Siphoning sand? Yes, or no - and HOW to do it?
My new 75 Gal. has 2 Geophagus' that love my sand substrate - they plow thru the stuff, sifting it thru their gills. Very happy fish. It's a fairly new tank, and I'm new to sand. Here's the problem:
When I do my weekly water changes with my python, I cannot seem to lift anything off the sand bottom - I just end up sucking up a bunch of sand. And I hover VERY close to the top of the sand, and still nothing comes up the tube - its only when I actually TOUCH the sand that I get anything coming up, and its mostly sand. Not good for my garbage disposal, let me tell you.
So, question one - do I need to syphon the sand? I work the gravel in my Oscar tank like a mad man, and all sorts of stuff comes up. I'm worried that leaving poop on the sand will eventually cause my nitrates to spike. Admittedly, they've been pretty stable with my weekly water changes (Ammonia: 0, Nitrites: 0, Nitrates: between 5 and 10), but it only stands to reason I need to find a way to get this crap off the sand (not that I can see much, what with the constant sifting of my Geos they are always covering and re-layering the sand).
Question two: if I DO need to siphon, how do I do it? It's really got me stumped.
I had eactly the same problem when i first put sand in my new tank. I found a couple of ways around it.
First i found that if i had a very fine net, just big enough to let the sand through, i could sieve the sand through it and pull out the poo in the net. Worked well, but caused a lot of disturbance and was a bit of a hassle. I also had to turn my filter off when i was doing it, and wairt for the sand to re-settle after before i turned it back on so i didn't end up with a filter full of sand!
I now have discovered that if you take the wide bit off the end of your siphon/vac so you are effectively just using a pipe, the suction is stronger, and i could pick up the poo from higher above the sand, but leave the sand were it was.
As for how often, using my second method i just give it a good going over whenever i do a water change. usually weekly.
Hope that helps!
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