My 30 gallon tank is the first tank I've ever used sand substrate in. It's coming time for me to clean the substrate, but I'm a little nervous. I have a gravel vac, but I'm not sure how to use it without sucking up a bunch of sand. I've been doing some reading online and I've seen some people say it's just a matter of not putting the siphon too close to the sand and others saying it's pretty difficult to use a gravel vac on sand. I also don't want to disturb the sand too much because my kribs have dug a nice little cave in the sand under a rock and I don't want to destroy it...
Any advice on how to go about cleaning the sand with a gravel vac?
Honestly I've always sucked up a little sand with every water change. Sometimes I've stuck the vacc to the bottom of the tank and just lifted it up, 99% of the sand falls back down. Course, you don't have to do that, moving it around could cause problems deeper down, that was before I knew however. Nowadays in my densely planted tanks I don't vacuum near the sand at all, which is an option, nothing wrong with letting things decompose in the tank a bit. Posted via Mobile Device
When I see large pieces of debris on the sand, I put the vacuum down close to the sand or use a turkey baster to get it out. I just kinda accept whenever I touch the sand (whether its replanting a plant or just what) that some of it is going to come out of the tank because it sticks to freakin everything. But for the most part I don't clean the sand. The MTS and plant roots make sure it stays oxygenated, and the loaches love to move it around. I don't even vacuum the gravel in my planted tanks now. Why remove great plant food?
I'm not so worried about a little sand coming out, but I'm a bit fearful that tons of it will end up getting siphoned out. Right now, I only have one live plant in my tank, so I'm not sure it'd be okay to just leave it. I plan on adding more if the one I have does okay, though. Should I skip the gravel vac entirely and just make sure to keep up with water changes?
How deep is the sand? Anything shallower than 4 inches isn't in much danger for developing gas bubbles. If you do plan to get more plants, I would just let the sand be. By the time you get plants, it will be great fertilizer for them.
It's probably around an inch deep. I'm not sure about getting more plants yet. I'm going to see how this one I just bought does. In the past, I've just ended up killing my plants, but now I'm trying hornswort, which I've heard is nearly impossible to kill, so I'm hoping it'll do alright.