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Old 11-13-2019, 09:55 AM   #1
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opinion on this cleaning method

I understand the majority of the beneficial bacteria live in the filter system but some live in the gravel/substrate. Say I had a established 20 gallon tank with fish and everything. And i had a spare 20 gallon tank that's empty. What if I were to slowly (to keep water clear) siphon the water into the empty tank, catch the fish and transfer them. Pick up ornaments and decorations and transfer them and the fake plants, heater filter basically EVERYTHING BESIDES THE GRAVEL. Then empty the gravel in a wheelbarrow and fill it up with hose water. Then rinse the tank and sponge clean it and dry it then put it aside. Then go back to the gravel in the wheelbarrow and stir it up then dump water and fill again stir and dump again and again without losing gravel to clean the poop and possible left over food and whatever else. Then put the really clean gravel back in. Then the fake plants and decorations and the water and fish, filter and heater back. What if I did that every year or 6 months? The gravel gets completely clean but bacteria on the plants and ornaments and in the water go right back in? I feel like it would be ok but I'm here asking more knowledgeable and experienced people. Thanks
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Old 11-13-2019, 10:13 AM   #2
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It's a common misconception about the filter being the main area where bacteria live, but it's not the case. Unless you are cleaning your filter media 2-4 times per month, the media gets plugged up, and surface area drops. At this point, the filter's main job would be to circulate water.

Substrate is where the majority of bacteria would be actively cycling the tank.

What you have laid out would work, you would have to keep a close eye on water parameters in case you cause a mini-cycle.

A better option would be to aggressively gravel vac every water change, and to not over feed.
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Old 11-13-2019, 10:31 AM   #3
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Thanks for the response! To prevent mini-cycle would adding some bottled bacteria after doing what I wrote out be the answer? I previously heard vacuuming isn't good because the bacteria live there then saw people explain the bacteria mostly lives in the filter so I kept seeing opposing explanations.

I might just go with aggressive vacuuming of 1/3 of area then next water change the next third then the last 3rd next water change and keeping it on rotation.

But would adding bottled bacteria be ok and if so could that be done like every 3 months 6 or year?
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Old 11-13-2019, 11:08 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aquaruim View Post
Thanks for the response! To prevent mini-cycle would adding some bottled bacteria after doing what I wrote out be the answer? I previously heard vacuuming isn't good because the bacteria live there then saw people explain the bacteria mostly lives in the filter so I kept seeing opposing explanations.

I might just go with aggressive vacuuming of 1/3 of area then next water change the next third then the last 3rd next water change and keeping it on rotation.

But would adding bottled bacteria be ok and if so could that be done like every 3 months 6 or year?
Hit or miss. It's impossible to tell if the bacteria are actually alive or not in the bottle.
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Old 11-13-2019, 12:04 PM   #5
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The bacteria live ON the gravel not IN it so vacuuming will probably remove some bacteria but not anywhere near enough to worry about. I have 7 tanks all 35g or larger and they all get a good vacuum and 50/75% water change every 10 days or so. I am trying for weekly but it's just not coming together ..yet. I personally would skip the bottled bacteria since I hate spending fish money on something that isn't fish or plants
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Old 11-13-2019, 07:55 PM   #6
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Try it out and see what happens. Sometimes the best teacher is trial and error. Especially if you are dead set on your idea.

Gravel vacs is all you really need to do. Light gravel vacs of the surface. Deep vacs two to three times a year. 1/3 of the tank each week on a deep gravel vac until it's completely clean.

I agree with ZXC. The filter media probably isn't where most the BB is accumulating unless you are running ALOT of media on a very big filtration system. Which we don't on the average aquarium.

The BB is mostly accumulating on everything inside the tank and in the substrate. BB actually doesn't like lighted areas so it forms a protective layer over itself in the areas that are exposed to light (that slimy feeling stuff on your decorations). It also helps it attach itself to the surface of everything. There's probably a good argument that it would be impossible to remove BB with a common siphon vacuum because it's not powerful enough. BB accumulates in high flow areas such as rivers in nature without being removed.
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