How to clean very fine gravel/ coarse sand?


How do I clean coarse sand with a gravel vaccuum. in my 20 gallon high tank there is a very fine gravel/coarse sand. the fish waste and excess food go through the course sand and when i try to vaccuum it up the sand goes through the siphon. should i siphon by sticking the gravel vac in the gravel and pinch the siphon, unpinch the siphon and then when the waste and detritus goes through then pinch the tube again and let the sand fall to the floor of the tank?


I usually just hold my gravel vac about an inch or so above the substrate and vacuum, that way the debris is sucked up but not the sand.


i tried that but it didnt work. should i just keeping on cleaning the substrate the way im doing it currently?


Hmm..if that didn't work then I would say you might have to continue what you're doing. Maybe another member will have a better idea.

I used to just scoop out poop and food with a net when I was younger and couldn't figure out how to get a gravel vac to work. Not the most efficient but it worked. Perhaps you could kind of sift through the sand with a net so that the debris will start floating around and just vacuum it up when it's far enough away from the sand?


You can try the two hand method and put a bend into the siphon hose so it stops sucking to drop the sand back down when you want it to and control the Suction flow that way a little or a lot, when you get used to it you should be able to keep the sand mostly circulating in the bottom of the vacuum tube and out of the hose.


I usually just hold my gravel vac about an inch or so above the substrate and vacuum, that way the debris is sucked up but not the sand.
I have the same issue as the OP. I also try to vacuum holding the wand slightly over the substrate. It does not have much suction this way. And its a very, very slow inefficient process.
I am currently agitating the sand and allowing the filters to pick up suspended matter. This is also not ideal as it reduces filter capacity and requires more filter maintenance.

I am currently working on a fix.
My idea is to get a small 120 volt portable pump and a cartridge filter to use at water changes and any other maintenance procedures.
This way I can turn off the normal filtration and use my setup to remove suspended particles quickly. I am looking at pumps up to 1000 GPH. This would move lots of water very quickly and I could direct the intake with ease. I will screen the intake for fish safety. And I will be recirculating tank water or removing tank water at will.
Then when I'm satisfied the sand and the suspended particles are cleaned out I will then take the pump and filter out of the equation and resume normal filtration. Lastly I will remove and store the pump and filter.
I am not considering a canister filter. I want to use larger hoses and move much more water than a canister could ever move. I also will only use it for a short period of time.
Someone linked this to me and it seems like a very good choice and inexpensive.

Or something like this.

Or something like this. I would need to find a sock or prefilter as the basket strainer mesh is to coarse.

I saw a setup like this in a commercial pet store many years ago. They were moving it from tank to tank.
I will bet the very next post in response to mine will be something like this. "how about using a canister filter"?
This has been the response in 99% of interactions in regard to my idea. A canister filter will not do what I will ask of it.


im not made of money, but that gave me an idea. maybe i coul d put something on the siphon to block the sand from going through and letting the waste go through.


Take off the siphon and use the hose directly. Then the 1.5cm above ground technique works. Sand and fine gravel don't need a deep clean, as most debris stays on top of it anyway.


I just vacuum up sand and waste. Then I pour out the water and the sand stays in the bottom of the bucket. I give it a good rinse and then refill the bucket (add Prime/dechloronator, etc.) and then when I put it back in the tank, I vacuum the sand from the bucket and try to distribute the sand where it came from.

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