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What's The Best Way To Clean Sand???

Discussion in 'Freshwater Substrates - Gravel, Sand' started by adh/smile, Apr 6, 2017.

  1. adh/smile Well Known Member Member

    Hi everyone! *if you want to skip some stuff that doesn't necessarily apply to my question skip the
    paragraphs talking about taking the gravel out of the tank and cleaning the sand*

    I am switching from the standard Walmart gravel to some play sand that was in my old child's sand box in my freshwater aquarium soon. I have been doing a lot of research, reading, watching videos, and basically attaining any information I can get a hold of about how to switch the gravel to sand and then once the sand is in the tank, how to clean it. I have come across a lot of great information but there are a couple things that are a little different with a couple articles and videos that seem to contradict each other. Here is what I found:

    To get the gravel out of the tank: Mix the gravel well while it is still in the tank water so all the waste float up into the water. Scoop all the gravel out of the tank. Let the waste sink back to the bottom of the tank then siphon all it out to leave a fairly fish waste free tank as well as as much water you intend to replace with sand. This is happening while your fish are still in the tank.

    When cleaning the sand: Rinse it extremely well many many times in a bucket with a hose till the water runs clear...and then rinse it some more. Bake the rinsed sand in oven at 200 degrees for 20+ minutes. Scoop sand in a container and slowly sink the sand filled container slowly and dump at the bottom of the tank. Then spread the sand out so there is about 2 inches of sand covering the bottom of the tank.

    Cleaning the Sand: (Here is where the info started to seemingly contradict itself and I couldn't decide which was better. Keep the idea of the gas pockets developing under the sand when you read this.)
    1) Siphon the sand by hovering it over the sand to pick up waste but don't plunge it in the sand and then lightly rake the sand to release any air bubbles.
    2) Rake and turn the sand over well to make the waste float up into the water, then siphon the floating waste out of the water.

    Ok wouldn't "2)" cause bits of waste to get trapped under the sand and cause those air pockets to develop? Why was that an option for a way to clean the tank. Wouldn't that just make it more dirty? Can someone clear that up for me, or does anyone have any personal preferences on how to clean sand? Thank you all so much and so sorry for my really long forum question!!! Thank you for your patients for reading my really long thing!

  2. WhiteCloudMinnows Valued Member Member

    I can't really help with the sand cleaning, but with taking the gravel out, then that idea seems like it would leave the fish's water full of ammonia as the waste floats up. I would clean the gravel with the siphon first, them take out the gravel, making it into a large water change, but I could be wrong.

  3. AWheeler Well Known Member Member

    I vac my sand and suck it up, tilt the gravel vac sideways and it all comes falling back out. You don't want to do this everywhere, just in a few places, every time you do a water change. I've also moved it around with the end of a fish net before, if I see it getting really gross.
  4. Demeter Fishlore VIP Member

    For a tank that is 29gal and under then I would take out all the fish and place them in a bucket w/ heater and air stone, then stir the gravel while it and all the water is still in the tank. After stirring things up really well I would completely drain the tank while gravel vacuuming it to get as much crud out as possible. After the tank has been drained I would scoop out all the gravel and possibly do some heavy lifting by taking the tank outside to use the hose to rinse the gravel out of the tank as it is hard to get it all.

    Then rinse the sand in a 5gal bucket, take the tank back inside and set it all up. Toss the sand in, do some hard scapping, refill the tank, get the filter and heater running and allow it to settle over night. In the morning I would toss all the fish back in and done.

    To clean sand in my 55 I stir it up a little by digging into it with the gravel vac while my finger is over the other end to stop the flow if the sand is getting too far up the intake tube. I find that keeping the intake tube at an angle really helps prevent it from going up and out.
  5. r15u5 Valued Member Member

    For sand, agreed with the others on keeping the tube at an angle. I went out and purchased a longer tube and replaced at the inlet fitting so I can continuously pull in without having to worry about it going too far up the hose and in the bucket.

    I don't want to fully clean all of the sand, so I tend to do one bucket (5% of the tank) getting the top stuff. Then I poor one half bucket back in to help stir around poop that landed on plants, driftwood, places I couldn't reach.Then finish out the 20% getting the leftovers and going deep in different areas each time and lightly disturbing the sand in others.
  6. adh/smile Well Known Member Member

    I will definitely hose the sand with the siphon at and angle. Thank you for sharing!!!
    Thanks for replying and your great information!!!
    Thank you all for your great help!!! I will definitely clean the sand with the siphon at an angle. I've also read that you can just use the bendy hose itself, without the stiff siphon part, and tape the paper clipping point off a pen cap at the tip of the hose to stir the gunk off the surface of the sand while holding the tubing at an angle. Do you guys have any experience with that?

    I did change the gravel to sand. The water was really cloudy for the first 20 hours but then it cleared up really fine!!!
  7. r15u5 Valued Member Member

    I'm really glad you mentioned that trick with the tube and pen cap. It's funny, I was thinking of ways I could hook up just the tube to a dowel and put an agitator made with some bristles from a rubber basting brush. It's only been thoughts, but I'm anxious to try now. Tank looks great!
  8. adh/smile Well Known Member Member

    Gosh, your idea sounds grat too! I haven't had the chance to clean my sand yet because I put it in only two days ago. I'm looking forward to experimenting with the different ways to clean it!!!!