As a fish owner, one of the things that you need to do on a regular basis is to clean the aquarium. Sure, filters can do a pretty good job of keeping the water clean and habitable, but that can only go on for so long. Besides performing regular water changes, you also need to clean the inside of the aquarium.
This includes the decorations, plants, rocks, glass, and the substrate, too. People who have gravel as a substrate usually use a siphon and vacuum combo to simply suck up all of that nasty gunk like feces, dead plant matter, and uneaten food. However, you may not have a siphon handy, or you might just not want to buy one.
Let’s do a step-by-step guide on how to clean gravel without a siphon right now.
Cleaning Gravel Without a Siphon: Step-by-Step Guide
The process of cleaning aquarium gravel without a siphon is really not all that difficult. Simply follow the steps outlined below, and your aquarium gravel will be as good as new before you know it.
The 11 Steps to Clean Gravel Without a Siphon
1. Use a cup to scoop out water
Use a cup or bucket and get a little bit of aquarium water out. This is the water that your fish will sit in while you clean the aquarium gravel.
2. Remove fish
Use a net or cup to scoop the fish out. Place the fish in the bucket or large cup into which you have just put some aquarium water.
3. Clear out tank
Get rid of things like motors, filters, hoses, air tubing, plants that are not rooted directly in the substrate, decorations, rocks, and everything else that is not nailed down.
4. Remove water
You are going to want to remove more water from the aquarium with a cup or bucket. This will go towards the water change; at most, about 1/3 or 1.2 of the water will do. Also, this makes lifting the aquarium easier. Lifting a full aquarium can prove to be fairly difficult.
5. Pour out any remaining water
Once the water level in the aquarium is low enough, pick it up and pour out the majority of the water. Be careful not to pour out the gravel, as well, leaving just a little bit of water in with the gravel.
6. Remove gravel
Go to your sink or bathtub and pour the gravel into a container, preferably something that has tiny holes in it to let the excess water drain. If the aquarium is still too heavy, use something to scoop the gravel out into the container.
7. Keep some gravel dirty
Take a couple of cups of the gravel, about ¼ of it, and put it aside. This gravel will not be cleaned. Waste-eating bacteria and other beneficial organisms live in that gravel. In order to quickly reintroduce these organisms into the tank once cleaned and to make their population flourish, you will need to keep some of those organisms alive from within the dirty gravel.
8. Rinse gravel
Simply use a hose or your bathtub to clean the gravel. Rinse it off with water, shake it around, move it with your hands, and keep doing this for a few minutes. If you do not have something with holes for drainage, just keep tipping the container to let pour water out.
9. Clean tank
Now it is time to clean the rest of your tank and all of the decorations. Once the tank is clean, you can put all of the gravel back in. Replace all of the decorations and equipment as they were before.
10. Adjust water conditions
Make sure that the water is at the right temperature, hardness, and appropriate pH level for your fish.
11. Add fish
Put the fish back into the aquarium!
It may sound tricky at first, but people had fish in their homes long before vacuums and siphons. As long as you follow the steps outlined above, cleaning your gravel without a siphon is actually really easy. Sure, it will take a little longer than using a siphon, but a few extra minutes won’t kill you.