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They are pretty easy to use once you get the hang of it. I have a siphon that attached to my sink for ease, but I still use the handheld manual one like you have in the summer. I save the water to water my garden.

Unless you are regularly cleaning your gravel with a siphon, even if your perimeters are perfect, you will have a bunch of mulm settled in there. Unless you are careful it will get stirred up and knock your perimeters out of wack.

This could be what happened to you, and this is something that I do when I use mine:
When I am done using the vacuum I tilt the vacuum upwards while it is underwater and take it out of the tank and let all the water that was in it drain into the bucket. If I don't do that and just pull it out, the dirty water that was in the vacuum will just drain back into the tank.
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