The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care.

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Keeping a fish tank in your house has the potential to be incredibly satisfying. Just looking at the fish will have a soothing effect in many different ways.

This is fantastic, but you also need to know that keeping an aquarium can be a lot of work. For instance, you’re going to need to clean the fish tank gravel regularly or else debris will build up over time.

When you don’t clean fish tank gravel, it’s going to get messy with fish waste, leftover food, and other types of debris. Thankfully, cleaning the fish tank gravel isn’t that tough.

Many people will use a vacuum to clean fish tank gravel, but what can you do if you don’t have access to a vacuum? Can you still clean the fish tank gravel reliably?

Read on to learn exactly how to clean fish tank gravel without a vacuum. You’ll see that this process doesn’t have to be hard and you’ll be able to keep your fish tank nice and clean.

Get a Smaller Tank to Hold Your Fish During the Cleaning Process

In order to clean out the normal fish tank, it’s going to be necessary to move your fish to a smaller tank. It’s important to prepare the smaller tank properly first since it needs to be safe for the fish.

The small tank absolutely must be sterile and shouldn’t have traces of chemicals or detergents. These could harm your fish and it could possibly even kill the fish.

Once you’re sure that the small tank is sterile, you’ll be able to move the fish. Most people will use a cup to transfer some water from the fish tank into the smaller container that they’re using to temporarily hold the fish.

You’re going to do the same type of thing that you normally do during a water change. Try to save at least half of the water.

Get your fish net and then start gently transferring the fish to the small tank. The fish should be fine in the small tank while you handle the cleaning process.

Getting Ready to Clean the Fish Tank Gravel

Before you can truly start cleaning the fish tank gravel, it’ll be necessary to remove any objects that are in the fish tank. A lot of people keep things such as big rocks and decorations in their fish tanks.

Remove those and put them somewhere safe until you’re done with the cleaning. You’ll also need to remove any plants that you keep in the fish tank that aren’t rooted to the gravel.

Filters, heaters, and other types of equipment will also need to be taken out. Detach those from the tank so that you can keep moving forward.

Next, unplug all of the electric equipment that is hooked up. Now the cleaning can actually begin.

Cleaning the Fish Tank Gravel

Cleaning the fish tank gravel should start with you gathering the gravel in a cup. Put most of the gravel into a sieve for the next step.

You’re going to want to hold one or two cups of the gravel back, though. A few cups should remain unclean because it’ll make it easier for the beneficial bacteria to colonize the tank once more.

After ensuring that you have a few cups of dirty gravel saved, you’ll be able to start rinsing the gravel in the sieve. Take the time to wash the gravel as thoroughly as you can by swirling it around.

You should keep doing this until the water comes out very clear underneath the sieve. Once everything is as clean as it should be, you’re just going to need to dry the gravel.

When the gravel is finally dry, it’ll be time to mix it in with the dirty gravel that you set aside. After you do this, go ahead and put all of the gravel back into the fish tank.

Now you need to refill the fish tank with clean water to get it ready for the fish to return to the tank. Fill it with the prepared water and then add your decorations, rocks, and plants back to the tank.

It might be a good idea to use a dechlorinator treatment on the water before putting the fish back in. If you’re using tap water to clean the gravel, then you want to ensure that there isn’t any lingering chlorine that could harm your fish.

All that’s left at this point is to plug all of the electrical equipment back in and put things where they need to go. Once the tank is ready for the fish, you’ll be able to gently transfer them back to the normal tank.

Try to Clean the Gravel Every Two Weeks

Now that you know how to clean fish tank gravel without a vacuum, it shouldn’t be too hard to keep moving forward with this. It’ll be best if you take the time to clean the gravel in the fish tank every two weeks.

You’re supposed to clean the fish tank gravel every two weeks or every time you change the water. If you remember to follow the advice above, then it shouldn’t be a huge hassle even when you don’t have access to a vacuum.

Getting in the habit of doing this bi-weekly won’t be too difficult. However, if you have a small tank that is less than 20 gallons, it’ll be necessary to do this every week.

Final Thoughts

Keep cleaning your fish tank gravel the right way and you’ll be able to enjoy it for a long time. You want to keep the fish tank nice and clean for your fish so that they can thrive.

So long as you don’t skip steps, it’ll be simple to get things right. Yes, it can be kind of a hassle to have to remove everything from the tank, but it isn’t that tough overall.

It’s really just a bit time-consuming to do this without a vacuum. You could always go out and buy a vacuum if you’d like to speed up the process a bit.

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Author

I have a bachelor's degree in Computer Information Systems and over 10 years of experience working in IT. I have a wife and two children and love taking them to the zoo to see all the animals. I grew up with dogs and fish and now have two dogs and two cats. I've also played guitar for almost 20 years and love writing music, although it's hard to find the time these days.

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