Dwelling

Python No Spill Clean and Fill Aquarium Maintenance System

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Will not disturb fish or decor during routine aquarium maintenance.

I’ve got a couple goldfish that have grown from feeder fish into 10-inch monstrosities. They currently live in a 55-gallon hex tank. Something that you don’t learn about goldfish when you win them at the fair is that they are utterly filthy, requiring heavy duty filtration and frequent water changes in order to stay healthy. Changing the water in our tank used to be a Herculean labor, involving siphoning bucket after bucket of water out of the tank, hauling the cumulative 200 pounds of water to the backyard or the bathroom, then filling the tank with another 200 pounds of water, bucket by bucket, having to lift each bucket to overhead height to pour it into the top of the tank.

But no longer, thanks to the Python fish tank maintenance system ($40). The Python consists of a standard gravel vacuum connected to a 25-foot length of surgical tubing (also available in 50′, 75′, and 100′ lengths). At the other end of the tubing is a Bernoulli pump that affixes to your kitchen faucet. Simply turn the water on, and the Python drains water from your tank and dumps it directly into the kitchen sink. When it’s time to fill the tank, you twist a valve on the pump and it redirects water from operating the pump to filling the tank. There’s no water hauling, no sloshing, and no lifting five-gallon buckets.

It has changed my relationship with our fish tank — water changes have gone from a dreaded labor of love to a relatively painless maintenance procedure. There are a few downsides to the Python, mostly minor. First, for the Bernoulli pump to work, you need the water to be running, which is a bit wasteful. (Luckily my kitchen sink is lower in elevation than my fish tank, so I just use the pump to get the draining started, then turn off the water and let the siphon effect drain the tank). Second, since the water drains directly into the sink, you can’t easily redirect the relatively clean drain water to a useful purpose like watering the garden. Finally, the drain/fill process is so painless that it’s possible to let your mind wander and either overdrain or overfill the tank — so keep one eye on the process! But these are a small price to pay for never having to drag multiple buckets of water across the house again.

I’d recommend getting a portable dishwasher quick-connect to hook the Python up, which will make it much easier to mount and unmount the system to your faucet. You can also get different lengths of gravel cleaner tube and a few other accessories to make the Python work well for whatever aquarium setup you have.

-- Andreas Orphanides 06/26/18