Updated: February 9, 2023 - By: - Categories: Maintenance

Fish eat and fish poop! Fish also drop food to the bottom of the tank! These are facts that every aquarium owner knows. All this waste lodges deep into the substrate or gravelly bottom of an aquarium. Filters cannot remove these effectively enough. The resulting sludge can produce toxic effects on aquatic life if not cleaned properly. Regular and thorough cleaning of aquariums is, therefore, a must. Gravel vacuum cleaners do this efficiently.

Best gravel vacuum cleaners

Model Our rating Powered Application Gravel tube Hose length Others
Aqueon Water Changer editor's ratingAqueon Water Changer #ad faucet water flow clean gravel and drain water, refill 11″ 25′ (50′ available) flow control valves, faucet adaptor
Python No Spill Clean and Fill Aquarium editor's ratingPython No Spill Clean and Fill #ad faucet water flow clean gravel and drain water, refill 10″ (24-72-inch #ad for deep tanks available) 75′ (25′ – 100′ available) connectors, flow control, many compatible products
UPETTOOLS electric aquarium gravel cleaner editor's ratingUPETTOOLS electric aquarium gravel cleaner #ad water pump (max 450 GPH) sludge extract, clean gravel and drain water, glass cleaning, refill 8″ with extension handles (> 24″ total) 63″ flow control, many inlets and outlets, extension handles
Luigi fish tank gravel siphon cleaner editor's ratingLuigi fish tank gravel siphon cleaner #ad manual siphon pump clean gravel and drain water short tube with a hard pipe 44″ intake strainer
EHEIM Quick Vac Pro Automatic Sludge Extractor editor's ratingEHEIM Quick Vac Pro Automatic Sludge Extractor #ad 2 AA batteries (up to 4 hours working continuously) cleaning gravel, sludge extract 24″ total when fully assembled none 4 AA batteries included
Hygger Aquarium Gravel Cleaner editor's ratingHygger Aquarium Gravel Cleaner #ad manual siphon air-pressing button clean gravel and drain water 2 x 16-inch tubes + 8-inch gun/handle (> 40″ total) 79″ (0.7″ OD & 0.55″ ID) tube connector, intake strainer, flow regulating clam, hose clamp
Boxtech Aquarium Vacuum Siphon editor's ratingBoxtech Aquarium Vacuum Siphon #ad manual siphon pump clean gravel and drain water 5″ with 11″ hard pipes (> 27″ total) 72.4″ additional nozzle, 11″ hard pipes, suction clamp, hose joint
Hygger 5 in 1 automatic electric gravel cleaner editor's ratingHygger 5 in 1 automatic electric gravel cleaner #ad 396 GPH water pump sludge extract, clean gravel and drain water, refill suitable for tanks from 11.4-40.5 inches deep 79″ many inlets and outlets, connectors, valves, handle, controller
Laifoo 25ft Aquarium Vacuum Gravel Cleaner editor's ratingLaifoo 25ft Aquarium Vacuum Gravel Cleaner #ad manual siphon pump clean gravel and drain water, refill 8.7″ 25′ hose clip, hose strap, faucet connector, user manual
GreenJoy Fish Tank Cleaning Kit editor's ratingGreenJoy Fish Tank Cleaning Kit #ad manual siphon pump clean gravel and drain water, glass cleaning short tube with a hard pipe 53″ strainer, flow control valve, fish net, gravel rake, glass sponge, algae scraper, plant fork
HiTauing Electric Aquarium Gravel Cleaner editor's ratingHiTauing Electric Aquarium Gravel Cleaner #ad 317 GPH water pump sludge extract, clean gravel and drain water, refill suitable for tanks from 11.8-33.5 inches deep 78.7″ (2m) many inlets and outlets, extension tubes, handle, manual

What are gravel vacuum cleaners?


Cleaning the gravel using a siphon cleaner

A gravel vacuum cleaner is an important requirement for any aquarist. It has a vacuum suction effect that helps to pull out waste from substrate or gravel. These cleaners are designed to work effectively on all kinds of substrates. They also help drain out dirty water from your aquarium.

The equipment itself is pretty simple. There is a siphon attached to airline tubing and the whole thing is powered by a manual or electric pump or simply faucet flow. Needless to say, choosing the right capacity cleaner is important. Once you have made up your mind about the size of your aquarium and the kind of aquatic life you want, the logical next step has to be the proper choice of fish tank vacuum cleaners.

How to choose a gravel vacuum cleaner?

Factors that influence the choice of gravel vacuum cleaners:

Each fish tank owner has different requirements based on the above factors. The end goal remains the same – a clean aquarium.

Discussed below are some popular choices of gravel cleaners. There are many models in the market and one has to choose based on various criteria.

