Cleaning sand

Discussion in 'Cleaning and Maintenance' started by Meeps83, Apr 16, 2012.

  1. Meeps83

    Meeps83 Well Known Member Member

    I recently built a tank using sand as the substrate. I finally perfected a way to change the water and not displace all the water when adding it back in. I did run into an issue though. I've been changing my water about twice a week, sometimes three times. Sometimes when I get bored I just decide to clean my tanks....wish I did that with my house instead but oh well. So I have a smaller vacuum that I use on the 10 gallon tank that I use first to get in the tighter spots and suck up the poop. Then, once all small poop chunks and tight spots are cleaned, I get out the big vac that I use on my 45 gallon and suck up the poop from the bigger spots. I move the decorations and clean under them. When this is done, I've usually gone thru 10 gallons of water. I pull out my vacuum and add in the new water. After my new water is added, I'll look into the tank and it seems like all the poop that I just vacuumed out is RIGHT BACK where it came from. What gives? Is there a vacuum specifically for sand tanks that will actually pull the poop out and keep it out? It just doesn't seem like the vacuuming is actually cleaning the tank, just dispelling the poop. Any suggestions on how to proceed with this?
  2. bassbonediva

    bassbonediva Fishlore VIP Member

    Methinks you're overcleaning. One 20% water change per week is MORE than enough, especially in a 10 gallon tank.

    What is the tank stocked with that is creating THAT much poo? My 55gal would be considered fully stocked (even overstocked) by most people (two ryukin goldfish, an adult male BN pleco and various dither fish) and you really can't even tell there's poo on my white pool filter sand (and I don't do water changes very often).

    My question is, if you're doing a 100% water change on that tank, what are the fish doing when there's no water in the tank?
  3. OP

    Meeps83 Well Known Member Member

    Actually it's my 30 gallon that I'm cleaning that much. I just use the vacuum for my 10 gallon. So I'm doing a 1/3 water change around twice/week. I kind of feel that the vacuums just aren't sucking all of it thru the hose and into my bucket and it's just being forced back into the tank when I pull the hose out. The visible poop is why I am cleaning it so often. Currently, the stock is 5 neon tetras and 3 Cory's.
  4. bassbonediva

    bassbonediva Fishlore VIP Member reading comprehension sucks tonight. lol

    Okay, so I would say that your filter isn't doing its job if five neons and three cories are creating THAT much waste in a 30gal.

    When I vac my 55gal (which I'll admit isn't often), I always turn the vac upside down before pulling it out of the tank (trapping any debris in the vac tube itself), then drain the vac into the bucket.
  5. Donnerjay

    Donnerjay Well Known Member Member


    FishLore member Jaysee is an expert when it comes to using circulation to keep sand clean. Hopefully he'll chime in with how he does it, or you could PM him. He rarely cleans his tanks and they are spotless. In fact check out his profile and you might find his video titled, "overview of my tanks" or something similar.

    ! :)
  6. OP

    Meeps83 Well Known Member Member

    I'll have to try turning the vac upside down. The water itself is spotless so I think I'm just not picking up the poop sufficiently when I clean. I'll figure something out!
  7. Jaysee

    Jaysee Fishlore Legend Member

    I disagree about a 20% change being MORE than enough. IMO it's a bare minimum.

    I am wondering the same thing - how is there so much waste that it's prevalent despite 2 or 3 cleanings a week? Perhaps you are overfeeding just a little ;)

    For 5 neons and 3 corys in a 30 gallon tank, you shouldn't have to clean more than once a month, IMO. And, as it turns out, 20% water change is fine for your tank - only because it is so very lightly stocked.

    I would look into adding a powerhead to provide better circulation. I would put it lower in the tank, on the opposite side from the filter intake, aimed at the intake. HOBs are not very good at circulating water.
  8. tpasser2

    tpasser2 Valued Member Member

    My guess is that all of the waste is being spat back out of the tube when you pull it out of the water and the suction stops. Try to make sure like bassbonediva said to keep it upright when you take it above the surface of the water.
  9. Jaysee

    Jaysee Fishlore Legend Member

    A stronger suction would take care of that. If you want to supercharge your vac, you can put a pump in the line. That's my water changer - just the powerhead. I use that to drain the tanks and then use the python to fill it. For what I'm suggesting, you'll want an actual pump - the intake on what I have is not conducive to attaching a hose. But it gives you the general idea of what it would look like.

    Attached Files:

  10. OP

    Meeps83 Well Known Member Member

    I'm not sure where you got 20%'s a 29 gallon tank and each water change is about 10 gallons, which is 33%. Since I usually do at least 2/week, that's a total of 66% being changed, not 20. It is possible they are being overfed. It was a lot easier before I moved the fish to their current tank. The filter has a strong current and sometimes it doesn't look like I put anything in for the tetras. I do usually put in a shrimp pellet for the corys. I'll try fasting them for a day or 2 and then do the tilted vac thing. If that still doesn't work I'll have to set up some kind of pump vac contraption like Jaysee's there and see how that goes.

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