How to Clean Fish Tank Gravel (With & Without a Vacuum)?
Dirt will build up in any aquarium over time. It is caused by uneaten food, fish droppings, leaf rot and algae deposits. Cleaning an aquarium is a routine that cannot be avoided even with the most sophisticated filtration systems.
Sooner or later the aquarium will fill up with mud deposits and it won’t look as fun as it could. Excessive clutter also affects the water parameters for the comfort of the fish, so cleanliness is very important. The cleaning procedure performed once or twice a month should not be time-consuming and the results are very satisfactory.
One thing that poses a problem is gravel, as it can be difficult to clean. Why and how should you clean gravel in your aquarium?
Why do you need to clean gravel?
It is obviously essential to maintain good aquarium hygiene.
Gravel plays an important role in the ecosystem of an aquarium and if it gets too dirty it can cause all sorts of unwanted problems.
The aquarium substrate can hide old fish food that the fish did not eat, fish excrement, algae and even harmful bacteria. And you have to get rid of it to keep your balance. Too much waste can lead to ammonia poisoning and an unpleasant odor from the water.
There are some simple and uncomplicated ways to clean the gravel from your aquarium. To do this, you need some kind of equipment, such as a pair of buckets and a hose or a gravel siphon. But we know that not everyone can get their hands on a gravel siphon, or maybe their gravel siphon is damaged, so what can be used instead?
We show you how to clean gravel in an aquarium without a siphon or hose.
If you would like to learn how to clean the gravel in an aquarium, read on, we have some simple and fun methods that will lead you to a clean aquarium and happy fish.
Cleaning gravel in aquariums without vacuuming?
If you don’t have a gravel vacuum on hand, no problem, you can clean the gravel in the aquarium without one. This way of doing it is a little more complicated, but it can still be done without too much difficulty.
First fill the bucket with water from the aquarium, catch the fish with your net (or hands) and carefully place it in the bucket. They will stay here until the tank is cleaned.
Then drain all the water from the aquarium. You can do this using a cup and bucket. Just fill a bucket with water and pour it down the sink or toilet.
Once you’ve removed the water from the tank, it’s time to move it onto the gravel. If your tank is not that heavy, you can lift it up and put gravel in the bucket. After that, simply rinse the aquarium with water to clean the glass and replace it.
Now back to the gravel, take a bucket and use a shower head or hose to clean the gravel inside the bucket. Do this several times until the water coming out of the bucket is clear.
Once you’re sure the gravel is clean, it’s time to put it back in the tank. Use your hand to gently return the gravel to the bottom of the tank and slowly fill it with water.
Pour the fish bucket water into the tank. This will ensure that some bacteria remain in the water, which will ensure a healthy and balanced ecosystem.
Using a gravel vacuum cleaner?
For many aquarium hobbyists, gravel vacuum cleaners are the best choice when it comes to cleaning the aquarium substrate. These tools are available in a variety of sizes, and some models even come with accessories that are designed to go into corners and underneath tank decorations.
Choose a gravel vacuum cleaner depending on the size of your aquarium and the amount of open space in your aquarium.
For example, if your tank is heavily planted or heavily decorated, you may want a narrow-necked gravel vacuum cleaner to keep your plants and decorations out of the way while cleaning the substrate.
However, if your tank has a lot of open space, a large vacuum cleaner will save you time by allowing you to clean large areas of the tank in one go. The gravel vacuum cleaner is very easy to use and is the fastest way to remove accumulated debris from your substrate.
Simply submerge the nozzle in the reservoir and dip the other end of the tube into an empty bucket to collect the dirty water.
Gravel vacuums draw water out of the tank by gravity, so the waste bucket should be placed lower than the aquarium. Submerge the vacuum head in the reservoir until it is full and remove it completely from the water.
Watch carefully as the water begins to flow down the tubing into the receiving bucket, and quickly submerge the vacuum again before it is completely empty.
This forms an air pocket in the tube, causing a siphon effect that draws water through the vacuum into the collection bucket.
Bury the suction head in the substrate as soon as the siphon effect begins and slowly move it around the tank to suck up the accumulated debris.
