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Can Anyone Recommend A Good Gravel Vac?

Author Topic: Can Anyone Recommend A Good Gravel Vac?  (Read 581 times)

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Offline jaypeecee

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Can Anyone Recommend A Good Gravel Vac?
« on: February 03, 2019, 01:09:07 PM »
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Hi Folks,

Can anyone recommend a good gravel vac? I would prefer a self-contained unit that didn't rely on external power or air pump. I want one that will enable me to remove detritus without disturbing the substrate too much. This can be a bit (lot!) tricky as I use JBL Manado, which is very lightweight. I do have a JBL Aqua Ex gravel vac but it's very cumbersome. A battery-powered device may be the best choice but they can be quite expensive. But, if it's good, I'll count up my pennies.

So, all suggestions welcome!

JPC

Offline fcmf

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Re: Can Anyone Recommend A Good Gravel Vac?
« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2019, 02:12:00 PM »
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In my almost-two-decades of fishkeeping, I've never found the perfect siphon.

Currently, I've got the JBL Aqua-Ex 10-35, the Marina Easy Clean and the Bi-Orb Cleaner Pump. For my small tank, I find:
* the Marina's cylinder too long and not flexible enough to move around and tackle corners [other brands have been too flexible, though];
* the JBL's internal grid that catches debris catching too much plant matter and which blocked the water from being effectively sucked up, so took it out but then found the flow was too fast and 60% water changes were happening before I knew it [in a larger tank, though, the timing may be similar but the amount of water taken out may be proportionately less];
* the Bi-Orb's squeezing self-start pump difficult to operate - my grip strength isn't strong enough, and, when getting an able assistant to operate it, the flow is way too fast and 60% water changes were happening [cf above comment about proportion of water removed in a larger tank].

The best method, I've found, has been to detach the cylinder / wide part of the JBL Aqua-Ex and simply use the tubing itself - this can be manoeuvred by hand into the corners, gets into small nooks and crannies, and the flow uptake is spot-on correct. [I used to start the siphon by sucking on it but, after too many mouthfuls of water, have now trained myself to start it by submersing it in the tank beforehand or even filling it via the tap and then blocking each end with my thumbs before starting the flow.] 

Having said all this, my recollection from having gravel many years ago, is that faster flow uptake is a positive aspect in that it sucks debris up from between/under the gravel pieces, so, of the 3 I have, the Bi-Orb one might be the best option in your case as the grid holes at the end of the cylinder part are small enough not to suck up pieces of gravel but still provide the stronger flow uptake.

Hope that's helpful - apologies for having no experience of battery-operated ones, etc.

Offline jaypeecee

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Re: Can Anyone Recommend A Good Gravel Vac?
« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2019, 05:43:43 PM »
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Hi fcmf,

Many thanks for your feedback.

I'm drawn to the Fluval Pro Vac, which is not battery-operated but runs on an external transformer/power supply. It's not a cheap product but it does look well-engineered and it gets very good reviews on Amazon.

JPC

Offline jaypeecee

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Re: Can Anyone Recommend A Good Gravel Vac?
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2019, 06:36:19 PM »
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Hi fcmf,

Many thanks for your feedback.

I'm drawn to the Fluval Pro Vac, which is not battery-operated but runs on an external transformer/power supply. It's not a cheap product but it does look well-engineered and it gets very good reviews on Amazon.

JPC

UPDATE

OK, the Fluval Pro Vac is not suitable for my substrate material. According to Hagen UK, it is not recommended for sand or lightweight substrates. I have JBL Manado, which is easily disturbed. Perhaps that's why these tools are normally known as 'gravel cleaners'!

Time to make my own or cover the JBL Manado with a layer of pea gravel.

JPC

Offline Sue

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Re: Can Anyone Recommend A Good Gravel Vac?
« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2019, 06:54:23 PM »
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I have sand in my tanks and I find it easier to use plain tubing. To be totally accurate, in my betta's tank I use a wine making siphon - that's a length of tubing with a foot long piece of rigid tubing at the tank end. There is meant to be a cup on the end of the rigid tubing to stop the sediment being sucked in to the bottle of wine, but I don't use that as I want to suck up sediment, or at least the muck on the bottom of the tank. For my main tank I use a modified wine siphon. The tubing isn't long enough so the bucket end is pushed into a wider section of tubing from a basic fish siphon tube. That way it reaches the bucket.

I start the siphon by filling the tubing with tap water then carry it over to the tank, thumb over each end, one end in the tank the other in the bucket then remove the thumbs. Between bucketfuls I put the full tubing into a spare empty bucket.

I just swirl the end of the tube about half an inch above the sand which lifts the muck to where it is easily sucked up.


Wine siphon https://www.wilko.com/en-uk/wilko-syphon-pack/p/0022573
I don't use the tap either.

Offline jaypeecee

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Re: Can Anyone Recommend A Good Gravel Vac?
« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2019, 11:49:48 AM »
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Hi Sue,

Apologies for not having replied sooner. I have been very busy. Thanks for your feedback.

JPC

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