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Like a house needs constant vacuuming, an aquarium needs graveling.
But don’t wait for the water to show color before changing the water.
Ammonia and other harmful substances may be present even if the water in your fish tank looks clean.
If you have gravel in your fish tank, it absorbs a lot of debris, fish waste, food leftovers, and other organic matter that decomposes and finds its way into the gravel.
What is aquarium gravel cleaner and how does it work?
There are many excellent aquarium gravel cleaners on the market or, if you can, you can make one yourself.
The aquarium gravel cleaner is simply a tube with a hose that is used for draining water from your fish tank.
With the tube having some height to it, it sucks the organic waste and debris from the bottom of your tank (the gravel).
All you need to start is a bucket and gravel cleaner.
The bucket needs to be below the fish tank.
The organic waste is lighter than the gravel, goes into the tube, and falls into the bucket at the other end of the hose.
To start the process, first turn off all the aquarium equipment.
Then you need to submerge the tube entirely into the tank and suck a little air or pull the tube upwards a few times until the water starts to flow from the fish tank into the bucket.
Some gravel cleaners have a suction part that is squeezed a few times until the water starts flowing.
All that is left is to simply watch all the organic waste going up the tube and pouring into the bucket through the hose.
In the end, you will have a bucket of dirty yellow or brown water, debris, and other pollutants that raise the level of ammonia and nitrites in your fish tank.
Just watch it all go down into the bucket!
How to use the aquarium gravel cleaner more efficiently?
Remove any rocks or objects to make sure you clean as much as you can by siphoning the gravel.
If your gravel consists of little stones or small chunks of artificial gravel, then while siphoning you only collect the waste and there are small chances of the gravel going from the tube into the bucket.
If some gravel or small objects get stuck in the suction tube, pull out the tube and start siphoning again.
To prevent the gravel going into the hose, just lift the tube gently until the gravel falls down and then continue to siphon again.
You can also put some polyester filling or filter padding at the top of the tube to stop the gravel getting into the hose and falling into the bucket.
Some gravel cleaners have small filter nets for this purpose.
This is especially useful because it keeps the gravel going into the hose and into the bucket or you might accidentally catch a fish by siphoning and you don’t want the fish to get hurt by falling into the bucket.
What if I have sand in the bottom?
If you have sand in the bottom of your fish tank, the gravel cleaner will collect most of it.
Before you start siphoning, you need to make a circle with your finger or some other tool in the sand.
It will make the water dirty and all the organic waste will float up and around the top.
Wait for the waste to settle down on the top of the sand and siphon the top layer of the waste, etc.
This will make your sand clean and also prevent the gravel cleaner from siphoning the sand into the bucket.
Siphoning should be done without draining all of the water
Don’t get carried away with siphoning because if you drain a large amount of water it will create an imbalance in your fish tank.
This is very important since the imbalance can cause stress to your fish, change the water chemistry, and cause other problems with it.
It is recommended to siphon 15% of the water if you clean the gravel weekly or 25% of the water if you clean the gravel monthly.
A cheap investment
Aquarium gravel cleaners are very good investments and very useful tools when changing the water of the tank.
They are relatively cheap, easy to use, and are an important part of the aquarium maintenance equipment.
Using an aquarium gravel cleaner is a great way to get rid of the organic waste that decomposes in your fish tank and they make water changes easier.
The gravel can act as a filter by absorbing the debris and other organic waste, so keeping your gravel clean is part of keeping your fish tank clean, which is essential for good water quality and healthy, happy fish.