Why a gravel vacuum?
Goldfish spend most every waking moment in search of food. There's nothing they love better than pecking through gravel, and shoving stones around in hopes of finding an uneaten morsel. It's sad to see a goldfish in an aquarium without gravel; there's nothing quite as unnatural for a goldfish.
Because of this instinct; pecking through the gravel, a stone may become
lodged in the fish's throat. Most fish are able to expel the object on their
own; this may happen within a few minutes or a few hours. If not, action may
have to be taken to remove the stone.
Using gravel as a substrate makes for clear water by keeping waste and uneaten food from floating freely in the tank; giving it a place to settle. Use a gravel vacuum to remove the debris from the bottom of your goldfish tank. Since we know that friendly bacteria prefer building their colonies in filters and pumps; we can assume that unfriendly bacteria build their colonies in stagnate locations. We also have learned that performing a 100% water change will destroy good and bad colonies alike, but this makes removing debris and waste that has settled in the gravel difficult, unless we use a gravel vacuum.
Using a gravel vacuum also helps to reduce carbon dioxide that forms, and hangs heavily in the depths of our tanks and ponds. Pond pumps also work in eliminating these harmful gases that take up space pushing oxygen out.
Python or siphon
vacuum is actually a short hose or tubing that comes in a few various sizes with a wide mouth on the end of it.
Smaller tanks require smaller hose widths to reduce the flow rate.
Place the mouth of the vacuum at the bottom of your tank; using a suction device attached to the center portion of the hose, squeeze repetitively. A motorized pump (python) may also be obtained for simplifying the procedure or you may choose to siphon with your mouth to get the action going.
How to use a gravel vacuum
Have a bucket handy for the old tank water to spill into, and be careful not
to suck small fish into the mouth of the vacuum. Very gently, so as not to
pollute the water, rake the mouth through the gravel pulling it backwards; not
by pushing it forwards; this will clog the mouth of the vacuum and stop the flow
of water. When you have completed the task, gently lift the mouth up as you remove it from tank, allowing the dirty water to drain out into the bucket instead of back washing into the tank; practice makes perfect.
To reduce the risk of sucking up small goldfish into the mouth of the vacuum; using a rubber band, fasten a net over the mouth. This might make gravel cleaning a little slower, but better to be safe than sorry. Some goldfish quickly learn that the gravel vacuum stirs up passed over morsels of food, and follow it around, unaware of the danger.
The bucket used for old tank water should sit lower than the tank; this makes for a steady flow. Vacuuming a pond that sits below grade is next to impossible unless you're using a motorized python.
How much and what kind of gravel to use in a goldfish tank
In keeping with a natural ecosystem, use natural pea gravel that is indigenous to your area. Natural
gravel will assist in buffering the general hardness of your water. These trace
minerals which are in all small bodies of water are important to good goldfish
health. The natural shapes reduce
the risk of swallowing. Keep only a thin layer of gravel in your tank or pond's bottom; 1/4"
so the goldfish can peck to the bottom. This keeps
harmful bacteria from forming in between vacuuming.
Never use sand. Sand irritates the gills and clouds the water, depleting oxygen levels. Sand also encourages harmful bacteria. You won't find sand in a body of water where carp are found.
Use sea shells and crushed coral or pea gravel made up of carbonate (limestone) to increase KH.
Use to peas gravel made up of magnesium and calcium (dolomite) to increase GH levels.
Marbles are not recommended for use; they often crack and then break; leaving shards of glass that may injure the fish or even worse.
Painted pet shop rock often peels as it ages, and does nothing to
contribute to the ecosystem.
Never use detergents or cleaning agents on your goldfish tank or goldfish equipment; even when safely performed; retards bacteria formation; good and bad alike, making the nitrogen cycle difficult to complete. In order for the friendly bacteria to accumulate only a portion of your old goldfish tank water should be changed. Common mistakes by the new goldfish keeper is doing complete water changes and not using water treatment.
Author: Brenda Rand
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