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How to Clean Aquarium Sand? 5 Simple Steps (With Pictures)

How to Clean Aquarium Sand? 5 Simple Steps (With Pictures)

How to Clean Aquarium Sand – 5 Easy and Effective Steps to follow

To maintain the health of your fish, it is very crucial to keep their habitat – Aquarium clean and updated. Keeping your tank clean will not only ensure the healthiness and happiness of your fish but also maximizes the aquarium’s aesthetic appeal. Clean the aquarium sand is a bit a challenging task compared to another substrate. They are very small particles, which means that the gravel filter can easily suck up the sand, which is something everybody will want to avoid. To keep your substrate in the aquarium, you must do your homework on the aquarium sand cleaning. Luckily, here I’ve shared a step-by-step method on tank sand cleaning. 🙂
A video that shows – How to Clean Aquarium Sand? This guide is to highlight all the possible ways on How to Clean Aquarium Sand Effectively. 5 Key Steps only that You need to follow!

How to Clean Aquarium Sand?

Before we begin the cleaning process, you must know your substrate type as not all sands are the same type. In case, you don’t know your substrate type – you can visit the nearby fish store with your substrate sample and ask them. Fot Further Reading

5 Effective & Easy Steps to clean fish tank sand

  • Step 1 
Firstly, you should turn off the filter, the heater, and the pump as well as remove all the decorations and plants. Relocate your inhabitants for the moments while you’ll be cleaning the sand of the fish tank.
  • Step 2
Turn over the sand using your finger as this will result in all the debris to settle on top and remove 20 to 20 percent of water or more if needed using a siphon. 
  • Step 3
Remove all the debris from the top of the sands. Now, Scrape off all the algae from the aquarium’s glass by using an algae scrubber and push or rake your finger through the sands as this will cause more debris to settle on top.
  • Step 4
Remove all the debris using a gravel siphon. Use or keep the gravel siphon 1/2 inch above the sand’s surface. However, you can expect some sand to soak up by the siphon but you can re-rinse them easily.
  • Step 5
Congrats, you are done with your aquarium sand cleaning:). Now place all the plants & decor back and Pour fresh water into the Aquarium. 
Does it seem like you got an idea of how to Clean Aquarium Sand? If Your hobby is keeping fish and you’re an aquarist then I think the Aquarium Source would be the guide for you to help you out with all the information needed to set up your first aquarium and enhance its beauty for amazing appearance. The Aquarium Source is the resource for any aquarist who is just starting. Let’s move forward and take a quick look over a few points that everybody should know!
Now, finally, as you successfully cleaned your aquarium sand, some tips can reduce the need for cleaning as well as minimize the effort. Below, I’ve mentioned some tips and tricks to reduce the need for cleaning.
How to Clean Aquarium Sand? 5 Simple Steps (With Pictures)

How to Clean Aquarium Sand Infographic

Weekly Maintenance of the Aquarium

One of the easiest and effective ways to keep your aquarium in the spotless condition is to change its water completely.

You should completely change the water with the fresh water once in a week or two – depending on the size of your tank and the number of inhabitants in your aquarium. To keep the maintenance of your aquarium every week

  • Turn off all the filter, the heater & the pump and remove all the decorations and artificial plants. Double-check and make sure they are completely off.
  • You can shift or relocate your fish if you feel so, otherwise, they will not face any major issues while you’ll be cleaning the tank. They will be fine. 
  • Clean all the item like artificial plants and decoration with a soft cloth and warm water accordingly. Even it seems very excessive but doing it so, will remove all the fungus and bacteria.
Note - Never remove any live plant as it can result in harm than good.
  • Now, remove all the srub from the glass by rubbing them with an algae scrubber. Doing so will make the glass look bright and clean as well as remove algae growth.
  • Rake the tank sand with your finger as this will result in all the excess debris to settle on top, making the process easy for you.ean Aq
  • After removing the ornaments, scrubbing the glass, and raking the sand, you need to clean & remove all the debris floating around. You can do it so by using a net or gravel siphon. How to Clean Aquarium Sand?
  • It is very normal to see some sands being soaked up by gravel siphon but you can easily re-rinse it. You can expect that. Well, everything from here goes the same as above but I will repeat it in case you jumped or skipped that part. 
  • Remove 10 to 20 percent of water and use the gravel to suck up all the debris by keeping the siphon 1/2 inch above the sand. How to Clean Aquarium
  • Now, you can dispose of the old water and replace all the decorations and artificial plants. You can dispose of the water in your garden’s plant as this water is full of organic compounds that act as a fertilizer. How
  • Now it time to top up or fill the tank again. Add aquarium water conditioner in a bucket filled with tap water and give some time like a few minutes so that the water conditioner can neutralize the chlorine present in the water. Before using any conditioner, you must read the instruction as the amount of conditioner needed varies by brand.
Now you can top up your fish tank and turn the power back on. 🙂

