Fish tank gravel adds to the beauty of any aquarium and creates a more natural habitat for your fishes. But there’s a downside of placing gravel inside your aquarium as it holds a lot of fecal matter, debris and compromise the water quality over time. Mostly recommend regular gravel cleansing alongside water replacement. Today, we will discuss how to clean fish tank gravel so that you can maintain your aquarium properly.
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Gravel or substrate, as it is alternatively called, is the layer that is spread over the surface of the tank bottom. The gravel material varies in types and colors giving you a wide range of choice to decorate your fish tank.
First of all, unplug the power connection to your aquarium’s pump, heater, and filter. No need to remove the water and fish from the tank.
Take a 5-gallon bucket and put it below your aquarium. It will be used to hold dirty, filtered out water after washing the gravel.
Gravel vacuums can be bought readymade on stores, but it’s a simple DIY project that you can get done very easily. Here’s what you’ll need-
After you get all these, just follow the steps as described below-
Immerse the suction end of the vacuum into the aquarium water and push it to the end of the aquarium, into the gravel. The open end of the tube should be placed into the bucket. Start the powerhead and keep the vacuum head over the gravels. Dirty water will continue to flow into the bucket.
Closely monitor the water that is being flown out by the vacuum. If the water turns clear it means the gravel you are vacuuming on is now clear. You can control the speed of the water flow through the ball valve. You can turn off the valve once the water turns clean but don’t switch off the power head just yet.
Remove the vacuum from the gravel but don’t pull it out of the water. Drag it to the next chunk of unwashed gravel and open the water valve. The vacuum will begin to draw out dirty water once again. As done in the previous step, close the valve as soon as the water turns clear. Repeat this process until the water level reaches two-thirds of its full capacity. Gravel accommodates bacteria crucial to aquatic life forms, so washing it all at once would destabilize the food chain within your tank.
Before replacing the water, you have removed while vacuuming the tank don’t forget to take the current temperature of the water inside the aquarium. It is important because fish show high sensitivity when it comes to a change in water, thus the water inserted needs to be of the same temperature as before. Many tanks come with a built-in thermometer if your one doesn’t have one, you would need to do it the old-fashioned way by holding a glass thermometer into the water with your hand.
Fill up a bucket with clean water and make sure the water temperature matches the aquarium water. Before using the bucket, double check that it is absolutely clean and has no chemical residue that can affect the fish. Tap waters are usually bleached with chlorine and other chemicals which would also be harmful to your fish. You should use necessary reactants to neutralize these chemicals before putting it into the tank. These water conditioners are available to buy at any pet stores or aquarium stores.
You might think that there are no technicalities involved at this phase; you can just pour in the water and get it over with- but you are wrong. Pouring in the water would end up beclouding the water as it would force up waste and other residuals from the gravel. Take off the bottle head from the vacuum and submerge the open end into the bucket water; this tone down the suction force and give us our desired delicate flow of water into the aquarium. The other end would go into the water. Turn on the powerhead and regulate the water flow with the water valve. Switch off the valve when the water level reaches an inch off the maximum capacity of your tank. Without this space, there would be no room for oxygen and without oxygen, your fish would suffocate.
Once you are done setting up your fish tank re-plug the heater, pump, and filter and turn them on.
Keep track of the date so that you can schedule another cleaning session in due time.
Why should you clean fish tank gravel at all? What happens if you don’t vacuum it every once in a while? Here are some of the possible repercussions-
Over cleaning your aquarium gravel is not recommended at all, rather it would severely hurt the ecosystem of your aquarium. A light vacuum session once a week should keep the gravel in excellent shape
Hope reading our article gave you a clearer idea of how to clean fish tank gravel and why you should be doing it. If you find our article helpful please share it with your friends on social media. And of course, let us know what you think about the article by leaving your feedback in the comments section
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