Starting a Siphon – Siphoning Your Aquarium Water and Cleaning Your Aquarium Gravel

Starting a Siphon

Siphoning Your Aquarium Water and Cleaning Your Aquarium Gravel


To operate a gravel vacuum, you will need to get a siphon started in the siphon tube.

First, place a bucket on a low stool or on the floor in front of the fish tank. You will use this bucket to catch the water you are draining out of the fish tank through the siphon.

If the siphon you are starting is attached to a gravel vacuum, place the wide end of the gravel vacuum in the aquarium, and rest its open end on or slightly into the aquarium gravel. If this siphon is not attached to a gravel vacuum, you will want to keep the end of the siphon in the aquarium several inches away from the gravel. Point the other end of the tube toward the bucket.

To get your siphon started, you will need to get water into the siphon tube.

Starting a Siphon by Immersion

Another option to get a siphon started is to lower the entire siphon into the aquarium slowly, making sure that you get all of the air out of the tube. Then you can plug the one end of the tube with your finger or thumb and lift that end out of the tank (being careful that the other end does not come out of the water) and lower it toward the bucket before releasing your finger. When you release your finger, the water should start to flow into the bucket.

Suck-Starting an Aquarium Siphon

Probably the easiest way to do this is to gently suck on the lower (bucket) end of the siphon tube while holding it above the bucket, but lower than the water level in the aquarium. As soon as the water gets past the edge of the fish tank and begins to flow down the tube, remove your mouth from the siphon and allow the water to flow into the bucket. However, some people think that this method is a disgusting way to get a siphon started (though the water in your aquarium should be no more harmful to you than it is to your fish). In these cases, there are other ways to get your siphon started.


  Starting a Siphon with a Priming Ball

Some other gravel vacuums have a valve in them that will allow water to flow one way, but not the other. The manufacturers of these recommend that you shake the gravel vacuum rapidly up and down in the aquarium to push water past that valve and into the tube. In this manner you can get the siphon started by just getting water pushed over the lip of the fish tank when it can start to flow downward into the bucket. I find that using this method always makes the aquarium unnecessary messy and often creates a mess. I also find that this is the most difficult method to use to get a siphon started.



Nothing is more important in aquarium keeping than water quality management. There are many excellent products available out there to assist in water quality management, but in my opinion, there is still no replacement for water changes, good filtration, and good feeding habits.





Aquarium Maintenance & Service, Custom Aquarium Design, Aquarium Installation & Set Up, and Aquarium Sales in Dallas and the surrounding communities



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Electric Yellow Lab


The Yellow Lab is one of our personal favorites!  Yellow Labs are almost everything a hobbyist could ask for: a great yellow color, playful inquisitive personality, hardy and good eaters.  We keep them in our display aquarium and recommend them to our clients with African Cichlid Aquariums.  A very popular African Cichlid that can be found in most pet stores is the Electric Yellow Labidochromis (Labidochomis Caeruleus). Also called Electric Yellow Cichlid or Electric Yellow Lab, they are fairly hardy and easy to care for. They are not as aggressive as some of the other Lake Malawi rock Cichlids. Their bright yellow colored bodies with black stripes along the edges of the dorsal, anal and pelvis fins gives these Cichlids striking color pattern.

All Cichlids from Lake Malawi show aggression and are territorial. This is true with Electric Yellow Cichlids. However they are one of the milder mannered of the African Cichlids. They grow to be about 3 inches in length and can be kept in tanks that are as small as 25 gallons in size. They are best maintained in small groups of about 6 fish and the group should have more females than males.

A good tank setup for Electric Yellow Labs would include some type of rock formation with passageways and caves. The tank should also have a fine gravel or sandy bottom and be well-lit. Use a background to provide additional security to the fish as well as a natural underwater scene. Water should be medium-hard, alkaline, well filtered and have a temperature between 72 and 77 degrees.

Electric Yellow Cichlids are typical mouth brooding Cichlids. A pair will spawn anywhere in the aquarium. After spawning, the male and female can remain together while the female cares for the eggs and fry. Usually the female will choose to incubate the eggs in a cave. Feed baby brine shrimp to the fry for the first couple months after they hatch.

Electric Yellows will eat a wide range of commercial fish flakes and Cichlid pellets. Providing carotene rich foods will help maintain their bright yellow coloration. Because Electric Yellows are fairly mild-mannered and easy to keep they are a very popular African Cichlid.



Aquarium Maintenance & Service, Custom Design, and Aquarium Sales in Dallas and the surrounding communities

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Whether your need is servicing an existing aquarium, or you are interested in a new aquarium setup, we will schedule a free consultation where an experienced professional will meet with you at your home or place of business. We will assess your current situation and divise a plan that will help you move closer to the aquarium you have always wanted.


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