Substrate Syphoning (good or bad)

Discussion in 'Cleaning and Maintenance' started by hud316, Mar 30, 2012.

  1. hud316

    hud316Valued MemberMember

    Have just been checking some previous posts on here and am surprised to see a lot of people are against syphoning their dirty substrate.

    My normal cleaning cycle is a partial water change every few days and every 2/3 weeks a big clean which involves removing the fish from the tank and placing in a temporary bowl, syphoning about half the water out of my tank which removes a lot of dirt, wiping the inside of the tank to remove any algae, I also clean the filter in the remaining water in my tank and scrub my driftwood if it has noticeable algae on it. The new water is treated so to remove the chlorine from it and it gives some sort of protection to injured/stressed fish.

    I have had a few instances where fish have died after or before the change and hopefully with my newly purchased API freshwater master test kit these deaths will now be a thing of the past.

    However on checking some posts here a few people have said they don't syphon the water as it is good for the bottom feeding fish and plants. They say they do water changes but don't disturb their plants or substrate.

    Not syphoning would save me loads of time, but I'm just wondering what people views where and what their own tank cleaning methods are?
  2. Aquarist

    AquaristFishlore LegendMember

    Good morning,

    The only time that vacuuming the substrate is not necessary is if the tank is heavily planted. The detritus will act as fertilizer for the plants. This doesn't mean that one can slack off on water changes.

    For my 33g long heavily planted tank, I do not vacuum. I do 2/3's water changes every 5 days. My water chemistry is perfect and my plants are doing well. Lots of new growth.

    For my 265g tank, no live plants, I vacuum half of the tank substrate every 2 weeks. I do water changes on this tank every 5 days also.

  3. iRun

    iRunValued MemberMember

    In my planted tank with substrate designed for plant growth, I do a 30-50% water change every other week. I just sweep the gravel vac over the top of the substrate to pick up the big plant debris etc... until I've removed the desired amount of water. In my smaller planted tank with gravel and plants not rooted in substrate, I vaccum the gravel every other week and do the same 30-50% quantity.
    I clean out the filter sponges in tank water 1 time per month. I never remove my fish, and I've never had any problems during water changes. On another forum there was a great discussion about this topic with several people saying they don't even match the temperature with the new water during water changes. I have used that method as well with no problems. It often induced my rainbows to spawn.
  4. Wendy Lubianetsky

    Wendy LubianetskyWell Known MemberMember

    In my unplanted Oscar and Flowerhorn tank I vaccuum the poop everyday and replace that water. I do at 60% water change 4 to 5 days sometimes more. But, you have to remember, that these are very poopy, dirty fish. I vacuum lightly the substrate of all my tank once a week and do a major water changes on a differant day once a week. I test my water everyday to make sure there are NO unexplained problems. But, none of my tanks are heavily planted. They are lightly planted.
  5. Jaysee

    JayseeFishlore LegendMember

    I almost never vacuum the substrate, because I don't need to. The massive filtration systems I run pick up all the waste. That doesn't mean I am against doing it, though.

    I never ever do a big clean - the fish are never removed from the tank, unless I am moving it. It's far more stressful to net them and put them in a bowl, versus leaving them in the tank.

    My maintenance routine is doing 80% water changes every 10-14 days. If I had stuff growing on the glass, I would scrape it off before doing the water change. I use a pump to drain the tanks, which saves me a LOT of time. I clean my canister filters twice a year - I don't use carbon, so I just leave them be. I clean the HOBs, that are left, when water is spilling over the intake or when the aquaclear media basket pops the top - no more than 4 times a year.

    When I do clean the media, the mechanical media is thoroughly cleaned with tap water. The biomedia is not usually dirty, but sometimes I'll swish it around in a pitcher with tank water. The tap water does not sterilize the sponge, so the surviving bacteria will repopulate the sponge. In addition to that, because of the huge filtration there is more than enough real estate on the biomedia for the colony to expand and pick up the slack. I also employed these methods when I had more normal filtration with 10x turnover from HOBs (as opposed to the 10x turnover from canisters). As a precautionary measure, I fast the fish for 2 days after cleaning the filters. Any time you mess with the filters, you should fast the fish. There's no need to add to the bioload when there's a chance the filtration has been compromised.

    That's it! That's all I do. Water changes, the rare glass scraping, and the even rarer filter cleaning.
  6. iZaO Jnr

    iZaO JnrWell Known MemberMember

    Water Changes only... Have to agree

    After settling the tank and then sorting out it's maintenance, it should be very easy.
  7. catsma_97504

    catsma_97504Fishlore LegendMember

    I rarely do gravel vacs these days, maybe once or twice a year, in most tanks. However, my QT, snail and fry tanks are glass bottom. These tanks get weekly vacs. And the fry tanks are cleaned daily.

    That being said, I do have one tank that is currently overstocked. I have to do gravel vacs to lift debris or end up with a mini cycle.

    There is no harm in gravel vacs so long as it isn't excessive. And for those newer to the hobby I believe are required until the owner understands how to properly feed their fish and follow a sound maintenance plan. Overfeeding is so easy to do even for someone who has kept fish for years! Yep, myself included. Juvie angels are the worst beggars!!
  8. LyndaB

    LyndaBFishlore LegendMember

    How often and how intense gravel vacs are done needs to be evaluated on an individual tank basis. What is the stock in the tank? How large is the combined bioload of all species? Is the tank planted? Is the tank overfed?

    There's no one cut and paste answer for this issue. You need to see what works for you, based on what you have and what your habits are as a fishkeeper.
  9. saqib

    saqibWell Known MemberMember

    i myself am not too keen on siphoning the gravel too much, i tend to follow a per quarter gravel vac activity. keep things simple and enjoy the hobby.
    Partial water changes of 50% every 2 weeks is what keeps myself and my pets going.
  10. iZaO Jnr

    iZaO JnrWell Known MemberMember

    I've always found that vacuuming the substrate destroys bacteria to be a bit farfetched. In a gravel tank, yes vacuuming is sometimes necessary in non-planted tanks, but does it really disturb enough bacteria to cause a mini-cycle as so many books and article say?
  11. Jaysee

    JayseeFishlore LegendMember

    I agree, I don't buy into the idea and think it's ridiculous. It's not like the bacteria gets sucked off the gravel. I always did complete and thorough gravel vacs, back when I had gravel, and it was never a problem. Some people can't be to careful though, which is fine - whatever works and makes you happy.
  12. iZaO Jnr

    iZaO JnrWell Known MemberMember

    Well i know i've also done full gravel vacs and never had an issue.