Clean aquarium rocks what does it take to keep your tank safeAquarists should clean aquarium rocks regularly to ensure the substrate is free of ammonia-promoting debris and dirt. If you’ve noticed your fish tank rocks looking mucky lately but aren’t too sure of how to handle the situation, we can help.

This article will lay out how you can have your aquarium rocks looking spick and span, no matter their type!

How To Clean Aquarium Rocks

Before jumping straight into a step-by-step tutorial on the best way to clean fish tank rocks, allow us to explain how to navigate the section. Listed below are the steps aquarists will have to carry out to clean fish tank rocks, like gravel.

However, note this tutorial is meant for fish tanks that are small in size.

– Step 1

Start by removing your fish from the aquarium. Small aquariums generally include one or two fishes at most, so relocating them to another tank or container is straightforward.

– Step 2

To transfer your fish to another container, ensure you’ve utilized non-chlorinated water first. Next, scoop the fish from the aquarium gently, with the help of a fishnet, and release it into the replacement container.

– Step 3

Once the tank is fish-free, it’s time to remove any decorations or plants you’ve used as a setup. After that, unplug your tank’s water filter and set all these things aside.

– Step 4

Once your fish tank only includes gravel and water, it’s time to separate the rocks with the help of a sieve. Do this by pouring the aquarium water through the sieve to allow the rocks to collect inside. Next, place the sieve containing the gravel under running lukewarm water.

– Step 5

As you’re holding the sieve under the running water, ensure you stir the gravel a few times to dislodge any debris and muck. Keep washing the gravel until the water draining away starts to appear clean.

If you’re trying to clean aquarium rocks of algae, use a toothbrush dipped in white vinegar to clear the gunk away. Some people might suggest using chlorine bleach for this purpose, but cleaning aquarium rocks with vinegar is much safer for your finned friends.

– Step 6

Allow the excess water to drain away from the sieve and return the clean gravel to your aquarium’s floor. You can now add the plants and decorations to the tank and attach and refill it with dechlorinated water. Next, attach the filter and switch it on.

– Step 7

Finally, pick up your fish(es) from the replacement tank or container with a fishnet and gently submerge the net in the tank to allow the fish to swim out.

Large Tanks

If you’re the proud owner of a medium or large-sized fish tank, cleaning aquarium gravel will work a little differently for you. Here’s how:

– Step 1

Removing fish from a large aquarium to clean gravel or rocks isn’t advised for two reasons. First, the process will take too long, and second, you may injure the fish in the process. Besides that, aquarists with larger tanks can rely on gravel siphons to get the job done.

– Step 2

Start by placing an adequately-sized bucket on the floor next to the aquarium. Ensure the bucket is always placed on a lower level to allow gravity to help the gravel siphon do its job.

Additionally, never utilize buckets used for household cleaning chores because trace chemicals can find their way from the bucket to the fish tank and harm your fish.

– Step 3

Place the gravel siphon into the aquarium by placing the cylindrical end in the water. Make sure the siphon’s opening is resting right on the gravel substrate.

– Step 4

Next, move the other end of the siphon over the fish tank’s edge and line it right above the plastic bucket on the floor. Suck on the gravel siphon end in your hand gently to create negative (or vacuum) pressure.

As soon as you see the water flowing from the tube towards you, place the gravel siphon’s end over the bucket to capture all the aquarium water.

– Step 5

The vacuum pressure created inside the tubes will allow the cylindrical opening of the siphon to suction off any debris stuck to the gravel substrate. However, it’s essential to press the submerged opening of the siphon into the gravel to ensure no waste is left behind.

– Step 6

Gently move the siphon from one end of the fish tank’s floor to the other to cover every nook and cover like a vacuum cleaner. Doing so will help dislodge and clear away grime and algae particles from all over the substrate.

If you notice the gravel siphon picks up small pieces of rocks during this process, dislodge the bits and continue the process. In addition, remember to pay special care to avoid going near any fish nearby.

– Step 7

Be quick to move the siphon around the gravel, because it’s best not to drain more than 25 percent of the fish tank water in one go. Doing so can upset the delicate balance of beneficial bacteria and give rise to serious concerns like ammonia spikes.

– Step 8

After you’ve covered the complete area of the aquarium floor, remove the gravel siphon and set it aside. Drain the tank water from the bucket and wash your siphon by running it under hot water.

– Step 9

Next, refill the tank with de-chlorinated water until it reaches its normal water levels, and don’t forget to ensure the replacement water meets all the necessary water parameters.

