How to Clean Old Sand for Reuse

You feel like starting over…You feel all hope is lost…


There are a few¬†times when an aquarium will hit a disastrous¬†level. Maybe it was due to a power failure beyond our control. Maybe an equipment failure was to blame. Maybe a storm hit and there was no way to save your tank babies. We put so much time, energy AND MONEY into our tanks that if something drastic happens, it is often thought…to quit!

DON’T! If you are anything like me, you love this hobby way too much to throw in the towel!

I had a reader reach out to me explaining that her tank took a nose dive after a power failure over the summer. Her entire saltwater tank crashed and she was unable to save any of her livestock. The tank started to smell really bad and she thought everything was dead and gone.


Quick Story: I had a similar situation a few months back with a new project tank I was working on. When I picked the tank up, the sand smelled horrible as it had been sitting for quite some time. Now anyone who owns a saltwater aquarium knows, the sand holds all of the filter feeders…and what do the filter feeders eat?…POOP (and other dead stuff)! Ha! So just imagine that foul smell sitting for months undisturbed! And here you go…disturbing it! Yuck! It’s enough to clear a house let me assure you. But after filling the tank up with salt water to clean the tank, I got lazy, and it sat over the weekend. Who would’ve thought that on Sunday morning, I would have little snails and crabs crawling around. HEY! Where did you guys come from and where were you hiding? It was insane!


Back to our reader (I haven’t forgotten about you…I get side tracked sometimes)..

When cleaning the sand, the easiest, and I do mean easiest way to do so is:

  1. Get a five gallon bucket (you may need a few of them)
  2. Fill the bucket about 3/4’s of the way with your nasty dirty sand
  3. Run clean water through it until the water runs clear
  • You will need to stir the sand every now and then to get the large debris.

I recommend some heavy duty gloves to do the stirring…

I use the ones below – I got them from Amazon –> Click Here


This is called “rinsing the sand”. It will take a few times…and your arms will be tired (I warned you).

You do not necessarily have to let the sand dry completely before reuse. Some recommend it to kill off any additional bacteria. I personally do not follow that method. The reality of it is, you will have to cycle your tank again (for about 6 weeks) regardless when you start over, so fear not.


Another method I have also used is a little more time consuming. You fill the tank up with RODI Salt Water and siphon the water out as you stir the sand bringing all the debris to the top of the tank. This one is a little more time consuming and also takes a lot more water. I have used both methods listed personally.


DO NOT, and I do repeat DO NOT use any type of soaps, detergents, cleaners (including peroxide solutions) to clean your sand. Clean running water will do the trick. Those types of solvents get absorbed into the sand and will later harm your livestock.

After cleaning your sand and reintroducing it into your tank… I recommend starting off with crabs and snails when you begin your tank cycle. They will get anything that you missed.

I hope this helps!


Comment below on your thoughts, questions or methods you have used to clean your aquarium sand for reuse…


Take Beautiful Underwater Pictures

Have you ever wondered how some people get such great pictures of the life in their tanks? I know I always have. Recently I began to search for an alternative to picture taking my 90 gallons of paradise. My first thought was to get an underwater camera. I wanted clean and up close shots of my live stock in my tank.

As I started shopping around, I noticed that underwater cameras are rather expensive. At least for what I wanted it for. Then it came to me…hey, why not just buy a water proof case for my iPhone 5? I already had the equipment I needed. I just needed to figure out how to make it work for me. After this thought popped into my head, I honestly thought to myself, wait, do I really want to trust a case to submerge a $500+ piece of equipment that has all of my data stored in it? The thought of losing my phone due to a faulty case scared me half to death.

I went window shopping. Amazon hasn’t steered me wrong yet. I came across the Lifeproof iPhone 5 Case. This thing is insane. After reading the reviews on it, I decided to purchase it. It comes in many different colors. I decided on my favorite color Red.


As soon as I got it home, I opened the case and followed the “water testing” directions that were enclosed to the T. The case passed the water test with flying colors. I was still nervous about submerging my expensive phone into my tank. I called to double check my phone’s insurance covered water damage, I backed my phone up to my computer, and I took life by the horns. LOL

Here are some of my first pictures!


20130801-012805.jpgGreen ZoasHairy Mushroom20130801-012828.jpg

I had problems taking pictures under water at first. The iPhone 5 senses the electricity in your body which helps the screen read your finger movements. Underwater, the electricity within the tank itself will disable the touch screen function. I did a little research and figured out that while in camera mode, you can use the volume up button to snap pictures or start and stop video on the iPhone. Problem solved!

No leaks! I took great pictures! I bought this case especially to do underwater shots. It’s a plus that it also protects my phone if I ever drop it as well. I am truly completely satisfied with this one!

Good Job Life Proof!

Want more reviews?

Check out what CNET and PCMAG have to say!


Tell us about your underwater picture taking experience below: Leave a comment!

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Your Livestock Will Tell You

Have you ever noticed a flower hanging over as if it looked like it needed water or sun?

An aquarium gives you the same types of signals when there is something not quite right. A few changes in the behavior of livestock could be a big deal.

For instance, if the clams in my tank decide to close up for long periods of time during the day (and they haven’t recently been fed) something is usually going on with the water chemistry. It’s the same for many coral in my tank. Usually while lights are on, everything is opened up and showing off their bright colorations as they enjoy the “ocean breeze”. When coral or inverts (such as anemones) start losing coloration and start to fade, there is defiantly something wrong with that water chemistry. If this isn’t corrected as soon as possible, it could mean the lost of livestock.

