Whatever happened to Dip Tubes?

STEVERINSL
  • #1
I'm new here but I've been keeping aquariums, off and on, for over 50 years. Small-scale, nothing elaborate or exotic. Things have changed a lot in those years, but there's one item of equipment that I've lost along the way and to my amazement doesn't seem to exist anymore, anywhere. Everybody used to have one. You never really needed more than just one. Can you guess what it is? The dip tube! I'd find one to be very handy in my freshwater shrimp tank right now, but I've searched online to the four corners of the earth without managing to locate one. I'll make my own if I have to, but before I do, does anybody here have any idea where one might be found? I'd be very appreciative!
 
Algonquin
  • #2
What is a Dip Tube? (For those of us who haven't been fishkeeping for 50 years!!)
 
STEVERINSL
  • Thread Starter
  • #3
What is a Dip Tube? (For those of us who haven't been fishkeeping for 50 years!!)
Oh, now I feel so old! A dip tube is a plastic tube with an enlarged chamber toward the bottom, that you use to suck up small amounts of goop from the substrate. You put your finger or thumb over the top opening in the tube, lower it until the bottom of the tube is just above the substrate, lift your finger to let water be drawn in, and the goop fills the lower chamber. When that's full the water keeps surging up to the top of the tube. You put your finger back over it, lift the whole thing out, and empty it into a bucket or sink or something. It's ideal for spot cleaning small areas without any need for power pumping. My old books are in storage so I can't put my hand on a good photo, but there are patents for them, like the one that's attached. You can get a good idea from it.
 

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juniperlea
  • #4
I was curious and did a search. There's an article about aquariums and dip tubes in Boys' Life 1953. I scanned the magazine that the article is in. My dad always said the 50s was the best generation to be young! I tend to agree.
Boys' Life
 
STEVERINSL
  • Thread Starter
  • #5
I was curious and did a search. There's an article about aquariums and dip tubes in Boys' Life 1953. I scanned the magazine that the article is in. My dad always said the 50s was the best generation to be young! I tend to agree.
Boys' Life
I only wish it had a photo of the dip tube itself. I guess I'll have to go dig out the power vacuum thingie and use that instead. But thanks for taking the time to look that up!
 
david1978
  • #6
I think they switched to using a turkey baster.
 
STEVERINSL
  • Thread Starter
  • #7
There's an old episode of "Mister Rogers" where he uses a dip tube to clean stuff out of an aquarium.
1579621111280.png
 

EmiliyaCossack
  • #8
There's an old episode of "Mister Rogers" where he uses a dip tube to clean stuff out of an aquarium.

I loved Mr. Rogers
 
MacZ
  • #9
As the laws of physics don't really change, the principle is still used and I lately saw a product that was basically the same in my LFS. If I remember it next time I'll take a pic.
 
STEVERINSL
  • Thread Starter
  • #10
As the laws of physics don't really change, the principle is still used and I lately saw a product that was basically the same in my LFS. If I remember it next time I'll make a pic.
I'd much appreciate it. Meanwhile I'll try the turkey baster, my wife gave me the OK since we had a spare!
 
JimC22
  • #11
Oh, now I feel so old!
I'm right there with you. As soon as I read what you were talking about, it brought back old memories of my tanks many, many years ago....
 
CHJ
  • #12
I suspect your average tank size got bigger and so people had more water and more mess. So they moved to gravel vacs and from there the Python.
I also suspect that changes in filtration made the dip tube obsolete. With a bubble box (thing with charcoal and floss that bubbled in the corner of the tank) you would have mess. With the advent of the under gravel the mess got pulled into the gravel. After that HOBs and Canisters increased flow so the muck got stirred up and sucked up.
 
STEVERINSL
  • Thread Starter
  • #13
I suspect your average tank size got bigger and so people had more water and more mess. So they moved to gravel vacs and from there the Python.
I also suspect that changes in filtration made the dip tube obsolete. With a bubble box (thing with charcoal and floss that bubbled in the corner of the tank) you would have mess. With the advent of the under gravel the mess got pulled into the gravel. After that HOBs and Canisters increased flow so the muck got stirred up and sucked up.
I bypassed the undergravel filter era completely, and went straight from corner filters (which had their merits after all) to HOB and that's where I stayed. They seem to work fine for me but they can leave little pockets of goop in corners and things, which is why I'd like to have a dip tube. Or turkey baster. Just something I can pick up and use to get a bit of gunk out when I happen to notice it without any muss or fuss. I guess what surprised me was that something which had been so universal in the pre-Internet days is virtually a non-thing today. The Web has some interesting little gaps like this!
 
CHJ
  • #14
I usually python the goop if it bugs me or just leave it for mulm value depending on the tank.
You could also add a circulator to stir it up so the filters can eat it. This of course depends on fish size as small shoaling fish will go right through larger circulators and smaller circulators don't move much water.
My turkey basters have been for catching shrimp and fry. I like the clear ones where you can cut the tip more open to grab shrimp (you might be able to get them without modification but I worry about injuring them that way).
 
jake37
  • #15
For stuff like muck in the corner; I and probably most people use a gravel vacuum. I can see on a small tank something like a turker blaster would be useful; but for a tank like mine i'd spend hours trying to pick up all the muck with such a small item.

