How often to deep clean a planted tank?

Surya

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By "deep clean" I mean lift/remove hardscape to get rid of all the waste organics collected underneath, and thoroughly vacuum the substrate. Rather than a simple weekly water change and glass wipe.

I didn't do this at all for a long time, and the tank looked fine and fish were healthy, but I developed a BBA problem on the wood eventually. I've done a deep clean and sucked out a phenomenal amount of waste. I don't know how often to repeat this - would 6 monthly be too infrequent?
 

Siege

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Do it weekly.

You donot have to remove the hardscape. Instead just a scrub with a small wire brush on the hardscape. Only takes a few mins.

Use a turkey baster to blast up any waste from the substrate to be syphoned away.

A massive water change. 2 on the trot if you’ve disturbed loads of waste organics.

Doesn’t take that long and will help keep the tank nice and healthy!
 

Kalum

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I never lift hardscape but it completely depends on the scape, plants, stocking and if you have any mainly rock or wood in my experience so far

If it's a softer wood then it'll decompose over time and bump up the organics in the tank, harder wood obviously has less of an affect

If you are heavily stocked then obviously expect to have to do it more often

Personally I vacuum the sand or soil that I can get to every week but some places aren't accessible or heavily planted so I usually just use a turkey baster after a big trim and kick up the detritus and take out what I can maybe once every month and I'll do an 80% water change when I do this, then filter and pipe cleaning every 6 weeks or so
 

Geoffrey Rea

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If you are heavily stocked then obviously expect to have to do it more often

Completely agree with @Kalum ’s point here and it’s one that gets majorly overlooked.

One way to save a lot of hassle is to plan your scape with this in mind if it’s your intention to go heavy on stocking.

Have a low area in the scape where all the fish and shrimp waste will naturally fall into and gather. If this area is covered in just a fine layer of sand it’s economical to siphon the lot out; sand, poop and detritus then replace with fresh sand. This helps prevent any accumulation of waste in more difficult to reach places.
 

Surya

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Hi all, I don't.

cheers Darrel

Ooh now this is where I'm so conflicted!!

I would LOVE to be able to just never move things or vacuum. I suppose I still don't know if the BBA was caused by the excess waste organics. My tank isn't heavily stocked (240l with mostly small tetras - 73% according to Aqadvisor) and the speckled sand (Unipac Samoa Fine) doesn't show the dirt at all, and the fish are very healthy, and I do 75% water changes weekly... It's not the time or effort, it's just I always make a mess of the tank when I try scrubbing / moving / vacuuming things...
 

Kalum

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Even when my sand looks pretty clean as soon as its disturbed it kicks up waste, its surprising how hidden it can be in plain sight on hardscape and substrate until disturbed

BBA is always an indicator for me that either my co2 isn't stable or it's a waste organics build up
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
Ooh now this is where I'm so conflicted!!
I just pick out the bigger dead leaves, and then when I change the water I make sure that the syphon doesn't disturb the sand substrate.

I think there are probably microbial advantages to not disturbing the substrate, particularly in terms of the complex microbial flora that may develop in zones of fluctuating REDOX. Stephan Tanner talks about this in <"Biological filtration">.

I have <"tank janitors">, and I don't tend to have many fast growing plants (other than floating ones).
it's a waste organics build up
Yes, my experience has definitely been that <"organic build up"> leads to outbreaks of Staghorn Algae, and that is also a Red Algae.

I like having <"complete oxidation in the filter">, I'm not so bothered about a clean substrate.

cheers Darrel
 
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MJQMJQ

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I dont deep clean either as its messy and time consuming and might release ammonia from substrate into the tank esp if the substrate layer is deep.
 

MJQMJQ

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Ho
Completely agree with @Kalum ’s point here and it’s one that gets majorly overlooked.

One way to save a lot of hassle is to plan your scape with this in mind if it’s your intention to go heavy on stocking.

Have a low area in the scape where all the fish and shrimp waste will naturally fall into and gather. If this area is covered in just a fine layer of sand it’s economical to siphon the lot out; sand, poop and detritus then replace with fresh sand. This helps prevent any accumulation of waste in more difficult to reach places.
How much lower should it be?
 