Cleaning River Rocks for Aquarium Use

Believe it or not, fish keepers can add mementos from nature to their aquariums to create the perfect mood.

That’s why river rocks are a popular option for aquascaping. The only problem is that most don’t know how to sterilize rocks for aquarium use to avoid issues like bacteria, chemicals, and other pollutants.

If you’re interested in learning a fool-proof method to clean river rocks for aquarium setups, scroll down to our step-by-step instructions.

– Step 1

One of the easiest ways to clean and sterilize rocks from freshwater sources is to conduct a hydrogen peroxide soak. That’s because hydrogen peroxide is a stable and effective disinfectant, and it converts back to oxygen and water in 24 hours, making it safe to use.

– Step 2

To prepare the river rocks for the soak, you’ll first need to wash and scrub them thoroughly to remove debris, algae, or any other type of dirt. Wash each river rock individually, and you can utilize a (brand-new) toothbrush to scour the rocks.

– Step 3

Once the rocks have been scrubbed clean, it’s time to prepare the hydrogen peroxide soak. Fill up a sterile container using one part hydrogen peroxide to five parts of water. For instance, add one cup of hydrogen peroxide for every five cups of water.

– Step 4

Next, add the river rocks you want to sterilize to the container and set a timer for one hour. Allow the stones to soak for as long as possible. Don’t be alarmed if you hear fizzing sounds because that’s the chemical reacting with algae.

– Step 5

When the timer runs out, carefully remove the stones from the peroxide soak and rinse under running water. Once the rocks are washed, place them on a rack or somewhere protected from dust and let them dry out for about 24 hours.

– Step 6

Place the river rocks in your aquariums once the one-day drying time is up!

How To Clean Live Rocks

If the live rocks in your saltwater aquarium have taken on a rotten fish smell instead of a pleasant ocean breeze, chances are you’re due for a curing process.

However, a better way to check if your live rock needs deep cleaning is to place it in a container with salt water for 24 hours and then review the ammonia levels. If the ammonia level of water is above 0ppm, curing or deep cleaning the live rocks is vital. Here’s how you can go about the process.

– Step 1

Fill an adequately-sized container with saltwater. It’s best to make your mix with deionized or reverse osmosis water because tap water can contain chemicals like chlorine, phosphates, etc.

Additionally, it’s best to use something along the lines of a Rubbermaid trash can as the container because the larger the water volume, the better it is.

– Step 2

Inspect your live rock closely for decaying organic matter. If you notice dark or black patches, that means the presence of dead organic matter. Utilize a medium-bristled brush to scrub (gently) and remove all the dead organic matter that you can. Then rinse the live rock.

– Step 3

Place the live rock in the container and ensure the water level reaches the top. Next, attach a protein skimmer (to remove the collecting waste) and a powerhead for circulation.

You’ll also need to add a water heater to keep the temperature between 80 to 82F. Remember, higher water temperature (within the given range) and greater water flow will make the curing process work faster.

– Step 4

Keep testing the water at least twice or thrice per week for nitrites and ammonia. If the ammonia reading is above 5.0 ppm (or you haven’t conducted a water change for more than five days), it’s time for a water change!

– Step 5

Conduct at least two water changes per week. If the ammonia reading is at 10ppm, increase the quantity to three or four weekly water changes. If the ammonia reading is at 5ppm, conducting a water change once every five days is fine.

– Step 6

When your ammonia levels hit 0ppm, and the nitrates stop rising, your live rock curing process is complete! It is key to remember not to light the live rocks with full intensity during the curing process. Use either natural (indirect lighting) or actinic lighting (no more than five hours per day) because full intensity lighting can result in an algae bloom during the curing process.

Conclusion

Clean aquarium rocksCleaning aquarium rocks aren’t too difficult if one knows what to do. Speaking of which, here’s a brief recap of the vital points discussed in this guide:

  • How you clean your aquarium rocks can vary depending on the type of rock and the aquarium size.
  • Removing and cleaning the gravel of small fish tanks is easily done. However, aquarists with larger tanks will need to rely on a gravel siphon to clean their rock substrate.
  • Cleaning or sterilizing river rocks before adding them to fish tanks is a must to avoid bacteria and other concerns.
  • The river rock sterilizing technique requires a simple hydrogen peroxide soak and a 24-hour drying period.
  • Black, patchy, and stinky live rocks need to be cured to remove the presence of dead organic matter.

After reading this guide, we’re hoping our readers know exactly how to deal with cleaning the aquarium rocks in their tanks. Pay close attention to following the instructions listed here, and you’ll do fine!

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