Lately a lot of posts have been coming on here with tragic stories of fish being sucked up and injured or killed either in siphon tubes or filter intakes. The other moderators and I just want to post a warning for everyone to see.
1) SIPHONING/GRAVEL VACUUMING:
Siphoning is extremely dangerous because of very strong suction being pulled through a small opening in a tube. If youve ever gently placed your finger on or near the tube while it is siphoning you know very well the extreme pressure it has which can pull your finger in and not let go. The longer something is on the end the more intense the suction becomes. As strong as it is on your finger, imagine how dangerous it can be for a small fish.
The number one rule while siphoning, while using either a gravel vac attachment, open tube or Python, is to NEVER look away or leave the tube unattended. It is easy to look away for a second but a second is all it takes to hurt or kill your fish. The Python comes with a handy open/close switch that can be used. If youre using just an open tube or vacuum then keep your finger over the end?which stops the suction?anytime youre looking away.
Some members have suggested using a tank divider to block the fish in one section of the tank while you are cleaning another part. This is a great idea. In larger tanks the fish will usually just stay to one side.
2) FILTER INTAKES
Now on to filter intakes?they can be dangerous for the same reasons as the siphon tubes. Make sure your filter ALWAYS has a strainer on the end of it. All hang on back and canister filters are supposed to come with a strainer. It should not be flat against the opening of the tube; it should be a long plastic strainer which either comes to a point or is a long cylinder with slats in it.
Bubble eye owners are strongly urged to put some sort of protection around the filter intake to avoid the bubbles being sucked against or into the strainer. They can easily be damaged, leaving the fish open to infection and disfigurement. Some pet stores sell special sponges that can be placed over the openings. A simple and cheap suggestion is to take a piece of filter sponge and wrapping it around the strainer and fastening it with a rubber band. These suggestions also work well if you have baby fish.
Let's stay safe out there!