How To Clean Sand In An Aquarium

Sometimes cleaning an aquarium can be a daunting task, and the “how to clean sand in an aquarium” can be even more daunting. Still, suppose you want to see your fish living in a clean and healthy environment, then regular cleaning of your aquarium is a must.

Using sand at the bottom of your aquarium is one of the best ways to beautify your aquarium and give it that beach-like setting. You might not know this, but the sand in the aquarium is cleaned even though it looks unlikely because of how tiny it looks.

This article will teach you various ways to effectively clean the sand in your aquarium with ease and ensure harmful bacteria and other unwanted organisms do not thrive in your aquarium.

When Should You Clean The Sand In An Aquarium?

How To Clean Sand In An Aquarium

It can be a bit difficult to know when the sand in your aquarium needs cleaning. You might mistake some obvious signs as normal while enabling harmful elements to thrive in your aquarium against the well-being of your fish. 

These signs would help you know when your aquarium sand needs to be cleaned as soon as possible. So, if:

  • It is new sand, wash it before using it in your aquarium.
  • You have had the aquarium for months without washing it.
  • It looks brown; this can be a sign of Brown Algae.
  • The water in your aquarium is discolored.
  • You notice your fish are avoiding the bottom of the aquarium.

Methods For Cleaning The Sand In An Aquarium

If you are trying to learn how to clean sand in an aquarium, you are definitely in the right place. Not only would you get all the help you need, but you would also get it in more than one way. So, you can choose which method you prefer. 

Here are some methods for cleaning the sand in an aquarium. Let’s start with the first.

1. Use a Siphons

Using a siphon is pretty straightforward, but using one with sand can be very tricky. Don’t worry, all you have to do is understand how to navigate it through the sand. Here are three simple steps to follow for more clarity. 

But first, ensure that there is a flow of water. This allows a gentle suction in the aquarium. Shake up the sand so that dirt and debris can show at the surface, then move the siphon gently across the face of the sand.

Step 1: Shake the sand

Use your hand to gently stir the sand in your aquarium all the way down, this would ensure that hidden particles or particles the filter didn’t pick are brought to the surface. Wait for at least ten minutes for the dust to settle.

Step 2: Remove dirt from the sand surface

Using the siphon, gently move over the sand surface, picking up dirt and unwanted particles that settled after stirring the sand. Do this lightly, and do not dip the siphon too deep into the sand to prevent it from sucking a large quantity of sand, thereby blocking your siphon. 

If you are not getting it, you can also bend the siphon and make a swirling motion over the sand. This would make it easy for you to pick up the dirt.

Step 3: Clean Your Filter

After using the siphon, clean up your filter. The filter might get some dirt into it while you were cleaning.

2. Use Sand Cleaning Fish

Another great option for cleaning your aquarium sand is using sand cleaning fish. These fish are a natural way to clean your aquarium while beautifying it. Use bottom-dwelling cleaner fishes or small aquatic animals like shrimp and snails for the best result.

Here are good fish for your sand substrates:

  • Corydoras Catfish

This is one of the most common picks for sand cleaner fish. They are small-bodied catfish that usually live in small groups. 

Moreover, they are very efficient and would clear off any particle found in any aquarium corner in a twinkle. Some Corydoras you can consider are Skunk cory, Albino cory, and Bronze cory.

  • Botia Loaches

Botia loaches are one of the best small bottom-dwelling cleaners. These fish are good at keeping your aquarium substrate while giving it a nice look. 

There are about six species you can choose from. They include Zebra Loach, Skunk Loach, Dwarf chain loach, and Clown loach.

  • Shrimp

Shrimp is another great option and can be easily kept, just don’t keep them with fish that can likely eat them. Shrimp are great for freshwater aquariums and come in various species. 

Their small sizes allow them to pass through every nook and crannies of your aquarium to get the smallest particle that is edible to them. Some species to pick from including Bumblebee shrimp, Ghost shrimp, Red cherry shrimp, and Amano shrimp.

  •  Snails

This is another excellent choice for a freshwater aquarium. The snails move around slowly, using their smallmouth to clean up debris and leftover food left in your aquarium. 

They would also clean up dead plants and algae. Undoubtedly, they are one of the best cleaners for effectively cleaning your aquarium sand. 

Snail species to pick from include; the Nerite snail, Ramshorn snail, Malaysian trumpet snail, and a Mystery snail. 

  •  Bristlenose Pleco

Bristlenose Pleco would effectively clean your sand substrates when the lights go off or when it is dark. They would dig deep into your aquarium sand to get all the debris out, so ensure that your decorations are placed firmly. 

Aside from the Pleco, you can also choose otto catfish or dwarf sucker to have the algae in your aquarium effectively cleared out. And without a doubt using these creatures is great. 

However, you still have to set time to regularly clean out the sand in your aquarium as it is possible for the fish to miss some part of the aquarium.

Tips For Keeping Your Aquarium Sand Clean

Here are a few tips to help you keep your aquarium sand clean

  • Wash newly gotten sand before using it
  • Use the suitable sand for your aquarium
  • Use 1 inch of sand for your tank
  • Ensure the water in your aquarium flows well to reduce waste that can settle in the sand
  • Include sand cleaning fishes


You might think cleaning your aquarium sand might be difficult, but that is if you are not doing it the right way. With the instructions and methods provided here, cleaning your aquarium sand can be done with so much ease. 

Remember, keeping your fish in a clean environment should be a priority as an aquarium owner. If you know anyone who might need information like this, go ahead and share it with them.

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