View Full Version : Easier way to vacuum Sand?

05-25-2007, 06:33 AM
Hello. My tank has been cycling for 3 weeks. Stuff is accumulating on my shallow sand bed (oolitic sand). Since my ammonia and nitrites have stayed at 0 curing the cycle, and nitrates have been steady at 5, I added 6 cerith snails a few days ago but they just seem to stay buried in the sand bed. One hangs out on the rock all the time, I've only spotted one other at night once or twice.

I did my first 5% water change last night. I thought it would be easy to just vacuum off the stuff that had accumulated, but with long 1/2" diameter tube, it was easy to drain and fill the water back up, but trying to hold the tube in the bucket, and trying to straighten the tube out and try to get it in the right spot, was NOT easy. Finally gave up and just did the water change. I was going to pick up a siphon the other day at the LFS to clean the bed, but they told me that it was worthless unless you had gravel, and that I should just use the 1/2" tubing.

Is there any easier way to vacuum the sand bed than by using 1/2" flexible tubing? Should I buy a siphon even though the LFS said it was a waste since I have oolitic sand (nice that they were honest with me and not just trying to make a buck).

Do any snails/crabs/shrimp/cucumbers/slugs/gobies actually eat the stuff that accumulates on top of the sand bed? The ceriths just seem to dig under the sand.


05-25-2007, 08:19 AM
Try selectively extricating the debris with a turkey baster.

Larry Copperband
05-25-2007, 08:30 AM
Hi Pam,
The siphon is out.Don't wanna disturb the sandbed at all.Those cerith snails are sluggish(pardon the pun) and I suspect they are a cold water snail.I have a few & they are not on top of my favorite cleaner list.
What I do is suspend the unwanted particles by gently hitting the top of the sandbed with a turkey baster,you can regulate the "blast" pretty good & not distrub the sandbed.I've got all my water change gear ready,and direct the flexible tubing at the bigger particles as it being pulled out into the bucket I'm gonna dump out.I get alot of unwanted particles & a water change at the same time.
I know that my blue legged hermits are great Scavengers,but they like algae and uneaten food.I'm a hard sell myself that anything actually seeks out detritus as a meal,except on the microscopic level.


05-25-2007, 04:56 PM
I would not mess with the sand bed.:D

05-25-2007, 10:15 PM
I know a lot of people that siphon out there tank, in fact i siphon my tank out as well. What i do is use a small siphon, I think its about an inch in diameter. I believe the smaller the tube the more debris and less water. Not sure if thats true or not but it works very well for me. I only do clean my sand bed about once a month, however i do a 10% water change every week but i usually just fasten the tube in the bucket and in the display tank with a carpenters clamp. And clean misc stuff while the water is draining.

As for your snails and finding something else to clean the SB I wouldn't really worry about it and do it manually. Depending on what you want to house in your tank should base on what you want to buy. For example are hair worms. There are a lot of people that grow out hair worms, well one predator or suggested predator is the red legged hermit among a few other crabs. Now I'm not saying that this is correct in every tank because food and availibility is a big issue when it comes to predators.

Also you want to stay away from Sand Sifting Stars. They really just rearrange your sand bed and usually don't live that long as they deplete there food in a few months. The reason i bring this to your attention is because some LFS recommend them as sand bed cleaners.

Cerith snails are really bad snails, I have a one or two and they do very well in my tank. I'm not sure how long you have had your snails but i would give them awhile and give your algae some time to build up and you should start seeing them more often. :)

What temperature do you keep your tank at and what do you plan on keeping?

05-25-2007, 10:18 PM
Fighting Conchs and Strombus snails have served me VERY well keeping my sand clean.

