substrate cleaning in a low tech tank

Discussion in 'El Natural & Low Tech' started by a1Matt, 18 Mar 2009.

  1. a1Matt

    a1Matt Member

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    I have a layer of mulm settling on top of the substrate in a small area of my tank. My usual method of cleaning it is to waft my hand about to disturb the mulm as much as possible, then remove it from the water column with a large water change. Been doing this successfully for years. (I am not talking about deep cleaning the substrate just the accumulated crap sitting on top).

    Now I am not doing water changes this method does not work so well - lots of the mulm settles again before it gets in the filter. Also I would prefer to remove it from the tank rather than add it to the filter.

    So I was wondering what alternative methods are out there, I can think of two...

    1 / battery operated gravel cleaner. (not a siphon operated one as I do not want to remove water from the tank)
    2/ turkey baster!

    Has anyone done the turkey baster method? Any other ideas?
     
  2. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

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    Hi Matt,
    Why not just siphon the mulm out into a bucket through some filter floss at the top so that only clean water accumulates in the bucket, then return the same water? I also don't see what the big deal is with moving the filter inlet hose over and vacuuming with that hose. You can always clean the filter...

    Battery operated filter cleaners are rated among the worst inventions of mankind. All they really do is pull mulm up from the substrate and dump the finer particles straight back into the water column - and they're expensive. :?

    Cheers,
     
  3. a1Matt

    a1Matt Member

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    Cheers Clive, your input is appreciated as always.

    I had thought about siphoning, but had not got as far as thinking to put filter floss on the end of siphon tubing :idea: problem solved, and no extra cost or flakey gadgets needed.

    Moving the filter inlet hose is not practical for me due to the hosing being rigid and positioned in a corner surrounded by siliconed glass. but! it has got me thinking that holding one end of a short length of tubing against the inlet and the other end against the mulm would probably do the same job.

    This latter method would also avoid the use of buckets (which is no small thing for me as I dislocated my shoulder a couple of years ago and it is still prone to strains occasionally, when it flares up lifting buckets is a no no)

    You probably guessed my reasoning behind not adding the mulm to the filter... pure laziness in an attempt to prolong needing to clean the filter out. Although, somewhat ironically, I spend more time thinking about and planning things for my tank than the actual time it would take taken to do all this maintenance :rolleyes: I could have cleaned the filter in the time taken to write this post :lol:
     
  4. vauxhallmark

    vauxhallmark Member

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    Mulm is so heavy that if you syphon a bucket out and leave it for 5 minutes you can syphon it back in and leave the mulm on the bottom - but this necesitates a) having somewhere higher than the tank to syphon down from, and b) being happy to lift buckets of water. Looks like it's floss for you.

    I used to have a big marine tank with a sump, which was brilliant, because you could get an old drinks bottle, cut the bottom off, take the lid off, fill it with floss and fix it upside down in the sump. Then you could syphon water (and crap) into the bottle full of floss for as long as you wanted. (Obviously you could use any open topped and bottomed container - a drink bottle was just a handy size, and free!) Made cleaning so easy. :D

    M
     
  5. a1Matt

    a1Matt Member

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    Nice idea with the sump.

    I like hearing about these marine tricks\techniques even if I can not use them directly they can be inspiring. I now know that I will be using an inverted empty bottle to hold the floss in place in my bucket when I try that method out :)

    Talking of marine tricks.... I found out last week a method for acclimatising fish that is apparently common amongst marine hobbysists,but was new to me. It is called the drip method, and I shall be trying it out when my snowball and green shrimp turn up next week. (I saw it here: http://www.aquaticquotient.com/forum/sh ... hp?t=14740 )
     
  6. a1Matt

    a1Matt Member

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    I tried the siphoning method last night (with and without filter floss).

    I found it all a bit fiddly (I was in an impatient mood)... the bucket was full before I could blink and it was the best I oculd do not to suck the plants up with the mulm :rolleyes:

    So I just thought sod it why am I making my life so hard! swished all the mulm up into the water column, then did a 20% water change and cleaned the filter in the removed water. Much easier! I will cross my fingers that I do not get an algae surge (am thinking of BGA) over the next 2 weeks...
     
  7. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

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    Well, remember that the induced algae would be more likely a CO2 related algae like Staghorn, BBA or Hair. Since you actually replaced the water and removed any stirred up ammonia the risk of BGA should be minimal. If the input water has the same CO2 level as the tank water there is no problem as there is no change in CO2 input. Aged water with an air pump running for a day or two may in fact have a similar CO2 content as the tank. if one wanted to be an anorak one could turn the lights off for a day or two following the water change... :?

    Cheers,
     
  8. a1Matt

    a1Matt Member

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    I was thinking of BBA not BGA, I must stop getting my acronyms confused. Sorry to lead you up the garden path a little bit there :oops:

    The water came straight from the tap, but I did do the water change to coincide with lights out, I hoped that would have given the CO2 some time (12 hours) to dissipate to a little before the next photoperiod started up.

    I had not realised how comfortable I was with hi tech. No algae problems the whole time I ran pressurised CO2. I am slowly getting the hang of this low tech tank though and aside from the odd frustration am enjoying the learning curve :)
     
  9. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

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    Yeah, no doubt mate. Barr likens CO2 injection to a narcotic on which we get hooked. Just call me junkie... :rolleyes:

    Cheers,
     
  10. a1Matt

    a1Matt Member

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    A little update.... I did get a very minor algae outbreak after my water change.

    It appeared a few days after the change, and after another two days of not adding any food to the tank the Amanos had cleared it all. If I had not have looked at the tank for 4 days I would never have known it was there! Woo hoo!

    (Could not tell you what algae it was, some sort of hair\staghorn type).
     

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