DIY HEAVY DUTY Gravel Cleaner/external filtration tank (sump)

There are a lot of ways to clean your gravel from uneaten food and dirt. Some DIY cleaners you can easily make yourself and are fine for cleaning out a little dirt. But If you really intend to clean out a big tank and with that alot of dirt these “smaller options” dont really do the job. In doing the cleaning you will also loose water in the process. Due to you having to draw out the water for the flow to suck out the dirt. The easiest way is cutting the top part of a bottle and make a hole in the cap and insert a hose. Pressing down the half cut bottle into your gravel and slowly twisting and moving it will cause the dirt to rise up. the flow of the water running through the hose to an external bucket will suck up al the dirt transporting it through the hose into the bucket.In this process you will “loose”  alot of water. If you intend to do a big water change this is not a problem. But BIG water changes are not needed that often, mostly it are small changes of 10-30% a week/2 weeks depending on which hobbyist you talk to. If for some reason you are not able to refill the tank or not able to make your “new/fresh” water . In this case it is great if the water you just took out is filtered and re-usable to put back in the tank. You could leave the bucket standing for some time to have the dirt drop to the bottom and then tranfer the water back into the tank.If you need to do it multiple times this is not really an option. For this case i made a small glass Filter tank.Can ofcourse also be made from other materials like acrylic or jus a simple plastic container with some compartments/filtersin it.  It has several compartments with filters that the dirty water that just came out your tank has to pass through and is filtered before getting into the “reservoir” part of the cleaner. From this reservoir the clean water can be taken out or pumped back to the tank if you have a smal spare pump. Reversed this “Gravel cleaner” can be used to take gravel out of your tank. Like in my case i made a mistake and had to change the actual gravel. Due to the fact this gravel was PH lowering and the shrimp in this tank did not need this and was actually doing harm. pH levels got to low for these shrimp so i i took out the gravel with shrimp still in the tank and changed all the gravel in the tank to regular gravel. They are doing much better since i did this!! Below you will find the drawing on how the HEAVY duty gravel filter works. Not very pretty but very effective. fig.1 is the “light dirt” filtering. fig.2 is the reversed way to take gravel out the tank and catch it in the reservoir.
Clean Return
Dirty water in return reservoir Filters Dirty water + GRAVEL in clean return water Filters gravel caught in reservoir
fig.1 light dirt extraction
fig.2 HEAVY DUTY gravel catcher with filter for clean water return.
External Filter tank (sump) This same “cleaner” can also be used as a sump for your tank.Adding media in some of the sections like carbon and maybe a heater in the “reservois” section you can create an external filtration tank called sump..Pumping/draining the water from your tank to the sump and letting it pass through the sections with media and oer the heater and back to the tank will create a full circle.This might be a better option for bigger tanks due to the fact that you can size the filtration to your tank instead of having to clean your small filterpumps every several days or every week. Some hobbyist prefer this sump method due to the fact that they do not want to have ugly pumps inside the tank that will spoil the view.they will use what you call an overflow to drain the water from the tank and pump it back from the sump via a transparent hose or something alike.
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An easier and probably better way is get on eof these cheap towers and drill holes into the drawers. Each drawer can be used for a seperate media or filter. You can make the tower as big as you like!!
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Gravel Cleaner