by Lucas Lee
Fish tank water gets dirty very quickly, and one of its contributors is the gravels. The small pebbles trap in fish waste, debris, and leftover food, etc. This detritus not only muddies the water but also pollutes it, which could be harmful to the fishes.
While fish tank gravel vacuums do exist, there are many cheaper alternatives to do it as well. We will let you know three different methods on how to clean fish tank gravel without a vacuum, including other suggestions essential to keep your little pets healthy.
Although it takes minimal effort to clean using a vacuum, there are many other methods that are also very easy and more importantly cheap. If you’re not interested in spending money on getting an aquarium gravel vacuum, keep reading ahead.
The first and crucial step in cleaning the pebbles for any method other than the vacuum is to relocate your aquatic animals safely. You want to make sure your fishes don’t get harmed in any way during this process, so follow the steps accordingly.
Method 1: Washing the Gravels
This method is the most commonly used for cleaning the gravels. It requires quite some effort, but it’s also the most effective way. You will get the most benefits from it if there’s a growth of algae in your aquarium.
Method 2: Cleaning in the Tank
If you have any aquatic plants growing in your aquarium or have a smaller tank that gets dirty easily, this is a great method that doesn’t require taking anything out. Although it’s not as thorough as the first method, it’s simple and does the job very quickly.
An effective way to keep your fish tank pebbles free of any debris and waste is to add friends to help keep them clean. However, you have to be very sure of yourself before getting one of these creatures as it’s one another animal to take care of.
If you have a smaller tank or one under twenty gallons with no plants, it will get dirty more often than others. Another cause is if you have a lot of fishes or aquatic creatures than recommended. In such cases, you will need to clean the gravels once every week.
Accordingly, having a larger tank means it will take more time than a small one to collect detritus, especially if you have plants growing. For such aquariums, it’s best to clean the pebbles once every two weeks.
But generally speaking, cleaning them every two weeks is ideal for every fish tank. You can also take out and change around 10% to 20% of the water every week for measures.
You can skip cleaning gravels often by having a fully cycled tank. It will help disintegrate ammonia and nitrites from fish wastes. However, if left like that for long, it will cause algae to grow. To make it worse, it will eventually also create too much anaerobic bacteria, giving off a rotten egg stench.
Moreover, it will cause the water inside to get dirty faster, so you will have to change the water more often than normal. Due to this, it’s better to at least clean or vacuuming the food particles and plant matter to avoid all the trouble.
Q. Can I use something else instead of pebbles?
Answer: Yes, you can use aquarium sands, which is quite expensive. An alternative to it can be pool filter sand.
Q. How much is too much gravel put inside?
Answer: The usual recommendation is to put a two inches thick layer. You can also top it off to two and a half inches, but any more than that will be troublesome.
Q. How long does it take for beneficial bacteria to grow in an aquarium?
Answer: Typically, it takes 4 to 6 weeks. However, in seeded aquariums, it takes half the time.
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Taking care of an aquarium is no walk in the park; it requires constant maintenance and attention. But if you’ve made it this far on how to clean fish tank gravel without a vacuum, you must be a responsible aquarist and love your cute little pets. And if you follow one of these methods, they will surely appreciate your efforts.
About Lucas Lee
Lucas Lee was raised outside the city of Livermore, in the legendary Bay Area of North California. Lucas considers his family and researches to be most important to him. If he isn’t hanging out with his loved ones, you can almost always find him around his sweet little garden of fruits right in the backyard of his lovely home.