Some gravel vacuum cleaners connect directly to the sink faucet. Simply turning on the water creates a siphon effect.
Clean up the algae remaining in the substrate?
Algae are everywhere in aquariums. It is difficult to spot because it can be very small and is often eaten by fish or other inhabitants of the aquarium.
When the algae build-up becomes too large, you will notice some green or brown spots on the glass of the aquarium. If the stains tend to spread, this means the aquarium needs proper cleaning. You can use algae killing agents available from aquarium stores.
As with glass, algae can also form on the substrate. And cleaning is not an easy process. Yes, you can use algae removers to get rid of them, but they are usually expensive but not very effective.
The only good way to get rid of algae on the substrate is to remove the substrate and cleanse it.
Vacuuming will not work, since only the surface layers of algae are removed, and not those that are tightly adhered to the gravel.
Cleaning rocks and other aquarium decorations?
The remains of fish and algae do not just settle on the substrate. Sometimes it can also be glued to decorations, and if not cleaned in time, it will stick to them, making your aquarium look messy and not very pretty.
To clean the decorations, you must first remove them from the aquarium. You can easily do this when changing the water or when completely cleaning the aquarium.
Take them out and put them in a bucket or place them on a tray. Rinse them with clean water. It is not necessary to use other substances, such as vinegar, for this, it is enough to clean off the algae and dirt with a toothbrush or an abrasive sponge.
Make sure not to damage the tank decorations as they are very fragile.
After brushing them, rinse again with clean water and put them back in the tank. This is a very simple process that requires little effort.
Cleaning gravel coming from aquarium stores?
It is recommended to wear waterproof gloves when cleaning the aquarium of new gravel. It’s also a good idea to clean new aquarium gravel in batches of no more than £ 5 each. Attempting to wash off too much gravel in one go may not remove all dust, debris, or sand.
Also, be careful not to let small pieces of gravel or debris enter the drain, or the drain may collapse.
Place new gravel in the aquarium filling. Pour in the gravel with about 2.5 cm of water and mix with the gravel to mix a little.
Let the gravel soak in the bucket for a couple of minutes to remove any dust, debris, or sand.
Lighter materials will float to the surface. Heavier materials with a harder texture sink to the bottom.
The color of the gravel can also change the color of the water. Empty the bucket after the gravel has soaked for a few minutes, and refill it with tap water as before.
When the bucket is full, shake the gravel vigorously. Drain the water and repeat the process several times until the water is clear, clean, free of film, dust, debris and sand.
Is it really that important to clean the new gravel in the aquarium? Can I safely buy clean gravel from an aquarium store? Read on to find out why this matters!
Cleaning the gravel outside the fountains?
You might think that you don’t need to buy gravel from an aquarium store. If you are like me, you will probably take a bucket to the river and start pouring gravel from there. It’s a great source of gravel, and best of all, it’s free!
While this can save you a dollar or two, it’s important to remember that the gravel you just harvest can contain parasites, bacteria, unwanted algae, and you don’t know what else. Sometimes you might get lucky and find one or two fish eggs, adding a new species to your tank.
Cleaning mined gravel from a natural source is not a complicated process. All you need to do this is a bucket and some vinegar.
Yes, vinegar. Bacteria and parasites hate vinegar, it is deadly for them. Although he is your worst enemy, he is your best friend in situations like this.
To clean river gravel, simply pour 2 cups of vinegar into a bucket of gravel and cover with water. Let it sit for 1-2 hours and then drain the bucket. By that time, most of the harmful bacteria and parasites should have died. Flush the gravel a couple of times and it’s ready to go to the tank.
Another method that is even more effective than vinegar is to use bleach. But you have to be careful with this because bleach tends to hold onto gravel for a long time, and if you put it in a tank, it can kill your fish if it is in high concentration.
If you choose to use bleach, it is important to use a very small amount, such as ¼ cup per bucket of water.
This provides good concentration to kill unwanted passengers and will be easy to clean up in the end. After filling the bucket with water, let it sit for 10 minutes and then empty it.