Last Updated on January 13, 2022 by Fabiola L.
Thinking about washing your aquarium substrate, but not sure how?
Setting up an aquarium is not an easy job. From choosing plumbing and filtration devices to identifying the right type of tank, many decisions have to be made. One of them is the selection of the type of substrate and its maintenance.
Aquarium sand is a common substrate preferred by almost all aquarium hobbyists. It is available in a variety of shapes and colors, but is a little harder to clean compared to other types of substrates.
There are three main ways to keep sand clean:
- using a siphon or a gravel vacuum,
- agitation of the sand so that the filter picks up the residue,
- putting sand cleaning pets in the tank.
Continue reading to learn how to wash aquarium sand.
How To Clean Aquarium Sand Before Use
Do you often wonder how to prepare sand for aquariums? Whatever type of sand you choose, cleaning your aquarium sand before use is a key part. If you don’t, your water is guaranteed to be cloudy and dusty.
The process is quite simple, empty the sand into a large container and overflow it with a hose. Try directing the hose to the sand, so it is agitated and do so until the water becomes clear.
Keep reading to learn more about the cleaning process itself.
Preparing The Aquarium Tank
First, turn off the filters, heater, and all pumps. It is important that no electrical appliance stays in the tank while you are cleaning it. Then, remove all plants and decorations. As for cleaning, brush all items with warm water until all debris and algae are removed. Then place them on a lint-free cloth or bucket.
Then it’s time to drain the water. The amount depends on how dirty it is. The general rule is to remove about 10 – 25% of the water. This procedure should be repeated every 1-2 weeks. This will keep your fish healthy and your tank clean.
How To Wash Aquarium Sand
Now that you have cleaned and prepared your aquarium tank, it is time to wash the sand.
Pour the sand into a clean bucket of at least five gallons and lift the bucket on one side so that it stands at an angle. Then pour in the water and clean the sand with your own hands by moving it around the bucket. You can even make a hole in the middle to make sure the water reaches the depth of the sand.
Repeat this for 3 to 5 minutes, then leave the garden hose inside the bucket to let the water run for 15 minutes. From time to time, help move the sand more with your hand. During those 15 minutes, dirty water will fill and overflow the bucket, and new and clean water will replace it.
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How To Rinse Aquarium Sand
There really is no way to clean your aquarium sand too much. Therefore, be patient and repeat the above procedure until the water is completely clear. Regular cleaning and rinsing of aquarium sand are recommended because it is a way to prevent your equipment from being compromised.
Although it can be boring at times, don’t rush to bring the rinsing to an end. If you only half wash the aquarium sand, you will most likely end up with fine dirt and dirt particles inside your aquarium tank. This is not good at all as it can cloud the water in your aquarium and potentially crowd out your filter.
The most important thing is to drain as much water from the sand as possible before returning it to the tank. However, you don’t need to panic if you can’t completely dry the sand. A little water from clean sand will not harm either the quality of the water or your aquatic pets.
Other Methods Of Cleaning Aquarium Sand
Cleaning Aquarium Sand With A Siphon
Siphons, also known as gravel vacuums, create a flow of water that gently sucks up the tank. The siphon lifts a layer of sand to get rid of dirt and debris and then removes them along with the water leaving the siphon. However, this way of cleaning your aquarium is a challenge in itself because you have to be careful not to suck all the sand out of the tank.
Since sand is made up of small and light particles, it can be sucked up easily. Therefore, try to keep the end of the siphon at a good height above the sand. It may not be easy at first, but remember, practice makes perfect.
Using Sand Cleaning Pets
Did you know that you can clean your aquarium sand by putting cleaning livestock into your tank? They may not get to the last dirt, but it’s the most natural way possible.
Freshwater Sand Cleaning Pets Options:
- Corydoras catfish
- Geophagus cichlid
Saltwater Sand Cleaning Pets Options:
- Fighting conchs
- Nassarius Snails
- Sand sifting gobies
- Sand sifting starfish
Returning Sand To The Aquarium Tank
Once you have washed and rinsed it thoroughly, it is time to put the sand back in the tank. You can return the sand either using a container or simply pour the sand from the bucket directly into the tank.
For easier filling with water, put a small container in the aquarium in which you can put the hose. This will prevent the water from going directly into the sand and blowing it out of place. Also, remember to use the magnetic cleaner that comes with the sand to precipitate the remaining dust particles.
On the other hand, if you don’t want to lose all the healthy bacteria in your substrate when you change the sand, you can some of the old sand. This will restore part of your established bacterial colony, and help them to spread to the new substrate.
It is necessary to clean the sand in your aquarium to avoid creating pockets of dangerous anaerobic bacteria. It can be harmful to your aquatic friends. Remember, only a clean tank is a healthy tank!
That would be it! Now you know all about how to wash aquarium sand.
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