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How to Clean Fish Tank Gravel (Without a Vacuum)

How to Clean Fish Tank Gravel (Without a Vacuum)

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Fish tanks make for a unique adornment in a home or an office. They have a beautiful aesthetic to them and can feature vibrant, colorful fish that swim to and from all day and night.

But one thing that slips the mind is that you have to clean your fish tank now and again. Cleaning the gravel at the bottom of your tank is something that needs to be done specifically and can be difficult without the right tools.

Most owners will use a gravel vacuum that is specifically made to clean the gravel at the bottom of your tank. They are designed to easily and quickly remove the bits of waste and uneaten food that can settle down at the bottom of the tank.

But what if you don’t have a vacuum or you don’t want to shell out the money for one? Thankfully, there are alternatives to using a gravel vacuum that aren’t difficult to pull off.

Remove the Fish

You can’t effectively clean the gravel in your tank with the fish still swimming around. If you had a gravel vacuum, you wouldn’t need to do this, but alas, this is why we are here.

Should you try to clean the gravel without a vacuum, you will wind up stirring up detritus and slit, making it unhealthy for your fish to ingest.

All you have to do is fill up a bucket or other container large enough to hold them and place them gently into your container with a net. The bucket has to be very clean, as chemical residue can be quite harmful to fish.

Take Out the Gravel and Clean

Scoop up a few cupfuls of the gravel at the bottom and put them off to the side without rinsing them. This is the gravel that contains beneficial bacteria that will break down some of the ammonia that comes from fish waste.

When you’ve done this, place the rest of the gravel into a sieve and rinse it thoroughly under running water, giving it a stir here and there with your gloved hand. Make sure that anything you use – gloves, strainer, or other tools – are chemical free before using.

When the water under your strainer runs clear, you can then put the gravel back into the tank. Add back in your dirty gravel and mix it in thoroughly with the clean portion of your gravel.

If you have algae, this is the most effective method.

Another Way

If you have live plants in your tank, there is another method that you can try. Thoroughly mix up the gravel at the bottom of the tank so that the slit and detritus mixes into the water.

Then pour out about two-thirds of your water; this will leave enough of the necessary bacteria in your tank to do its job.

After you have completed the dumping of the dirty water, refill with new water and add your fish back into the tank. That’s all it takes.

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