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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm wondering how often you all kind of do a whole tank maintenance vacuum?

I do like 15% W.Cs a week, and I use the siphon to get up the visible poo, leaves, and any food.

But my Nitrates are starting to climb a little bit, probably around 40 right now, and there's little specs of stuff starting to float around the filter.

I know that if I lifted up all my rock there's going to be a mess of poo/food. But in order to do get into the rock crevices I'm going to have to basically take out 90% of the rocks.

Do you do that with your tanks? If so, how often?
This would be the first time I've done a TOTAL cleaning (Under rocks ans such) in about 2 months.

Also, if I re-stack all the cichlids "homes" are they going to be thrown off at all?
 

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Once per month I take a powerhead and blast in and around the rocks as best I can. A koralia works very well for me as it doesn't get the sand or gravel into it.

I then let the socks gather up the debris or then I do a large water change. 15% isn't enough on many systems in my experience. A once per month 50% to supplement the 15% ones would be worthwhile. :thumb:
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Just for reference, this is what I'm talking rock wise.

Also, there's starting to get some algae on a few rocks...
And some of the hornwort have kind of a brownish film on the bristles.


 

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I am guessing that this tank is fairly new. The way you have the rocks set up looks awesome, and provides just the right sized caves for the size your cichlids are now. But have a look at pictures of other people's setups, and you'll find very few who have rocks set up like you. That's because they are a very efficient dirt trap, and they are an absolute PITA to clean - as you are finding out yourself :D

Looking into my crystal ball, I predict that sooner or later you will decorate your tank in more maintenance friendly way. If it's any consolation to you, in my first mbuna tank I had hundreds of slate pieces stacked up all the way to the water surface. It took a whole day to take that cave structure apart and built a new one - and it never looked the same as in the previous built. :lol:

My current 240G has 10 removable rocks. 4 of those I have never taken out in more than 5 years of owning the tank. The other 6 come out maybe once per year when I need to net some fish. My 125G has one piece of wood and 3 rocks. Less can be more :thumb:
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The tank has been up and running since like 11/5/2010
So about 2 months maybe.

I like the rock work as is, too. It looks more natural IMO.
But that really only took me 10 minutes to do, so theoretically I could just put some of the tank water in a rubbermaid bin and put the rocks in there, and start siphoning...

Like you said, it'd be a bit of a PITA, but what else do I have to do 8)

Here's some better pictures with my phone, also here's the "Floating stuff". They're not plant particles, I guess it's food maybe.
It's very little, and unnoticeable from a few feet away.

That other camera made the background look weird, and just overall crappy.

**** messy Cichlids


 

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Don't get me wrong, I really like the look of that tank. It's just easy to see that it isn't the easiest one to clean. Floating around debris it not necessarily bad for the fish, and can be pretty normal in a planted tank. Whether or not it bothers you only you can decide. For some reason I think it shows up more in photos than in real life - and even more in videos. Here is a video of my 240G with plenty of floating debris :D
 

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Looking into my crystal ball, I predict that sooner or later you will decorate your tank in more maintenance friendly way.
Frank is totally right. I've been there and done that too. My first tank set up the way it looked good to me, but now, I compromise and stack rocks with maintenance in mind.

Regarding frequency of tear down, totally depends on the tank inhabitants, at least in my case. My first tanganyikan tank I overstocked and now today it's still overstocked but with four year old adult fish. So, I pull all rocks, vacuum out all sand, replace rocks, and rinse and replace sand. It's getting to the point where I need to do this almost monthly, the detritus gets so bad. But, other tanks that I set up later I haven't had to ever tear down except for one maybe. Bigger, messy fish will force it more often.

My fish never had a problem at all with my changing rocks around. If they had a territory in the back right corner, then they just claimed whatever new rock I put there. But, I'm sure some of it may depend on the species.

Since you're only two months in, I wouldn't think you'd need to do this right now. Particularly if the fish are small as they seem to be in the pics. I would probably give it more time. I don't like to do major cleanings on newer setups. Sometimes it can do more harm than good. As long as you're not seeing black pockets of sand, then, I'd let it go longer. You might try maybe moving one rock and stirring the sand a bit. If you see black pockets and lots of bubbles released, then you do have a lot of organics decaying under there. If not, then replace it and forget it for now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Cool video... Love the Fronts.
But yeah, you can definitely see some flotation. Mine is much much less.

