Over the last couple of months, a number of viral photographs of planted tanks and aquascaped tanks have gone viral on social media drastically increasing the number of people out there trying to integrate plants into their own tanks.
This has resulted in a spike in the number of questions that we have seen people asking over the last couple of months about how they are able to care for their plants and help them thrive.
For most of these questions, the answer is simple, just use a decent fertilizer product in the tank to overcome the common problems that people have with the nutritional issues for their plants.
Every now and then though, we see a question that has nothing to do with the nutritional issues that so many people have with their tank and today’s article is based on one of those issues.
We have noticed a bunch of people specifically asking about if they can use a gravel vacuum in a planted tank recently so we want to make that the main focus for today’s article.
Not only do we hope that we will be able to help clear up some of the more common issues that we see people having with their planted tanks and a poop build up but we hope that we will be able to help you use your gravel vacuum correctly.
Do You Gravel Vacuum In A Planted Tank?
The answer to this question is both yes and no and it really depends on the type of gravel vacuum that you are using, the type of substrate in your tank as well as your personal preference for how often you want to be cleaning your tank.
If you have a standard aquarium gravel vacuum then the chances are that you will not want to use this in your planted tank as they can be very disruptive to the roots of your plants which can cause them a great deal of stress.
While this type of gravel vacuum is not going to kill your plants outright, it can damage them to the point where they are no longer able to compete with the other plants in your tank for nutrients and light resulting in them slowly dying off.
Aquarium gravel vacuums work by using suction to remove debris from the gravel in your tank and this can be very disruptive to the roots of your plants with some of them being able to remove a large portion of your tanks substrate.
If you have a planted tank, we recommend avoiding using a standard aquarium gravel vacuum altogether.
Instead, we recommend opting for a Python No Spill Clean and Fill system but we know that they can be pricey so many people will stick with a standard gravel vacuum.
Some people will simply use a length of standard siphon tube for their tank though and use the gentle flow of the suction through the tube to remove the poop from their tanks substrate during their tank maintenance.
How Do You Clean The Gravel In A Planted Tank?
The best way to clean the gravel in a planted tank is to use a Python No Spill Clean and Fill system but, as we mentioned before, they can be pricey so many people will stick with a standard gravel vacuum.
If you do opt for a standard gravel vacuum then you will want to take extra care not to damage your plants roots while you are cleaning your tank and we recommend vacuuming around the plants in your tank rather than directly over them.
You may also want to consider using a gravel vacuum with a finer mesh as this will help to reduce the amount of debris that is removed from your substrate along with the water.
Some of the newer gravel vacuums on the market actually have a variable dial on them allowing you to quickly and easily tweak the pressure of their intake so you can reduce the power of the gravel vacuum when you get near your plants.
You can also use a siphon tube to remove the water from your tank but this can be a little more difficult to control than a gravel vacuum and you may end up removing some of your substrate along with the water.
How Often Should I Gravel Vacuum My Planted Tank?
This is really a personal preference but we recommend vacuuming your tank every 1-3 weeks to remove any excess debris that has built up in your substrate.
If you have a lot of fish in your tank then you may find that you need to vacuum your tank more often as they will produce more waste than plants.
You should also vacuum your tank more often if you have a heavily planted tank as the plants will also produce a fair amount of detritus but you can use shrimp or snails that will eat this.
One thing to keep in mind is that you should not vacuum your entire substrate each time you clean your tank as this can disrupt the roots of your plants and cause them undue stress.
Instead, focus on vacuuming around the outside of your plants and in any areas where there is a lot of debris build up.
Can Shrimp And Snails Replace A Gravel Vacuum In A Planted Tank?
Shrimp and snails can be a great way to deal with detritus, algae, and left over fish food in your tank and they can eat a surprisingly large amount of them helping to reduce the amount of tank maintenance required on your part.
In turn, this can end up reducing the frequency that you may need to use your gravel vacuum in your tank to reduce the chances of you accidentally harming the roots of your plants.
The problem is that snails and shrimp will not eat fish poop so they are not able to totally remove the requirement for you to use your gravel vacuum in your tank but they are able to help reduce the frequency required for you to use the gravel vacuum and can definitely be worth keeping in your planted tank.
We hope that this article has been able to help you understand a little more about using a gravel vacuum in a planted tank and how you can go about doing it without damaging your plants.
As always, if you have any further questions or concerns then please do not hesitate to contact us or leave a comment below.