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In this product review you’ll learn (among other useful tips) that goldfish take quite a lot of water to get clean–and how to handle cleaning if your fish have longer tails and fins.
The Secret To Sucking Up Goldfish Gunk
Having goldfish, who are massive waste producers, I am constantly in search of a way to keep the gravel of their tank as clean as possible. Being a teacher, I need to keep price and storage in mind when finding a product. For these reasons, I recently purchased Top Fin’s gravel vacuum, which is basically a simple tube with a bulb that you hand pump and let gravity do the rest. With all of the more expensive options out there, I wasn’t sure if I was doing the right thing, but I eventually decided that if it didn’t work, I was only out about $10, so what did I have to lose?
I am actually very glad that I bought it. When properly assembled, the pump works just as it should and does a fairly good job at sucking up the gunk, and when you are finished you simply store the tube. What could be easier? Still, for the sake of review writing, I will try and break down the various aspects of this product for curious consumers.
How To Assemble The Vacuum
Let’s start at the beginning, with the assembly. Yes, some assembly is required, but it isn’t a complicated thing to do at all. There are only a few parts to your kit, the tubes, the bulb, the strainer, and a clip to hold the tube in place once you put it in your bucket. The strainer connects to a short tube, which connects to the bulb. From the bulb extends a long tube, which can be easily slipped into the black tube holder that clips onto whatever bucket you choose to catch the dirty water in. Tada! It’s done. Some people have complained that the tubes don’t fit properly on the devices and that they slip off or leak easily. The only way I can see that happening is if you aren’t pushing the parts together well enough, because mine were a proper fit, which was a tight squeeze, as it should have been.
Goldfish Take Quite A Lot Of Water To Get Clean
Once you have your tube assembled and the long end down in the bucket, you’re ready to let gravity work for you. Keep in mind that this is only a vacuum, it doesn’t recycle the water, only drains it from the tank, so you will need to have new, fresh water ready to replace the water that you take out. Some tanks will require removal of more water than others. My goldfish take quite a lot of water to get the gravel clean again.
How To Use The Vacuum
To use the vacuum, simply put the larger strainer end into the water and squeeze the bulb a few times. After a couple of squeezes you should have water flowing down into your bucket. Several other product reviewers have said that they have had trouble with this process and that reassembling the bulb to the tubes worked for them. Some have said that they put the bulb on backwards, though I’m not certain there is a “backwards” for this simple bulb. Personally, I have had no issues what so ever, until the water level gets to a certain point where the angle of the strainer prevents proper suction. At that point, just add more water and continue cleaning if needed.
Sucking Up Goldfish Gunk Can Take Time
The amount of waste in the bottom of each tank will be different depending on the type of fish you have, the number of days you go between cleanings, and so on, so the amount of time it takes to clean your tank will also vary. Me, I’m just fussy about my fish, so I usually do a thorough water change every time rather than just a quick sweep, making the process a lot longer than it typically needs to be.
If Your Fish Have Longer Tails and Fins
Oh, and don’t worry about taking your fish out of your tank when you clean it. Simply unplug your filter, leave the fish as they are and let the water drain. The business end actually does have a strainer in it that prevents anything like fish or their gravel or toys from being sucked up and away. Some fish take better to this process than others. Our Charon doesn’t ever seem to mind having the tube follow him around the tank, Nix tends to race around the tank trying to get away from it, and Hydra, our moody little thing, usually tries to slap at it with her tail and smack at it with her mouth. We have never had an accident or mishap while using this, but I would suggest that if your fish have longer tails and fins that you be careful where you place the tube, so that the tail or fin doesn’t get trapped between the tube and the gravel.
Tips and Tricks
Charon, Nix and Hydra use large rocks in their tank, so I have found that the best way to clean to the bottom is to put the tube all the way down into the bottom of the gravel and shift it around, which stirs up the gravel a little bit, releasing more of the debris that will get sucked up with the other dirty water. They have a pagoda type hiding place in their tank, which tends to collect junk inside the base in a nice little clump. For that area I push the tube straight down and squeeze the pump while the water is still flowing because it helps to quickly pull most of the debris out of the rocks that fill the base of the tube.
And that’s all she wrote! This is a simple pump that is easy to use and worth the money that you put in. You aren’t getting your hands wet and you aren’t sucking on anything to get the water flowing. The bucket clip is a nice bonus that I wasn’t expecting, but is wonderful to have, since it seriously reduces hose movement in the bucket, preventing massive spills. I would put up a list of pros and cons, but I don’t know that I can think of one thing that would go into the “con” category. If you are looking for a simple manual vacuum, look no further.
Writer’s Update: As of the posting of this review, we lost our beautiful Charon. Nix and Hydra are about to embark on a journey to a strange new world called Preschool, where a new (and very large) tank awaits them. The product I describe in this article is the smaller of the two vacuums. If I end up purchasing the larger one for the larger tank, I will be sure to let you know how it goes.
Where To Buy
Mirrani Houpe, our Small Animal Editor, has had rats since she took home her first little boy once they both completed the second grade. Since that time she has purchased, rescued and bred many kinds of rats, from many backgrounds. She may not be a vet, psychology major, or scientist, but her babies have her very well trained when it comes to how to care for them. She is constantly working with her family’s veterinarian to come up with new and innovative ways to love and care for the most often misunderstood rodent in the pet world. You can e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org