How to siphon soil in an aquarium?
No matter how clean and safe an aquarium is, organic waste is necessarily generated in it. Remains of food, fish excrement, dead plant parts - all this settles to the bottom, accumulating on the surface or in the thickness of the soil. How to keep it clean? Today we will talk about how to properly siphon soil in order to avoid trouble.
How should everything work ideally?
In a natural (or as close as possible to a natural) ecosystem, there are always many participants. Fish excrement and the remains of their meal are eaten by bottom invertebrates - snails, shrimps, protozoa and bacteria - and processed into the smallest fractions.
And if we have a large capacity with large predatory cichlids? About any shrimp there can be no question, and planting is problematic, and all waste accumulates at the bottom in an unprocessed form. Here there is a need for a siphon.
What is siphon?
A siphon is to clean the soil of an aquarium using a special device (a hose with a cylinder or a funnel at the end) by sucking out fine particles - detritus from the surface and from the ground.
The end of the siphon is placed in the soil to the desired depth, the flow of sucked water picks up everything that was in the cylinder or funnel, but heavy particles of gravel settle back, and light detritus goes through the hose.
After that, the siphon funnel is moved and the cleaning of another area begins. Thus, after a siphon, ideally, a clean soil remains, without sludge.
The benefits and harms of siphon soil cleaning
To pluses This procedure includes the fact that it removes from the aquarium excess organic matter that pollutes the water and prevents the soil from souring.
They release into the aquarium completely unnecessary substances that are toxic to fish, such as methane and hydrogen sulfide, as well as rather unpleasant smells and nasty looking large bubbles.
Cons at siphon enough too:
- the colony of nitrifying bacteria living in the upper layer of the soil is damaged, therefore its ability to biofiltration is reduced;
- nutrients are removed from the soil that can be used by plants;
- there is a risk of damaging the roots of plants.
Where and when do you need to siphon the soil?
Based on the foregoing, it is clear that the need for siphon cleaning of the soil differs in different aquariums.
A regular siphon is required primarily in aquariums with large fish and without vegetation. We don’t damage any roots here, nobody needs nutrients in the ground (except for any evil spirits like planarians and acroluxes, but we’re not going to plant them), and the main load in terms of biofiltration should be carried by a powerful external filter and a phyto filter.
A daily siphon is also required in aquariums where fry is grown. As a rule, babies are kept very densely, and they are often fed, and the biofiltration in such aquariums is not fully established. Although there is usually no soil there, the remnants of food and excreta are siphoned away directly from the bottom.
When siphoning is not worth it?
The more plants in an aquarium (especially with root-type feeding, such as cryptocorynes and efinodorus) and the smaller the total weight of the fish, the more siphon is made less often and more carefully. In banks partially planted with plants, the soil is cleaned only in open areas - especially carefully at the sight-glass - and under the snags and decorations. When harvesting near plants, the siphon is not buried much and sucks not all sludge: no need to wait for the water entering the hose to become crystal clear.
Practically, herbal aquariums do not siphon completely planted with plants (especially organized on nutrient grounds) with a small amount of small fish and shrimps.
The fact is that the roots of plants permeate the entire thickness of the soil and emit oxygen, although less than green leaves. This oxygen does not allow anaerobic zones to form in the soil. Of course, if the roots of the plants are small and weak, and the soil is shallow and laid in a thick layer, then souring is possible.
In order to avoid this, it is necessary to check the condition of the soil, periodically slightly stirring it with a thin stick. If bubbles come out of the ground and there is an unpleasant smell, you need to thoroughly gnaw it.
Another case where the siphon is contraindicated is the first weeks after the launch of the aquarium. In this case, it is very important for us to grow a colony of nitrifying bacteria in the aquarium, including in the ground, as quickly as possible, so you should not bother with it.
Is it possible to accurately determine when it is time to siphon the soil?
Experienced aquarists can determine when to clean the soil by eye. And what should a novice who does not feel his aquarium so well, but wants to provide him with the best care?
A very simple test is used to determine the degree of soil contamination with organic matter. Potassium permanganate is taken (ordinary potassium permanganate). A saturated solution is made: an incomplete teaspoon of crystals dissolves in 25 ml of water, and then more crystals are gradually added there until they no longer dissolve.
Then we make an extract from the soil: with a syringe without a needle, we slowly suck out water from the thickness of the soil, trying to get as little detritus as possible, and the syringe does not clog. It is necessary to collect in this way 50 ml of water.
