How To Clean Fish Tank Gravel Without A Vacuum

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Fish aquariums are considered stress-reliever. But a dirty fish tank may not do so; instead, it can lead to ammonia poisoning and harm the fish. This step-by-step guide discusses how to clean fish tank gravel without a vacuum that can help you maintain better hygiene for fish.

How To Clean Fish Tank Gravel Without A Vacuum

Dirt and debris can accumulate on the gravel, including fish poop, food, and other nasty elements. Hence, the gravel should be clean once a month for better fish hygiene.

Material Required

  • Vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Borax
  • Ammonia
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Body cleanser
  • Shampoo
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Lavender oil (optional)
  • Lemon juice
  • Measuring cups
Aquarium

Step #1: Un-assemble The Parts 

Before you start cleaning the fish tank, make sure your fishes are at a safe place, and the oxygen supply is cut off. Further, don’t forget to drain the dirty water and clean the fish tank thoroughly using a cleaner of your choice.

Step #2: Clean The Gravel

If you don’t have an available vacuum to clean the gravel, don’t worry. You can clean it without it also. If your gravel is new and is bought from the aquarium store, then rinsing it with water can clean it to the par.

But if you have handpicked it from the riverside, it requires cleansing before you place it in the tank.

The gravel from the riverside can be cleaned by making a DIY cleaning concoction at home. You can use any of the enlisted methods to achieve the best results.

Method #1: Use Vinegar

When it comes to getting rid of micro pathogens, nothing is better than using vinegar. Vinegar is also known as diluted acetic acid, has medical properties that are beneficial to kill germs that cannot be seen from the naked eye.

To clean your gravel using vinegar, follow these instructions carefully:

  1. Take two large cups of water in a container.
  2. Add half a cup of synthetic vinegar to the water.
  3. Stir the solution well.
  4. Wash the gravel using this solution.
  5. Let the solution sit on the gravel for few moments.
  6. Pick few ounces of gravel in your hand and rub them vigorously with your fingers.
  7. Rinse the gravel with clean water thoroughly.
  8. Wash the gravel repetitively until the water comes out clean.

Method #2: Use Shampoo

You must be surprised to know, but your hair cleanser can be an excellent cleaner for gravel. Shampoos have anti-fungal properties that avoid scalp infections. That’s why; using shampoo to clean gravel can be a good idea.

To clean gravel using shampoo,

  1. Take two large cups of water in a container.
  2. Add 0.211 pints of hair cleanser of your choice to water.
  3. Stir the solution well.
  4. Wash the gravel using this solution.
  5. Let the solution sit on the gravel for few moments.
  6. Rinse the gravel with clean water thoroughly.
  7. Wash the gravel repetitively until the water comes out clean.

Method #3: Use Body Cleanser Or Soap

Just like hair cleansers or shampoo, body soaps can also be used to clean the gravel. The lather produced by body soaps can kill the germs and bacteria breeding on the surface. To clean the gravel using body cleanser or soap, do as follows:

  1. Take two large cups of water in a container.
  2. Add 0.2 to 0.5 pints of body cleanser to water.
  3. Stir the solution well.
  4. Wash the gravel using this solution.
  5. Let the solution sit on the gravel for few moments.
  6. Rinse the gravel with clean water thoroughly.
  7. Wash the gravel repetitively until the water comes out clean.

Method #4: Use Dish Soap

Dish soaps are best suited to get rid of grease from the surface, it’s also pretty effective for cleaning gas cans. This greasy effect can be because of bacteria or algae that live on the gravel. Since dishwashing soap has anti-bacterial properties, it can be used to clean the gravel.

Fish swimming in a fish tank with clean gravel
  1. Take two large cups of water in a container.
  2. Add one-fourth cup of dish soap to water.
  3. Stir the solution well.
  4. Wash the gravel using this solution.
  5. Let the solution sit on the gravel for few moments.
  6. Rinse the gravel with clean water thoroughly.
  7. Wash the gravel repetitively until the water comes out clean.

Method #5: Use Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing Alcohol has multiple disinfection properties. Thus, it can be used to clean the gravel by following these steps:

  1. Take two large cups of water in a container.
  2. Add half a cup of rubbing alcohol to the water.
  3. Stir the solution well.
  4. Wash the gravel using this solution.
  5. Let the solution sit on the gravel for few moments.
  6. Pick few ounces of gravel in your hand and rub them vigorously with your fingers.
  7. Rinse the gravel with clean water thoroughly.
  8. Wash the gravel repetitively until the water comes out clean.

