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Cleaning Fish Tank Gravel

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Registered: 16-10-2014

Cleaning Fish Tank Gravel

What's the best way? My son's whose fish it is insists on using a naff battery operated syphoning pump, I'm of the opinion that the gravel should be tipped into a sieve / colander and washed under the fast running garden tap. Regardless of how often he does this (pump thing) there are still remnants of fish plop and old food in it and as soon as the gravel's disturbed it floats up in to the water defeating the purpose.

Anyone got a better idea?

12 REPLIES
jockwav
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Re: Cleaning Fish Tank Gravel

When i used to keep tropical fish years ago i used to remove the fish into a safe enviroment.

I would empty the tank,remove all the gravel & take it out to the back garden,i had 2 big platic buckets.

I would run my garden hose into the bucket & changing the gravel back & forth,it worked fine.Smiley

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Steve
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Re: Cleaning Fish Tank Gravel

Agree with rinsing the gravel out properly. The pump is ok for a quick job but a proper clean job requires rinsing out.

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Re: Cleaning Fish Tank Gravel

Yes, I agree with @jockwav and @Steve I'll ask that he does this as it must be a whole lot better for the fish if nothing else.

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Re: Cleaning Fish Tank Gravel

The problem with gravel and tank decorations is algae growth so the issue is really water quality. You can treat the water to suppress algae growth and extend the period between cleans but it's just a continuous chore. I prefer a partial water change and the syphon. Little and often.
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Re: Cleaning Fish Tank Gravel

Tap water can be quite high in nitrates and chlorine. Some fish are sensitive to this "pollution". It is worth checking this before reintroducing the fish. Kits are available to test and treat. It is also worth remembering the bacterial colonies coating the gravel stones helps to breakdown the food particles and fish urine to harmless chemicals So don't over-clean the stones.

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Re: Cleaning Fish Tank Gravel

To add to my previous comment I let my water stand for three days or so for the chlorine to evaporate before the change
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Re: Cleaning Fish Tank Gravel

@AlaricAdair - Didn't know that about the bacteria, so good to know. He's got all the water testing kit stuff as well as he has to treat new water with some stuff to 'neutralise' it be fore he can use it.

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Re: Cleaning Fish Tank Gravel

Sounds like your son has it all sorted, having kept fish myself in the past, he's doing it right, completely emptying the tank & rinsing the gravel under a tap isn't a good idea for the tank's ecosystem, as already mentioned the chlorine in the tap water's bad for fish, and of course the beneficial bacteria need to be kept in place, not rinsed away... Smiley

 

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Re: Cleaning Fish Tank Gravel

@twocvbloke - Ah! But what about the excess plops in the water maybe he's not cleaning it long enough, but I will pass on what I know.

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Re: Cleaning Fish Tank Gravel

Excess waste collecting in the tank is a sign he's not quite getting the cleaning done right, just needs to master the syphoning technique and he'll be good, plenty of fish forums out there for guides on extricating excrement from an aquatic environment... Smiley

John_Hull
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Re: Cleaning Fish Tank Gravel

I agree that syphoning through the gravel, little and often, is the way.  The goal in the aquarium is to emulate the natural eco system (including the bacteria to break down the unwanted by-pruducts). If you get it right, including the stocking and planting, then the amount of actual maintenance is actually quite low. If there's uneaten food in the gravel, then you're over-feeding. 

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Re: Cleaning Fish Tank Gravel

Years ago when I had the room to do so I kept a six foot community tropical tank. This was fitted with twin uplift pumps with under gravel filter plates, no box filters were used. The advice was not to touch them, just occasionally "hoover" the gravel using a (mouth sucked) syphon tube.

A couple of Plecocostamas would deal with any algae on the inside glass surfaces and on decorations with little effort from me. For minimum algae build up try and locate the tank if possible out of direct sunlight.

Once a year, I would remove the gravel and lift the plates, the thick dark brown sludge under the plates was in fact the eco-filter medium and as far as possible was not disturbed, just the gravel was given a rinse.

These days I just have a small (Fluval Edge) 23L tank. with a built in three stage box filter, this small tank requires far more maintenance to keep the water in good condition than the 6 footer ever needed.

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