Next, add 1 drop of saturated solution of potassium permanganate to water and put the sample in a darkened place for 40-50 minutes, after which they estimate the color of the solution.
What are the siphons?
Siphons may vary:
Sizes - there are siphons for high aquariums, standard and very small for nano aquariums.
Funnel cross section - the most convenient are those with one right angle for cleaning in the corners of the aquarium, and the rest is rounded. There are special narrow siphons for cleaning the soil in the gaps between the decorations or plants.
Water absorption method - the current is created with the help of a pear (I like these most of all), a sharp lowering-raising of the cylinder or, more often, air from a hose is sucked by the mouth.
There are also electric siphons that run on batteries. They can both suck water from an aquarium into an external tank or sewage system, or return it back by cleaning it through thin filters and collecting dirt in a special compartment.
What can be done to siphon less often?
The simplest and most effective method is to reduce the fish population and plant more plants with strong roots.
A siphon will be needed less often if you exclude fish overfeeding.
You can pick up the soil, the particles of which are strictly the same size. Such soil practically does not crumble and, accordingly, does not turn sour.
But be that as it may, a siphon is a must for the aquarium economy. Choose it to your liking and use it for the benefit of your aquarium.
Video on how to properly siphon the soil in an aquarium:
How to clean, siphon the soil in the aquarium?
Aquarium decorates the room - and it is important to make every effort in order to maintain its aesthetic appeal at the proper level. The aquarium that emits stagnant water or mud is hardly an elegant design solution. A well-kept aquarium with abundant vegetation and energetic healthy fish can become the center of composition in an apartment or office.
To maintain order in the aquarium, the owner must perform a number of important procedures in a timely manner, including cleaning the glass of the aquarium, regularly changing part of the aquarium water, and filter processing. The most time consuming process is cleaning the soil.
How to siphon the soil in the aquarium
The first month after the launch of the aquarium, it is not necessary to clean the soil, then it will have to be washed every two to three weeks, as it gets dirty. There are several options for cleaning the soil - for aquariums with a dense population and for aquariums that are not so densely populated.
The use of a siphon allows you to remove particles of dirt, feces, food debris from the soil, as well as eliminate the unpleasant smell of hydrogen sulfide, which appears due to the "acidification" of the soil. This happens due to the fact that bacteria have settled in the soil, and the natural balance is disturbed.
How to clean the soil in an aquarium with lots of fish and plants? You can’t do without an aquarium siphon - you have to thoroughly wash the soil. Perhaps the fish will have to be deposited for the time of cleaning in another container. The funnel cylinder is stuck into the ground, while it is necessary to agitate the surface very thoroughly so that all particles of dirt are sucked in and out. After cleaning, you need to add water to the aquarium.
In an aquarium with a standard size or with a small population of fish, it is possible and not to remove, the ground is siphoned to a shallower depth. You can also not remove the pebbles - small particles will be easily sucked into the siphon, the large ones will simply settle to the bottom.
Questions that are most often asked about the soil in the aquarium
Gravel, sand and special or brand soils - now there are many different types of aquarium soils. We tried to collect the most common questions in one article and give answers to them. Although most of the soils were already washed before being sold, they still contain a lot of dirt and various debris. Washing the soil can be dirty, tedious, and in the winter and unpleasant work. The easiest and most effective way to wash the soil is to place a part of it under the running water.
For example, I do this: a liter of soil in a 10-liter bucket, the bucket itself in the bathroom, under the faucet. I open the maximum pressure and forget about the grut for some time, regularly coming up and stirring it (use a thick glove, it is not known what could be in it!) While mixing, you will see that the upper layers are almost clean, and in the lower ones there is still a lot of garbage. The time of such washing depends on the volume and the purity of the soil.
How to wash the soil before putting it in the aquarium?
But for some soils, this method may not be suitable if they are very composed of a very small fraction and float away. Then you can simply fill the bucket to the edge, allow time for the heavy particles to sink to the bottom, and drain the water with the light dirt particles.
Note, you cannot wash lateritic primers. Laterite is a soil that forms in the tropics, at high temperature and humidity. It contains a large amount of iron and gives good food for plants in the first year of aquarium life.
How much should you buy soil for the aquarium?
The question is more complicated than it may seem at first glance. The soil is sold by weight or by volume, but for the aquarist, the soil layer in the aquarium is important, and it is difficult to calculate it by weight. For sand, the layer is usually 2.5-3 cm, and for gravel it is more than about 5-7 cm.
