Aquarium siphoner

Siphoning consists of cleaning the bottom of the aquarium by vacuuming

An aquarium siphon is another of the basic tools to be able to carry out the maintenance of our aquarium and thus keep it clean and our fish happy and healthy. With the siphoner we will eliminate the dirt that has accumulated in the bottom and we will take advantage of it to renew the water in the aquarium.

In this article we will talk about what what is a siphoner, of the different types that we can find, how to siphon an aquarium and we'll even teach you how to build your own homemade siphon. In addition, we also recommend that you read this other article about what water to use in aquariums if it's your first time siphoning.

What is an aquarium siphon

The aquarium siphoner, also known as a siphon, is a very useful tool that allows us to leave the bottom of our aquarium as the jets of gold, since absorbs the dirt that has accumulated in the gravel at the bottom.

Although there are a few different types of siphoners (as we will discuss in a later section), they all work roughly the same, since they are like a kind of vacuum cleaner that swallows the water, along with accumulated dirt, to be left in a separate container. Depending on the type, the suction force is carried out electrically or manually, for example, thanks to a suction device that allows dirty water to fall into a separate container and through the siphon thanks to gravity.

What is the use of siphoning an aquarium?

Siphoning is important for your fish to be healthy

Well, the purpose of siphoning an aquarium is none other than clean it, remove the remains of food and fish poop that accumulate at the bottom of the aquarium. However, rebound, the siphon also allows us to:

  • Take advantage of change the aquarium water (and replace the dirty one with the clean one)
  • Avoid green water (due to the algae that can be born from the dirt, which the siphon is responsible for eliminating)
  • Prevent your fish from getting sick because of having too dirty water

Types of siphoner for aquarium

A background full of plants and color

There are two main types of siphoner for aquarium, electric and manual, although within these there are some with very interesting characteristics, which can be adapted to your needs.


Small siphons they are ideal for smaller aquariums. Although there are electric ones, being small they also tend to be very simple and simply consist of a kind of bell or rigid tube, through which the dirty water enters, a soft tube and a rear knob or button that we must press to be able to suck the Water.


Without a doubt the most efficient, have the same operation as small siphoners (a rigid mouth through which the water enters, a soft tube through which it travels and a button to suck, as well as a small motor, of course), but with the difference that they are more powerful. Some are even gun-shaped or include vacuum-type bags for storing dirt. The good thing about these siphons is that, although they are a bit more expensive than the manual ones, they allow us to reach the most remote places of the aquarium without effort.

Finally, inside the electric siphons you will find them fully electric (that is, they are plugged into the current) or batteries.

Just suck up the dirt

Another type of aquarium siphon that we can find in stores is the one that sucks up dirt but not water. The device is exactly the same as the rest, with the difference that it has a filter through which the dirt passes to store it in a bag or tank, but the water, already a little cleaner, is reintroduced into the aquarium. However, this is not a highly recommended model in the long run, since the grace of the siphon is that it allows us to kill two birds with one stone, clean the bottom of the aquarium and change the water quite easily.


Fish are very sensitive to changes, so we cannot remove all the water at once

There are a lot of possibilities to make your own homemade siphon, but here we are going to show you the cheaper and simpler model. You will only need a piece of tube and a plastic bottle!

  • First, get the elements that make up the siphon: a piece of transparent tube, not very thick or stiff. You can get it in specialized stores, like in any hardware store. You will also need a small bottle of water or soda (about 250 ml are fine).
  • Cut the tube to measure. It doesn't have to be too long or too short. To measure it, we recommend putting a bucket (which is where the dirty water will end up) at a lower height of the aquarium. Then put the tube in the aquarium: the perfect measure is that you can put it against the floor of the aquarium and remove it so that it reaches the bucket without problems.
  • Cut the bottle. Depending on the size of the aquarium, you can cut it higher or lower (for example, towards the middle if it is a large aquarium, or below the label if it is a smaller aquarium).
  • Take the bottle cap and pierce it so that you can put the plastic tube in but still hold on. It is the most complicated step to carry out, since the plastic of the cap is stiffer than the rest and it costs to pierce, so be careful not to hurt yourself.
  • Put the tube through the hole in the cap and use it to necklace the bottle. It's ready!

To make it work, place the part of the siphon bottle in the bottom of the aquarium. Remove all the bubbles. Have the bucket ready that the dirty water will go to. Next, suck the free end of the tube until the force of gravity causes the water to fall into the bucket (be careful swallowing the dirty water, it is not healthy at all, as well as very unpleasant).

Finally, use whichever siphon you use, be very careful not to remove more than 30% of the water from the aquarium when cleaning it, as your fish could get sick.

How to use a siphon in the aquarium

A fish tank with very clean stones

The use of the siphon, in fact, is quite simple, but we must be careful not to load the habitat of our fish.

  • First, prepare the tools you will need: the siphoner and, in case it is a model that needs it, a bucket or bowl. This has to be placed at a lower height than the aquarium for gravity to do its job.
  • Begin to vacuum the bottom very carefully. It is best to start where the most dirt has accumulated. Also, you have to try not to lift the gravel off the ground or dig up anything, or your fish's habitat could be affected.
  • It is also important that, as we said, do not take more water than the bill. A maximum of 30%, since a higher percentage can affect your fish. Once you finish siphoning, you will have to replace the dirty water with a clean one, but remember that this must be treated the same as the one left in the aquarium and have the same temperature.
  • Finally, although it will depend a lot on the size of your aquarium, the siphoning process has to be carried out periodically. At least once a month, and up to once a week if necessary.

How to siphon a planted aquarium

Planted aquariums are very delicate

Planted aquariums deserve a separate section in the use of the aquarium siphon, since they are tremendously delicate. In order not to take the habitat of your fish ahead of you, we recommend the following:

  • Choose a electric siphoner, but with little power, and with a smaller entrance. Otherwise, you can vacuum too hard and dig up the plants, which we want to avoid at all costs.
  • When you start sucking, be very careful to don't dig up the roots or harm plants. If you have a siphon with a smaller inlet, as we said, you will be able to control this step much better.
  • Focus especially on areas where debris accumulates and fish poop.
  • Finally, the most delicate plants to siphon are those that line the ground. Do it very, very gently so you don't dig them up.

Where to buy an aquarium siphon

There are many places you can buy a siphonerYes, they tend to be specialized (don't expect to find them in your town's grocery store). The most common are:

  • Amazon, the king of stores, has absolutely all the models there are and to be. Whether they are simple, manual, electric, battery-operated, more or less powerful… It is highly recommended that, in addition to the product description, you take a look at the comments to see how it can be adapted to your needs based on the experience of others.
  • En specialty pet storesLike Kiwoko, you will also find a few models. Although they may not have as much variety as Amazon and be a bit more expensive in some cases, the good thing about these stores is that you can go in person and ask an expert for advice, something especially recommended when you have just started in the exciting world of fish .

An aquarium siphon is a basic tool to clean the aquarium and make your fish, rebound, healthier and happier. We hope we have helped you understand how it works and made things easier for you to choose the siphon that best suits you and your aquarium. Tell us, have you ever used this tool? How did it go? Do you recommend a particular model?

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