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Over time my troughs have built up a healthy layer of seeding medium, organic sludge and rocks that my daughter likes to deposit along the edges. After close examination I have found that this layer is teeming with life. I have a healthy population of gammarus, midge fly larvae(red worms) and composting worms. There are also many small creatures that I cannot identify. All these creatures are contributing to the ecosystem and have found their niche and balance. Many people ask me how often I clean the troughs and I tell them NEVER. I want all those creatures in the troughs and ecosystem. As long as the material in the bottom of the trough does not smell rotten all is well. I believe this layer can tell you a lot about the health of your system.

So, what is in the bottom of your trough?

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As long as we test DO levels at pre and post trough we can keep an eye on our system going anaerobic.All AP'ers should test water quality and keep general records as part of proper AP management. Chris i also have a build up of small wrigglers and a host of unidentified micro organisms flourishing in a layer of nitrifying bacteria and light poo sludge on the bottom of the trough and my DO levels are constant so far. If we dig to the bottom of our gravel beds, we might be alarmed enough to initiate a full cleaning, but we know that would deplete the system of minerals. Some might argue that we should clean our troughs because of the oxygen loads but if we do, we lose precious nitrifying bacteria as well as valuable minerals and may even reach the point of having to cycle once again. I must admit though, when i first saw these small creatures my first impulse was to clean them from the system( a natural human complex), until common sense, and what I've learn't on this site, finally dawned on me.
Great points :-)

Vermiculite and coir mixed with fish poop, a dash of detritus, tetras, algae eaters hiding out in the funk, some small snails clinging to the bottom of the rafts, and gammarus colonizing every root bundle. Thank god for white liner!

 

With a DO of 6.5 - 7.5 in an average of 75F degree water.

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