When I vacuum the gravel, how much water do I change?

RickW2007

ok so I have a 120 gallon with three baby oscars and one baby pacu and a baby plecos, and one small electric blue johanni(or something like that),and one betta(soon to be fish food I'm sure). First off I know that the pacu will outgrow this tank and am planning on upgrading later on. Now I have two emperor 400 power filters and plan on gettin an undergravel filter soon to help circulation. The tank is a new setup I keep the temperature 75-80 degrees. my question is when I vacuum the gravel every week how much water do I need to change. and would it be better to vacuum syphon style or with a canister filter so that the clean water goes back in the tank and then do water change? and how often should I replace the filter cartridges in my filters?
 

Nutter

Welcome to Fishlore.

I hate to tell you this but the Pacu is not the only thing that is going to outgrow that tank. 120gal is ok for two Oscars by themselves with no tank mates at all, but definitley not suitable for 3 Oscars, even if there wasn't a Plec to consider. The JohannI is a Rift Lake cichlid that requires very differnt conditions to your other fish as well. The Betta, well you seem to know what is going to happen there. If you intend on keeping the Oscars, Pacu & Pleco together when you upgrade your tank, I think you will need to be looking at 300gal+.

For the cleaning I would just use a gravel vaccuum. Given that the tank is dramatically overstocked I would be doing 30% water changes every 3-4 days probably. Invest in an API liquid Master Test Kit if you don't already have one. Use the readings from the test kit to determine when you should do your water changes & how much you should change.
I'm not familiar with the brand of filter you have so I can't say how often you need to replace the cartridges if they need replacing at all. What I can say is that you shouldn't waste your money on under gravel filtration. It will not work at all well with Oscars as they will rearrange the substrate & everything else to suit themselves & this will effect the performance of the UGF quite badly. If you only want extra circulation then install a couple of airstones or a powerhead.
 

RickW2007

Ive had aquariums before but I was young and never really knew how to properly care for one. the filters are 3 stage each one has 2 blue filters in it that I think has carbon in it, two just carbon filters, and 2 bio wheels.



and my plans are actually of I can talk my wife into it to upgrade to a 500g tank when we purchase our new home(sometime in the next year). is the tank really that overstocked? I mean they are all very small(and yes I know they will grow quickly but based on my time-line for an upgrade I figured it would not be a problem)

As for the johanni, I see now that the PH requirements are different but he appears to be doing fine in the tank he is very active. I didnt consider compatibility when we got him my wife just thought he was pretty so here he is.

the power heads I don't really trust my parents had a 300g tank with a pacu in it and one day while they were gone he knocked it over and drained half of the tank into the living room floor
 

Nutter

I didnt consider compatibility when we got him my wife just thought he was pretty so here he is.

I can relate to that. ;D

Even as juvenilles these guys will be feeling rather crowded in the tank. The size of the tank impacts on how they grow to & can cause stunting in the fish which is rather painful. Ideally you would want to look at having a larger home for them before they get to 6" each. Once they hit that size they are going to stat needing & wanting more space around them.

PS: 500gal sounds awesome. Post pics if you can make that happen. I'd love to drool over them.
 

RickW2007

I'm sure I can talk her into it, or just buy it and surprise her and deal it If I can find my camera I will post pictures of my current tank

If I keep the PH right at 8.0 which is max for the oscars and min for the johannI would that be ok? I have yet to purchase a test kit when we had aquariums before with oscars my parents never checked the PH they were told oscars were hardy enough that they didnt need the tank to be regulated.
 

Cichlidz

Gravel cleaning?

I was reading on this post, I have seen the siphon gravel vacuum cleaners. What do they do? other than the obvious.
I have never used on or ever seen one in action, I can only assume that the gravel isn't sucked out of the tank. How deeply is this done? to the bottom?

Is there any type of protection device in place to keep from sucking out a fish too?

The Gravel turn over of the Red Devil is so much that I am thinking it really wouldn't do much good in the 55 gallon tank. other than to irritate the Midas a bit more.

Speaking of which, HOW do I stop from getting attacked and bitten by the Cichlids when trying to clean or do anything in the tank?
 

Nutter

Rick you are probably best not adjusting the PH at all unless your tap water is particularly high or low in PH. Most aquarium bred fish are just kept in declorinated tap water & will adjust to the water that you have as long as the transition is done slowly. If you do need to adjust it try for 7.8-8.0 & do it by natural means rather than chemical adjusters.

Cichlidz a gravel vacuum is simply a siply a hose with a larger diameter tube attached to the end. Obviously they siphon water from the tank. The idea of the larger diameter tube on them is that it lessens the suction so that you can siphon the detrius from the gravel without sucking the gravel right out of the tank like you would with just a hose. You should only vacuum the surface 1/2" of the gravel so that you do not disturb the good bacteria population that is established in the gravel. It is worth noting that there is no good bacteria population in sand substrates & that the gravel vacuum will suck the sand out of the tank regardless of the diameter of the tube on it. UGF is useless with cichlids that dig alot. They move the substrate around & leave it thinner in some places than others. That means the UGF is working better in some places of the tank than others. As for how to stop getting bitten by your fish, don't put your hand in the tank. There's no way around it short of wearing very thick long rubber gloves. It doesn't hurt when they bite so you should just get used to it.
 

Aquarist

Good morning,

I've moved your thread to the Cleaning and Maintenance section for the forum.
Thanks!
Ken
 

cm11599ps

You should only vacuum the surface 1/2" of the gravel so that you do not disturb the good bacteria population that is established in the gravel. .


Hmm, I always just stuck the Python in until it hit the bottom of the tank. Guess I'll try that out next time which should be any day now.
 

kuopan

Speaking of which, HOW do I stop from getting attacked and bitten by the Cichlids when trying to clean or do anything in the tank?

my friend used to smack his oscars lightly with his hands, and now every time he puts his hand in, they stay in the corner.

what i'd suggest if you don't agree with smacking them, is to bring your net and laying it close to where you clean. most fish usually get horrified when they see that, and just hide in the corner.. haha.. I don't even have to put my net in the water, my oscars get scared when they see me pull it through the glass.
 

bubblynutter

my friend used to smack his oscars lightly with his hands, and now every time he puts his hand in, they stay in the corner.

what i'd suggest if you don't agree with smacking them, is to bring your net and laying it close to where you clean. most fish usually get horrified when they see that, and just hide in the corner.. haha.. I don't even have to put my net in the water, my oscars get scared when they see me pull it through the glass.


I can relate to that one! Trying to catch my big marble angel is a nightmare - he sees the net when I am still at least 3 feet from the tank and goes spastic, trying to find somewhere to hide...
 

rae64

Maybe if you do get that upgrade, you could use the 120 gal as a Rift Cichlid tank? If your wife likes the pretty colors, they would be a great choice I believe

Would you consider saving the betta?? They reallly are VERY special fish, and your wife would likely love him.... they have great personality, and a feisty disposition. A small 5 gallon tank with heater, filter, and some smooth plants/ornaments is all he demands (Lol nothing compared to your future 500 gal!) I really think he would be worth it
 

RickW2007

the betta actually didnt even last as long as I thought I had considered keeping him in my 10 gallon tank with my feeder fish when I started it but before they would even eat large pellets they ate him. and my electric blue johannI just hides all the time now he won't even hardly come out to eat I geuss I'm going to have to upgrade sooner and do as suggested and keep the colorful cichlids in the 120 gallon tnak
 

chris T. anks

Sounds like you might finally have things figured out. I hope everyone gets settled soon (including your wife). She will love all of them in time, especially when you get your new aquarium system setup.
 

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