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Suggestions needed for cleaning sand bottom aquarium

Postby Indywar2 » Mon May 25, 2020 10:20 am

Good morning,

This may seem like a crazy question but I am seeking advice cleaning a 75 gallon aquarium that has PFS as the substrate. The problem I have been having is that my siphon is not removing the large black/green pieces (I am assuming algae) from the sand. With the siphon attached to the faucet and the faucet on full, the sand and black particles go up into the siphon tube, but then fall back down into the tan never discharging to the sink.

I am using the "Python No Spill Clean and Fill Aquarium Maintenance System" and have had good success with this system over the years with a small gravel aquarium (and different faucet). However, with the 75 gallon PFS aquarium I don't seem to get the waste from the sand to go through the siphon to the drain.

Some additional details: The python tube (I have both the 10" and 24" tubes) are connected to ~ 50' of the hose. The water/waste must travel from the sand and goes up ~ 24" to the top of the tank and then the hose lays on the floor for ~ 30' and then rises ~ 24" to a basin tub in the garage where the python valve is attached to the faucet. When cleaning I have both faucets (hot and cold) opened full.

I do get the water draining pretty fast, but can't seem to get the large debris to be sucked out. I am at a loss at this point on how best to clean the junk on the sand.

Any suggestions greatly appreciate.

Thanks,
Rob
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Re: Suggestions needed for cleaning sand bottom aquarium

Postby Deeda » Mon May 25, 2020 10:32 am

Hey Rob, I think the problem is a combination of the type of algae and the length of your Python set up. A quick fix would be to siphon directly into a bucket with the shortest hose available but would require you to empty the bucket frequently.

Can you better describe the algae you are getting on the substrate? It almost sounds like cyanobacteria which tends to form sheets on the substrate and sometimes can attach to the substrate quite firmly.
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Re: Suggestions needed for cleaning sand bottom aquarium

Postby DJRansome » Mon May 25, 2020 10:50 am

Deeda wrote:Hey Rob, I think the problem is a combination of the type of algae...Can you better describe the algae you are getting on the substrate? It almost sounds like cyanobacteria which tends to form sheets on the substrate and sometimes can attach to the substrate quite firmly.
Plus one.

Remove Cyanobacteria physically before you vacuum. Eliminate the cause of cyanobacteria so it does not come back. In general, there should be nothing on the substrate other than food waste and feces. Even that can be mostly eliminated with sufficient filtration.
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Re: Suggestions needed for cleaning sand bottom aquarium

Postby Indywar2 » Mon May 25, 2020 12:00 pm

Hi Deeda and DJ,

Thanks for the fast response. I will be adding a picture (hopefully) from the tank to aid in determining the algae. I am in the middle of a water change so everything is kicked up and turbid. Sorry for the bad quality of the picture.

I did think about shortening the tubing and dumping into a bucket. That I may try next time.

Questions:
What is the best way to physically remove it?
What is the best way to prevent it?

Thanks,
Rob
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Aquarium Picture 2.jpg
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Re: Suggestions needed for cleaning sand bottom aquarium

Postby DJRansome » Mon May 25, 2020 12:07 pm

You should really not have "algae" on the substrate at all. Is the same stuff on the rocks and glass as well?

Before you break it up, it can be removed in sheets. Hands, spatula, whatever works.

Now that is it in small patches, I would try sifting...a plastic colander can work. It depends on the size of the grains in your substrate.

How to keep it from coming back? Figure out why it started in the first place and eliminate the root cause. For me it was languishing plants. What are your test results for pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate? Any plants? What is your GPH?
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Re: Suggestions needed for cleaning sand bottom aquarium

Postby Deeda » Mon May 25, 2020 1:30 pm

Pictures aren't very clear due to the water change but it does appear to be cyanobacteria. I've had it in a couple of 30G tanks and used a siphon to remove the majority of it, small floating loose pieces I used a fine mesh net but wasn't able to remove all of it.

