Is substrate cleaning still required?

Discussion in 'General Discussions and Advice' started by Bendor, 6 Jul 2013.

  1. Bendor

    Bendor

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    After reading the recent thread by @carlosdeandrade about the phosphate absorption qualities of substrate and very, very infrequent cleaning I started wondering if substrate cleaning is still required. I have 1-3mm aragonite and I have one Diamond Head sand sifting goby. My substrate is generally quite clean on the surface due to the goby but when I do syphon (about 6 weeks ago) there is quite a lot of fine brown detritus that comes out of it.

    I'm was worried that by syphoning and cleaning the substrate I may decrease food for my goby, but he has since started eating very well from the water column when I feed all the other fish so that isn't a problem any more.

    My Nitrate and phos is 2 and zero with biocubes and a phosphate reactor so nutrients isn't a problem.

    Should I regularly clean my substrate and if so how often?
    Why should or shouldn't I clean my substrate?
    Do you clean your substrate and if so why and how often?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 26 Nov 2015
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  3. 3dd

    3dd

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    tagging along, interesting question.
     
  4. butcherman

    butcherman Moderator MASA Contributor

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    Personally I don't clean my sand, I have clean up crew (namely Nassarius Snails) that clean the sand for me. that in conjunction with enough flow in the tank to prevent detritus from settling. ensures my sand stays clean
     
  5. mandarinman

    mandarinman

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    Ten nassarius snails and two pistol shrimps in my 1.2 with three watchman gobies seems ok
     
  6. Bendor

    Bendor Thread Starter

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    I decided to do a water change and syphon the gravel at the same time to see how dirty it is.

    Lots and lots of brown dust/detritus came out of the substrate even though it looked quite clean and when it finally settled in the bucket it looked like almost half a cup of detritus.

    Even the CUC must poop, so all those gobies and nassarius snails must also leave brown stuff everywhere. Does there come a point where the brown stuff has been eaten so many times and bacteria has done it's thing to an extent where the brown stuff really is just inert dirt and the ammonia has all been removed? Like fibre with no nutritional value and no ability to add to the nutrient load of the tank?

    So cleaning the gravel would be purely for aesthetic purposes and not for filtration purposes?
     
  7. Bendor

    Bendor Thread Starter

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    I
    like
    clean
    gravelandIcannotlie...
     
    Last edited: 6 Jul 2013
  8. Eugenemone

    Eugenemone

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    im also looking at cleaning out all my arogonite, wanted to know if i can just scoop it out, was with DI water and then place back in the tank?
     
  9. EFJ

    EFJ MASA Contributor

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    Personaly i would'nt take the sand out. It takes a long time for healthy bacteria to form in your substrate that helps with your tanks filtration. By removing your substrate you will destroy most of your bacteria in it and once you put it back in your tank a mini cycle will start again to form healthy bacteria in your sand. The brown dirt underneath your sand is actually bacteria or houses bacteria. I would only vacuum my substrate if any food hasnt been eaten.
     
  10. Eugenemone

    Eugenemone

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    ok thanks alot for the advice, will just have to continue to siphon the sustrate as i have been doing with water changes :peroni:
     
  11. HOT SAUCE

    HOT SAUCE

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    I don't think there is a general rule about cleaning the substrate. it will depend on whether there is enough flow in the tank to keep the detritus off the bottom which in almost any tank is impossible to achieve 100%. also from aesthetic point of view at some point the dirt that has been accumulated and can't be processed by the CUC any more will have to be removed manually.

    I think its more of a question of how often one should clean not if the substrate should be cleaned at all
     
  12. MaximusZA

    MaximusZA

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    Hi Guys,

    dont mean to hi-jack the thread but i have a quick question. How do you guys clean your substrate? I picked up some live sand from a friends who was shutting down their tank last night to help kick start the cycle for my tank. After moving it home with some water in it there is a lot of dirt on the surface of the sand. I need to clean it without getting rid of any of the good guys that came with the tank. ie the bactria, bristle worms, snails and copepod.

    thanks
     
  13. pkc

    pkc

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    If you have reasonable wave maker it should get the rubbish out of such a shallow substrate.
    By the way, good move on the depth of your substrate!
    If you want to clean it, get a very small funnel or the end of a plastic drink bottle and shove it narrow end first into some pvc hose and siphon.
    The funnel end in the tank run over your substrate as the hose syphons it prevents to strong of current that may suck up your media or any life out of it.
     
    Last edited: 10 Jul 2013
  14. MaximusZA

    MaximusZA

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    Awesome thanks @pkc, I have an MP10. Will that be ok? And should I place the mp10 directly above the substrate? My rock is only arriving next week so I will be starting the tank with just the substrate. I am sure that will help with flow
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 26 Nov 2015
  15. HOT SAUCE

    HOT SAUCE

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    if the dirt has accumulated on top of the substrate just use a airline tube to siphon the dirt off the top you can safely keep the airline tube about 5mm off the actual substrate thus giving you the chance to suck up all the unwanted stuff without taking up any sand. even if you do take up some sand its not a big deal. also make sure you do the same for the substrate you already have in the tank because you dont want to trap any dirt under the new layer of sand you gonna add :)
     
    Last edited: 10 Jul 2013
  16. Visser

    Visser MASA Contributor

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    After keeping rather deep substrates in all my tanks (both fresh & marine) for more than 10 years... I finally went bare bottom with both my display & frag tanks, & to be honest... I will never go back to using substrates in a marine tank! (unless its for a specific reason).
    It is SOOO much easier to keep nutrients low, & to keep the tank clean.

    So after seeing the difference in keeping barebottom versus substrate, I would say its crucial to keep substrate clean (siphon out detritus on regular basis) or to go barebottom, & simply use a good quality mechanical filter in the sump!
     
  17. Bendor

    Bendor Thread Starter

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  18. Charl_Stanhope

    Charl_Stanhope

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    I siphoned my substrate for the first time in a year and was shocked to see how much detritus came out of my substrate . I have 2 tunze nanostreams and a seio -3000lph in my TL550 so I have loads of flow and shouldnt have any settlement , or at least I dont have to the naked eye. But as I said, I was surprised at how much detritus had settled. My sps also started getting some awesome colours since then. Im not doing anything different.
     
  19. mandarinman

    mandarinman

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    Ps this points out that dsbs are defunked/debunked. I dont even keep liverock in my dsb anymore. !
     
  20. pkc

    pkc

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    Couldn’t agree more, I did away with the dam useless polluting things in the late nineties.
    Once a substrate is deeper then 15 mill and or of fine grains, it is impossible to keep it perfectly clean!
    This is relating to the long term only, for the short term and you have no idea what’s coming for you if you are new to the hobby and have a substrate, with out careful refiltering before it, you will have either largely noticeable or slight onto developing large problems!
     
    Last edited: 11 Jul 2013
  21. pkc

    pkc

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    I have three multi story beds of media that you could call deep sand beds; I would not be with out them!
    They help out with never needing to do water changes.
    That being said, they are external and have my settling refilters before them, so it is impossible for any rubbish of any size to reach them, so they can get to work and help out with my water quality!
     
    Last edited: 11 Jul 2013
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