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Gold Tetra Babies / Sand substrate problems

Hi all,

I am happy to say that when I got back from college this winter break, I
found some baby tetras in by tank!  They are little Gold Tetra Babies
(Hemigrammus armstrongi, Axelrod & Schultz 1955).  The babies'
coloration and body shape is about the same as in the parents,
except that the babies lack the golden shine that the parents have.  I
wonder if my tank is missing some element that, in their natural
gives them a golden shine.  Kinda like the way Dendrobates sp. (poison
dart frogs) lack poison in captivity because they cannot eat the ants that,
in their native habitats, give them poison.  The parents were from from 3 H.
armstrongi I'd bought from the LFS.  I didn't do anything special to make
them breed.  Water conditions in the tank are kept slightly acidic, medium
hardness.  There is no heater so the temperature varies with the house
(usually around 70 deg. F).

This leads me to my questions about my sand substrate...   The tank is kind
of natural.  I just let the plants grow by themselves, under four Chroma 50
bulbs.  I occasionally clean out algae and take out extra plants.  The
plants are Echinodorus bleheri, Sagittaria sp., Vesicularia
dubyana (java moss), Rotala indica, and Microsorum pteropus (java fern).
There is no filter.  When my fish bred, the tank contained 3 Hemigrammus
armstrongi (golden tetras), 3 Otocinclus sp., 5 Crossocheilus
siamensis (SAEs), 1 Pristella maxillaris (pristella tetra), and 1
Hyphessobrycon pulchripinnis (lemon tetra).  I have since added a few tiny
Hyphessobrycon innisi (neons) and about 6 Corydorus sp. (cory cats).  The
problem is that there is a lot of detritus in the tank and i don't really
know what to do about it.  I don't want to get a filter because I find that
the fish are much happier without all the motion from the filtration.  And I
don't want to suction it off the bottom of the tank, because I don't want to
kill the babies, who would most likely be sucked up by the vacuum.  Any
suggestions greatly appreciated.