I can’t count how many times I have had customers come up to me and say they’d love to have an aquarium, but just don’t have time for all the work the goes into them. I always smile and then tell them my secret…I have eighteen aquariums at home, and it takes me an hour to do all my water changes.
I’m afraid I was spoiled early. When I was ten years old my mother inherited an aquarium cleaning business from the local pet store owners; this included a 50-foot Python and a list of customers. As soon as she had the business figured out my mother taught me how to do it, and pretty soon I had several aquariums a week of my own to clean as well as the 55-gallon aquarium in the lobby of the motel my mom managed (yes, she was a busy lady!). When we moved to another town and found no niche for aquarium cleaning the equipment went to me and I dove headfirst into the fishkeeping hobby.
Now, twelve years later, I can confidently say I would never be able to do it without my Python. I have since moved back to my hometown and started up the business again and have two Pythons, one of which is that original 50-foot along with a newer 100-foot system I purchased to ensure I would always be able to reach where I needed to go regardless of the house or business I happened to be working in.
So what exactly is a Python?
The Python No Spill Clean and Fill is essentially a large hose about 1/2″ in diameter with a gravel tube on the end, a pump, and a water flow switch. The Pythons generally come in 25′, 50′, 75′, and 100′ hose lengths, if this isn’t quite right for you 20′ hose extensions can be purchased separately. The cost of a system generally ranges from $25-$100 depending on the length and where you get it…I personally got my 100′ for $65 online.
Cleaning Your Aquarium
First off, I think it is important to mention that partial water changes are essential for the health of your aquarium. If you only change the water when it looks dirty it is already far past when it should have been changed. The purpose of water changes is to get rid of excess nitrates in the water from fish waste. The frequency of water changes will vary depending on the stocking level in your aquarium and the amount and type of food the fish are given. Generally the water change has to be done every week to every other week. More sensitive critters such as snails and shrimp prefer a nitrate level of less than 20ppm, whereas most of the hardier freshwater fish are happy enough with 40ppm and under.
Now it’s time to change the water. I do my water changes once a week because I raise snails and fluctuating water conditions can cause imperfections in their shells; once monthly I test the water to make sure all the parameters are where I want them to be.
First things first, I screw the Python pump into my water faucet, making sure the twisty knob on the bottom is in the unscrewed position, allowing water to flow straight through it and turn the cold water on full. This creates a natural vacuum and sucks the water out of the aquarium. You can use the water flow switch to turn the suction on and off, but watch closely because if any fish gets sucked up in there they will go into the switch and not come out whole.
Once I have removed half of the water in each of my tanks I put water conditioner in each of the tanks, shut off the water, make sure the switch is on off, then turn the water on and adjust to the same temperature as my tanks. Next, push the knob on the bottom of the pump upwards and twist it a half-turn to keep it in place, this sends the water down the hose to be put back into the tanks.
What I think about this item
As previously stated, this is one of the most important pieces of equipment in my fishroom. The Python is easy to use, quite inexpensive for the amount of work it saves, makes routine aquarium maintenance easy and pain-free, and is extremely durable.
After twelve years with the one Python and three years with the other one, all I have ever had to purchase for either was some additional faucet fittings (to ensure I can attach it to just about any faucet since I never know what sort a new customer may have) and one new pump because my ex-husband’s dog chewed one up. I absolutely would not try to run a fish room without this and recommend it to anyone with any tank larger than a ten-gallon (or multiple tanks).
About the only thing you really have to be careful of with the Python is to watch that intake! I cannot stress this part enough as it is heartbreaking to see one of your treasured fish get pulled into that. Many people I know with very large tanks that take a while to empty use a nylon sock over the intake once the gravel vacuuming is finished to help ensure hapless fishies don’t get caught in it. Also be careful when you first switch the water from “empty” to “fill” as there will be some air bubbles coming out first that can have some force to them. I suggest aiming the hose at the inside wall of the aquarium above the water line until the air works its way out so as not to frighten or injure any fish.
All-in-all this item is definitely worth the money and certainly adds to the enjoyment of fishkeeping as you will spend a lot less time and effort keeping your pets healthy, and a lot more time kicking back and enjoying them.
As with any pets please thoroughly research care, feeding, and proper tank cycling procedures before purchasing your fish…pet store employees are not always a reliable source of information! My opinion relates the use of this item with freshwater fish only as I have little experience with saltwater fish.