If you have a fish tank, chances are you’ve heard the name gravel. This is that special material used to line aquariums and keep fish healthy. If your tank has been up for a while, chances are it has a layer of gravel on the bottom. In this article, we will look at the most important steps in cleaning and maintaining gravel in your aquarium to keep your fish happy and healthy.
Why Should You Change Gravel in Your Aquarium?
Why should you change sand in your aquarium? One of the most important benefits of keeping fish is that healthy bacteria and beneficial microorganisms will thrive as they naturally occur within a fish tank. Gravel supplies many vitamins to plants, which makes it an essential part of a well-balanced aquatic ecosystem.
However, when gravel becomes damaged or aged, it can rub off onto fish causing skin irritation and damage to gills; diseases such as ich (gold fish) can also be introduced into an aquarium with sickly-looking gravel. Sometimes this is unavoidable and damage will occur without changing it, but if the situation becomes disastrous then you need to change gravel in your tank as soon as possible.
How to Change the Gravel in Your Fish Tank
Step 1: Remove Excess Gravel
Take away excess gravel that has accumulated at the bottom of your fish tank by using a scoop or aquarium net. After that, proceed with cleaning the surface of your tank. You can use a plastic brush, or you can simply take some fine sand and run it through the filter. If you are not sure what to do, you can use a toothbrush to gently scrub the surface of your gravel. Be careful not to damage any roots or limestone in the process.
Step 2: Level the Surface
Use sand to fill up vacancies in your aquarium; make sure the level is around an inch more than where you want it. Remember: never use gravel, as this can cause injuries and diseases when rubbed onto gills and fins! Fill down one side near the high point of water, keeping close to avoid any dust and debris from getting into the tank.
Step 3: Let the Sand and Gravel Settle
Wait a few minutes for the sand and gravel to settle, allowing bubbles of oxygen-rich air at the surface which help keep tank water clean and healthy. By leaving this waiting period you are helping both your fish’s gills work more effectively; when they need more oxygen they can just swim down!
Step 4: Put the New Gravel
Scoop up a handful of gravel and evenly spread it over the area that you are about to fill with sand, making sure not to mix any together. This will help prevent clumps in future! In addition, you can use some aquarium glue to help secure the gravel in place. Once you have completed step 3, repeat steps 2 and 3 again, until you have filled up all of the holes that were previously left. Make sure not to mix any gravel together as this will create a mess when you are done! If you feel that there is still too much sand on top of your gravel, then erythromycin can help eliminate it all.
When Should You Change the Gravel in a Fish Tank?
The most common rule is the best time to change your tank’s sand is RIGHT AFTER you clean it out! Of course, getting rid of all residual detritus as well means that you’re creating fresh gravel from scratch. In addition, the gravel should be changed out every month or two to prevent the build-up of excess bacteria and algae. If you are still seeing a lot of debris in your tank, it is best to change the gravel before you clean your tank.
If you are changing the gravel, then you should also clean out your filter media. This will help prevent any excess debris from getting into your tank and clogging up your filter. If you’re in a hurry to change the gravel in your fish tank, then you can use a coarse sand or even some aquarium grade silicone to do it for you! However, this method is not recommended as it can create uneven surfaces that could cause harm to your fishes.
How Often Should You Clean the Gravel?
Intervals of time are based on number and size of fish, medium volume tanks, and tank maintenance type (i.e. self cleaning or standard everyday freshwater). There is no hard rule but the typical range is 1- 2 times per month for small sizes (2 gallons -50 gallons). Moreover, gravel should be changed out every month or two for a medium size (50 gallons – 200 gallons). The larger the tank, the more often you will need to change the gravel.
Around 3 times a month for large aquariums of up to 600-1000-gallon tanks. It’s easy enough to reverse gravel if needed. In addition, the main goal of gravel is to keep the water clean and clear. The size of your tank and fish can be an indicator as to how often you should change your gravel. But in general for most tanks, changing out the gravel once a month will do just fine. Moreover, you can use the same gravel for a couple of months, but when it starts to get dirty you should change it out.