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  • How To Use Gravel Cleaner In An Aquarium

How To Use Gravel Cleaner In An Aquarium

By John DoeLast update: 2024-05-05

Aquarium gravel is a decorative piece used as a filter. As it tends to contain a lot of debris and waste. Cleaning the gravel also removes some of the aquarium water. Therefore, most novice or experienced aquarists will schedule a gravel cleaning day along with a weekly partial water change. Let’s get to know more about how to use gravel cleaner in aquariums.

1. Prepare necessary tools

Unplug heaters, filters, and pumps

Before you do any aquarium cleaning, unplug the heater and turn off the filter and pump.

Do not remove fish, decorations, or plants from the tank.

Remove from the aquarium vacuum

There will be two tools that the aquarist will use to clean the gravel.

Aquarium siphons usually come in the form of thick, plastic tubes called "siphons" with a thin, flexible tube end attached to one end. As some of these may have a bait ball attached to one end.

Flexible plastic pipes can be used to clean gravel. This is very ideal for small aquariums.

Place a bucket under the aquarium

The bucket must be below the water level as it will catch the old water.

Start the suction by submerging

In this step, you slowly lower the entire siphon into the tank so that all the air comes out of the tube. Cover the top of the tube with your thumb and remove it from the tank; keep the other open, and the end submerged. Place the covered end in bucket. If you release your thumb, the water will start to flow; If you cover your head with your thumb, the water will stop.

Start the vacuum cleaner with a bait ball

Some aquarium vacuums have a rubber ball attached to the end of the siphon tube. Glue the end of the siphon tube into the aquarium and lower the end of the tube into a bucket. Insert the tip of the tube with your finger and squeeze it into the bait ball.

Then, slowly release the ball, but keep the end of the plug. At this point, water will begin to fill the siphon tube. When you pull out the end of the hose, water will begin to flow into the bucket.

Start Python and similar vacuums

These types of gravel vacuums are different from all the others because they do not require a bucket. Instead, it should be connected to the faucet. Just plug the end of the Python vacuum into the faucet and put the entire vacuum into the aquarium. When the faucet is turned on, the vacuum will start to suck.

2. Vacuuming gravel

Place the end of the vacuum into the pebble

You just put it straight down, how far it will go. The thumb should still block the top of the tube and the end of the tube to be in the bucket. When you let go of the hose, dirty water will start to come out.

If there is gravel as fine as sand, do not suck the vacuum down. Instead, place your mouth directly above the sand.

Vacuuming is the way to go for freshwater tanks but isn't a great choice for saltwater aquariums, especially those with sand. Using a vacuum cleaner in a saltwater tank will disturb the bacteria in the sand and destroy the microbial ecosystem in the tank.

Therefore, only need to vacuum the saltwater tank if there is some crushed coral along with some large predatory fish. In that case, remember to vacuum in every few months to clean up the build-up.

Release the tube

While the tip of the tube is still in the bucket, slowly pull your thumb away from the end of the tube. This will begin to create the siphoning effect. Dirty water will flow out the top of the pipe and into the bucket. The gravel will shake with rattle inside the tube. If you're using Python or something similar, just turn on the water when you start smoking.

Cover the end of the tube when the water starts to flow

This process takes a lot of your fish time. As you restore the tube, the stones will settle again.

If the gravel starts to go too far from the vacuum, simply cover the top of the tube and let the gravel settle. Then, open the tube and let the water run again. When wanting to use Python or something similar, just turn off the water when the suction stops.

Vacuum out of gravel and not out of water

Try to keep it as straight as possible so as not to splash the debris next to it.

Move the vacuum cleaner to the next dirt patch and repeat the process

Now push the vacuum straight down on the pebble, and slowly release the end of the tube. When the water is clear again, close the tube and carefully lift the vacuum out.

When the tank has any caves, rocks, logs, and other nooks and crannies, pay special attention. Because these locations have the most waste.

If the tank has any live plants, leave a 2-inch (5.08 cm) radius around the stem. Because plants love organic waste. If you remove this waste, the plant will have nothing to eat.

Do not clean all the gravel

Continue vacuuming until the water level is 2/3 full. You should clean 1/4 to 1/3 of the gravel. If you do not want to clean a lot, the aquarium gravel contains a lot of useful bacteria, good for the tank.

3. Check all stage

Take the temperature of the water in the tank

You need to get rid of a lot of dirty water and will need to replace it. Fish are very sensitive to water changes, so the new water will have to be at the same temperature as the old water.

In particular, the tank must have a thermometer, but if not, a clean glass thermometer will need to be immersed in the water.

Fill a clean bucket with the same temperature as clear water

Make sure that the bucket is never exposed to any chemicals or cleaners. Any residue left over can be extremely dangerous for fish. Fill the bucket with the same water

Water treatment

Tap water is not safe for aquariums. Once you want to take any necessary water conditioner to remove chlorine and other harmful chemicals. You can buy these from an aquarium store or in the aquatic department of a pet store.

Place the bucket above the water level of the aquarium

At this point, you need to suck the water back into the tank. The bucket must be above the water level, or the water will not draw back properly. It may seem easier when you need to refill the water, but this can cause debris to float up and cloud the water.

Stick the entire rubber hose to the tank and plug it back in with your fingers

If the tank is being used with a gravel vacuum with a plastic siphon, see if you can pop the hose out.

Place the uncovered end in the bin and place the covered end in the bin

Slowly let go of the tube. The water will begin to flow back into the tank.

Remove the tube from the tank when the water level is about 1 inch (2.54 cm) from the top edge.

This is an important space because fish need oxygen, and without leaving that space, the water will not receive enough oxygen for the fish.

Re-plug heaters, filters, and pumps

Once everything is done, the aquarium has been completely reset, plug the heater back in, and restart the filter and pump. Record when to clean the tank and make a note in your calendar for the next cleaning day.

4. Selection of gravel

Clean the gravel before putting it in the tank for the first time

This is the first and only time you will clean the gravel, once the gravel is in the tank you should just vacuum. Gravel contains a lot of good, useful bacteria that are beneficial to the aquarium. Rinsing the gravel will remove that bacteria.

Open the gravel bag

Pebbles purchased at any store must be cleaned. It often contains dust and dirt that can be harmful to fish. If you picked up gravel from elsewhere, you will want to clean it as well.

Get a colander or strainer

The smaller the gravel, the tighter weaving will be required. Make sure that this colander or strainer is not used for any other purpose. Also, make sure that the colander/strainer never comes into contact with soap or other cleaning agents. If you're sanding, consider using a cotton pad instead.

Pour gravel into colander or strainer

If you need a lot of gravel to clean, you may need to work in smaller batches. The gravel has enough room in the colander/strainer to move around without spilling over the edges.

Put the colander/strainer in the sink and turn on the water

Using a warm or hot water setting helps kill any bacteria. Do not add any detergent, soap or bleach. Doing so may kill the fish.

Move the gravel until the water is clear. Shake and shake the colander/filter

Stick your hands in the gravel and sieve. Continue to do until the water is clear.

Transfer gravel to the aquarium

Turn off the water and shake the colander/filter one last time to remove any excess water. Spread gravel along the bottom of the tank. If more gravel is left to add, repeat the entire cleaning process for each batch.


Having said that, using gravel cleaner in an aquarium that needs to grow live plants is a great way of keeping your tank clean and healthy. Moreover, do not vacuum all of the gravel or replace all of the water all at once. Thus, you want some of that healthy bacteria. On the other hand, you consider cleaning the gravel alongside your weekly water exchange.

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