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Re: Battery Powered Gravel Cleaners

Cavan asked about > 
> I was checking out bigalsonline and noticed two
> different battery powered gravel cleaners (removal of
> detritus without taking out water).  As you may know,
> my tank has a ton of gunk.  One is by Hagen and the
> other by Penn Plax.  Both are under $10.  I would
> consider the Eheim sludge extractor, but it's $80!!
> Ouch!  Does anyone have experience with either of the
> first two?  It would be nice if they're gentle enough
> so that I can clean out my micro tenellus stand.
> I had a squueze pump thing a long time ago, but it
> stunk.  

I am assuming that the condition causing all the detritus is going to
remain, so you will want the vacumn to last a long time -- you won't
just use it once.

Imhsnsho (in my humble, sometimes not so humble opinion), I would
probably use a Python Gravel cleaner with a Python 13B Pump (the green
venturi pump that attaches to a household faucet).  With Python, you
have to hook up the hose but there's no cleaning the sludge-cup
afterwards, no electric motor to wear out or pay a lot of money for,
and with an in-line hose valve it can as gentle as you like.  With the
Python, Eheim, Hagen, or Penn Plax, they will all clog on big stuff  so
we need to be talking about detritus and not just plain garbage.

You could hook up the Python to an existing filter to avoid removing
any water, but what's wrong with removing water?  At worst, you need to
add back some nutrients for the plants, at best you get out more of
whatever is causing your undesirable detritus buildup -- probably too
much nutrients for too few plants?????

Anyhow, if I had to go with an electrically motorized unit, I would
definitely get the one that's worth $80 and not one that worth less
than $10.  It's not that I don't like Hagen (I think the Tronic is very
good heater, if you have to use an in-the-heater thermostat) or Penn
Plax (lots of stuff aimed at the first time user/beginner market).  I
just wouldn't expect a battery powered motor, which is slightly more
complicated than an AC (or house current) motor, to last long at that
market price.  I have never had a battery (or DC "brushed") motor that
last a reasonable length of time that was so inexpensive.  Eheim's
strongest point is the quality of its motors -- that's how it started
as a company, making small electric pumps.  Eheim's reputation for
outstanding durability is entirely dependent on their (pump and filter)
motors lasting.

On the other hand, if you plan to use it just a few times, at $10 bucks
the Penn and Hagen are virtually disposable.  But then, I would still
prefer the Python, because after using it a few times to remove large
amount of detritus, it can be used for years further to do water adds
and changes and to help clean up that Blue-Green-Algae outbreak that
occurs because you got nonchalant for a while about P and N levels or
let your filter go unchanged for way too long months.

Also, if you are a true aquarium nut, you'll buy the cheaper item to
see if it works (hey, it's only ten bucks) but end up buying the more
expensive item later -- not because the first one broke but because
"it's better."  If we didn't keep buying stuff, setting up more tanks,
rebuilding old tanks, etc., we'd lose one of the most important aspects
of our hobby:  continually buying stuff and fiddling with all the
stuff.  So buying the $10 item (first) actually costs you closer to $90
before you're you're done.  ;-)  Imhsnsho

Scott H.

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