Method #6: Use Borax

Borax is a by-product of boric acid, which is used for cleaning purposes. To use borax powder for cleaning:

  1. Take two large cups of water in a container.
  2. Add four teaspoons of borax powder to water.
  3. Stir the solution well.
  4. Wash the gravel using this solution.
  5. Let the solution sit on the gravel for few moments.
  6. Rinse the gravel with clean water thoroughly.
  7. Wash the gravel repetitively until the water comes out clean.

Method #7: Use Ammonia

Ammonia is a potent cleaner among all of the mentioned options. They are used for cleaning various materials like titanium rings. Since Ammonia is a powerful cleanser, one should handle it with care.

  1. Take two large cups of water in a container.
  2. Add a few drops of ammonia to the water.
  3. Stir the solution well.
  4. Wash the gravel using this solution.
  5. Let the solution sit on the gravel for few moments.
  6. Rinse the gravel with clean water thoroughly.
  7. Wash the gravel repetitively until the water comes out clean.

Tip

The smell of ammonia liquid is very pungent. To eliminate that stinky odor, add few drops of essential oil like lavender oil to cancel out the odor. Thus, even after multiple cleaning, the scent can sustain.

Method #8: Use Lemon Juice

An organic alternative to all cleaners is to use lemon. It will not only kill the germs on the surface of gravel but also remove the pale stains, they are also great for cleaning old mirrors too.

  1. Take two large cups of water in a container.
  2. Add half a cup of lemon juice to water.
  3. Stir the solution well.
  4. Wash the gravel using this solution.
  5. Let the solution sit on the gravel for few moments.
  6. Pick few ounces of gravel in your hand and rub them vigorously with your fingers.
  7. Rinse the gravel with clean water thoroughly.
  8. Wash the gravel repetitively until the water comes out clean.
Pair of fish on a fish tank

Method #9: Use Baking Soda

Another disinfectant on the list is baking soda, which can also be used for cleaning sea sponges. Just like vinegar, it also has cleaning properties that can be used while cleaning the gravel.

  1. Take two large cups of water in a container.
  2. Add 2 ounces of baking soda to water.
  3. Stir the solution well.
  4. Wash the gravel using this solution.
  5. Let the solution sit on the gravel for few moments.
  6. Pick few ounces of gravel in your hand and rub them vigorously with your fingers.
  7. Rinse the gravel with clean water thoroughly.
  8. Wash the gravel repetitively until the water comes out clean.

Method #10: Use Vinegar and Baking Soda

For better results, you can combine these kitchen pickups to make a strong cleanser. Vinegar and baking soda go well with each other. The fizz helps in cleaning and getting rid of dirt from the surface.

  1. Take two large cups of water in a container.
  2. Add half a cup of synthetic vinegar to the water.
  3. Mix 2-3 ounces of baking soda into the solution and let it fizz.
  4. Stir the solution well.
  5. Wash the gravel using this solution.
  6. Let the solution sit on the gravel for few moments.
  7. Rinse the gravel with clean water thoroughly.
  8. Wash the gravel repetitively until the water comes out clean.

Step #3: Reassemble The Parts

After everything is cleaned, it’s time to resemble the part. Put the gravel on the bottom of the fish tank and place the plants. Once the setup is ready, fix the oxygen supply and fill the tank with clean water.

Lastly, don’t forget to add fish back to the tank from the bucket. Refer to this as another guide to clean the other parts of the fish tank.

Conclusion

Research reveals that people should be cautious while coming in contact with fish tank water. A bacterium, namely, Mycobacterium marinum, can lead to severe skin infections in people with fresh scars, wounds, or lesions.

The bacterium breeds in stagnant water, and therefore, fish tanks are a suitable place for it. It is observed that it penetrates through open wounds and cuts via the aquatic environment resulting in swelling and skin infections. Therefore it is advisable to clean the fish tank while wearing waterproof gloves when your hands are wounded.

Though the bacterium isn’t life-threatening, its consequences can get unbearable for anyone. Thus, a little bit of care and caution can guard your health and save your bills. Cover your arms properly if you have a skin allergy or are prone to having one while cleaning the gravel of your fish tank.