my fish tank is on the floor and i can get the syphon to work but its pretty week and doesn't pick up some of the debris, is there anything i can do to make the suction stronger? also i'm not sure if i'm cleaning the tank "right" am i supposed to take all the decorations out or just go around them? and how long can i leave the filter off without messing up the cycle? sometimes it takes me 45 minutes - an hour to clean the tank and i'm paranoid its going to mess up my cycle.
It wont mess up the cycle as long as the filter pad is still moist. I'm not sure about making it stronger, you might just have to buy a new one. As for the deco, its safe to leave them in there, you could move them, but you dont have to.
You could buy a self priming one (that has a ball you squeeze to get it started). However, understand that the reason why syphons work is that they are pumping water from a high place and having it flow to a lower place.
you may want to consider used a turkey baster.
Also, how big is your tank? I have a three 2.5 gallons and changing the water in all of them and cleaning the gravel takes 30 minutes. Your filter is fine as long as it stay wet, i'm just trying to see if you can find a better and faster way to get your gravel clean :)
i used a turkey baster until I got the hang of it. how large is your tank? mine is 10 gallons, and i put it on an old sturdy coffee table. if it's a small tank then you might be able to find something from a thrift store or used on craigslist or something to sit it up on. That gravity thing is kinda important.