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Draining Tank with Pump and Python?


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I tried draining the tank this weekend by just hanging the hose out the door and it was veeeery slow. I just hooked it up to the faucet again. Fortunately water usage is part of my homeowner's association dues. Although the dues are ridiculously high for what the homeowner's association actually does [emoji35] , I'd still rather not waste water, so I think I will get a pump. Any brand suggestions?

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My pump runs 600 gph it claims. Harbor freight .com is a good sight to check out. They have 200 gph pumps for quite cheap (12 bucks), and 650 gph pumps for 40 I think. Mine is an aqueon, I bought it at petco years ago.

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My pump runs 600 gph it claims. Harbor freight .com is a good sight to check out. They have 200 gph pumps for quite cheap (12 bucks), and 650 gph pumps for 40 I think. Mine is an aqueon, I bought it at petco years ago.

Is this the one you mean? Just want to check before I order. It's submersible and looks very different from other pumps I've seen, so I just wanted to be sure it would work: http://m.harborfreight.com/200-gph-miniature-submersible-fountain-pump-68372.html
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I just found Mikey's post on the pond pump, which is a similar model from the same company. According to his post, he relies on the filters alone to pick up all waste and does not do any vacuuming during water changes - apparently this pump can only remove water. Unless there's an option to get a pond pump to which I can attach the gravel vac, this may not work for me since I must vacuum the substrate; my filter doesn't get nearly all of it since I have driftwood, jade and plants in my tank. I spend the entire water change vacuuming the substrate, and moving the rocks and driftwood around to get to the waste that fell underneath. I had thought the pond pump was something that went outside of the tank and attached to the Python to make it drain faster, not something you put IN the tank to drain the water out.

Edited by *Amanda*
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The teeny tiny Lee's gravel vacuum is my favourites since it is strong and doesn't just suck up tons of water and fill up the bucket. It's very small so I can stick it in between plants and the suction is just mainly taking out debris.

http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_display.cfm?pcatid=23954

Since the tube is so thin, it's stronger than my larger ones. :nana

If you guys don't like the pond pump idea, you don't have to use it just because others do. If you're satisfied with a python then stick with it. ;)

Edited by Chai
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The teeny tiny Lee's gravel vacuum is my favourites since it is strong and doesn't just suck up tons of water and fill up the bucket. It's very small so I can stick it in between plants and the suction is just mainly taking out debris.

http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_display.cfm?pcatid=23954

Since the tube is so thin, it's stronger than my larger ones. :nana

If you guys don't like the pond pump idea, you don't have to use it just because others do. If you're satisfied with a python then stick with it. ;)

I have that same little gravel vac. It works well for getting in hard-to-reach spaces. [emoji4]

Apparently, my mental picture of the pond pump was completely different than the reality. I had pictured a pump that you hooked up to the OTHER end of the Python, so that you could turn it on and use the Python as normal, like a gravel vac, and the water would come out of the pump. I was hoping this would work out because the Python moves way too slowly when I use gravity alone, and not having to waste water and still get good speed seemed like such a great idea. [emoji17]

The main reason I spend so much time vacuuming the substrate is that I have to move my rocks, bubblers and driftwood out of the way to get to the debris, and then move them back. I couldn't imagine ever not vacuuming my substrate; it gets really dirty even in my understocked tank. My canister filter picks up quite a bit of stuff, but only when it's in the water column. Once debris falls and settles under the driftwood, etc., it's game over until the next water change. [emoji6]

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You can't vacuum the gravel with the pond pump. You use the python attachment and tap to create suction to vacuum just like normal. When you're done vacuuming, you take the gravel vac attachment off your python, attach the pond pump to the python tubing, put the pond pump in your tank and plug it in. The pond pump then pumps water out of your aquarium, through the python tubing and into your sink. When you're done draining, unplug the pond pump to turn it off but leave it on the tubing, then go turn your tap on and fill up the tank.

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The teeny tiny Lee's gravel vacuum is my favourites since it is strong and doesn't just suck up tons of water and fill up the bucket. It's very small so I can stick it in between plants and the suction is just mainly taking out debris.

http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_display.cfm?pcatid=23954

Thank you! I got one of those when I first got an aquarium (as a quarantine tank for my pond, of course). It's wearing out, but none of the local stores carry it. The ones the pet stores have now clog so fast that I just use the hose.

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The teeny tiny Lee's gravel vacuum is my favourites since it is strong and doesn't just suck up tons of water and fill up the bucket. It's very small so I can stick it in between plants and the suction is just mainly taking out debris.http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_display.cfm?pcatid=23954

Thank you! I got one of those when I first got an aquarium (as a quarantine tank for my pond, of course). It's wearing out, but none of the local stores carry it. The ones the pet stores have now clog so fast that I just use the hose.

You're welcome! I love this thing so much. I don't need to drain a lot of water just to clean up debris and I don't have to accidentally rip up plants. The tiny ones are amaaaazing, everyone needs one in their life!!
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Amanda, you can get an in-line pump that will do what you want, but you completely lose the safety factor in using a pump. Pumps push better than they pull, so you might need a higher power pump to change at the same rate. I haven't compared, so I dont know for sure.

