OK guys when you use your gravel vac.

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Aquarium Advice Apprentice
May 1, 2006
do you push the gravel around to get the brown gunk or do you need to leave it alone?
well, it depends...if there is lots of junk in there, and its coming up out of the gravel, and not just on top, yeah, but if its just on top, i dont, because theres bacteria in the gravel/sand i believe. Also, if you get sand, then you dont really have to worry about stuff getting under it like you do w/gravel or pebbles or whatever you wanna call them
All that brown gunk is decaying food, plant matter, and fish poop. After a while, it breaks down into very fine particles called mulm - basically fish manure - plants send out roots in search of it.

I try to remove as much as I can without disturbing the roots of my live plants. Once a month, I lift the driftwood and stonework and vac out the gunk that collects beneath.
I deeply dig the vac into the gravel to get as deep as possible, but I do not swirl the gravel. I try to get as deep as I can, without stirring it up too much.
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