05-25-2007, 10:27 PM
I like Fighting Conch's, I don't own any but i like watching them at the store I work at. A cool observation is when they get spooked they hop a little and its pretty cool to watch :)

The only thing about Fighting Conch's is you have to watch out for larger hermit crabs. Hermit crabs will kill them in the right environment. But as i said before i believe this is based on food availability :)

05-26-2007, 12:13 AM
YUP...I had a Holloween Crab in my tank....he NOW resides in a Fighting Conch shell......HOWEVER...he's ALSO in the sump! Banished FOREVER!:up:

05-26-2007, 12:30 AM
I like my cerith snails precisely because they will bury themselves and help stir the sand. :) The problem with clean up crews is that they never really eat up everything you want them to.

Detritus on the sand is always an issue. I use a gravel washer type siphon. Every week when I do my water change I clean a small area of sand. First I blow off the LR with a turkey baster. This suspends some particulate matter in the water where it is more likely to set siphoned out. What I do is to start the siphon in the water column. Then I cover the outlet end of the flexible tube with my thumb to stop the water. Push the rigid tube down in the sand just a fraction of an inch, release your thumb, letting the sand grains move about half way up the tube then stop the water again and lift the rigid tube clear of the sandbed. The sand will drop back down but the debris will remain suspended. Let the water flow again and all the junk will end up in your bucket. I never do this more than a few times per water change.

06-04-2007, 10:10 PM

I am new to all of this also. so if I use a regular gravel suction tube to remove debris its not a good idea? I have been doing it that way myself. And I thought it was a good idea to turn your sand for the anerobic bacteria? thanks sorry I am pretty much new to all this myself............Shaun

06-04-2007, 11:15 PM
You want the anaerobic bacteria in a DSB because that is where the final de-nitrification takes place. Pulling debris off the top of the sand is not a problem. Disturbing a little of the DSB is not a problem. Constantly disrupting the majority of the sandbed will create problems.

06-05-2007, 09:50 AM

There is a reason your Ammonia and Nitrites have remained 0ppm during your 3 week cycle. Your tank hasn't cycled yet in my opinion.

How have you set your tank up? You mentioned a shallow sand bed. Do you have a sump, wet/dry trickle filter, canister filter? What size tank is it? Give us a few more details so we can better answer your questions.


06-06-2007, 06:31 PM

Thanks Carmie for the help. I have a couple more questions also now my sand bed is not very thick about 2 inches from the trimming of my tank, my question is I went to the lfs and asked him about sand he told me to go to lowes and pick it up it was much cheaper and so I did, I found this bag of quikrete play sand its made by quikrete its solid white so I purchased it would it be okay to use? I just want to make sure its fine to use. I noticed that the grains of it are more finer then the original bag of reef sand I have, so if its okay how should I add this over my existing sand? should I just place it over top or mix it all in? thanks in advance.............Shaun

06-06-2007, 06:40 PM

Put a little bit of it in some vinegar and see if it fizzes and then dissolves. If it does it is aragonite.

To add the sand without making a sandstorm use a piece of rigid tubing, 1/2 - 3/4" works fine, and a new funnel. Tape the funnel to the tubing and then use the tube to deliver the sand just where you want it. Don't try to dump the whole bag of sand in the funnel all at once, add a little at a time so you can reposition the tube.

06-06-2007, 11:32 PM

sand does not fizz so its not any good for my setup then, right?? thanks so much and the vinegar is a ausome way to check it............Shaun

06-06-2007, 11:49 PM
It is not aragonite sand. There is debate over using silica sand. Certainly silica sand can not buffer your tank as aragonite can. Some people say that silica sand can promote diatom outbreaks but I am not convinced about that one way or the other.

06-06-2007, 11:59 PM

So you wouldnt mess with trying this sand then? Would I be best to check somewhere else to find a aragonite sand? I mean to me it makes more sense in using something to keep the water more balanced I would think. I have been thinking about removing the gravel out of my piranha tank and using sand in it so I guess thats what I can use it for....................Shaun

06-07-2007, 07:33 PM
I have a 50# bag of aragonite that I am adding to my tank when I get it moved back to where it belongs. It is getting harder to find so the next time I need some I may try silica sand.