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Hello all. I do bucket water changes on my tank since its easier for me. I have found over time, my hand substrate becomes filthy and full of fish poo as well as grime and gruck.

Whats the best way to clean this without using say a python water changer or something like that? Is there some kind of device I can use?
 

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You really need some form of siphon to do that. It can be as simple as a straight piece of tubing which drains into a bucket. It need not be as elaborate as the Python brand which uses house tap flow to create suction but it is nice to have some sort of control value to start/stop/control flow. A turkey baster is nice for stirring up the detritus just ahead of the siphon.

How big is your tank?
 

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I have this, though the self priming siphon is a huge PITA if your tank isn't full. I also use a turkey baster to get the gunk out of the substrate without disturbing any of my plants. I would recommend getting one on the small side for your tank too because IME if it's too efficient at removing water you don't get enough time to clean.
 

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I use a small gravel vac. Like ElleDee said, go a size smaller; I find the narrower vacuum nozzle on smaller vacs is also easier to fit between hardscape and plants.

A medium gravel vac should run about $12-$20, depending on brand and shop. I suggest making sure it has a squeeze-ball to start the siphon though or you'll be fighting with it all the time (or getting a mouth full of tank water...which I assure you is not pleasant).
 

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I've heard of devices that essentially vacuum the substrate without doing water changes, but honestly I think it'd be easier to just buy a gravel vac and be done with it.

Fish tank water doesn't taste that bad, and if you've got enough experience, you'll figure out a few tips and tricks on how to not get water into the siphon. My best tips include:

using the siphon to start the suction by dipping the tube in the water, and raising it above the crux point (where the tubing rises over the lip of the tank) and allowing gravity to do the work for you.

sucking out of the hose, but at a level higher than the crux point (you are guaranteed to never get a mouthful of water this way unless you're doing it wrong).

Pre-starting the siphon by submerging the tubing in the water, covering the end of the tubing, and dragging all the tubing out of the water so it will auto start.
 
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