Thanks Tree! :)
I have one of the wendtii...maybe two of these? One is still fairly small and suffered a bit from a transplant, but is making a comeback. The other is larger...unless I'm mistaken and it's another version of this...lol, you'd think I'd remember. ;) I just re-did my 40g and I have trouble remembering what I put in there.
I totally agree about the roots...things that don't like to stay rooted while cleaning are a major pain. I generally just stay away from them, figuring that any waste material near their tiny root system is helping them root in...and I'm leaving it alone. ;)
I actually took down the 2g after a month because it got so dense that I couldn't get in there. :P Part of it was the shape, because of it being a cookie jar the thing was slightly narrower in the top than at the base...and between the plants and the driftwood...I could barely get the vacuum in there. :P I do plan to replant it and maybe put some shrimp or something in, but I'm waiting on a moss order before I get that started. :)
I don't think I'd take out 50% of the water once a week...is it heavily planted enough to have a silent cycle, or is it filtered/cycled? If it's NOT, then yeah, the changes are probably about right, but if it's maintaining any sort of a cycle, you really don't need to clean that much, that often. I'd just spot clean the "open" gravel areas and around anything that's not going to be uprooted, and then stop.
In terms of general cleaning, I mostly just spot-clean about once every two weeks unless there seems to be a lot of gunk at the substrate level. I attempted to clean the 2g once during that month, and it was ready to be cleaned again when I took it down. If you've got plants that are cleaner, and I you're *really* careful about feeding *only* what the fish is going to eat, you can get away with cleaning less. One of my 20g's is going on almost two months now, but it's mostly rosette and crypt plants, two bettas, and two mystery snails, so they keep everything pretty clean on their own. The plants and the filter back up keep my water params at 0's, so other than topping off to replenish nutrients and evaporated water, I only substrate clean as needed for gunk...or once a month, whichever comes first. I'm behind on that one, it should really get cleaned monthly.
The sorority I really have to clean about once a week because there's a lot of dropped food. I overfeed because I worry about everyone getting enough to eat...so I have to get that out of the substrate before it turns to gunk. :P
As if that wasn't a convoluted answer, lol! :)