My plan for this cleaning was to scrub the rest of the algae off and gravel vac all the substrate. I started with 35g RO
water that I mixed and heated up early the day before. After I transported the water, I decided it would be a good idea to go get 20 more gallons, just in case. That turned out to be a very good decision.
While that water was heating and mixing, I thought “hey, why don’t I stick my tube scrubber down the overflow uptake and see how dirty that is?” That turned out to be a very bad decision. Not in the way that it harmed the fish, it just extended my stay for about an hour. As soon as I started, I realized that there was so much gunk in there that there was no flow coming up through the lower slots. I also quickly realized that the sump was getting clogged, thankfully I positioned a piece of poly batting over the baffle before the pump to catch excess debris, but so much came out that it clogged the floss above the bio-ball tower, and water started just pouring off the top, then the batting clogged and the pump started sucking air, right about the time that I got done scrubbing the second uptake.
So I shut down the sump and spent the next 45 minutes cleaning it up. I sucked another 3 buckets of filth water out of it, cleaned all the pads, wiped it out, filled, and fired it back up. I was too busy to stop and take a picture, but after I fired up the sump, this is what the diatom cartridge on the Magnum looked like
It was pretty much clean before that. Scary, huh?
Then, I took a toothbrush and scrubbed all around the edges, and went to town on the tank side of the overflows. This is what it looked like during that
It actually was a lot worse that this pic shows at one point. After that cleaning, the sump again started sucking air and I had to shut it down, clean the pads, suck it dry, fill it up, and fire it up again. I left the Magnum going this time, even though it looked just as bad.
Then I evaluated my water situation. I estimated that I had about 25-30 gallons left. I calculated out the surface area and figured I could take the tank down about 4-1/2 inches, so I started doing a deep siphon with my python on the gravel bed. This is what I was getting out of it
One word comes to mind. Ewwww.
About halfway to my 4-1/2” mark, here’s how it looked
And after I hit the mark and filled it back up, I had made it about ¼ to 1/3 of the way across the bottom. I cleaned the diatom cartridge once again and packed it up for the day. It only took 4 hours.
Notice how nice and clean the overflows are (except for the encrusted parts)
I thought this would be the last leg in the major cleaning series, but bad news – it’s not. The good news is that I only have the rest of the sand bed to go, which should only take another 50 gallon change and it’s all gravel siphoning. Yay!!
So needless to say, I’m tired, back is sore, and until I took a shower, I smelled awful. Time for bed.