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How does one vacuum?
"The owner of my LFS has told me to vacuum while siphoning for my water
changes. I am used to doing this with fish tanks. I am not sure how to
do this with a planted tank.
My tank has no open areas. Every square inch of the bottom has pants
&/or roots. When I attempt to siphon the top level of the gravel I
start pulling up plants.
Is vacuuming really required? Is there an easy way without stressing
the entire system?"
I think that your LFS owner is referring to a regular "fish tank" (it a mind
set that many of them have).
I don't "vacuum", but I do like to dislodge at least a portion of the mulm
buildup in my tanks every once in a while. The easiest way to do this is to
have a VERY strong mechanical filter that you can install on the tank when
needed. You can then take a small power head and direct the output from it
around the base of your plants and spray it over the gravel level. This
strong current will force a lot of the mulm and detritus up into the water
column, where it can be picked up by the mechanical filter. With practice,
you can "corral" the mulm and gently move it towards the intake of the
It isn't necessary to remove all of the mulm (it is a valuable source of
nutrients waiting to be recycled) but it can make your tank look "neater".
With a heavy build up, you might have to do this a few times and leave the
mechanical filter running for a few hours to polish the water column.
Once the work is done, remove and clean the strong mechanical filter,
storing it until it is time to clean again.