Sand or gravel in the aquarium? A question that every arisaqut must ask himself at the beginning of the aquarium project. Gravel has the advantage that it is easier to clean, and some plants thrive better in it – but it is not always suitable for every aquarium: especially South American tanks, which are to be filled with animals such as armored catfish or certain cichlids, must be equipped with fine sand, because these animals dig in it or flush sand through their gills. But also the disadvantage of the sand quickly comes to light: how do you clean the aquarium sand?
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Cleaning aquarium sand – that’s how it’s done!
In general, you should not clean your aquarium sand in the already occupied tank too often, because there are important bacteria in the aquarium sand that relieve your filter and contribute to the stability of your water values. This is not even necessary, since most of the pollution does not get under the sand, but is stored on it. So you can easily suck off the dirt from the top sand layer with the hose every time you change the water – of course you have to be careful that you also suck in the aquarium sand quickly. If it should be nevertheless times again so far that in the meantime green or brown deposits, speak Mulm, in the lower sand layers have formed, which you would like to get rid of gladly then you can proceed as follows:
Cleaning aquarium sand with a dust/suction bell
Unlike gravel, it is not so easy to clean your aquarium sand with a dust/suction cup, because the sand will simply fall down again in the gravel, because the pressure of the suction cup is not enough to suck it in. Instead, in most cases large parts of the sand will be sucked in. Especially in the long run and if you have a rather thin layer of sand anyway, this is not recommended, because you remove the sand in this way. However, if this is only done a few times a year to remove coarse impurities from the lower layers of sand, it is advisable to use particularly small/weak suction cups. These are characterised primarily by a particularly thin hose, which can build up thus also only a rather small pressure. Below my recommendation for weak mud/suction bells, with which you can clean your aquarium sand.
The use of the dust/suction bell does not deviate from this. You try to penetrate relatively deep into the lower layers of sand to suck away the yellow and green spots and other dirt. This is particularly useful in the area of the windscreen, as this contamination is visible there. Make sure that you push the hose in a little – this way you can regulate the pressure manually. If too much sand gets into the tube you only have to push the tube completely and most of the sand gets back into the aquarium.
Cleaning aquarium sand with a spatula
With a commercially available (as good as new, of course) or a special aquarium spatula with an extra long handle, you can easily whirl up the aquarium sand and bring any impurities in the lower sand layers to daylight. With the help of an aquarium hose, these impurities can now be easily extracted. With the spatula you can then smoothen out any unevenness on the aquarium sand. Such an aquarium spatula is already available for little money – in the following my recommendation:
With this method, however, you should be aware that you are swirling up large portions of the impurities and sludge in the deeper layers of your aquarium sand and your entire aquarium will be clouded and that it is harmful for aquarium dwellers to remove large portions of the useful sludge. Therefore use this method only for cosmetic reasons – removal of stains on the windscreen – and make sure that you do not change the water until afterwards.
Clean the aquarium sand: Inserting tower cover screws (TDS)
Probably the easiest way to keep your aquarium sand in the deep layers as free as possible from impurities and yellow/green stains is to use tower snails. Of course, the use of these screws must be considered carefully: They must match your other aquarium inhabitants and your water values must also match the preferred values of the animals – the latter being true in most cases anyway, as tower snails have very low water requirements and are comfortable in almost any soft or hard liquid. Tower-cover-snails dig themselves into the sand-soil of your aquarium for the biggest part during the day. They loosen this up and eat themselves formally through contamination in it. At night, the animals dig themselves out again and cross the aquarium in search of other food. It is very interesting to have a look into the aquarium at night: if you see the tank only during the day you are surprised how many TDS actually live in the aquarium. The tower snails not only look beautiful, they also leave your valuable aquarium plants behind during their nightly crusade. All these points make it a very useful aquarium inhabitant for aquariums equipped with sand.
Cleaning Aquarium Sand: Sand Extraction
Another easy way to make your aquarium sand free of dirt is to use the hose to vacuum the dustbin slightly above the sand surface. As long as you don’t take too big a hose with too much pressure and keep a small distance to the surface, you won’t really suck any aquarium sand, but only the mulm on it. In case of coarse soiling in deeper sand layers it is recommended to vacuum off a part of the soiled sand. Now you can easily clean/rinse them under running water and then add them back to the aquarium. This will not create a cloud of sand dust – the cleaned sand will sink directly to the ground. You can easily remove sand residues from plants and decorations yourself.