If you are the proud parent of a tank of fish, first and foremost in your mind is keeping your new little buddies happy and healthy. You may even be a fishy aunt or uncle who has decided to share the responsibility of caring for your fish nices and nephews. Keeping the fish happy and healthy requires proper feeding, water changes, filter and tank cleaning. Tons of debris ranging from uneaten food to fish poop ends up in layers amongst the gravel at the bottom of the fish tank, which needs to be removed or the water will become an unhealthy environment and your fish may end up floating rather than swimming. Pet supply stores sell aquarium vacuums, but they are often pricey. There really is no need to spend a lot of money. For a few dollars, you can make your own aquarium vacuum.
Making the Aquarium Vacuum
Cut the flat bottom off of a disposable plastic water or soda bottle with a sharp utility knife. If you are using a soda bottle, rinse it well with plain water to remove any of the sugary or artificial sweetener residue, which is harmful to your finned pals. Avoid using soaps or other chemical cleaners because the residue may hurt your water loving pals.
Fit a clear siphon hose over the top of the bottle, where the cap sits. Take the cap off the bottle first... of course. Make sure the siphon hose fits tightly over the top of the bottle. If the hose is too loose, it will not work. Take the bottle with you to the store when buying teh siphon hose to ensure a good fit.
Using the Aquarium Vacuum
Lay down a thick padding of newspapers or stack of rags next to the aquarium.
Set a bucket near the fish tank, on the floor on top of the newspapers or rags. The bucket has to be lower than the gravel bottom of the aquarium in order to work properly.
Place the free end of the hose into the bucket. Place a rock on the end of the siphon hose to hold it in place. Make sure the rock does not crush or compress the end of the hose.
Place the plastic bottle into the water. Tilt the bottle so it captures water and moves through the hose to the bucket. This process begins the siphon. Make sure no little fish are get sucked into the bucket. It may take a few tries to get the siphon going because the water has to push all of teh air out of the hose.
Hold the cut end of the bottle over the gravel where it will suck up the uneaten food and fish poop from between the pebbles. Make sure you do not have any fish trapped in the bottle. If they are trapped they will be sucked out the fish tank and end up in the bucket. U
nfortunately the trip through the siphon maybe quite an adventure for little Nemo, but he or she can get hurt or worse die.
Move the bottle over the bottom of the fish tank to continue cleaning the dirty gravel. Keep an eye on the water level in the aquarium as you are vacuuming because the vacuum is not only removing the debris from the bottom of the fish tank, but also the water from the aquarium. Make sure you do not drain more than 10 to 25 percent of the water out of the aquarium each time you vacuum because that is not good for the fish. The new water can throw off the proper ph, ammonia and nitrate levels.
Use the water to water household plants or even outdoor plants. The plants benefit from the nutrients.