The weight of a liter of dry soil ranges from 2 kg for sand, to 1 kg for clay dry soils. In order to calculate how much you need, just count the volume you need and multiply by the weight of the soil you need.
I added bright gravel to the aquarium and my pH has grown, why?
Many bright soils are made of white dolomite. This natural mineral is rich in calcium and magnesium, and its colorless species are sold for use in saltwater aquariums and aquariums with African cichlids in order to increase water hardness.
If you have hard water in the aquarium, or you keep fish that do not pay special attention to the water parameters, then you have nothing to worry about. But for fish that need soft water, this kind of soil will be a real disaster.
How to siphon soil in an aquarium?
The easiest way is to regularly siphon the soil. How is the part? With every water change, ideally. Now there are various fashionable siphon options - whole aquarium vacuum cleaners. But in order to properly clean the soil in your tank, you need the simplest siphon, consisting of a hose and pipe. In a good way, you can make it yourself out of scrap materials. But it is easier to buy, since it costs quite a bit, and in use it is simple and reliable.
How to use the siphon for the soil?
Siphon is designed to remove dirt and soil during partial water changes in your tank. That is, you are not easy to drain the water, and at the same time clean the soil. In the work of the siphon for soil, the force of gravity is used - a stream of water is created, which carries away light particles with it, and the heavy elements of the soil remain in the aquarium.
Thus, with a partial water change, you clean most of the soil, drain the old water and add fresh, settled.
To create a stream of water, you can use the easiest and most common way - suck water with your mouth. Some siphons have a special device that pumps water.
What is the optimum soil diameter?
The space between the soil particles depends directly on the size of the particles themselves. The larger the size, the more the soil will be ventilated and the less chance it will sour. For example, gravel can pass into itself a much larger amount of water, and, accordingly, oxygen with nutrients than the same sand. If I had been offered a choice, I would stop on gravel or basalt with a fraction of 3-5 mm. If you like sand - do not worry, just try to take coarse-grained, for example, small river and can be compressed to the state of concrete.
Also note that some fish like to rummage or even dig in the ground, and they need sand or very fine gravel. For example, akantoftalmus, corridors, tarakatum, various loaches.
How to change the soil without restarting the aquarium?
The easiest way to remove old soil is to use the same siphon. But you will need a larger size of both the hose and the siphon pipe than the standard one, so that you can create a powerful stream of water that will carry not only dirt, but also heavy particles.
Then you can gently add a new soil, and pour fresh water instead of the one that you leaked. The disadvantage of the method is that sometimes you need to drain too much water in the siphon process to remove all the soil. In this case, you can do it in several passes. Or choose the soil using a plastic container, but the dirt will be much more. Or even easier, use a net made of thick fabric.
Coral sand in an aquarium - is it safe?
No, unless you want to increase the rigidity and acidity in your tank. It contains a large amount of lime, and you can use coral sand in case you keep fish who like hard water, for example, African cichlids.
It can also be used if you have very soft water in the region and you need to increase the hardness for the normal maintenance of aquarium fish.
What is the thickness of the ground to put in the aquarium?
For sand 2.5-3 cm is enough in most cases, for gravel about 5-7 cm. But much still depends on the plants that you intend to keep in the aquarium.
I added a specialized substrate in the ground. Can I siphon it as usual?
In case you use a specialized substrate, then the siphon can significantly drain it. The first time, at least, before significant silting, it is better to refuse to use a siphon. If you make a substrate, then plant a lot of plants. And if you plant a lot of plants, then siphon, in general, is not necessary. And if it so happened that you need to siphon, then only the uppermost layer of the soil siphons (and with the substrate it should be at least 3-4 cm).
Well, it would be necessary to clarify that the substrate cannot be used with strongly digging living creatures, such as cichlids or crustaceans - they will get to the bottom of it - there will be an emergency situation in the aquarium.
What is such a neutral ground? How to check it?
Neutral is a soil that does not contain significant amounts of mineral substances and does not give them into the water. Mel, marble chips and other types are far from neutral. Check is very simple - you can drip vinegar on the ground, if there is no foam, then the ground is neutral. Naturally, it is better to use classic soils - sand, gravel, basalt, since in addition to changing the parameters of water, unpopular soils can contain a lot of dangerous things.
Is it possible to use soils with different fractions?
It is possible, but note that if you use sand and gravel together, for example, then in time, larger particles will be at the top. But it looks sometimes very beautiful.