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Aquarium Vacuums, how do they work?

Trapper7

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I need to get an aquarium vacuum badly because my fish are pooping up a storm and it looks horrible! I'm not sure how they work, but do they need to be attached to a faucet?? I don't have one nearby. Is there a kind that will suck up all the dirt and I can just let the water go into a bucket? I saw a battery operated one, how well do they work? Thank you :wave:
 

Drosera36

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The battery powered ones are probably the easiest to use, but I've never tried one. The regular siphon-powered ones are just that; they require a siphon to work.

What I always did was just put the tube in the bathtub and then fill it with water until the whole tube was filled with water. Then, I'd put my finger on one end to keep the water in, put the larger end all the way in the tank, then put the end with my finger on it in the sink or in a bucket. Water should continuously come through.

They are used, like you know, to suck up poo from the gravel. Once a week should be enough once you got it under control, and that could serve as your weekly water change, as well, since it sucks up a considerable amount of water. This also means you have to use your time well when you suck the water up, since you don't want to suck more than half the water in the tank before you clean it up.

-Ben
 

Not a Number

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They basically work on a siphon principle. A clear tube of about 1 inch diameter and 6 inches long is connected to a smaller tube/hose. You place the bigger tube over the sand/gravel and start the water flowing. The heavier sand/gravel gets lifted up but stays behind and the lighter stuff like old food, poop, bits of dead fish and plants gets sucked away. The waste water can go into a bucket.
 
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I have a cheap one I fixed up using some flexible rubber tubing, then to make starting the vacuum suction easier I added a 10mL plastic syringe and it's plunger on the "exit" end of the tubing so all I have to do is pull the plunger out and the water starts to flow immediately into the bucket placed at a level lower than the aquarium. The other "in" end of the tubing I used a piece of clear PVC tubing approx 2 inch diameter and 6 inches long for cleaning around in the gravel.

I have a store bought vacuum version that says it is supposed to start a suction just by pumping/shaking the vacuum end which had a little valve that would open on the down stroke and close on the up so water would enter and eventually start flowing on its own but it really never worked that way because it would cause to much sloshing around in the aquarium and freak the fish out so I always had to use the "fill with water and finger method" to get the vacuum started with enough water in the tubing. I really like just pulling a syringe plunger and getting it started that way.
 

MidnightSkies

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Just wanted to add that I have tried a cheapo battery powered one and it was a complete waste of money. It doesn't suck much at all the rare times when it will actually turn on, and has made a huge mess of water. A more expensive one might work better, but personally I would pass on it.
 

seedjar

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I had a nice battery powered cleaner that worked by pumping the water through a porous bag of some artificial fiber. I could also use it to start a siphon, but it was handy because I kept shallow aquariums and I preferred not to remove much water while cleaning the tank. I guess I was in the minority; my gadget worked quite well, besides for making a few messes when the outlet attachment came loose, and still functions when I go clean the one remaining aquarium at my mom's house (which is now overrun with small plants and a giant, 10-year-old Plecostimus.) It wasn't very expensive - no more than $30 I'm sure, as I didn't have a lot of hobby money back when I was keeping fish. But I guess it wasn't cheap, either.
In the end, a simple siphon works just as well. I used to use the wide end of the gravel cleaner to scoop water and fill the hose that way.
~Joe
 

Trapper7

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Thanks again for the info. I just bought a regular one without a battery. I haven't used it yet because right now I have fish fry from one of the Guppy's I got. I don't want to suck up the babies!
 
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