In this article:

‣ How to drain aquatic plant tubs and terrariums with a syringe

‣ Photos of the setup

‣ Demonstration of the technique with an actual plant subject

More details:

In this article I show a DIY syringe and hose tool you can use to drain small aquatic plant tubs and small terrariums. This is useful for delicate plants, and is effective at cleaning dirt particles, similar to an aquarium gravel cleaner. The small flexible hose makes it easy to target dirt and get between the plants. This example uses a filmy fern as the subject, which is part of an experiment to see how the plant reacts to submerged growing conditions (it is growing extremely well).


The device elements. The syringe, and the flexible hose in a diameter that fits snugly on the syringe tip. The cap from the syringe is not needed.

The device, put together.

Photograph showing the general concept, of sucking water and contaminants from the growing container. You can release the water into a spare container, as shown on the right side of the photograph.

The device and technique can be applied to many other situations and uses, such as draining a small terrarium tank or jar. Very small containers are usually not candidates for installing a bulkhead drain, making them a challenge to drain excess or dirty water from. In the example shown here, there is a permanently installed tube in the substrate (gravel), which goes to the bottom of the tank. The syringe device hose can be inserted into the tube, giving unobstructed access to the water to be removed.