Also included here is a section for accessories and replacements for ready reference. Sometimes people need accessories that are not part of their gravel cleaning kits. Other times some replacements might be needed. In the case of replacements, the more universally usable, the better they are.

Read on to know about some such popularly used ones:

Best gravel vacuum cleaners reviewed

Aqueon Water Changer

This water changer is a piece of good equipment to clean your aquarium gravel. It comes in different hose sizes. This particular model has a 25-foot hose. The gravel cleaner attachment goes on one end of the hose and the faucet adapter on the other. There is a valve attached to the faucet assembly which can be closed. This helps fill fresh water into a container. The gravel cleaner also has a valve that can be adjusted to control the suction rate. This prevents sand from being sucked into the tube.

The best feature is that the faucet adapter can fit into most sinks and dirty water goes down neatly into the sink. It also helps to fill in clean water in the aquarium and avoids spills and mess in the process. This cleaner is powered by faucet flow and you can control the flow with valves. Using this cleaner, you can flush out deep-seated debris from gravel and empty them into a sink directly.

This cleaner is easy to set up and use. There are clear instructions with the pack. Replacements are available.

Python No Spill Clean and Fill Aquarium

Without any electric or battery-driven pump, this gravel cleaner depends on faucet flow to get the siphon working. The faucet adapter is designed to adapt to standard faucets easily. Twisting the bottom ring of the faucet adapter to switch between draining and refill modes. With the flow control switch on the connector near the gravel tube, you can clean gravel and drain dirty water in your fish tank without any stress or disturbance to fish.

Python No Spill Clean and Fill AquariumPython No Spill Clean and Fill Aquarium #ad

It is compatible with many Python accessories for changing aquarium water. These great accessories make the work of weekly water changes a breeze. The gravel cleaning tube is only 10″ but you can choose a longer gravel tube (sold separately) depending upon the height of your aquarium.

This is a ready-to-use aquarium cleaner that helps to change and refill tank water easily. Every purchase comes with a brass faucet adapter, faucet pump, hose connectors, gravel tube, hose, and control switch. Replacements are easily available in the market.

UPETTOOLS electric aquarium cleaner with pump

This aquarium cleaner is powered by a water pump of 450 GPH capacity. This set comes with many attachments that are specially designed to clean sand and gravel base. There is a flow control switch to regulate flow as needed.

Multi-functionMulti-function #ad

Use this pump to remove sludge effectively from your gravel substrate. Draining and refilling water can be done easily with this pump. Besides gravel, one can clean aquarium glass thoroughly with the algae cleaner. The kit comes with a detailed installation diagram which helps to set up the cleaner at home. All parts are marked for easy identification.

The pump is very strong and can drain out a 180-gallon tank in half-hour. Customer care is very responsive to any technical queries or doubts. This, along with a lifetime warranty and 24×7 customer support makes this a great purchase for your aquarium.

Luigi fish tank gravel siphon cleaner, budget option

This is a manual hand-powered pump that can drain dirty aquarium water in a matter of a few minutes. This cleaner has an utterly simple working model and is very moderately priced. There are no mechanical attachments that can malfunction. It is only about you, your fish, your tank, and your hands.

Although it looks very simple, this basic equipment can clean up about 30 liters of tank water in 5 minutes. There is an attached filter that prevents small fish and invertebrates from getting sucked in. The cleaner does a decent job of cleaning up fish waste and food particles from the substrate.

Luigi gravel cleaner comes with a 100% money-back guarantee. The company promises an instant refund if, for any reason, users are not happy with the product.

EHEIM Quick Vac Pro Automatic Sludge Extractor, cordless

EHEIM sludge extractor is a battery-powered device. You may use it to thoroughly extract sludge from the gravel substrate of your tank. It is designed to last 4 hours on 2 AA batteries.

The device is easy to use and can be submerged in tank water up to a depth of 3 feet. This increases your reach into the deepest of aquariums. With proper gloves, you can carry out detailed cleaning. There is no need for hoses or buckets because siphon technology is not in use here. Instead, it features a cartridge with a super fine mesh to trap the tiniest waste particles.

Choose this gravel cleaner for spot cleaning or deep cleaning of your aquarium. Being battery-operated and cordless, it gives the user freedom to access all spots of the aquarium. The pack includes four AA batteries.

Hygger Aquarium Gravel Cleaner

This gravel cleaner is powered by a manual siphon system. It has three functions: dirt suction, washing sand, and changing water. There is a duckbill attachment for deep cleaning of the gravel bottom. Its 3D filter basket net is a wonderful accessory to wash sand while keeping small fish safe from being sucked in. Built-in dual airbags help to drain water and fill up clean water.

Their patented design has a switch for manual press operation. To begin with, you may need to perform suction press action a few times to get the water flow going. Once it starts, the process is automatic and you may then press the button to regulate flow.