MJQMJQ

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Yep 40-50% water change way more than enough.If u have shrimp they prob will die.Fish are more ok but still.
 

Geoffrey Rea

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Yep 40-50% water change way more than enough.If u have shrimp they prob will die.Fish are more ok but still.

Depends. I certainly do far less changing of water on my low tech shrimp breeding tank. But that system is minimal fuss and low bioload so anymore is kind of moot. I change water for the opposite outcome to the killing of shrimp, it easily adds calcium and mangnesium to the water due to the tap water qualities where I live. Helps the shrimp with shedding.

The ten high tech systems I help maintain receive up to 90% water change a week. If maintenance is being performed throughout the week then this may happen more than once a week.

Point is the amount is arbitrary. We do clean our high tech tanks, amongst other things, the water change helps prevent the circumstance you outlined before:

I dont deep clean either as its messy and time consuming and might release ammonia from substrate into the tank esp if the substrate layer is deep.

The other end of the scale is what @dw1305 outlined:

I think there are probably microbial advantages to not disturbing the substrate, particularly in terms of the complex microbial flora that may develop in zones of fluctuating REDOX. Stephan Tanner talks about this in <"Biological filtration">.

I have <"tank janitors">, and I don't tend to have many fast growing plants (other than floating ones).

Another way of creating a relatively stable environment with a means to support life. Different methods for dealing with a range of setups; low energy to high energy. An explanation of the qualities of zones of REDOX would be far better served by someone with more knowledge on the matter.

How much lower should it be?

Not quite understanding the question. I haven’t seen the OP’s tank so there isn’t really a comparison or judgement I can make here. As for what I do, the sanded area is literally on the bottom glass of the tank and a few mm’s depth. A lot of detritus falls into this area and makes removing it easier (if that’s what you want to do and if it’s necessary).
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
Different methods for dealing with a range of setups; low energy to high energy.
I like simplicity and resilience, mainly because I'm a <"pretty lazy and shoddy aquarist">, I'm never going to have vibrant and aesthetically pleasing tanks.

It is really back to the broad church argument, problems come when people have "faith positions" and are adamant that their management regime, or product, are the only the only way forward, despite of plenty of evidence to the contrary.
An explanation of the qualities of zones of REDOX would be ........
I can <"have a go at this one">. There is a more thorough explanation in <"Redox - why don't we.....">. My thoughts would be pretty much the same as Stephan Tanner's in <"Aquarium biofiltration">:
Water filtration is teamwork by the members of the substrate microbial community from all domains of life. This is an important conclusion, both for freshwater and marine habitats. The different players form a food web, where most organisms cannot exist alone but are interdependent. The microbial community varies greatly depending on the availability of foods, pore sizes, and substrates. Soil biofiltration is therefore very plastic, meaning it can cope with a variety of conditions. However, one feature is common. Natural layers of biofiltration are usually undisturbed for longer periods of time (many weeks and months). In nature, no one squeezes out the debris or rinses the media on a weekly schedule.
cheers Darrel
 
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Zeus.

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I Normally Turkey blast the substrate every week along with cleaning the filter in my 500l high tech tank alongside a 50% WC takes 2-3hrs more sometimes, remove some of the hardscape when needed maybe twice a year but some cant be removed and its been in place for 3yrs.

which syphon is best to use?

the Dennerle Nano Gravel Cleaner is a great piece of kit IMO
upload_2019-11-28_17-12-18.png
 

mort

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I'm another who doesn't deep clean. My tank has been setup with tropica soil topped with jbl manado and it's sat there for six years undisturbed. It's very low tech, lightly stocked (15 pencilfish in 120l) with an army of cherry shrimp. It gets direct sunlight and only a slight amount of blue green algae on the glass under the substrate where the sunlight hits (back of the tank so I don't see it, rest of the tank is spotless), so I don't know if it means there is potential for more should the light level increase but the plants seem happy with the nutrients.
If this wasn't a jungle tank then perhaps it would need more maintenence.
 

Kalum

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SRP3006

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I'm guessing you can just use it along side your normal water change python? So you can syphon the substrate whilst the other pipe removes the water.
 
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