Siphon or Baster For Cleaning the Gravel?

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It’s a thankless task all betta keepers face. Removing the accumulated debris from the surface, or any that has worked its way down into, the gravel or substrate you’ve got in your betta tank. And your curious crowntail male betta isn’t exactly thrilled with the process either.

So let me ask you…Do you keep some sort of turkey baster handy for cleaning the gunk out of your tank instead of a siphon? How’s that working for you? If your experience is like most, likely not so great.

Naturally there may be perfectly good reasons for having gone the baster route.

  • Maybe you’re concerned the siphon will upset your aquascape and/or uproot the plants you painstakingly planted in just the right places? So you feel you need to use something with a more delicate touch.
  • Maybe the tank cover/light is such it’s not easily removed? So the only thing that work is something that can be more precisely targeted.
  • Or maybe you just haven’t gotten around to upgrading your tool kit. And the baster was handy so you went with that.

Yet in the back of your mind there’s a hard-to-ignore, nagging feeling you aren’t getting things as “dirtless” as you might like. Not that squeaky or immaculately clean is ever an option. But still you are wondering if you are doing a good enough job of removing the built up filth also known as that dynamic duo of waste and/or uneaten food. While leaving you to wonder what all that’s doing to the water quality which you know is of paramount importance when keeping betta fish..

Given the drawbacks maybe this is why some limit basters for duty in bare tanks. You can see the results and you don’t really need any kind of siphoning system.

Well, this video shows how one such tank siphon can make quick work of cleaning the gravel. It even comes with its own collection vessel so you won’t have to worry about missing the bucket and water getting all over either. Making this, or others like it, one handy tool.

Besides with a baster it is tough to tell if you’re getting everything. or even close to everything. out of the gravel. Yet a system like this one seems to make it easier to do a better job of that. And you aren’t limited by what a small baster can suck up with each go at it either.

Plus the siphon in the video appears to make digging down into the gravel as deep as you can much easier? Yet without terrorizing the fish.

Although there is one other trick a baster is good for. That is use it to blast water into the gravel to both loosen and dislodge the muck and debris. Then just suck up the resulting plume and get it out of the aquarium fast.

Certainly a baster is one way to go when it comes to cleaning your tank. But maybe a siphon designed for the task might be a better way to go. Granted this still is unlikely to become your favorite part of betta care any time soon. But if you must do it you might as well do all you can to make it more tolerable and efficient, right?

About Lucas
Putting a name with a face I'm Lucas Smatana. Like you I'm passionate about betta fish and hope to share my enthusiasm. The idea here is to make sure you get helpful info and useful ideas on betta fish care that really work. To insure your betta keeping experience is a good one both for you and your fish. So that you and your pet enjoy a long, happy and healthy relationship.

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5 Responses to “Siphon or Baster For Cleaning the Gravel?”

  1. Zejan says:

    I received a gift of a Betta trapped in a flower vase by my well-meaning sister. I rescued the fish from the vase and put him in a 1 gallon tank. After going through some of the information on this web page, I realize that I haven’t really improved his situation much, though I was following the advice of the people at the pet store.

    So…what to do now? Indigo seems to be happy in his new home. He’s very active and enthusiastic, especially at feeding time. The filter that came with the tank stirs the water some, he’s got an air gap, it’ll be a week tomorrow since I got him so I’m going to set aside some tap water to get to room temp so I can add conditioner and change the water tomorrow. What am I missing?

    • Zejan says:

      Umm, forgot to mention that I’m wondering about the Baster versus siphon because this is the first time I’ll be doing a water change. I feed Indigo just a couple of pellets once a day, so I’m thinking there shouldn’t be much gunk in the gravel as of yet.

      • Lucas says:

        Baster vs siphon also depends on the gravel/stones/polished glass situation on the bottom of the tank. Bare bottom tanks can be serviced more easily by the baster. Sounds like you ARE avoiding another newbie mistake however. You aren’t overfeeding. So good for you. Again Indigo is much better off seems to me. :)

    • Lucas says:

      I don’t know, sounds to me like ole Indigo is better off in oh so many ways? His enthusiasm is his way of showing appreciation. Yet are you heating the water to 78-80? This would be a key. You mention room temp so it doesn’t sound like it. Although one gallon tanks are not easy to heat reliably. But that and the regular water changes you seem to be setting the scene for would be two things to help him stay healthy and frisky. Good luck!

      • Zejan says:

        Okay…so I should get Indigo to a bigger tank and get a heater ASAP. Got it. He did well with the water swap today, I pulled 1/4 of the tank and replaced it with fresh, treated water. I also discovered that he really liked the Wardley brand of Betta food. I dropped in a pellet and the current from the filter pushed it around the surface, but he actively chased it down and nabbed it. Was entertaining to watch.

        Indigo remains spunky and seems to greet me when I check on him in the morning before I head to work. He’s a fun little guy. I hope to take good care of him and make sure he enjoys a long and healthy life.

        I also learned that my sis plans to buy another one of those vases – red this time, which is her favorite color. I’m hoping to talk her into investing in a tank, though it would have to be a small one since she has to keep it on her desk at work (she has several cats at home). Perhaps I could pass the small tank on to her once I get the five gallon since it would be a step up for the fish. I think nearly anything would be better than that vase arrangement.

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