would it not unbalance my tank all over again the bacteria does all the work breaking down waste for you unless you got very little gravel then I can see why you would need to vacuum and do water changes since you have little to no anerobic bacteria.
 

The2dCour

Member
Yes, vacuum. WC don't take out poop like a good vac.
 

mc12345

Member
Andres391 said:
I have a 10 gallon tank with 2 inches of gravel, tank is already fully stocked with fish everything has been stable for a week after a mini cycle. Should I vacuum my gravel would it not unbalance my tank all over again the bacteria does all the work breaking down waste for you unless you got very little gravel then I can see why you would need to vacuum and do water changes since you have little to no anerobic bacteria.
Sucking up the waste and old food matter shouldn't effect the tank. The beneficial bacteria sits on all surfaces including plants, decor and in the filter media itself. It will also ensure that ammonia levels don't spike if there is too much waste. Just don't do it too frequently. Vacuum when levels get too high or you notice an excessive amount of waste in the gravel.
 

RayClem

Member
How long has the tank been set up? You only mentioned that it has been stable for one week since you added fish after a "mini-cycle".

What are your current levels of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate in ppm (not just, "the levels are fine").

If this is a newly established tank, there is no such thing as a "mini-cycle". It will take several weeks for the nitrogen cycle to be fully established in the tank. There are things you can do to reduce the cycle time such as using filter media from an established tank, but it still takes several weeks before the tank is fully cycled. Once you add fish to a newly established tank, it typically will undergo a mini-cycle due to the change in bioload. Thus, unless the tank was set up at least six weeks ago, you are now in the process of doing a fish-in cycle of your tank. If that is the case, watch ammonia and nitrite levels daily and do water changes if the levels start to rise. You want to keep levels below 0.5 ppm, even lower if any of the fish in your tank are sensitive. If the ammonia levels spike, you can add Seachem Prime to detoxify the ammonia so it won't harm the fish.

Although vacuuming gravel periodically is necessary, there should not be enough organic debris built up in the gravel to require vacuuming the gravel after only one week. If the gravel is getting dirty that quickly, either the tank is overstocked or you are overfeeding your fish.
 
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Andres391

Member
Actually it has been running for 6 weeks 2 weeks cycled 1 week mini cycled 1week stabled. 0 ppm ammonia, 0.10 ppm nitrites and 2.0 ppm nitrates.

I currently have 8 Amber tetras, 1 Venezuelan Endler live bearer. 4 grown Cherry shrimps 3 baby cherry shrimps and pest snails which I call hemp seed snails , few plants that are growing and 2 inch gravel rocks. I used turbostart 600 by Fritz I wished I knew about this product from the beginning it would of took me 2 weeks, and used stability and prime not only to condition water but to help detoxify nitrites and nitrates.
mc12345 said:
Sucking up the waste and old food matter shouldn't effect the tank. The beneficial bacteria sits on all surfaces including plants, decor and in the filter media itself. It will also ensure that ammonia levels don't spike if there is too much waste. Just don't do it too frequently. Vacuum when levels get too high or you notice an excessive amount of waste in the gravel.
It does but the anarobic and aerobic bacteria lives mostly in the gravel if it's deep enough It lives in a area where there is none to very little oxygen wouldn't that be a problem. If you have very little gravel or sand there isn't enough to colonize enough or any that could denitrify nitrogen bacteria so you basically depend on water changes and vacuum.
 

mc12345

Member
Andres391 said:
It does but the anarobic and aerobic bacteria lives mostly in the gravel if it's deep enough It lives in a area where there is none to very little oxygen wouldn't that be a problem. If you have very little gravel or sand there isn't enough to colonize enough or any that could denitrify nitrogen bacteria so you basically depend on water changes and vacuum.
I meant that if the tank is established, occasionally vacuuming the gravel should not affect the overall tanks stability. This bacteria also sits inside the filter media and decor too. As long as they are not excessively vacuuming while also replacing filter media and scrubbing decor, it shouldn't be a problem. I do agree though. Their gravel is about 2 inches deep so vacuuming would likely only remove any detritus off of the top layer. I like to use my gravel vacuum and hold it about 1-2 inches above the substrate and swish it around. It will pick up stuff of the top layer without completely disrupting the substrate.
 

RayClem

Member
Aerobic bacteria are responsible for converting ammonia to nitrite and nitrite to nitrate. Since you still have measurable nitrite in your tank, the tank is not yet fully cycled. When the tank is fully cycled, both ammonia and nitrite will test zero and stay there. The aerobic bacteria grow on every surface of your tank: gravel, glass walls, heater tube, filter intake tubes, filter box walls, filter media, rocks, driftwood, and both artificial and live plants. Even if your tank has no substrate, you will still develop sufficient bacteria for the aerobic portion of the nitrogen cycle. I have one tank that has no substrate as it houses a very large common pleco. The lack of gravel make the tank easier to maintain.

Anaerobic bacteria are responsible for converting nitrates to nitrogen gas. It can take months to develop enough anaerobic bacteria to control nitrates, even if conditions are suitable for development of anaerobic bacteria. Thus, most fishkeepers control nitrates using water changes.
 

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