Daily maintenance of the aquarium

If you have an aquarium full of plants, then the possibility of debris floating around increases. It just matters of time, the debris can start to decompose and can release harmful chemicals, so it’s better to avoid such conditions.

You can avoid them by simply removing or scooping all the plant parts ou as soon as you see them.
I would recommend you keep a fine mesh, next to your tank so that you can scoop them as soon as you see them.
The second thing, you can do is to get the dead fish out as soon as possible.
Sometimes we observe late, that one of our fish is dead. You can get out of them and give them a proper goodbye or send-off.
Dead fish can also result in breaking down like plants and release harmful toxins in your tank water.
This is not a major problem for those who have a larger tank but smaller can suffer badly from this. 
Thirdly, Make sure to not overfeed your fish. Be careful with the amount of food you are feeding them as overfeeding can result in more cleaning practices day by day.
Avoid overfeeding to decrease the cleaning time:). 
By spending a few seconds in removing debris daily can save you from time-consuming cleaning and will make your weekly cleaning easier.
Also, it will make your tank look brighter, nicer, and healthier for the inhabitants as well as it will provide your fish a better environment to live in.

Natural Maintenance of the Aquarium

You can easily maintain your aquarium cleanliness by keeping several breeds of snails, fish, and shrimp in the tank.

This type of breed help in keeping the algae in control as well as helps to consume excess food left in the aquarium.

You can easily identify whether you are overfeeding your fish or not by noticing a surge in your snail.

As I know, the snails love their habit of churning sand over, which is very effective in making sure debris stays on the top or surface of the sand, so that you can easily suck it up.

How to Clean Aquarium Sand? 5 Simple Steps (With Pictures)

Breed to keep your aquarium clean

To start, these are the best breeds to ensure a clean aquarium: ( Source – TheBetaPet )

  • Malaysian Trumpet Snail: Keeping these snails is a good way to identify whether you are overfeeding your fish or not, as they multiply quickly if they get extra or excess foods and are also good at churning over the sand
  • Bristlenose Plecos: Well they are known as the vicious and ferocious eater of algae. They will remove any algae present in the tank as well as eat the excess food or junks that sunk to the bottom 🙂
  • Cherry Shrimp: These snails are good at cleaning and eating up uneaten food. I would prefer them because they can add a variety of or splash of color to the tank and fill the loops that fish can’t.
  • Ghost Shrimp: Well they are not as great as other breeds in eating algae but they still can do a good job in controlling hair algae and also eats up the uneaten food. According to “thebetapet – they can eat other shrimp species too. H
  • Ramshorn Snail: These breed of snails are great for the tanks that have too many plants in it as they tend to leave the live plant alone prefer feeding on dead plant matter and algae.
  • Nerite Snails: These Breed of Snail is also a good candidate as they are good at cleaning a substrate. They tend to live most of their lives at the bottom of the task. How to


Cleaning the aquarium sand is a tough task but still, it can be easily done by following the 5 easy steps that I’ve shared above. You just need to be careful and focused. I think that regular or daily maintenance is not a tough task and can be done in seconds. Regular maintenance can save a lot of effort on weekly maintenance. In terms of Natural Maintenance, I would say – no other option is better than this and further saying – I would recommend keeping cherry shrimps in your aquarium. These snails are not only good at cleaning and eating up uneaten food but also can add a variety of or a splash of color to the tank and fill the loops that fish can’t. The cleaning of the Aquarium can be done easily with some natural helper. I hope You got an idea of How to Clean Aquarium Sand?  Well, If you have any suggestions that you would like to share with our readers – you are always welcome to comment below. I always look forward to reading the comment.