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How to Remove Sand from Aquarium

how to remove sand from aquarium

There are many reasons why you want to remove the sand in your fish tank. Whether it’s a total change or cleaning your sand outside the aquarium, the main point is it’s doable and easy to do. All you need is the right set of tools to do it quickly.

In this article, our team will let you learn how to remove sand from aquarium. There are many ways to remove it in the aquarium, and two of them will be presented in this content.


Removing the Sand from the Aquarium

We will be presenting two different methods of removing the sand in your aquarium. The first method is clearing the sand without removing the fish from the fish tank. The second one is more on the safe side of removing all the fish before removing all the sand.

Method 1: Removing the Sand Without Removing the Fish

Removing the sand while keeping the fish is doable. For me, it is actually an easy task to do, but you have to use the right set of tools and procedures while removing it from the fish tank.

The primary tool that will be us is an aquarium gravel vacuum. Please take note that the larger the diameter of the hose, the easier it is going to be. You will also need a bucket because of the vacuuming process where the water will come with it. Here is the step-by-step guide:

Step 1: Start the Siphoning Process

Start to siphon by sucking the other end of the vacuum to let the sand siphon by the vacuum. The large opening of the gravel vacuum will make it easy for you to remove the sand in large quantities.

Once the siphoning starts, you literally start siphoning the sand. What will happen is the sand and water will go into the bucket to sink it at the bottom of the bucket.

Step 2: Dealing With the Clogging

Using a gravel vacuum may cause the sucking of the sand to happen too quickly, making it clogged itself and stopping the siphoning process. What you do is start the process all over again. You can just remove the vacuum and put all the sand and water inside to the bucket, and starts over again.

Step 3: Keep on Adding Water

Since you are not removing the fish during the removal of the sand, you will need to keep adding water during the siphoning process. Since you are removing the water with it, it is normal for the aquarium water to diminish while you are siphoning all of it. Keep adding water as you continue to remove the sand to protect the fish in the aquarium.

Step 4: Continue the Siphoning Process

Continue to vacuum the remaining sand in the aquarium while positioning it to the area where the sand is still available. Make sure to check the vacuum if it is clogged while also checking the fish inside. Also, ensure that the fish will be disturbed while continuing to add water if it is necessary.

Step 5: Use a Glass Dish to do it Quickly

If you want to finish the removal quickly, you can now use a glass dish to remove the remaining sand in the aquarium. Siphoning will remove the sand slowly but using the glass dish will remove it quickly, especially if there are only a few quantities of sand left.

When doing this way, be very careful not to hurt the fish while doing it. Add additional water if necessary to let the fish swim properly. Scooping out the sand using the glass dish may be messy, but it gets the job quickly.

removing the sand while separating the fish

Method 2: Removing the Sand While Separating the Fish From the Fish Tank

The more conservative way is to first remove all the fish in the aquarium before removing all the sand in it. This method is usually applicable if you want to introduce a new substrate into the aquarium or want to clean and rinse the current sand that you have.

Step 1: Preparing the Fish

The initial step is to prepare your fish if you want it to be removed from the aquarium. You will need a temporary aquarium or a place that will give the fish some comfort while they are away from the aquarium.

Step 2: Plan the Removal

You can also plan ahead by scheduling the sand removal on a particular day that is not right after a filter change day. It will help build good organisms, but you need to top off the aquarium before removing the sand.

Step 3: Start the Siphoning Process

Start siphoning the water from the original tank to the temporary tank where the fish, rocks, plants, and other species will be placed. After siphoning, you can now start moving all the fish, plants, and rocks to the temporary aquarium.

Step 4: Scooping the Sand

You can now start to begin scooping out the sand until all of them are removed from the aquarium. Once all of them is removed, you can try to siphon any leftover until everything is gone.

Step 5: Adding or Rinsing the Sand

You can now add a new set of sand if you want to or rinse it until it runs clear and returns it to the tank. After that, you can now start returning all of your aquarium species to the original aquarium.


Learning how to remove sand from aquarium is an easy thing to do. Whatever your reason is for the removal, it is essential to remove it correctly so as not to disturb all the living organisms in your aquarium.

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