This cleaner comes with many accessories to make aquarium cleaning easier. Each of the accessories performs a separate function. There is an accompanying instruction video on the website for first-time users. Each function is clearly illustrated.

Check the tubing diameters to ensure a snug fit with other parts. Accessories include intake strainer, hose clamp, tube connector, and flow regulator clamp, among others. Use this for cleaning gravel substrate and to drain and replace dirty water from your aquarium.

Boxtech Aquarium Vacuum Siphon Water Changer

This vacuum aquarium gravel cleaner works on the principle of a manual siphon pump. The user needs to assemble the set and then squeeze the siphon a few times to get the water flow going. This cleaner comes with 72.4-inch tubing for better reach and more effective cleaning of gravel. This is a good device to drain out water from your aquarium. It is also used for washing sand in your aquarium. The nozzle attachment helps to clean out residue and excrement and keep clean water in the aquarium.

There is a valve in the squeeze to prevent the backflow of dirty water back into the tank. Made of high-quality PVC plastic, this cleaner is durable as well as flexible to use. You can maneuver the hose easily to reach difficult corners.

The set comes with a nozzle, suction clamp, 11″ hard pipes, and hose joint. The long pipes along with hard pipes ensure access in hard-to-reach spots. Remember that the QV lettering end of the pipe goes into the outlet bucket for draining.

Hygger 5 in 1 automatic electric gravel cleaner and cleaning kit

Hygger is a leading name in aquarium equipment and designs some of the most useful and innovative equipment. Another in its range of gravel-cleaning products is this 5-in1 automatic gravel cleaner. It is powered by a water pump that provides a flow of up to 396 GPH. This is very good news for gravel cleaning since the work gets done very fast. Draining dirty water also happens fast and this is a piece of good equipment for large aquariums.

The set comes with lots of accessories that aid in effective cleaning. There is a filter sponge inside the hose that prevents sand from being sucked in and damaging the pump. Besides sand washing, Hygger 5-in-1 does thorough gravel cleaning with its duckbill cleaner attachment. It also helps in effective filtration of tank water and cleaning and refilling the tank.

Made of high-quality materials, the set is robust. Moreover, it is easy to assemble and disassemble as needed. There is an external switch to power the pump that powers your tank cleaning. The purchase includes a whole lot of accessories as already mentioned and you may use these as instructed for best results. This pump is a good buy for avid aquarists.

Laifoo 25ft Aquarium Vacuum Gravel Cleaner

This vacuum gravel cleaner is worked by a manual siphon pump. It comes with long 25-foot tubing which gives easy access to all parts of your aquarium.

Switch between draining and refillSwitch between draining and refill #ad

It is a good choice for easy draining and refill of your aquarium. With a simple switching of the connector, the mode can be changed from draining to filling clean water. For draining, simply squeezing the siphon ball a few times is enough to get water flowing. For refill, connect the hose to the faucet connector.

There are multiple accessories that make the cleaning process easy for the keen aquarist. There is a faucet connector, hose clip, and hose strap with every kit. The clear plastic hose is flexible and kink-free. It can be put away easily using the hose strap when not in use. There is also an easy-to-follow user manual to set up the cleaner and to use and maintain it well.

The product comes with a warranty that kicks in 3 months after purchase. There is an immediate-refund or free replacement for all quality-related problems with the cleaner.

GreenJoy 5-in-1 fish tank cleaning kit

GreenJoy tank cleaner comes in a comprehensive kit that takes care of every aspect of aquarium care. With multiple accessories, this kit is a great buy for passionate aquarists. All the tools and accessories are made of high-quality ABS plastic. This makes them light, easy to handle, and very durable. Additionally, the plastic quality is fish-friendly, which is very important for good fish health.

There is a gravel rake, fishnet, glass sponge, siphon vacuum, a plant fork, and algae scraper in the kit. As mentioned previously, every aspect of care for a good aquarium is provided for. There are clear instructions with illustrations on how to use the cleaning kit. One needs to pump the siphon vacuum a few times to get the water flowing and drain into a bucket.

The whole thing is easy to assemble and dissemble. It is little wonder that with so much thought going into designing a complete aquarium kit, GreenJoy is among the best sellers of fish tank gravel cleaning equipment.

HiTauing electric automatic aquarium gravel cleaner

This gravel cleaner is perfect for tanks from 12 to 34″ deep. It is powered by a 317 GPH water pump. This pump has a wholly submersible copper motor that makes water changing fast and easy. Hard tubing is made from superior quality PC material for long-lasting use. The extension cable allows use from a distance. There are coarse and fine sand washing accessories with extension tubes for thorough cleaning.