I bypassed the undergravel filter era completely, and went straight from corner filters (which had their merits after all) to HOB and that's where I stayed. They seem to work fine for me but they can leave little pockets of goop in corners and things, which is why I'd like to have a dip tube. Or turkey baster. Just something I can pick up and use to get a bit of gunk out when I happen to notice it without any muss or fuss. I guess what surprised me was that something which had been so universal in the pre-Internet days is virtually a non-thing today. The Web has some interesting little gaps like this!
 
ghostdawg
  • #16
Oh, now I feel so old! A dip tube is a plastic tube with an enlarged chamber toward the bottom, that you use to suck up small amounts of goop from the substrate. You put your finger or thumb over the top opening in the tube, lower it until the bottom of the tube is just above the substrate, lift your finger to let water be drawn in, and the goop fills the lower chamber. When that's full the water keeps surging up to the top of the tube. You put your finger back over it, lift the whole thing out, and empty it into a bucket or sink or something. It's ideal for spot cleaning small areas without any need for power pumping. My old books are in storage so I can't put my hand on a good photo, but there are patents for them, like the one that's attached. You can get a good idea from it.
I was only 2 days old...
 
jake37
  • #17
Maybe there is a market for them and you could start making and selling them I would think the patents have expired if they've been around 60+ years.
 

STEVERINSL
  • Thread Starter
  • #18
The patent that I attached earlier is expired. As I recall, they sold for about 75 cents back in the day, and would anybody really be interested in one in today's world, I wonder? If there were a market, I imagine China would flood it....
 
fishsavvy
  • #19
You mean a siphon? or python?
 
STEVERINSL
  • Thread Starter
  • #20
You mean a siphon? or python?
No, it's a thing that just pulls up about a half-cup of water at a time. You pull it out, empty it, and use it again if you need to. I really wish all my old books weren't in storage, they all had pictures of this thing.
 
fishsavvy
  • #21
No, it's a thing that just pulls up about a half-cup of water at a time. You pull it out, empty it, and use it again if you need to. I really wish all my old books weren't in storage, they all had pictures of this thing.
That seems very time-consuming!
 
STEVERINSL
  • Thread Starter
  • #22
It used to be part of normal daily or weekly maintenance. You'd arrange the substrate to slope toward one front corner where you could see any buildup in crud that needed to be removed, and since it was localized, you'd take care of it with just a dip or two. If you have a bunch of tanks it would be a bigger problem, but I only ever had a few. Now I'm down to just 2.
 
86 ssinit
  • #23
Got to say I’ve never seen that dip tube. But I do own that tank Mr Rogers is working on. Yes with a slate bottom. 35g thing must weigh 100+lbs.
 
John58ford
  • #24
That's back when they thought aged water was the magic so you didn't want to waste any to clean the tank right? I've heard this from my father before, I can understand the idea though. I use a straw stuck into a turkey baster occasionally but I also built myself a tiny siphon with a drinking straw and 1/4" tubing. It can get the target spots sucked up without too much water to turn over.

My normal m.o. is large water changes when needed, my water is free and doesn't need treatment (got lucky with a well)

I would love a dip tube for spot cleaning or getting feces/eggs out of my taller tanks though. I'll keep an eye out for an easy substitute
 
kallililly1973
  • #25
I'm also a big fan of good size WC's but also a fan of turkey basters to congregate all the waste towards the WC'er. I also made a WC'er with the airline tubing and a skewer for my smaller tanks to be able to clear a lot of waste and not a lot of water. But at the same time if your removing waste with a smaller WC'er into a bucket once the waste settles you can get a few scoops of water with a cup and add it back in and keep repeating the process. I did that for the first time this weekend in my pea puffers 8.8 and it worked out well. It was a ramshorn graveyard in there and needed a deeper cleaning than usual.
 
juniperlea
  • #26
Got to say I’ve never seen that dip tube. But I do own that tank Mr Rogers is working on. Yes with a slate bottom. 35g thing must weigh 100+lbs.
Do you use your Mr Rogers tank? I read today, that some older aquariums were built with slate bottoms (pre-electricity) because the slate could be somehow heated from underneath, and that people kept fish as far back as 4500 bc! We're all newbies!!
 
86 ssinit
  • #27
No it’s up in the attic. Just to heavy to bring down.
 
juniperlea
  • #28
Ah well. I did a little more oogling on google and it must have a metal frame as well. Collectors look for them. It could be worth nothing or the value of your dream tank!
 
Lyrical0222
  • #29
I think of those dip tubes every single time I clean my tanks!! (Yes, a bit obsessive, I know, but I do!) We used these in the 70s when my parents had tanks. We'd put a little bit of the filter floss we used in the corner filters in the chamber to catch the gunk. I liked the suction they had.
 
jake37
  • #30
Is there really much difference between the dip tube and turkey blaster or extra long eye dropper ?
 
juniperlea
  • #31
I find this topic/subject fascinating. Much like the horse & carriage conversion to horseless carriage. The horseless carriage provided feritizliation, whereas the horseless carriage provides waste.
 

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