How do you properly clean sand? There is a layer of "dirt" on my light colored sand. It looks dirty. I use the siphon just above the sand and it either doesn't pick up the dirt or it picks up the dirt and sand....I'm new to sand so please help.
2 ways. You can stir up the sand, the dirt will settle slower then sand, for you to quickly siphon or you can leave the siphon an inch above the sand and if any sand starts to go up, lift the tube to let it fall back down.
some sands are easier then others, theyre not all equal.
I just use my large gravel vac with the aspirator like he's using in that video.
But, with the large diameter vacuum tube, the flow velocity is much lower than it would be with the small tube. By throttling the flow rate and tilting the large vacuum tube to an angle, the sand is sucked up partway into the tube, then cascades around and around, being thoroughly rinsed without any of the sand going all the way up into the large tube.
This cleans the sand well, and I don't lose any of it.
It takes some finesse to keep the flow just right and find the correct angle to get the "cyclone cleaning" to happen, but it's pretty intuitive, really.
I'll see if I can get a video of this procedure if anyone is interested. It'll be a good excuse to do an extra water change on the tank with the sand bottom.
My sand isn't as fine as his, but it's just a matter of adjusting the flow rate to match your vacuum tube size and sand particle size.
This process thoroughly stirs my sand and vacuums it all in one step.
I use a battery gravel vac bought on eBay. The battery vac pulls everything into a mesh bag and if I have sand in there I empty it out into a styrofoam cup, run it under the bathroom sink and all the dirt overflows out the cup and the sand sits at the bottom. I just dump the clean sand back into the tank.
Back in "the day", diatom filters were more popular and prevalent than today. You could use one of them and know that you were really scrubbing out even very fine particles. Even algae, and diatoms themselves were filtered out.
Without a really effective filter in the loop, I would always be afraid that I was just recycling the detritus back into the water column.
When I vacuum with the aspirator putting it down the drain I know its gone.
Hm, you could probably do a water change and clean the sand at the same time. Find a small hose and water pump to blow new water across the surface of the sand while siphoning out anything that gets kicked up.