Cleaning gravel and substrate

MojoFish

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Hi,

I hope this is the right place for this question. I’ve had aquariums for a while but thinking about venturing into planted tanks. One question I had is what is the best technique for cleaning sand over substrate... do you just “hoover” the sand and do not disturb the substrate underneath or do you “hoover” deeper” getting right into the substrate through the sand?

cheers

stewart
 

Colin_T

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If you have a specific plant substrate, you do not disturb it. However, if you only have sand or gravel, then you can push the gravel cleaner right down to the base of the tank to suck any gunk out of the sand or gravel.
 
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MojoFish

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Ok thanks so just suck the surface sand on top but no deeper into the specific plant substrate.
 

Utar

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The thing about sand is small portions get vacuumed out as you are cleaning. Then over time you will start notice you have less and less sand left in your tank. Most of the time gunk, food, etc will just rest on top of sand, so hover over it to clean so you don't suck small portions out.

In my tanks I have three layers of substrate, potting soil, gravel, and sand.
 

Essjay

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If there is sand on top of a plant substrate, hover the siphon tube ~1 cm over the sand and make little swirling movements to lift the bit's off the sand so it can be sucked up. Don't push the tube into the sand or it'll all get sucked up. The bits stay on top of sand, they don't go down between the particles.
You will suck up bits of sand. If you use a bucket to empty the old water, wash any sand in the bucket and put it back in the tank.
 

Arthur11

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Steps to Clean Old Aquarium Gravel: Step one is the standard cleaning solution: about 10% bleach and 90% hot or warm water, or you can use a lower concentration of bleach to be safe for fish after that. The second step is to put the fish gravel in the pot plus the bleach solution, pour the water to cover the gravel. Soak the gravel for no more than a quarter of an hour, during which time you can stir to irritate the cleaning solution. The fourth step is to rinse the aquarium gravel and then dry it. Finally, return it to the aquarium.
 
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Bettaguy08

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Hi,

I hope this is the right place for this question. I’ve had aquariums for a while but thinking about venturing into planted tanks. One question I had is what is the best technique for cleaning sand over substrate... do you just “hoover” the sand and do not disturb the substrate underneath or do you “hoover” deeper” getting right into the substrate through the sand?

cheers

stewart
I would recommend a deep vacuum once a month and the the other times you can hover over the sand with it.
 

AbbeysDad

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I switched from gravel to sand only, even in my 60g planted display tank and I NEVER, EVER touch the sand. With a couple of Cory's and countless Malaysian Trumpet Snails the 3-4" sand substrate manages itself so I just do water changes with a submersible pump. The beauty of sand is that do to the small particle size, uneaten food, fish and plant waste just doesn't get down under to decompose and pollute the water....and I never see a mulm buildup that would require any surface hovering. :)
Footnote: Leaving the substrate alone makes for excellent bio-filtration as the bacteria and microbes develop and establish without disruption!
 

itiwhetu

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Never touch the substrate in your tank. The plants rely on everything in it to survive. The more you disturb the substrate, the more trouble you will have getting plants established.
 

Fishmanic

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Steps to Clean Old Aquarium Gravel: Step one is the standard cleaning solution: about 10% bleach and 90% hot or warm water, or you can use a lower concentration of bleach to be safe for fish after that. The second step is to put the fish gravel in the pot plus the bleach solution, pour the water to cover the gravel. Soak the gravel for no more than a quarter of an hour, during which time you can stir to irritate the cleaning solution. The fourth step is to rinse the aquarium gravel and then dry it. Finally, return it to the aquarium.

your method may introduce dangerous chlorine to the tank . I do not advise using your method. Gravel siphon tube cleaning is much safer.
 

AbbeysDad

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We tend to think that any gunk in the substrate is bad and one school of thought is to routinely deep gravel vacuum to remove the crud (uneaten fish food and fish/plant waste). In reality, much of this 'stuff' has decomposed already and is no longer negatively affecting water quality. And as @itiwhetu points out, IF you have rooted plants, they can use this organic fertilizer for growth. Another consideration (And I'm beginning to feel like a substrate preacher!) is that beneficial bacteria and microbes develop and mature in the substrate and disturbing that disrupts their valuable contribution to the established eco-system.
(Again, I have 3-4" of sand in most of my tanks and never disturb it.)

If there is truly sand over gravel, then not much if any detritus gets below the sand, so deep vacuuming is not required or desired. Instead, if mulm on the surface bothers you, then as suggested in a previous post, simply hover and swirl above the sand with the gravel vacuum to remove. :)
 

Bruce Leyland-Jones

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Steps to Clean Old Aquarium Gravel: Step one is the standard cleaning solution: about 10% bleach and 90% hot or warm water, or you can use a lower concentration of bleach to be safe for fish after that. The second step is to put the fish gravel in the pot plus the bleach solution, pour the water to cover the gravel. Soak the gravel for no more than a quarter of an hour, during which time you can stir to irritate the cleaning solution. The fourth step is to rinse the aquarium gravel and then dry it. Finally, return it to the aquarium.
Completely irrelevant to the original question;
One question I had is what is the best technique for cleaning sand over substrate... do you just “hoover” the sand and do not disturb the substrate underneath or do you “hoover” deeper” getting right into the substrate through the sand?
 

Rocky998

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Steps to Clean Old Aquarium Gravel: Step one is the standard cleaning solution: about 10% bleach and 90% hot or warm water, or you can use a lower concentration of bleach to be safe for fish after that. The second step is to put the fish gravel in the pot plus the bleach solution, pour the water to cover the gravel. Soak the gravel for no more than a quarter of an hour, during which time you can stir to irritate the cleaning solution. The fourth step is to rinse the aquarium gravel and then dry it. Finally, return it to the aquarium.
What the heck... NO! you never do this unless you have a SUPER bad ich problem... Even if you had ich I dont think you should do this... This would cause so much damage to the ecosystem set up... Does this happen in nature? No.
 

WhistlingBadger

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Steps to Clean Old Aquarium Gravel: Step one is the standard cleaning solution: about 10% bleach and 90% hot or warm water, or you can use a lower concentration of bleach to be safe for fish after that. The second step is to put the fish gravel in the pot plus the bleach solution, pour the water to cover the gravel. Soak the gravel for no more than a quarter of an hour, during which time you can stir to irritate the cleaning solution. The fourth step is to rinse the aquarium gravel and then dry it. Finally, return it to the aquarium.
I agree with the consensus that this would be a bad idea, unless you have a severely diseased tank. Even then, I would be very leery about using bleach treated gravel in my tank. I don't what the scientists would say about this, but if I ever did treat aquarium gravel with bleach solution, I would afterward soak it in water heavily treated with dechlorinator.

Then I'd probably just throw it in the garden and buy some new gravel. :lol:
 

Caesar

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I agree with the consensus that this would be a bad idea, unless you have a severely diseased tank. Even then, I would be very leery about using bleach treated gravel in my tank. I don't what the scientists would say about this, but if I ever did treat aquarium gravel with bleach solution, I would afterward soak it in water heavily treated with dechlorinator.

Then I'd probably just throw it in the garden and buy some new gravel. :lol:

I disinfect diseased tanks at work with a bleach spray, fill with water and a large dose of dechlorinator, add a cycled sponge, and add fish hours later.

I was fairly hesitant to do it initially, but it's worked every time! :D
 

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