Sand sifters are animals that move the sand bed, and the latter eat remaining food matter that fell down to the substrate, keeping in mind an animal can be both. Since I'm intending to add some substrate for my turtle, I need a way that keeps it clean without forcing me to clean it manually, which, of course, is quite a chore. I need sand sifters that cannot damage my turtle(even unintentionally), and also that my turtle won't eat. I need them to be efficient and effective, as well as low maintenance.

What are some good inexpensive and independent sand sifters that can help clean my substrate?

Even if they were relatively expensive and/or inappropriate for this cause, a list of different sifters with some info will definitely be a plus to the answer.

  • An undergravel filter dramatically reduces the need for cleaning actions. After months I'm still not able to get any dirt into my vacuum cleaner. The need for water changes remains and might even increase because of the filter media size which transforms faster into NO3. Jan 15, 2017 at 23:55

1 Answer 1


There's nothing that's going to keep a turtle tank clean except water changes. Even if you introduce another animal to clean up after the turtle, that animal will subsequently produce waste which will end up in the water and the substrate. Fish such as cory catfish or some types of plecostomus might clean up uneaten food, but very few will do anything with turtle waste which will make up a large portion of whatever falls to the sandbed. The turtles will also likely consider any fish a food source if it is able to catch it. These fish also need tropical water temperatures which most turtles can survive without.

You can use a good quality fish tank filter which will provide a mechanism to convert the turtle waste from ammonia into nitrate, but the nitrate will only be removed via water change, unless the tank is extremely large such as a pond.

Something like a python gravel vacuum might be a good alternative to remove the waste from the sandbed a few times a week without having to empty the entire tank.

  • Of course I'm not looking for something that'd stop me from cleaning, just go me a bit. Sand Sifter move the sand and so would help the filter work, and at the same time they can eat some of the food that fell down. By moving the sand, the turtle poop would he given that move that'd get it next to the filter, and that itself would help a lot. I do realize they fan poop on their own, but moving the sand will definitely help in that respect. Thanks for the answer though.
    – Mozein
    Aug 21, 2014 at 10:20

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