How to clean sand substrate ?

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joietan
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Joined: Fri May 18, 2018 10:01 pm

How to clean sand substrate ?

Post by joietan » Thu Jul 12, 2018 8:22 am

Hello,

I am setting up new aquarium with sand subtrate.
After few days, it becomes dirty with fish poops.

I am using hang on the back filter on my aquarium which is only 2ft. about 20 galon.

Should i change into canister filter with bigger flow?

Do i need something like wave maker to blow the substrate so that it get sucked into the filter ?

What do you do in your sand substrate tank to clean it?
I am looking for a method that can do with less vaccumming

Thank you,
regards,
Joie

Diana
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Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2006 1:35 am
Location: Near San Franciso

Re: How to clean sand substrate ?

Post by Diana » Thu Jul 12, 2018 9:44 am

All aquariums have debris falling to the bottom. There is no way to stop that. The best way to deal with it is a combination of techniques and tools. The circulation of the water in the tank can help a lot. The way a HOB filter is designed is very good, sheeting the water across the top, then down the front, then flowing across the substrate toward the intake. The problem is that the flow is quite reduced by the time it hits the substrate, so does not do a great job of moving the debris toward the intake. A larger filter could help, more powerful water flow, if this is OK with the fish.

You could try adding a circulation pump, something like the Hydor Koralia series. Another option is a power head like the Aquaclear or other that has a reduced intake that can be covered with a sponge.
Set it up in a way that enhances the flow of the existing filter.
You will have to dry it in several positions.
If you use a power head with a sponge over the intake you will have to clean the sponge frequently.

Here are a couple of ways to test the flow:
Use a stick like a chop stick with pieces of string tied to it in several places. Allow a few inches of string to hang. Put this in the tank in several locations and watch how the strings flow. When you are combining 2 (or more) pumps/filters/power heads you are trying to find a placement that makes the strings flow in a pretty straight pattern, not swirl all over. This last effect would just be turbulence, does nothing toward cleaning the tank.
The other method involves an empty tank, if you have one the same shape as your real tank. Set up the pumps etc and drop things through the water. Drop heavy things like sand and lighter things like different kinds of fish food such as sinking pellets and some that do not sink very fast (you can try this in your set up tank, as long as what you add is fish-safe). You can also add food coloring to the test tank and see how it moves.

Of course, the ultimate test is to run your set up on the actual tank, and make sure the arrangement of the pumps etc. work around the plants, decor and so on.
38 tanks, 2 ponds over 4000 liters of water to keep clean and fresh.

Happy fish keeping!

Lighting
Posts: 16
Joined: Wed Jun 21, 2017 2:27 pm

Re: How to clean sand substrate ?

Post by Lighting » Thu Jul 12, 2018 2:45 pm

As I am also having problems with this, how would you clean the sand if you can't get a stronger filter? If I use a vacuum it will just vacuum up the sand, lol.

Bas Pels
Posts: 296
Joined: Sat Nov 30, 2013 9:08 am

Re: How to clean sand substrate ?

Post by Bas Pels » Thu Jul 12, 2018 3:02 pm

I never do anything to the sand, but I got rather large fishes in some tanks.

Perhaps these flush the debris away, perhaps the microbes in the tank are rather efficient - but I never see any debris on the floor

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FishyLady
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Location: Hay on Wye, Hereford

Re: How to clean sand substrate ?

Post by FishyLady » Thu Jul 12, 2018 4:36 pm

I gave up using sand for all the reasons you have pointed out, I now use a fine rounded gravel but this isn't produced anymore as it is tumbled'
I bought a slightly larger rounded gravel;
Better the chaos of creativity than the tidiness of idleness.

Diana
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Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2006 1:35 am
Location: Near San Franciso

Re: How to clean sand substrate ?

Post by Diana » Thu Jul 12, 2018 8:47 pm

To vacuum sand with a gravel vac that works via siphon there are several tricks.

1) Raise the lower end of the siphon, perhaps put a bucket on a chair. This slows the flow so it will pick up less sand.

2) Fold the outlet tube in one hand while controlling the business end of the tube with the other hand. When you see the main tube is picking up too much sand close off the fold so little or no water flows until the sand drops out of the tube.

3) Angle the intake tube so that part of it stays above the sand. Some sand gets picked up then dropped, the way it works with gravel. Because part of the outlet is above the sand more water gets in without sand, and less sand gets picked up.

Another concept:
Use a small power head like a leaf blower is used in the garden, to blow coarse debris into a corner. Do not do this with fine debris- it will just cloud the water.
38 tanks, 2 ponds over 4000 liters of water to keep clean and fresh.

Happy fish keeping!

loachnoob
Posts: 138
Joined: Fri Mar 09, 2018 8:37 pm

Re: How to clean sand substrate ?

Post by loachnoob » Thu Jul 12, 2018 9:39 pm

I've personally found cleaning sand to be easier than gravel. Quickly move over the top, it will grab up the waste while only getting the lightest of the sand.

Pull the siphon away and let the sand fall away back to the bottom.

Repeat.

Sure you'll get a little bit of sand, but seems like keeping it clean is way easier compared to gravel!

Lastly, if you're driving the siphon intake into the sand, like you would gravel, YES you are going to suck up a lot of sand - but with the grains being so tighly knit I don't think there is much detritus/poop down in there.

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FishyLady
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Location: Hay on Wye, Hereford

Re: How to clean sand substrate ?

Post by FishyLady » Sat Jul 14, 2018 2:23 pm

If you don't move the sand around won't you get anaerobic bacteria in it? I also have a large Fluval interior filter and sand gets sucked into the bottom of that, I hate sand but it bugs me that the loaches would probably prefer it.
Better the chaos of creativity than the tidiness of idleness.

loachnoob
Posts: 138
Joined: Fri Mar 09, 2018 8:37 pm

Re: How to clean sand substrate ?

Post by loachnoob » Mon Jul 16, 2018 1:11 pm

Check this article out FishyLady

http://www.aquaworldaquarium.com/Articl ... killer.htm

Misleading title, but anaerobic bacterias are actually beneficial. Some filtration media (like Matrix) claim to support them.

Diana
Posts: 4675
Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2006 1:35 am
Location: Near San Franciso

Re: How to clean sand substrate ?

Post by Diana » Mon Jul 16, 2018 7:35 pm

Very fine debris does get into the sand. When I vacuum the sand using the techniques I shared above, the water in the bucket is brown tinted, not clear. Also, when I take down a tank that had sand, it can be a really nasty mess. Skimming the surface will indeed pick up all the larger debris and almost no sand. But deep vacuuming the sand gets a lot more debris, fine enough to make it look like colored water, almost impossible to see actual particles.
38 tanks, 2 ponds over 4000 liters of water to keep clean and fresh.

Happy fish keeping!

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