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>From: babar100 at ix_netcom.com
>Date: Sat, 08 Mar 1997 11:22:37 -0800
>Subject: vacuum and plant eating snails
>I have been reading the postings and have surmised that using some soil 
>under the gravel (2-3mm) is advantageous for the growth of plants.  
>However, as a hardened fish keeper, recently turned gardener, I have 
>always acted on behalf of the fish.  I instinctively want  to clean the 
>gravel to get polluting muck out of the water.  Also I want to keep high 
>fish population densities.  My questions are:
>Do those of you who use a partial soil substrate vacuum the gravel, but 
>carefully.  Or do you not vacuum the gravel? Does this cause any problems 
>that plain water changes can't take care of?

I, too, am a former fish-only keeper with a strong instinct to vacuum at
every 10% weekly water change I make.  I've found that in my plant-stocked
tank, not vacuuming has led to no problems at all.  I keep a fairly heavy
fish load, including a fair number of bottom dwellers (55 gal.; a 10"
irridescent shark who takes up anything big, a large pleco, a school of 4-7
Otocinclus {who can tell?}, and a school of 6 corydoras.)  The mollies and
swords also pick at any larger debris on the bottom amongst the plants,
gravel, wood. . .  They seem to stir things up enough that a lot of debris
goes into the canister filter, and the rest, although it decomposes, never
gets to become nitrite -- the plants seem to consume it all as ammonia.
Sometimes I wonder if ammonia levels are peaking overnight, but I haven't
been able to measure a change when I check the chemistry in the morning.

Also, since taking up the plant hobby, I've been trying to use more art and
less science (I learned something from my fish experience) and have had
great results and even more fun, especially with the help of what I learn
from this list.

I won't hazard the suggestions you ask for in the rest of your message,
however, since I really don't have much plant experience.  Yet.  8)

Have fun!