Vaccuming the grunge..when to start?

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by GoGreen, Dec 17, 2009.

  1. GoGreenWell Known MemberMember

    So, I am still in the midst of weaning my tank off the Cycle product, did another water change today (last one was one week ago) and like the last change I only used one cap of cycle instead of 3.
    My tests were all great with the one cap only of Cycle in the tank, thought I should do one more change like that because we are going away for 2 days and I won't be able to moniter the tank as closely, but I am going to hope and assume that since it went well last week that the same type of change this week should be fine. We are still home for the next two days before we leave so I can still check then.
    Okay, finally to my question! When does a person start seriously vaccuming the substrate with my siphon, I am afraid to suck up any necessary bacteria since my tank is only 3 1/2 months old and I am currently weaning off the Cycle. My 3 corys seem to be keeping the bottom pretty clean and I never overfeed (I am very strict with their food, I know, what a meanie!) It doesn't look too bad other than the algae on the driftwood and some fuzzy algae on one of my tall artificial plants (ick, was is that stuff??)
    So...when is it "safe" to start vaccuming, how much and how often?
    Oh..all this stuff to learn!:-\

  2. redlessiWell Known MemberMember

    What are your water parameters? If they are stable, I would think you can start by vacuuming only a half or a third with each water change. I would not do the whole tank as you dont want to remove too much of the good bacteria.

  3. erk419New MemberMember

    If you have fish in there which it sounds like you do you need to do water changed which including vaccuming the gravel once a week. You need to do all the gravel every week. Dont worry about the bacteria almost all of it is in the filter.

    Almost all the good bacteria is in your filter not on the gravel.

    :animal0068:Hello. I've merged your posts to save some space. There is an EDIT key at the bottom of every post that you can use for corrections and additional thoughts should there be no responses.

    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 29, 2009
  4. GoGreenWell Known MemberMember

    Okay then that was fast! Next week the vaccuming shall start....perhaps only half the tank based on the differences in opinion?
  5. fishingman001Well Known MemberMember

    i would recommend half one week and half the next. even though the majority of bacteria is in the filter, vacuuming up all the gavel will take out the bacteria and seeing where your tank is now, that might not be good.
  6. GoGreenWell Known MemberMember

    Half it is then! Thanks!
  7. JSKValued MemberMember

    I'm not basing this on my aquarium experience, but on my knowledge of microbiology. The nitrobacter and nistrosomonas bacteria that are so important are generally photophobic; that is, they thrive in areas that are darker. In those areas, they will colonize and form biofilms. Biofilms are formed when bacteria secrete a slimy matrix that causes them to adhere tightly to a surface and also facilitates certain metabolic processes (they also are less photophobic when in a biofilm).

    You know that pink or grey "soap scum" on your shower curtain?...not soap..bacterial biofilm. It is pretty tenaciously stuck, isn't it? Bacteria in a bifilm are essentially "embedded" in their environment are not not coming off without a substantial force.

    What this means is that: the surface of your substrate has very little bacteria on it, and what is there is adhereing tightly enough that vacuuming won't make a difference.
  8. MeenuFishlore VIPMember

  9. fishingman001Well Known MemberMember

    so vacuuming either half or the whole substrate won't matter?
  10. JSKValued MemberMember

    Sorry for taking so long to answer.

    I would guess that vacuuming the entire substrate would not remove much bacteria. But, I also suspect that large water changes can lead to a mini-cycle because of subtle changes in the water chemistry with such a change. Bacteria can be pretty sensitive to even small changes in concentratin of nutrients, salts, etc. A large water change might induce them to slow down to adapt a bit...leading to a "mini-cycle." I suspect mini-cycles are not due to a removal of teh bacteria from the substrate.

    Of course, it probably depends on how vigorously you dig around in the substrate - vigorous mixing could disrupt some of the biofilms, while just sweeping the vacuum over the surface probably would not.

    Again, this is largely theoretical and based on how the bacteria I work with in my lab might try vacuuming half first, then increase it a little each time and see...
  11. David CWell Known MemberMember

    I gotta say JSK, after reading your posts I really feel like I just got outta class :) It's
    good information though and I'm glad you put it out.

  12. MeenuFishlore VIPMember

    I say whether you do all or 1/2 (or even 1/3 per week like Ken does), you shouldn't do any until your cycle has been established for a couple of weeks, unless it is completely necessary because of debris. I understand - and am grossed out by - what JSK is saying, but when your tank is brand-newly cycled, it's all a very delicate balance. Why mess with a good thing? ;)
  13. GoGreenWell Known MemberMember

    You are right Meenu I don't want to mess with a good thing. All I did last week was a tiny bit of cleaning in the middle area, where it looked a bit grungy. Probably was almost 1/3 of the tank, but I didn't stir things up too vigourously. Just did enough as my 8L water change would allow, and also successfully removed and cleaned one algae covered plant. Only one, though, thought I would do one plant a week, as the gouramis would be mad at me if I did them all, it's their snack food. Hmm...suddenly this has turned into an algae discussion. I'll shut up now.:-X

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