How Do You Clean Your Substrate?

papa_c

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Probably a simple question but it is something that i cannot find a definitive answer. Reading many different posts in many different forums it is clear that disturbing the substrate can release ammonia and subsequent algae issues.

So to aid plant growth and prevent algae, how do you clean yours?

Do you wave your hand over it and siphon out the debris from the water column

or

Do use a gravel cleaner and deep clean the top inch

or

some other method
 

Tim Harrison

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Depends on the substrate really. If it's just gravel you can vacuum it to remove detritis trapped in the lower layers as well as that resting on the surface.
If its AS or a similar Gucci soil substrate, a simple waft of the hand as you syphon during water change is enough. Same for soil capped with sand.

With regular maintenance there shouldn't be much in the way of solid or dissolved organics anyway, and definitely not enough to cause algae issues when disturbed.
 
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Kyalgae

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I use a gravel cleaner to deep clean all the way to the aquarium base, 2-2.5 inches. I use aquasoil. I let the gravel cleaner move the soil, I don’t ram it down into my substrate. You can get it very clean this way. I remember Tom mentioning as long as you do your water change right after you’ll be Ok. I would do a larger one, like 80%. I found in the past not deep cleaning the substrate will lead to algae growth eventually. Don’t be afraid to disturb the substrate.
 
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hn5624

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I use a gravel cleaner to deep clean all the way to the aquarium base, 2-2.5 inches. I use aquasoil. I let the gravel cleaner move the soil, I don’t ram it down into my substrate. You can get it very clean this way. I remember Tom mentioning as long as you do your water change right after you’ll be Ok. I would do a larger one, like 80%. I found in the past not deep cleaning the substrate will lead to algae growth eventually. Don’t be afraid to disturb the substrate.

What, you can actually use a gravel cleaner in your aquasoil?
Mines is legit mud on arrival.
You are a brave boy.
 

Allwissend

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If you want to keep your substrate really clean, use actual sand and a strong powerhead for 5-10 minutes every day. Most debris will stay on top of the sand so you blow it with a good powerhead and let it be taken up by the filter. Alternatively, you can easy pick it up with vacuum cleaner.

Most of the water-debris mix should be removed by the vacuum cleaner so the release of organics in water is minimized. Large water changes and doing it the aquarium in sections should take care of the whatever escapes.

With aquasoil, the problem is that the substrate itself turns into mulm in time so when you deep vacuum you actually remove a % of aquasoil itself.
 
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Kyalgae

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What, you can actually use a gravel cleaner in your aquasoil?
Mines is legit mud on arrival.
You are a brave boy.


Mine always comes in grains, your supplier must really beat the crap out of the bags. I’m assuming you aren’t ordering the powder type.

3C4D6451-0EFA-400B-B864-2FDD63830A39.jpeg
 

papa_c

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Mines is legit mud on arrival.

My tropica soil doesn't breakdown to mud and stays in granular form, neer had an issues in any of my tanks.

Thanks for the comments so far, it does show that there is a differing approach and no uniformly recognised method....