Having a good aquarium filter is just one of the components that you will need to keep your aquarium clean. To remove the dirt and debris sitting on the bottom of the tank, you will need the best aquarium vacuum cleaner. This type of vacuum cleaner is different from its electronic appliance counterpart.
An aquarium vacuum for sand is not technically a “vacuum” cleaner since it does not use a vacuum to create suction. It uses a siphon to suck up the water and the gunk at the bottom of the tank and in between the gravel and remove it from the tank.
Aquarium vacuum cleaners are not new. They have been around for many years. This means you will have a large variety of brands of top aquarium gravel vacuum cleaners to choose from, which is a difficult task in itself.
However, this article will try to make it easier for you to choose an aquarium vacuum cleaner by teaching you what to look for.
Best Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner Reviews
1. Laifoo Aquarium Siphon Vacuum Cleaner
If you have been keeping aquariums for as long as I have, then you probably hated using rubber hoses to siphon water from the tank into buckets. This is most likely because you hate getting a mouthful of disgusting tank water in your mouth when you are trying to get the water to flow.
This will not be an issue with this option for the most well-known aquarium vacuum for sand. The reason is that you only need to pump a rubber ball to start the water flow.
Even if you own a large tank, you will have plenty of hose to work with. This siphon has a 7-ft long rubber hose so you can reach the bottom of 100-gallon tanks easily. It also comes with a handy clip that secures the outlet onto the edge of the bucket. This prevents the other end from accidentally spraying water all over your floor.
I always use this whenever I am doing partial water changes. This helps clean the tank and removes some of the water in it. The cleaning attachment also helps clean the gravel without kicking up the sand and clouding up the water. Moreover, it prevents the small fish from getting sucked up into the hose.
This device is made from high-grade elastic plastic, which is perfectly safe for fish and aquatic plants. However, I highly recommend rinsing the hose under running tap water to get rid of any mineral oils that might have remained on the surface after the manufacturing process.
Although this device is quite handy, I did not like the filter attachment. I have a tank that holds a couple of goldfish and the filter gets clogged easily whenever I try to clean up the mess that my fish made. The filter is simply too fine to let the solid waste created by bigger fish.
2. KASAN Aquarium Gravel Cleaner
The thing that I hated the most when using some battery-operated aquarium vacuum cleaners is that you will need to dip your hands in the water (an entire arm for bigger tanks) to reach the corners of the tank. This device has a long handle that enables you to clean your tank thoroughly but with the added benefit of keeping your hands dry.
This is one of the easiest to use of all the battery-operated fish tank vacuum cleaners I have tested these past couple of years. You can see the priming pump at the handle of the gravel cleaner so you can immediately start cleaning once the water starts flowing. The pump is efficient as it would only take a couple of pumps to get the water going.
Another nice touch is the inclusion of additional attachments that come with the set. There is an extension tube for when you need to clean a large tank. There is also another one that you can use for sucking up general debris. Moreover, there is a wide one that is for finishing cleaning.
Aside from cleaning, you can also use this fish tank gravel cleaner vacuum for doing water changes. Just using the siphon without the end attachments is ideal for doing partial or full water changes. This is a great way to empty a fish tank.
However, if you are going to fill it back again, you will need to elevate the buckets to well above the top of the aquarium. If you don’t, then the siphon would not work.
I would have loved using this tool more often if only the priming pump was a bit more durable. After using it just one time, I can already tell that the pump uses flimsy plastic for its construction.
In addition, after using it for a month (partial water changes every week), the pump had a small tear, which made it worthless. Thankfully, I was able to repair it temporarily using a bit of tape.
3. COODIA Vacuum Gravel Cleaner
This product is a 3-in-1 aquarium cleaning solution. First, it is an electric gravel cleaner, a sludge remover, and a handy submersible pump for water changes. I have to admit, I was not expecting to like this product as much as I do right now. It has a kind of versatility that made it one of the most used tools in my arsenal.
Another nice attachment that this tool has is the water filter. This attaches to the water outlet and forces the water through several layers of filter media. With that, it helps prevent the water from getting cloudy. Unlike other gravel cleaners, it can circulate the water instead of removing it from the tank.
