How to Clean Aquarium Gravel
Aquarium gravel forms a critical part of your fish tank. It serves not only as a decoration, but also as a filter. Because of this, it tends to harbor a lot of debris and waste. Cleaning gravel involves the process of removing some aquarium water. Because of this, most aquarium hobbyists will plan their gravel cleaning day alongside their weekly partial water changes.
How to clean aquarium gravel involves the following four stages with each stage having several steps:
1. Initial Preparation
2. Vacuuming the gravel
3. Finishing up
4. Cleaning the gravel bought from the store
How to clean aquarium gravel-Initial Preparation
i. Unplug the heater, filter, and pump. Don’t worry, the cleaning process is quick, so your fish will be fine. Do not remove your fish, decorations, or plants from the tank.
ii. Get out your aquarium vacuum.
iii. Place a bucket below the aquarium. This will hold the old water.
iv. Start the vacuum by submerging it.
v. Start the vacuum with a priming ball. Some aquarium vacuums come with a rubber ball attached to the end of the siphon.
vi. Know how to start up a Phython, and other similar types of vacuums, if you are using one.
2. Vacuuming the Gravel
i. Place the end of the vacuum into the gravel.
ii. Let go of the tube.
• If you are using a Phython, or a similar type, simply turn the water on the begin siphoning.
iii. Cover the end of the tube once the water starts to run clear.
• If the gravel starts to go too far up the vacuum, just cover the end of the tube and let the gravel settle. Then, uncover the tube and let the water flow again.
• If you are using a Phython, or a similar type, simply turn the water off the stop siphoning.
iv. Remove the vacuum from the gravel, but not out of the water. Try to keep it as straight as possible, so that you don’t dislodge the adjacent debris.
v. Move the vacuum to the next patch of dirty gravel and repeat the process.
vi. Do not clean all of the gravel. Keep vacuuming until the water level is two-thirds of the way full. Aquarium gravel hosts a lot of good, helpful bacteria that is important for the health of your tank.
3. How to clean aquarium gravel- Finishing Up
i. Take the temperature of the tank’s water.
ii. Fill a clean bucket with water that is the same temperature as your tank’s water.
iii. Treat the water, if necessary. Most tap water is not aquarium safe.
iv. Place the bucket above the water level of the aquarium.
v. Stick the entire rubber tube into the tank, and plug on end up with your finger. If you are using a gravel vacuum with a plastic siphon, see if you can pop the flexible tube off.
vi. Leave the uncovered end in the bucket, and place the covered end in the tank. Slowly let go of the tube. The water should start flowing back into the tank.
vii. Remove the tube from the tank when the water level is about 1 inch (2.54 centimeters) away from the top edge.
viii. Re-plug the heater, filter, and pump.
4. Cleaning the Gravel bought from the store
i. Only clean gravel before putting it into your tank for the first time.
ii. Open up the bag that your gravel came in.
iii. Get a colander or mesh strainer.
iv. Fill the colander or strainer with gravel.
v. Place the colander/strainer into a sink and turn on the water.
vi. Move the gravel about until the water runs clear.
vii. Transfer the gravel to your aquarium.