Use this to keep your gavel substrate clean from all sludge, food, and fish wastes. It is easy to assemble and use. The electric vacuum action takes out sludge from deep within gravel efficiently. Fish are not disturbed in the process. There are suitable accessories provided along with the main cleaner. Duckbill suction port helps to pull out waste and dirt, leaving healthy clean water behind.

Along with this, there are extension tubes, filter cotton, double layer filter, and an instruction manual. Detailed use instructions are available. This fully automatic gravel cleaner is a great device to own for those committed to having healthy happy fish in their aquariums.

Accessories and replacements

Gloves for aquarium maintenance

22-inch gloves for fish tank maintenance22-inch gloves for fish tank maintenance #ad

These adequately long latex rubber gloves are designed for a comfortable fit and grip. They keep your hands dry while you are deep cleaning your aquarium. Made for complete satisfaction, there is a 100% money-back guarantee just in case there are some issues. These are single-piece gloves to prevent any leaks and to keep you safe from any undesirable contact inside the aquarium.

Hands-free aquarium hook

Python hands-free aquarium hookPython hands-free aquarium hook #ad

Designed for the best aquarium cleaning experience, this hook attaches to your aquarium with ease. It makes sure there is no spill of dirty water onto other surfaces. Water changing can be a daunting task for aquarists, but with this product, it just got super easy. Made of durable polyethylene, it is very easy to use and pairs perfectly with Python products.

Adapter for damaged or non-threaded faucets

Universal adapter for damaged or non-threaded faucetsUniversal adapter for damaged or non-threaded faucets #ad

Another stellar product from Python, this accessory works best with Python No Spill Clean and Fill system. Its main function is to create a watertight seal on faucets that have worn out over time. Non-threaded faucets can lean too, and this adaptor is best suited for a drip-free experience. Python has a great product range for aquarists to choose from.


Clear vinyl tubing for aquarium uses (multi sizes)Clear vinyl tubing for aquarium uses (multi sizes) #ad

There are multiple choices for the keen aquarist to pick from, depending upon aquarium depth and other factors. Made of durable polyvinyl chloride, this clear tubing comes in a variety of sizes and tube lengths. It is sturdy, lightweight, and flexible, making it easier to use. They find multiple applications in the industrial and agricultural sectors in addition to fish tanks.

In-Line Barbed Ball Valve

In-Line Barbed Ball Valve (multi sizes)In-Line Barbed Ball Valve (multi sizes) #ad

These valves are made of durable plastic and come in different sizes. Pick a size according to your tubing dimensions. Used to adjust the flow of water into aquariums, these are very easy to use. Due to different flow rate controls available, these valves find multiple usages. They are leakproof and can withstand up to 45 PSI of pressure. The thing is to choose the fit right and then begin using.

Barbed connectors

Barbed connectorsBarbed connectors #ad

This accessory is very useful for aquarists. Each pack contains 20 fittings of high-impact construction quality plastic. Each of these can easily fit any standard irrigation tubing. The best fitment is with tubes of size 1/2″.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it okay to clean sand using gravel cleaner?

The sand substrate in aquariums can be cleaned using a gravel vacuum cleaner. Use a siphon to clean out the dirt. Just make sure you keep the siphon at a distance so as not to suck out sand. Also, there are fine and coarse sand cleaning filters available with many gravel cleaners. The right choice will depend upon the size of sand you have in the gravel.

What factors decide the right gravel cleaner size?

Choose your gravel cleaner depending upon your tank height. This will determine the suction tube length of your cleaner. Some gravel cleaners come with a short gravel tube and extension handles. You should estimate the total length of the tool and ensure it is higher than your tank height if you don’t want to use gloves when changing aquarium water.

I have a deep aquarium. What is the best way to clean gravel?

The deeper your aquarium, the more challenging it is to clean. You have to choose models with longer tube lengths. If still unable to clean properly, water change gloves are recommended. You go right in and get the best reach without getting your hands or clothes messy.

Is it okay to wash aquarium gravel?

It is an absolute must to wash new gravel thoroughly until there is no more clouding. New gravel of any size comes with instructions to do a thorough washing and then put it in the tank. For used fish tanks too, washing aquarium gravel regularly is recommended to get it cleaned thoroughly. Depending upon the kind of gravel you have used, choose the right cleaner to do your job.

How frequently should aquarium gravel be cleaned?

For the best maintenance of your aquarium, you should clean your aquarium gravel at least once in two weeks. Sometimes it can happen that aquarium can begin to appear unclean earlier than this. In such cases, more frequent cleaning is recommended. The thing is to keep an eye on visible water quality and do the needful.

We enjoy keeping fish, and have for many years. We are trying to promote the hobby as much as possible. We want to see many others succeed in their fish keeping efforts and are committed to sharing our knowledge when we can.

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