SO I know this has been brought up before, but frankly I'm too lazy to search through old threads .
How do you keep a small tank with sand substrate clean?
How do you keep the filter from sucking up the sand?
How do you keep the water clear?
How often do you need to sift or turnover the sand to prevent dangerous gases from building up?
Thanks so much! I plan to do sand in my 5 gallon divided tank for 2 male bettas!
First off ill start of by saying sand can difficult and if you not an experienced in substrate I would skip sand and go with a small .2mm substrate..
But to answer your questions,
1. It can be very difficult to keep an aquarium under 10 gallons with sand
( because the tank does not have enough depth to keep your filter from be to close to the bottom )
2. To keep a filter from sucking up the sand, use an HOB filter ( hang over back )... they usually have ( 2 ) where you can adjust how it suck in water thus cutting suction power to the bottom...
The best way is to use canister filters as the intake and output is closer to the top of the tank...
3. All substrate sand, rock, etc is dusty and dirty... And should be rinsed till the water runs clear this can take time... Sand will eventually settle as long as your tank isnt to shallow and you dont have power head aimed at the substrate..
4. Cleaning sand, Although sand looks pretty it does come with draw backs.
Every 2 to 4 weeks during water changes you should take a rod and gently mix the sand around careful to not turn your water into a sand cloud...
Reason for this is because sand compacts and traps gasses that can be harmful to your fish...
NOTE: If you have a filter with an impeller you should leave it off till the majority of the sands settles. otherwise the sand particles can cause damage to your impeller and you having to replace it...
I use pool filter sand in all my tanks, and while currently I use it in a 10 and a 20g tank I used it in my small tanks previously with no issues. Pool filter sand is not only already very clean (mine did not require rinsing), but heavy; so cleaning it is fairly easy. It doesn't kick up all that much even from a substrate vacuum. In fact were I to try to get it up the tube I have to stick it in the actual sand. ;)
I also keep my sand bed fairly shallow (not even an inch deep); so I just give a quick run through with my fingers maybe every other week.
But again it depends on the sand. I've only ever used pool filter sand; so I don't have experience with the others. But I've heard that another commonly used sand is play sand; and can be messy, and does require alot of rinsing before use; and also can kick up much easier.