Sand - Maintenance in Shrimp Tank - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-11-2020, 12:44 PM Thread Starter
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Question Sand - Maintenance in Shrimp Tank

Hi all, sorry if a similar question has been posted.

I have a low tech tank that is very self sufficient (inhabitants survive without a very routine cleaning schedule). This tank has mostly sand substrate. While I don't have many tank inhabitants, I find I get a LOT of mulm on the sand.

The tank has shrimp in it, and I find cleaning a challenge. I can't vacuum aggressively like with a gravel tank because the sand gets sucked away, plus I'm worried that I will suck away shrimp. I am planning on adding more shrimp and having them breed in the tank too.

I've seen suggestions to stir the sand lightly and have the mulm float and then scoop it out. That seems very tedious and difficult to get all the mulm away (my current method of cleaning). I've also seen posts saying if there's mulm on the surface of the substrate that there isn't enough water flow to keep the detritus in the water column long enough for the filter to suck it away. I'm using a sponge filter because I've heard it's better for shrimp, but sponge filters don't create much water movement.

How does one keep a shrimp tank clean? Should I change to gravel instead so mulm doesn't sit on top? When I had gravel tanks I usually vacuumed very aggressively and swirled my vacuum in the gravel, but with shrimp I'm really worried about sucking them up.

Tank details:
  • 16 litre capacity (so very small)
  • Sponge filter
  • Heater
  • Basic LED lighting
  • 4 ember tetras
  • 4 cherry shrimp (plan to add more)
  • Java fern
  • Java moss
  • Subwassertang
  • Driftwood (even after 2 years it STILL leaches tannins into the water like no tomorrow - have previously soaked it in boiled water - not sure how to address this and don't really know if I should boil it again at this stage)
  • Black sand sprinkled with gravel

I have attached a photo and if you look on the sand even after a tank cleaning there is a lot of mulm present.

Please help!
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-11-2020, 01:04 PM
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Here's my 3 cents on this.

1) When you gravel vac use the pinch off method to be very precise with what you suck up. Once the sihpon is going pinch the hose to stop suction, then place the tube in the gravel, unpinch the tube to suck up the mulm, then pinch the hose move the tube again and repeat. The point is to stop the suction when you are moving to tube so no shrimp get sucked up by accident.

2) Malaysian trumpet snails may solve this issue. I use an agaronite substrate that is a little bigger than sand but my MTS manage to keep the top 1/2" of substrate spotless. I don't gravel vac that tank. They eat debri on the top and shift the substrate so more mulm drops deeper into the substrate where the plants can then use it up.

3) And simply adding an airstone in the left corner there will increase water circulation a good bit.
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-11-2020, 01:48 PM
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The pinch method described above does work. The heavy sand falls while the light mulm stays suspended in the tube long enough to resume removal after the sand has fallen out. Another line of defense is to siphon into a bucket (better yet, a pitcher on small tanks). If you got any shrimp just put them back in the tank. If you sucked up sand just pour the dirty water out, rinse and return the sand to the tank. But once you've gotten a feel for "the pinch" this isn't necessary. If the tube is too rigid to pinch, you can loop it around and squeeze a kink in the hose to pause the siphon too
Also having the right size tool for the job is key, like the Small size Python (1" diameter, 12" long tube). The 12" gives you more space to work with between pinches

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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-12-2020, 05:37 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDukeAnumber1 View Post
1) When you gravel vac use the pinch off method to be very precise with what you suck up. Once the sihpon is going pinch the hose to stop suction, then place the tube in the gravel, unpinch the tube to suck up the mulm, then pinch the hose move the tube again and repeat. The point is to stop the suction when you are moving to tube so no shrimp get sucked up by accident.

3) And simply adding an airstone in the left corner there will increase water circulation a good bit.
1. So I pinch the hose to stop the water flow through the gravel vac? I must need a thin/soft hose to do it then. I have the standard aquarium vacs where I have to do a lot of pumping... seems like it's hard to pinch them? Are my hoses just too thick?

3. With a sponge filter, will the additional water circulation with an air stone remove the mulm?

Quote:
Originally Posted by KayakJimW View Post
The pinch method described above does work. The heavy sand falls while the light mulm stays suspended in the tube long enough to resume removal after the sand has fallen out. Another line of defense is to siphon into a bucket (better yet, a pitcher on small tanks). If you got any shrimp just put them back in the tank. If you sucked up sand just pour the dirty water out, rinse and return the sand to the tank. But once you've gotten a feel for "the pinch" this isn't necessary. If the tube is too rigid to pinch, you can loop it around and squeeze a kink in the hose to pause the siphon too
Also having the right size tool for the job is key, like the Small size Python (1" diameter, 12" long tube). The 12" gives you more space to work with between pinches
I do use a bucket now, but because shrimp like to be in the bottom I find them hard to scoop up. Wouldn't want to scoop up the shrimp with the mulm and put it back in the tank! How do I go about addressing this?

I'm in Australia and I usually just purchase things from local pet stores. What thickness of tube works that's easy to pinch but also sucks away enough water? I have a vac that needs manual pumping right now, which usually disturbs the sand a lot. Are there vacs that don't need manual pumping? I also don't like the idea of using my mouth to get the vac started... seems unhygienic and I've heard of people getting sick from it before.
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-12-2020, 08:45 AM
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Just put a flow restrictor on current hose to slow it down so it’s strong enough to lift mulm but not sand. With that fine of sand there really shouldn’t need for deep vacuuming because it so tightly pored all the detritus just sets on top. Just slow it down and lightly skim over surface to suck up mulm.
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cleaning, ember tetras, mulm, sand, shrimp

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