How to Clean Aquarium Sand


Placing sand in the bottom of your aquarium creates a more natural environment for your fish. Sand also adds an aesthetically pleasing appearance to your aquarium. Cleaning aquarium sand when preparing your aquarium is a must for the health of your fish. Bagged sands can contain dust particles and, in some cases, pieces of metal that can harm your fish and create an imbalance in your water quality. Sand should always be cleaned before it's installed in an aquarium, and regular cleaning is necessary to maintain the health of your tank.

Things You'll Need

  • Bucket
  • Aquarium sand
  • Hose and water
  • Long-handled spoon
  • Aquarium gravel/sand vacuum

Dump your aquarium sand into a clean bucket. Fill the bucket no more than half full to allow for plenty of room to stir and agitate the sand for particle removal. If you've got a large tank, divide the sand into batches for complete cleaning.

Run the water hose into the bucket and allow the water to fill to the rim. Keep the water pressure low to prevent the sand from being forced out of the bucket. It's best to tuck the hose end into the bucket near the sand level to increase agitation.

Stir the sand to release dust particles. These particles will rise to the surface with continued stirring. Keep the water running and continue rinsing the sand until the water runs completely clear.

Drain every bit of tap water out of the bucket after rinsing the sand.

Once the sand is in your aquarium, clean it regularly to remove algae, particles and fish waste products. Use a long-handled fish net or scrubber to stir the sand on the bottom of the tank. This will release particles into the water that will migrate to your filter systems. This quick maintenance will cut down measurably on your need to vacuum the sand and should be performed once a month or so, depending on the amount of debris.

Use a fish tank suction siphon to vacuum the sand in your tank. These vacuums have a tube that attaches to a bucket. Don't empty any water out of the tank. Start a siphon in the tube by pumping the siphon up and down to fill it with water. Place the siphon end on the bottom of the tank to suck up particles in the sand. Some sand will get into the siphon, but a simple shake will release it from the tube.

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