I looked around before I aquascaped and didn't see anything REALLY different from what I have.

So for easier cleaning would you just space the rocks out more? More like separate little islands?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks "Prov".
I was just curious about an overall cleaning because the Nitrates have risen in the last few weeks to like 40PPM or so.

And with the fact that I'm doing reg. W.Cs the only thing I can think of is there's stuff under the rocks.

Because I'm really probably underfeeding as well.
 

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Weekly. There is no substrate under my rocks. I use a turkey baster during siphoning to blast through the rockpiles and get substrate in tight corners.
 

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I have a lot of rocks stacked similar to your tank.
1. Weekly water change, siphon what's visible.
2. Every other week I use a powerhead to blast the back wall and in amongst the rocks to one end, let the filters do their thing for 10 minutes or so, and let floating detritus fall back to the surface before vacuuming.
3. Usually once a month I'll remove all the rocks into a bucket and vacuum, mix the sand, let detritus sink, vacuum again, then replace the rocks and fill.
Your rising nitrates are letting you know that you're not performing large enough or frequent enough water changes and/or there's too much organic waste in the tank.
Try upping your water changes to around 30% per week and do a full vacuum once per month.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I think sometime in the next few days I'm going to take out 1 side of the tank's rocks.
Do that side, then stack those rocks back up.

Then do the other side the next week.

As far as water changes go, you could be right, or there's too much waste in the tank. Because I'll do a 15% change, and it won't even dent the Nitrate levels.

Everything else in the tank is fine, 0s on Ammonia and Nitrite. PH is always around an 8.

Could not changing the Filter media contribute to high Nitrates?
I'm probably do for a carbon change.

I have an Aquaclear 110, with the Foam/Bio Rings/Carbon. I've never changed the foam.
 

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If the sponge in your AC is full of organics it could add to nitrates but I doubt by very much. Also, those sponges last forever, they only need cleaning in tank water in a bucket. And changed when they start falling apart.
15% weekly WC is on the low end for cichlid tanks, most people do between 30 and 50 percent, it's really a numbers game that's relative to your stocking, tank size, feeding habits and filtration. You just have to figure out what's the right amount for your situation by altering your amounts based on your test results after changes.
 

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i try to do about 40-50% a week. half of that is syphoning the gravel and the other half just dunking the bucket straight into the tank.

every other month i take out all my lumps of bog wood and clean them in the sink scrubbing off any algae with a nail brush.

also i usually empty my cannister filter about once a month and give all the media a squeezing out in old tank water.
 

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I do like 15% W.Cs a week
I'd contribute your nitrate level to that. Bump up the amount to at least 30%, 40% is better.

Could not changing the Filter media contribute to high Nitrates?
I'm probably do for a carbon change.
Don't change it, rinse it in tank water. As said in a previous post, it's unlikely that it's driving up nitrates that much, but organic solids will eventually become nitrates. Now, if it doesn't need it, I'd leave it alone. Again, newer tank.

I think sometime in the next few days I'm going to take out 1 side of the tank's rocks.
Do that side, then stack those rocks back up.
I'd go easier than that, but I"m a worry wort when it comes to newer setups. You're talking about changing out media and moving rocks and vacuuming, etc. Be careful with doing too much right now trying to solve a problem you really don't have. A 30-40% water change is a quick, easy way to resolve this. It's only when nitrates climb faster than reasonable water changes can keep up with it that you have a problem.
 

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Number 6 gave some good advice. If the nitrates are 40, a 50% change will reduce that to 20. Getting solids out of the tank before they can break down s a good way to reduce nitrate levels. by removing the source. Water changes that were sufficient when you started the tank tend to become insufficient as the tank matures and the fish grow.
 

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I never do a whole tank maintenance so to speak. I clean my tanks on the 10th, 20th, 30th. Every 10 days and I alternate with cleaning the filters in one cleaning and the gravel in the next.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
So basically having high Nitrates stresses fish out making them more susceptible to disease, right?
But is 40 terrible?
 

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I personally do a 40% water change every week, plus I'm in there on "poop brigade" daily, sucking out poop and in the process doing a 2 gallon water change.

Mind you I'm filtering with an Eheim pro ii 2026, AQ110, and AQ50 on the 90 gallon...
 
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