About vacuuming the gravel?

Strmwrng

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I’ve a question about 2 competing thoughts I’ve read and am looking for clarification, or maybe some pros and cons? Let me add that this is for my 5 gal tank with plastic plants. I’ve added guppy grass in the past week, so far so good. It houses 3 Endlers as I recently gave my 2 guppies away. 1st thought- I shouldn’t vacuum my gravel as that is where a lot of the bb live. It shouldn’t be disturbed. 2nd thought- the gravel should be vacuumed as there are no plants that use any of the goop that accumulates over time.
What does any of you think? I can really go either way, I want to do whatever is best for the fish and tank. Thanks so much!!
 

PheonixKingZ

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1: This is not necessarily true. While some bb lives in the substrate, most lives in the filter. You won’t cause any damage to your cycle.

2: The gravel should be vacuumed regardless of if there are plants or not.
 
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Strmwrng

Strmwrng

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1: This is not necessarily true. While some bb lives in the substrate, most lives in the filter. You won’t cause any damage to your cycle.

2: The gravel should be vacuumed regardless of if there are plants or not.
Thanks so much for your answer!! I’ll get to it!:thanks:
 

itiwhetu

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I never vacuum gravel, I think it is counter productive, have live plants they will deal with the waste. Make sure that any food you put in the tank goes through a fish.
 

BumblePrime

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Depends on the type of setup. I gravel vac once a week in my discus tank but in my densely planted tanks, I never gravel vac substrate and just keep up with WC
 
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Strmwrng

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I never vacuum gravel, I think it is counter productive, have live plants they will deal with the waste. Make sure that any food you put in the tank goes through a fish.
I agree and would love to have an established live plant tank...however; I didn’t know what I didn’t know... so trying to go from plastic to live. It takes time and $. Thanks so much, I’ve learned so much from stalking your posts!
 
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Strmwrng

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Depends on the type of setup. I gravel vac once a week in my discus tank but in my densely planted tanks, I never gravel vac substrate and just keep up with WC
Good to know! Then getting live plants growing sounds like a win/win all around. Thanks!
 

Deanasue

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I never vacuum gravel, I think it is counter productive, have live plants they will deal with the waste. Make sure that any food you put in the tank goes through a fish.
The OP has plastic plants except for some newly planted grass. Best to vacuum. :)
 

AbbeysDad

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Well I'm going to 'cut against the grain' a little here...
First, I always recommend a sand substrate instead of gravel as nothing gets down under sand so no need to vacuum ever.

As far as beneficial bacteria, in the established tank, there is far more BB in the substrate than in any filter - just look at the collective surface area. In a new tank, BB may develop first and more rapidly in a filter, but as the tank matures, the substrate far over shadows any filter in BB colony populations. Gravel vacuuming removes 'crud' but very little BB and what little is removed is quickly repopulated. (think of streams with relatively fast moving waters or kaldnes fluidized bed filters. BB does fine in these environments).

IF you have a lot of rooted plants, then light vacuuming would be necessary to prevent root damage...and besides, it's a bit like organic aqua gardening as uneaten food and fish waste feeds the plants.

IF the plants are plastic, vacuuming can be important to get the crud out of the system as neglected substrates can become nitrate factories. In this case, to not vacuum the gravel would be similar to never cleaning the filter. The frequency and degree of required gravel vacuuming is like that of the required frequency and volume of partial water changes...both depend on the stock level and the amount of food inputs. (for example the difference of a few small fish fed lightly vs. several larger fish fed heavily). :)
 

Koglin

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Hmm.. I use pool filter sand, but always thought it was important to vacuum to planted roots & any air bubble pockets that could turn toxic over time if left undisturbed.

Good info. from the other posters though, maybe I'll actually vacuum less since it is a hassle depending on which tank I'm doing.
 

itiwhetu

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I don't know why you would want to have a full sand base in a tank. I always use gravel as the base so water can freely move through it, then if I want a sand look I top the parts of the tank you see with sand. I never vacuum any tank. Tanks with plastic plant or no plant, I use under gravel filters and they take care of all the fish waste.
 

AbbeysDad

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Hmm.. I use pool filter sand, but always thought it was important to vacuum to planted roots & any air bubble pockets that could turn toxic over time if left undisturbed....
I have PFS in my 60g (avitar) and Malaysian Trumpet Snails do all the work. (with the exception of planting/moving rooted plants, I haven't touched the sand substrate in over 8 years.)
 
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AbbeysDad

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I don't know why you would want to have a full sand base in a tank. I always use gravel as the base so water can freely move through it, then if I want a sand look I top the parts of the tank you see with sand. I never vacuum any tank. Tanks with plastic plant or no plant, I use under gravel filters and they take care of all the fish waste.
Pool filter sand has excellent permeability or it wouldn't work in a filter. Any coarse sand is better than most gravels at not letting crud down under. My friend Byron swears by play sand fro the big box store.
 

itiwhetu

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Letting crud down is what you want, to feed your plants. Every one with sand seems to vacuum then use plant fertilizers. I really don't see the logic considering the fish are making all the fertilizer you need for your plants
 

Koglin

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I have PFS in my 60g (avitar) and Malaysian Trumpet Snails do all the work.
Yeeaahh Ive seen a number of sand base tanks use mts for that exact purpose. I've weighed the thought for my 20 long but, would go against the biotype I'm working on.. and I already decided to go against it with the pfs some (just better on the ol' barbels)
 

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