If you want a Harbor Freight pump, get this one. It's a real workhorse. The smaller ones are junk. (I speak from experience.)

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Thanks for all the explanations everyone. Now I get how it works. [emoji1]

It sounds like the submersible pump would be ideal for someone who has limited debris in their tank and doesn't spend much time vacuuming the bottom. Unfortunately, that someone is not me. [emoji4]

The inline pump suggestion is a good one and really looks ideal for someone who spends the entire water change vacuuming the substrate like me, but if there is a safety risk I think I'll just keep using my Python. I certainly wouldn't want to risk injuring myself or damaging my home.

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The safety risk of an in-line pump is the same as that of the python -- sucking up a fish. That risk is not there with a submersible pump.

I must say you are making a great argument for going bare bottom. ;)

Edited by shakaho
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I remove about 1/5 of the water (out of the 70%) I drain while vacuuming my gravel :P I do admit I forgot how hard gravel is to keep clean, but I really love how it looks, love watching my fish forage in it and love that I don't have algae growing on the bottom to scrape off :rofl:

I'm still happy to do that much with the python normally and then drain the rest using the pump, or even buy one of those vacs if I can find one that ships to Australia :)

I love the idea of draining with a pump, as for me anyway, it's so slow any other way and i hate the idea of wasting so much water now I need to change over 300 litres of water out the tank a week anyway :P

Edited by FishyMandy
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If you can't find somewhere that ships to Australia, I could always buy you one and ship it. They don't weigh much so it would be pretty cheap to get it to you. :bighug

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The safety risk of an in-line pump is the same as that of the python -- sucking up a fish. That risk is not there with a submersible pump.

I must say you are making a great argument for going bare bottom. ;)

Oh, for some reason I thought you meant a safety risk to me or my property! :rofl

I just added something that made my Python much safer, and puts my mind at ease. It's not exactly original [emoji6] but I cut a square piece out of a filter bag and tied it to the end of the vac with a rubber band. I then cut 3 holes that are about 3/4" each - enough to get all the debris, but not big enough where my fish could get hurt.

I actually have a bare bottom tank at Mario's house. He hates the look of it. I don't mind it so much, but for my display tank in my living room at home I wanted a very decorative tank, with plants, jade and driftwood. Yeah, I know you can do plants in a bare bottom, but I am just not really a fan of potted plants in an aquarium unless the pots are really unique. I almost went that route, and bought 3 beautiful color-swirled glass bowls to use as pots, but decided I just prefer substrate. I adore the look of my tank now, and still can't believe I managed to achieve it! I am very grateful to you and all the other people who helped me. I honestly didn't think I could keep plants alive, let alone make them grow! [emoji1]

Edited by *Amanda*
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Your tank should look the way you want it to look. Sometime you might want to try sand, which is almost as easy to keep clean as bare bottom. Sand is the natural substrate for goldfish which are native to lakes and ponds. Natural lakes and ponds have sand, not gravel, as a substrate.

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I bought a pump to drain the tank :) It's only a smaller one so I think it's going to take about the same time as it took to drain it with the water running with the python, but I wont be wasting so much water which makes me feel so much better :P Will let you know exactly how it went when the water change is finished

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Ok, so it took over an hour to drain the tank to 50% XD But I still feel better that I was wasting the water while it was draining and when I save up a bit more I'll buy another (bigger) pump. This one said it did 1200LPH so I thought it would be a lot quicker xD

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Are you pumping the water into a sink that is higher than the water level of the tank? The height of the hose outlet beyond that of the water level in the tank is called the "head," and the greater the head, the more the water flow rate is reduced. Usually, you can find a graph of flow rate against head in the manual or other information for the pump.

The advertised flow rate of the pump is the rate at which water comes out of the pump when it is just sitting in the water. If used in a pond with an external filter that rises a couple of feet above the water level, with a hose from the pump to the filter (which slows the water by friction), and filter medium that produces more friction, water usually exits the filter at about half the advertised rate.

When you are just pumping water out of a tank to a drain no higher than the water level, the flow rate should be higher than half the claimed rate, since the only thing slowing it is friction from the tube. So unless the pump has to lift the water a substantial difference, this pump is not performing as it should. You could return it as defective.

Can you pump the water out a window to the ground? This is the best use of fish water, and if you have a tube exit that is lower than the tank, it may actually increase the flow rate since you are adding siphoning to the pumping.

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Your tank should look the way you want it to look. Sometime you might want to try sand, which is almost as easy to keep clean as bare bottom. Sand is the natural substrate for goldfish which are native to lakes and ponds. Natural lakes and ponds have sand, not gravel, as a substrate.

I tried sand when I first set up the tank. I loved the look of it and my fish seemed to enjoy it as well. However, it was stark white and so the poop was very obvious. The poop was also difficult to clean off with the Python as it would get coated and weighed down by the sand. Maybe the problem was that my sand was much finer than most; it's CaribSea Moonlight. Now, I have a 50/50 mixture of that sand and Activ-Flora gravel (which is great for plants - I might write a review on it soon; I think it is a relatively new product as not many people seem to have heard of it). The gravel is very pretty; it's called "Lake Gems" and looks just like small river rocks. [emoji1] Edited by *Amanda*
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