How to Clean Aquarium Sand without Siphon

For people with fish as pets or for people who tend to display fish tanks at their places, it is important to maintain a clean environment inside the aquarium. Aquariums look great when they’re clean but frequent maintenance is required to make them stay that way. In this article, we will show you how to clean the aquarium sand without a siphon

Designed specially to remove impurities from beneath the aquarium, siphons, also known as gravel vacuums, are preferable options when it comes to cleaning aquarium sand and gravel. However, there are other alternatives available to accomplish this task as well.

Why is it essential to clean aquarium sand?

Some of the most important reasons to cleanse aquarium sand are:

  • Dirt and wastage from the fishes get deposited to the bottom of the tank, where the sand is located. If not cleaned, the dirty sand can make the aquarium water stale which will make the dissolved oxygen unhealthy for the fishes to breathe.
  • Sand is most likely the first thing that comes to mind when decorating the fish tank, and if it is dirty, it hampers the whole look of the aquarium.

Methods to clean aquarium sand without Siphon:

As sands have a vital role to play in the aquatic environment inside the aquarium, it is not recommended to change or clean the debris too frequently. Sand helps retain the important bacteria and in maintaining the stability in water values. Siphons and vacuums are the widely used tools to clean aquarium sand. However, with regards to people who do not have access to these tools or for people who are not keen on using them, the following methods will be useful.

Dust/ Suction Bell:

When cleaning the aquarium sand once or twice a year, it is advisable to use suction bells to cleanse the sand. This process works better in windscreens in particular as impurities in a specific place can be seen and taken care of swiftly. The hose is put where there is the dirtiest sand, and it takes the sand up the tube.

It is encouraged to use the weak powered suction bells to do the work as the powerful ones will suck all of the sand, instead of just the dirty part, and disrupt the aquatic environment. Besides, it works better in a thick layer of sand, because if the coating is thin, it is more likely to suck in all the sand.

Aquarium Spatula:

There are specific long-handled spatulas available in the shops that are made to bring up the aquarium sand. With this spatula, you can easily target the impure sand and with the help of a hose, extract them out of the tank. Aquarium spatulas are readily available, they do not cost much, and the process of using is relatively easy as well.

However, while using a spatula, you have to be careful not to stir up the whole aquarium. If you do, the entire water in the tank will get cloudy from the dirty sand mixing in the water, and that will hamper the condition of living for the inhabitants in the tank.

Tower Cover Snails:

Inserting Tower Cover Snails in your aquarium has to be the easiest way to keep the tank sand free from dirt and other colorful stains. Tower Cover Snails, also known as Filter Feeders, dig deep into the sandy soil and eat their way through the contaminated parts of the sand, making it look clean and fresh overnight.

When introducing these snails to your tank, you have to be cautious that these snails match with the existing aquatic organisms in the aquarium. Even though tower snails can adjust to any water levels, it is still a good idea to check the environment before inserting them inside the tank.

Sand Sifters:

Sand sifting fish species like Corydoras and Sucker-mouthed Catfish are useful for keeping the aquarium sand clean. With their short whiskers, they probe into the sand and in doing so, turn over the sand multiple times. This action flips over the dirty part of the sand, revealing the cleaner side. These cleaner fishes sit on and sift through the sand all day long, and aid in keeping the tank clean.

It should be kept in mind that these fishes will not survive on dirt; they have to be fed food that is specially designed for them. Moreover, the sand is too dirty; it may get infectious for these fishes. Hence, these cleaner fishes should be adequately taken care of.

Manual extraction:

In the absence of tools, you can utilize your hands to clean up the aquarium soil. Considering you do not mind getting your hands wet for a while, you can gently put your hand inside the tank and rake the sand bed. Then, knock over the filth sitting on top of the sand while simultaneously running a filter to clean the water. This process will ensure the perfect execution of cleaning your rank. Another way to clean the sand this way would be to take the fishes out of the tank and put them in a bucket full of water. Then, remove and replace the water and sand of the container with cleaner counterparts.

You are advised to be subtle in your approach to getting your hand inside the tank, as sudden harsh movements might scare the water dwellers and cause them to panic.

Instructions on how to clean specific types of aquarium sands:

Planting Substrates:

These are sands that are preloaded with ammonia and are made to provide nutrients to aquatic plant roots. You cannot rake them once they are inside the tank as that will set off an outbreak of algae. You have to clean these planting substrates before putting them inside the container, and once inside, you can replace parts of these substrates after washing them. This method should be done after a few weeks of inserting them.

Fine Natural Gravel:

Most people with aquariums go for this sand as it is both cheap and looks good in tanks of every size. This sand has to be rinsed thoroughly twice or thrice before putting inside the container, as they tend to be very dirty. After one or two weeks of placing the natural gravel in the aquarium, they should be cleaned. Adding enough water on top of the gravel will cause them to get lifted and get dropped after getting swept from coming down in the water.

Silver Sand:

Mostly found in the natural water reservoirs, silver sand is one of the most popular substrates available in any aquatic store. They are pretty to look at, but you need the patience to clean them thoroughly. Before inserting them in the tank, put them in a bucket. Pour cold water on top while strenuously stirring the mixture. This is a fairly time-consuming process, but it is also instrumental in getting thoroughly cleaned sand.

Colored Gravel:

Very playful to look at and resemble natural habitats of fishes, colored gravels are widely sought after. They make the aquarium look lively and bring colors to the environment. When washing them, some color might wash away with the water. So it is necessary to put these gravels in a strainer and keep the water running till no tone gets off with the water.

Coral Sands:

Mostly seen at marine setups and hard water tanks, coral sands bring an aesthetic touch to the containers. Before putting this sand into the box, run them under cold water and rinse them intensively, making sure every side gets drenched. When water runs clear, it means the sand is clean and can be put into the aquarium.

Things to keep in mind about aquarium sands:

  • Make sure to purchase sand marked explicitly as “Aquarium Sand”.
  • It is best to avoid builders’ sand because it pollutes the water and lowers the aquatic ph level.
  • New sand can be filthy so it should be washed thoroughly before putting inside the tank.
  • A thin covering of sand should be good for the receptacle. A maximum of 2.5 cm layer of sand is advised as any more than that can disrupt the oxygen level of the container.
  • Sands turn black after being polluted for too long, so it is crucial to watch out for discoloration of debris.
  • Unless you plan to keep plants in the tank, keep the sand layer limited to one to two-inch.

In conclusion, it can be seen that cleaning aquarium sand is not only possible but also can be done very quickly without siphons. Whichever tool you select to clean the aquarium sand, utmost dedication towards giving your fishes the healthy living environment they deserve is required for accomplishing this task. While choosing sand and substrates, the varieties should be researched extensively before buying. It should be checked if the sand matches with the aquatic species living in the tanks and does not disrupt the ecology in any way. More than the right tools, you need the willpower to carry on this task of cleaning the aquarium sand.

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