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Now that I know about fish getting sucked into HOB filters I don't understand why it's not explained on EVERY aquarium kit!

Gah!
The filter should have had an intake basket to prevent large things from being sucked into it. If you have a very strong filter it can still suck small fish to the basket. Usually the fish will be unharmed if they are able to pull away. If they are stuck on the basket for long periods of time they might die. You can put a sponge on the intake by cutting a hole in the sponge and slipping it over the intake pipe. I also recommend finding a replacement basket for the filter and then putting a sponge over that basket. This is just in case the sponge slips off you will have a secondary guard to protect the fish, the basket.
 
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