Aquarium Tips of the Day | Use a Gravel Cleaner

Today’s Aquarium Tip Tank tip of the day will help you get more of that detritus (fish waste) out of your fish tank when performing a water change. Less fish waste means less work that the helpful bacteria in your tank has to do to break down the nitrates and nitrites, and better chances of keeping the ammonia level in your aquarium at zero. High levels of ammonia are toxic to fish and invertebrates. Therefore, this will help keep your fish happy and healthy! All you have to do is use a gravel cleaner when performing a water change to get down into your substrate and remove the waste that has settled there over the last week or two.

A gravel cleaner is nothing special or expensive. In fact, it is probably already on the end of the siphon tube that you use to perform your water changes. Some manufacturers put special filters, bags, pumps, and other features onto their siphon tubes, but all that stuff isn’t really necessary. Don’t get me wrong, it may make the job a little simpler and easier, and even those aren’t very expensive. However, the larger, hard plastic tube at the end of my siphon, that has an angle at the end to make it a little easier to get into the substrate is all I use.

Once I get my siphon primed and running, I basically just go around the bottom substrate of my entire tank. I stick the “gravel cleaner” into the substrate until the substrate gets pulled up the tube and almost starts going into the smaller tube. Then, I crimp the smaller tube with my  other hand to stop the flow of water and allow the substrate to fall back to the bottom. This usually creates separation between the detritus and the substrate itself. See, the detritus is lighter than the substrate and even if I let go of the crimp in the tube that I created with my other hand and let the siphon start pulling water into my dirty water bucket before the substrate is all the way back down on the bottom of my tank, I usually end up getting all of the waste to travel into my dirty water bucket without any of the substrate.

Once I’m done going around and cleaning out all of the substrate in my tank I usually still have more water that needs to be siphoned out of the tank. So, I go around the aquarium gathering water from all spots, and maybe I go back to some areas of substrate that looked a little dirtier. All the while I’m allowing dirty water to travel out of the tank and into my dirty water bucket. If I still have more water to get out of the tank after all of that, then I just make sure that I haven’t pulled the end of the tube out of the water (after all, this would make my siphon stop!), I place the end of it in a safe place and just allow the water to flow into the dirty water bucket until I’m done.

Performing water changes regularly? Got a special gravel cleaner that works really well for you? Leave comments below!