I have personally spent hours watching my aquarium on a regular basis. I enjoy watching the different behaviors of the different sea critters throughout the day. I have an idea of how most things in my tank react when they are unhappy. The key is to WATCH YOUR LIVESTOCK!!!

Corals normally close up when lights are out and right after feeding time. This also includes invertebrates. Any other time you see them closed or looking limp should be a red flag. Be very concerned. Step number one would be to check your parameters. If anything is out of wack, make the corrections needed.

When fish that are normally very active throughout the day begin to become sluggish or hide, take that extra step to make sure your parameters are in check. Then again, for fish like clownfish, they are always acting weird. They are very playful and don’t like to be ignored. So be ready for some “attitude” if you fail to give them the attention that they want.

Algae is another main concern in a beautiful tank. It can over run a tank and become the yucky stuff growing on your glass, rocks and sand.

Keeping up with proper maintenance on a regular basis will also help you to catch issues before they come a real problem.

So at the end of the day… WATCH YOUR LIVESTOCK

It will save you a lot of headache…

Questions, concerns or feedback…Please feel free…

Happy Reefing!


Shroom County

Mushrooms are a very gorgeous addition to any saltwater aquarium. They require a medium light source and low to medium water flow. They are very hardy for any new hobbyist. Their bright colors and ease of care makes them a crowd favorite. They enjoy a 1.025 salinity (salt concentration). They also thrive on the foods that are fed to your other aquarium corals. They are good tank mates. Take a look at true blues and reds from my 90 gallons of paradise.



Want to know more about Mushrooms….Just ask!

Common Aquarium Start Up Mistakes


There are many basic start up mistakes that new hobbyist make when they begin. List are the most common mistakes.

1. Starting with a tank too small

The smaller the tank, the less room for error. Imagine dropping an Oreo cookie Ina glass of milk versus a gallon of milk. The glass would be mostly Oreo cookie. Or thunk about how much time i would take to boil water in a pot versus in a pool. When our parameters in our tanks change, they change slowly over time. The more water available, the longer you have to catch problems that could be detrimental to your livestock.

2. Adding animals too soon

A certain level of bacteria must build up in a tank in order for organisms to live. Many say 3-6 months of running a tank is needed to reach that ideal bacteria level. This also allows micro organisms to show their face in your aquarium. A tank must go through a complete nitrogen cycle to keep livestock healthy. This is where quality test kits will come into play.

3. Adding too much at one time

Each piece of livestock weather it be fish, coral or invert needs time to adjust to its surroundings. In order to keep a close eye on your bio load and how each fish reacts, you should add fish slowly. Most of the time hobbyist will tell you no more than 2-3 fish per month. Of course adding 3 small fish such as chromis would not be the same as adding 3 large tangs.

4. Housing too much once established

Know you bio load. Know how much filtration you have and how well it will keep your water clean. Many use a 3 inch per gallon rule when it comes to fish. Saltwater aquariums are a bit different. Know your limit. The better your filtration system, the more fish you can house. Also keep in mind the bio load of other organisms such as inverts and corals that you may want to add later.

5. Neighbors don’t play nice

There is nothing like adding an aggressive fish to a tank that holds docile fish. What do you think will happen? The docile fish WILL get picked on and possibly killed. When looking at how much saltwater fish can cost, I wouldn’t take that chance. Sounds like a waste of money. Know the compatibility levels for what you want to add to your tank.

6. Too much food

What you put in your tank must break down. Weather it be in fish poop or bits of food that don’t get eaten. Over feeding your tank may cause spikes in your nitrite, nitrate and ammonia levels among other things. These high concentrated numbers can be detrimental to your livestock.

7. Not enough filteration

Filtration is key. Normally I use a 4 way filtration system that includes live rock filtration, refugium filtration (with plants that absorb nitrates and other nutrients in that water), protein skimmers and certain aquatic life filters such as clams. My particular set up can filter a tank stocked to capacity for a 300 gallon tank even though it only filters a 90 gallon. This enables me to spend more time enjoying and less time changing water so often.

8. Proper testing and maintenance

Proper testing is a major factor. Knowing when something is wrong in your tank is a major thing and needs to be tend to as soon as possible. Everyone maintains their tank differently. Over time you will find out what works for you. Personally, because I have a filtration system that is three times the size that my tank needs, I don’t have to change my water as often. This gives me more time to enjoy my tank without making it a burden.

9. Not purchasing correct equipment

Know where you want to go in the hobby. I started out with a 30 gallon tank (big no no for a newbie) and I ended up upgrading to a 75 gallon within a few months. Think about all the money I put into a tank, proper lighting as well as a stand and filtration on a 30 gallon. Then I turned around and spent even more money upgrading all that equipment for my 75 gallon. Do it right the first time. Shop used equipment. Ask your local fish store or local reefers. I couldn’t tell you how much equipment I have in storage that I don’t use. There are people to help.

10. Not understanding the needs of your tank

Know what you are getting yourself into. RESEARCH!!! Read blogs, books and magazines. Ask people in the hobby about their experiences. Make Friends!!!!! Understand that this is not a cheap hobby to do for a few months. It takes time, patience and above all MONEY! Be smart about your new commitment.

Any questions or concerns???? Please feel free to ask!

Happy Reefing!