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If you work with substrate-spawning cichlids, one thing you'll immediately notice is that fry can be extremely small. It's all too easy to siphon them out accidentally when doing a water change.

I keep newly free-swimming fry from egg layers in tiny 2-gallon Rubbermaid restaurant containers and I use a mini-siphon I made myself to carefully clean the bottom of excess food and debris. Here's how to make one yourself.

You'll need:

  • One 12-14" piece of rigid aquarium airline tubing
  • One small piece of insulated #14 electrical wire 
  • A heat source (I use my gas stove)

Here's what to do . . .


Step 1: Cut a 12-14" piece of rigid airline tubing and a similar length of electrical wire

Step 2: Insert the wire into the rigid airline tubing

The wire keep the tubing walls from collapsing when it is bent.

Step 3: Warm the tubing over a heat source. Be careful! Don't burn yourself!

Rotate the tubing so that all sides are evenly heated.

Step 4: Bend the Tubing

Carefully bend the tubing into a U-shape.

Step 5: Remove the wire from the tubing

Pull the wire out of the tubing while it is still warm.

Step 6: Trim the end of the Tubing

Sometimes, the end of the tubing may become crimped. If that happens, cut the tubing to form a new, neat end. I used diagonal cutters for this.

Step 7: Attach airline to extend the siphon

I use silicon airline tubing cut long enough to reach a bucket on the floor.

Using the Mini-Siphon

Your new mini-siphon works like any other siphon. Suck on the end of the airline and move the end so that it is lower than the water level. You can now siphon out debris and uneaten food with pinpoint precision from your fry tanks.