Another thing that I liked is that this tool uses a powerful submersible pump to provide the suction instead of just relying on a siphon to get the water flowing. This means that you can also use this tool to refill aquariums and not just empty them. I just place the pump in the bucket of clean water and attach a hose going back into the tank.
Even though a solid submersible pump powers up this cleaner, it was surprisingly gentle when it was cleaning the gravel. The gravel in my tank was cleaned but the fish inside the tank hardly even noticed that I was cleaning their home. This cleaner did not startle even the small fish in my tank.
You can also use this tank cleaner effectively on larger tanks because the pump needs to be submerged in the water. Because of its size, you cannot use this effectively on tanks smaller than 30-gallons. There won’t be enough water to go over the pump, which, in turn, will result in the pump motor overheating.
4. Hygger Automatic Fish Tank Vacuum Cleaner
The nice thing about this aquarium cleaner is that it can clean the gravel efficiently without the need for an external pump. You connect the other end on your faucet and when you turn on the water, it will create a siphon effect that will provide suction on the inlet. The stronger the water pressure, the stronger the suction it produces.
This set also comes with all the fittings needed to connect the aquarium cleaner to any faucet in your home. This means that even if you do not have a threaded faucet, you will still be able to use this tool.
Moreover, this set came with a good length of rubber tubing, which allowed me to use any faucet in the house. I usually use the one in the downstairs bathroom because it has the highest water pressure.
Aside from cleaning the gravel, this tool also comes in handy when it comes time for partial or complete water changes. You just need to twist the valves in the direction you want the water to go. For instance, you can open the outlet valve to siphon water out, and then close it and turn on the faucet to put water back into the tank.
This is also quite easy to use. Not only is operating this aquarium vacuum cleaner easy, but assembly and installation were also a breeze. Since I am quite familiar with these kinds of products, I did not even need to look at the instructions to build and install the device. I did not even need to use any tools to set it up properly.
The only gripe I have with this tool is that the plastic fittings, especially the threaded ones, were not as durable as I would have wanted them to be. The threaded plastic adapter for the hose got stripped after just a month of use.
Luckily, there was an identical one made of metal in my local hardware store so I could still use this nifty product.
5. Fortune-Star Fish Tank Cleaner
With the help of simple physics, you can keep your aquarium clean and healthy. This may look complicated, but it is nothing more than a siphon system, albeit you no longer need to suck on one end of the hose using your mouth. I liked the trigger design of the priming pump. It makes it a lot easier to get the water flowing.
This device comes with several attachments that add a lot of uses. I like the extension tubing because I have a 50-gallon tank, and this add-on helps me reach the corners without getting my arm wet. If you have a large tank, then you would like the additional reach this tank cleaner comes with.
As mentioned earlier, this aquarium cleaner will let you clean the gravel and also scrape off the algae at the sides of the tank, all without getting your arm wet. I liked the pistol grip of the handle. It feels comfortable. It is like you are using an actual vacuum cleaner and the trigger-shaped priming pump is also easy to use.
Aside from cleaning the tank, I also use this for partial and complete water changes. I liked that I could fix the inlet pipe to the side of the tank so I did not need to hold it until the tank was empty. Not needing to gradually ladle water out of the tank makes water changes no longer such a chore.
The only problem I had with this device is that the hose that came with it is a bit too big. The hose felt loose when connected to the outlet tube. I had to put a bit of Teflon tape on the outlet to make the hose fit snug. This is not that much of an issue, but it would have been better if I did not need to fix it myself.
6. Enomol Gravel Aquarium Vacuum Cleaning
I have had the misfortune of having sucked more than one small fish through a gravel cleaner but this is not a possibility with this product. For starters, the inlet tube is large and clear, so I could see if any small fish or shrimp accidentally swam into it.
There is also a small grate that prevents gravel and fish from going through the tube. It is a failsafe that works quite well.
This best electric gravel vacuum comes with a complete set of adapters so you can attach the outlet part to any faucet you might have in your house. This kit also comes with a long rubber hose that can reach the faucet in my front yard.
This promotes ease in dumping out the dirty tank water. It is much better than lugging buckets full of water and spilling a good amount of them on my living room floor.