The big question is what causes it? I've heard it's poor water flow, low nutrients, high nutrients, silica based sand, too much light, not enough light, and even aliens. :lol:

The how to fix it list is equally as long. Some recommend a 3 day total black out AFTER removing as much of it as possible because as it dies it negatively impacts water quality. Others recommend using Erythromycin to treat the tank which is what I did on my 2 tanks and it did clear it out for a couple months but then it returned. The product I bought was Fish Mycin by Thomas Labs and I don't remember if it affected my 'good' bacteria or not. Some people have good results with Boyd Chemiclean.

Do a good check of water parameters as DJ suggested and post the results.
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Re: Suggestions needed for cleaning sand bottom aquarium

Postby DJRansome » Mon May 25, 2020 1:35 pm

I used erythromycin one time and just removed the slimy stuff and the cause the other time. Both work. Erythromycin can harm your beneficial organisms handling the toxins in your tank so beware.

As stated for me it was a plant imbalance...they grew too fast and all was fine. But once the nitrate went to zero and they had no fertilizer, the plants languished and leaked fluids into the tank which the blue-green algae love. I just removed the plants.

If you have an infestation you can scrub the décor and soak in hydrogen peroxide weak solution before replacing.
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Re: Suggestions needed for cleaning sand bottom aquarium

Postby Indywar2 » Mon May 25, 2020 2:16 pm

Thanks again for the good information. I do not have any plants in the tank I have two 32W, 6500k fluorescent lights that are on a timer 12 hrs/day.

My water parameters ~1hr after the water change:
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 20 ppm
pH: 6.72
Temp: 78.8
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Re: Suggestions needed for cleaning sand bottom aquarium

Postby DJRansome » Mon May 25, 2020 2:34 pm

Obvious culprits out. Not sure if low pH is a factor because my tanks are all high pH. What fish do you keep? Change 50% of the water for a start.

Turn your lights down to 6 hours/day...try that for a while but the blackout may be an eventual treatment.

What is your GPH?

You might want to try a phosphate test of your tap first and then your tap.
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Re: Suggestions needed for cleaning sand bottom aquarium

Postby Indywar2 » Mon May 25, 2020 3:29 pm

Thanks again for the suggestions. You both have given me some ideas to try. I think I will save the erythromycin until the last option.

1) decrease light in tank
2) clean all rocks, etc of algae / bacterial biofilm and decontaminate.

I currently have 5 Sunrise Benga Peacock / Sunset Peacocks. One that is 3-4 inches the rest are 2-3 inches.

I currently feed them twice a day. Should I decrease the feeding as well?

Thanks,
Rob
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Re: Suggestions needed for cleaning sand bottom aquarium

Postby DJRansome » Mon May 25, 2020 3:39 pm

If the fish are not skinny (concave bellies) then definitely feed less. What is your GPH? Low oxygenation can be a factor and it is easy to solve and good for the fish.
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Re: Suggestions needed for cleaning sand bottom aquarium

Postby Indywar2 » Tue May 26, 2020 8:25 pm

Hi DJ,

I have two Sunsun 404B canister filters. They are rated at 525 GPH...I am sure that was rated without filters and media so probably somewhat less than 1000 GPH total.

Rob
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Re: Suggestions needed for cleaning sand bottom aquarium

Postby DJRansome » Tue May 26, 2020 8:40 pm

What are the dimensions of the tank? Do you have 8X gallons per hour turnover or more?
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Re: Suggestions needed for cleaning sand bottom aquarium

Postby Indywar2 » Tue May 26, 2020 8:48 pm

It is a 75-gallon tank (48"w x 20" h x18" d). Assuming the label claim on each pump (525GPH x 2) that would equal 14x the tank turns over every hour. I tried to set it up with over-filtration if such a thing exists.

Rob
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Re: Suggestions needed for cleaning sand bottom aquarium

Postby DJRansome » Tue May 26, 2020 9:44 pm

There is over-filtration. 10X GPH is good. So oxygenation is not your problem.

I would buy the phosphate test. Lots of people have excess light but it is more likely to trigger algae growth as opposed to blue-green slime algae. We have not identified the nutrient issue as yet.
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