Aside from removing water from the tank, you can also use this to easily refill it. I just need to shut off the faucet, close the outlet valve, and turn on the water again. This time, the water goes into the tank instead of out. Before I used this tool, it took an entire weekend afternoon to do 50% water changes but now, it only takes me an hour at most.
The nice thing about this device is that if you have decent water pressure in your house, the suction will be strong enough to remove all the gunk stuck in between the gravel in the substrate. I use this tool for weekly water changes and for cleaning the tank at the same time.
However, even though I have decent water pressure, this still could not drain water quite as fast as I would have wanted it to. It is most likely because of the small diameter of the rubber hose that came with the kit. If it was a bit wider, then more water should be able to flow through it.
7. AQQA Aquarium Gravel Cleaner
This is not just a gravel cleaner but a tool that comes with different attachments, allowing it to have different functions. For instance, a personal favorite is the corner suction inlet. This attachment is shaped just right so that it can fit into corners easily.
You can also use it for cleaning bigger tanks, thanks to the extending handle. I have two aquariums at home – one is a 30-gallon tank that is somewhat shallow and a deeper 50-gallon tank. I use this device not extended on the 30-gallon and fully extended for the 50-gallon one.
Aside from cleaning the tank, I also use this device for water changes. I just need to connect the rubber hose that came with the kit and put the other end into a bucket to drain the tank and reverse the positions when refilling the tank. I prefer using this pump for refilling because it is gentler than pouring water directly from buckets.
I do not have any issues with siphon gravel cleaners but this electric-powered one is much easier to use and more efficient. The electric submersible pump is capable of moving 320 gallons per hour, which is quite strong. This creates a suction force that is strong enough to lift all of the dirt and waste at the bottom of the tank.
Now, here’s the problem. This cleaner is not ideal for smaller tanks. The submersible pump needs to be completely submerged to work and if there are attachments installed, the pump might peek out of the surface of the water. This is why I still use the old-fashioned siphon when I am dealing with my smaller aquariums.
8. Piosoo Fish Tank Gravel Cleaner Tube
I am not hating on siphon aquarium cleaning kits but this best electric aquarium vacuum is vastly superior on all accounts. You do not need to pump anything to get the water flowing (just turn on the faucet).
Moreover, you can direct the dirty water straight to the drain instead of filling buckets. I have two 50-gallon tanks and this device made water changes a whole lot easier.
This device works by connecting the outlet to any faucet. When you turn on the water, it will suck out the water from the inlet inside the aquarium due to Bernoulli’s effect. It does not matter what faucet you choose to use as this kit comes with the right adapter for it. I use the faucet in my garden since I use the tank water to feed my flower bed.
Another neat feature of this device is that after I have drained enough water from the tank, I can start refilling it with just a flick of a valve switch. A ball valve in the outlet shuts off the draining process and the water coming from the faucet will go directly into the tank. I could seamlessly go from draining to refilling in a second.
I love this device because aside from doing a great job at cleaning the gravel substrate of my tanks, it also made the once tedious chore of water changing easy. I no longer need to lug around heavy buckets of stinky water across the house to my garden.
I attached my garden hose to the outlet so I can directly water my plants using the water from my aquarium.
Now, I do have an issue with the valve switch. It is not at all durable. After a couple of uses, I managed to break the switch of the ball valve. It is made entirely of fragile plastic. Fortunately, I was able to find a replacement part entirely made of metal.
9. ATPWONZ Aquarium Gravel Cleaner
If you are the type who is nervous about using electricity around water, then you would love this aquarium cleaner. It works entirely on the siphoning effect. If the outlet is lower than the inlet, the water will continue draining. I enjoy using it just based on how cool it works and because it works well in cleaning the gravel substrate of my aquarium.
Aside from cleaning the gravel, I also use this when I need to drain my aquariums for weekly partial water changes. I used to remove water by hand, which gets tedious rather quickly because I have three large tanks. However, with the use of this tool, draining water has become almost effortless.
As I mentioned earlier, I have large aquariums (one is 100 gallons), which is why I liked that the cleaning tube is extendable. This helped me clean the bottom of my larger tanks without getting my arms wet. I also liked the included algae scraper. It made cleaning my fish tanks a whole lot easier.
One of my tanks contains a school of small fish (tetras, mollies, etc.) and I haven’t accidentally sucked up any of them when I use this gravel cleaner. Aside from being very careful, there is also a sort of strainer attached inside the gravel cleaner that prevents bits of gravel and small fish from getting through.
I do have an issue with the pump that starts the water flowing through the siphon – that is the fact that it is not that sturdy. I have been using mine for almost a month of weekly water changes for three tanks, and the pump already has a small hole in it. I managed to patch it up using duct tape but I kind of wished that it was a bit sturdier.
10. Bedee Aquarium Automatic Cleaner Vacuum
The nice thing about this product is that it is a 4-in-1 product. It is not just a gravel cleaner but it can also remove fish waste suspended in the water and scrape off algae from the sides of the tank. It is also a pump that you can use to drain and fill the tank.
I was surprised at how powerful the built-in water pump is given its small size. Even though it is a built-in pump, it has 18 watts of power, allowing it to move a lot of water. This pump provides more than enough power to suck out the fish poop stuck in between the gravel and settled at the bottom of the tank.
Unlike other gravel cleaners with pumps, this is one of the best gravel vacuums for small tanks. I use this on my 20-gallon tank, and the pump still stays submerged in the water because it is set so low on the device. However, I do have to keep a close eye on it when cleaning small tanks as the water level tends to go down quicker.
Speaking of the size of the tanks, you can still use this small fish tank gravel vacuum for tanks up to 200-gallons. I have a 150-gallon tank and cleaning it is quite easy using this device (with the extension tube). It could even reach the bottom corners easily. I also noticed that it does everything without stressing out my fish.
I did have an issue with the outlet hose connection as it was not as tight as I wanted it to be. It is also leaking air, which significantly reduces the amount of suction this device produces. However, I was able to remedy it easily using a hose clamp, which should have been included in the set.
What to Look For When Buying a Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner
Beginners at keeping aquariums might find it difficult to shop for a good aquarium vacuum cleaner, so here’s a quick guide to make this task a bit easier. You should check out these crucial factors:
When you are looking for a manual or electric aquarium vacuum for your aquarium, you need to consider the size of your tank first and foremost. You would not want to waste your money on an electric aquarium gravel vacuum if the tank is not even big enough to keep it submerged.
On the other hand, you would not want to use a dinky siphon if you are cleaning a 100-gallon tank. You have to consider the size of your aquarium and then search for a vacuum cleaner that is capable of the required kind of flow rate.
The nice thing about aquarium vacuum cleaners is that most of them come with attachments that give them more functionality. The most common attachments you will find are gravel cleaners. However, some brands come with algae scrapers and also extended hoses for water changes.
Ease of Use
In the past, we had to use simple rubber hoses to remove water from our aquariums and it usually involved getting a mouthful of disgusting tank water. Nowadays, gravel cleaner siphons already come with hand pumps to get the water flowing.
This is a lot easier and less messy. There are even products that have built-in water pumps that help a lot with tanks with huge bio loads.
I would like to say that you are getting what you paid for when it comes to aquarium vacuum cleaners, but there are many affordable ones out there that perform at par with the expensive brands.
However, you will need to wade through a lot of customer reviews to figure out which ones are worth your money.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where to Buy an Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner?
You can find lots of aquarium vacuum brands in most pet supplies stores and aquariums. However, if you want even more choices, then you should go online shopping.
How big Should my Gravel Vacuum be?
Most gravel cleaners are relatively the same size. However, you should consider the size of your tank when shopping for the best gravel vacuum for sand. It is even important to check the actual depth of your tank in particular. The gravel cleaner should be long enough that it can reach the bottom without you getting your hands wet.
The best aquarium vacuum cleaner will prove to be one of the most used tools you will have in your aquarium maintenance closet. The reason is that most gravel cleaners do more than one job. Most of them are also water siphons that you can use for water changes.
Now that you reached the end of this article, you may have learned everything that you need to know when shopping for aquarium gravel cleaners.