What Is The Best Aquarium Gravel Vacuum? (7 Models Compared)

Image of an aquarium with unclean gravel

One of the biggest challenges of owning an aquarium is keeping it clean and hygienic for aquatic animals and plants. You can’t entirely rely on a filter to maintain the cleanliness of your aquarium since it doesn’t clean the substrate. To keep the tank clean, you should also clean the surfaces, tank decorations, and substrate.

An aquarium gravel vacuum makes it easy to clean the substrate. By running this device over the substrate, you can remove all tiny waste particles from the surface and clean it.

The best aquarium gravel vacuums are:

  1. NICREW Power VAC Plus Electric Gravel Cleaner,
  2. Python Pro-Clean Squeeze Valve Combo,
  3. NICREW Automatic Gravel Cleaner,
  4. UPETTOOLS Aquarium Gravel Cleaner,
  5. COODIA Electric Auto Aquarium Gravel Cleaner,
  6. AQQA Aquarium Gravel Cleaner, and
  7. Eheim Quick Vac Pro Automatic Gravel Cleaner.

7 Best Aquarium Gravel Vacuums

We can broadly classify aquarium gravel vacuums into siphon vacuums and electric vacuums.

Siphon gravel vacuums use gravity to suck up dirt and debris. These vacuums remove water along with dirt.

So you will have to refill your tank each time you use a siphon-type aquarium gravel vacuum.

Electric gravel vacuums are powered by electricity. They trap the dirt and debris without disturbing the water in the tank.

So you will not have to perform a water change when you use this device for cleaning the tank.

Electric gravel vacuums are usually more expensive than siphon gravel vacuums.

Given below are the seven best aquarium gravel vacuums.

1. NICREW Power VAC Plus Electric Gravel Cleaner

The Nicrew Power VAC gravel cleaner is suitable for medium and large tanks. It can take some getting used to.

But, once you figure out the way it works, you will find it very easy to clean the substrate.

You can use this Nicrew vacuum to clean the top layer of the gravel without disturbing the lower layers.

It has a sponge unit to trap solid waste and a flow adjustment valve to adjust the water speed.

This device is strong, sturdy, and durable, making it excellent value for money.

2. Python Pro-Clean Squeeze Valve Combo

The Python Pro-Clean Squeeze Valve vacuum is a siphon gravel vacuum. It’s suitable for tanks of 20 to 55 gallons size.

This device is a good choice for beginners because it’s easy to operate and uncomplicated.

In addition, it comes with a squeeze siphon starter that simplifies the vacuuming process.

It will also help you get the suction process started without having to rely on gravity to get things moving.

The Python Pro-Clean vacuum cleaner produces excellent results and leaves the gravel looking very neat.

It’s sturdy and durable too. Moreover, It removes the dirt rapidly, and you can get through a big tank quickly.

3. NICREW Automatic Gravel Cleaner

This automatic gravel cleaner can extract thick sludge and grime from both freshwater and saltwater aquariums.

Although it is an electrical cleaner, you can submerge it in water.

It sucks out only the dirt and debris from the substrate and leaves the water intact.

However, there is an extension nozzle and tube which you can use for water changes.

The Nicrew automatic gravel cleaner is robust and durable.

It produces visible results and sucks out even tiny particles that other vacuums miss.

The only downside of this device is that it doesn’t work on substrates that are less than 2 mm deep.

4. UPETTOOLS Aquarium Gravel Cleaner

The UPETTOOLS aquarium gravel cleaner is a multi-tasking device that performs a variety of tasks.

You can use this device for six different operations, including cleaning the substrate, washing sand, water filtration, water shower, and restoring water flow to the tank.

It comes with a variety of accessories and is compatible with both saltwater and freshwater tanks.

There’s also a mesh bag to trap dirt.

It’s durable, convenient to use, and good value for money.

However, the UPETTOOLS aquarium gravel cleaner is not suitable for small tanks.

5. COODIA Electric Auto Aquarium Gravel Cleaner

The COODIA automatic electric vacuum cleaner is ideal for complete aquarium cleaning and maintenance.

You can operate this device easily by just flipping a switch on or off.

It comes with an external fixture clip that you can use to anchor the tubing to the edge of the tank.

In addition, this vacuum cleaner has a variety of cleaner attachments to target different surfaces.

You can use the COODIA electric vacuum cleaner to remove dirt, waste, and even algae from the substrate.

The filter is made of fabric, and it traps even fine waste particles.

However, this aquarium gravel cleaner works only on waste particles and isn’t suitable for water changes.

6. AQQA Aquarium Gravel Cleaner

The AQQA gravel cleaner is a multi-functional electric device that efficiently cleans all types of substrates, including fine-grain sand.

It comes with a mesh-filter bag and an extendable handle.

Apart from sucking up waste and dirt from the water, it also performs water filtration, water shower, and adjusts water flow.

The downside to this device is that the switch is not waterproof.

Additionally, the filter bag is tricky to handle.

Unless you tackle it properly, it can leak and dirty the water may flow back into the tank.

7. Eheim Quick Vac Pro Automatic Gravel Cleaner

The Eheim Quick Vac automatic gravel cleaner is a battery-powered device.

You can use it for spot maintenance or complete gravel cleaning.

The vacuum cleaner has a fine mesh filter that traps the waste and allows clean water to flow. It’s very powerful too.

You can use it to remove tiny dirt particles and even clear tough sludge.

It produces visible results by polishing the substrate and cleaning it to pristine clarity.

It’s suitable for medium and large tanks. You can safely submerge it up to 3 feet.

How To Use An Aquarium Gravel Vacuum?

The operation of an aquarium gravel vacuum cleaner would depend on whether it’s a manual device or an electric gravel vacuum.

In either case, you should first place the siphon tube inside the tank and submerge one end of it into the substrate. 

Depending on the model, you will have to perform the following actions to vacuum the gravel.

1. Manual Gravel Vacuums

Here, one end of the tube attaches to the siphon, and the other rests in a bucket or container for wastewater.

To begin the vacuuming process, you should close one end of the tube with your thumb while moving the siphon up and down in the substrate.

Then release the end facing the bucket, and the water along with dirt and waste will flow into the bucket.

With your other hand, you can guide the siphon over the gravel and suck out the waste.

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2. Pump/Bladder-Assisted Gravel Vacuums

The main challenge of using a manual gravel vacuum cleaner is getting the suction process started.

Pump or bladder-assisted gravel vacuums save you this trouble. They come with a squeezable tube for this purpose.

When you squeeze the tube after placing the siphon in the tank, it produces a vacuum effect.

It causes the water to be sucked in. The rest of the operation remains the same.

3. Faucet-Assisted Gravel Vacuum

When the gravel vacuum cleaner has a faucet, you can use it to direct the flow of water.

When you set it to pull water out of the tank, it will create a vacuum effect to suck the water out.

By reversing the faucet, you can use the same device to return water into your fish tank.

The main advantage of using a faucet-assisted gravel vacuum is that you can directly attach it to a sink and perform your water change easily.

Interesting Further Reading:

4. Automatic/Electric Gravel Vacuums

Automatic or electric gravel vacuums are more expensive and advanced, making cleaning the substrate an easy task.

These devices use electric current or battery power for operation. You can compare it to a regular vacuum cleaner.

The main advantage of electric and automatic gravel vacuum cleaners is that they don’t involve any manual effort.

You can simply place the rigid tube inside the tank and flip the on/off switch to begin the vacuuming process.

These devices will suck the dirt and waste out of the water and trap it using mesh or fabric filters.

They don’t remove water from the tank.

So, you can use these devices for spot cleaning as well as for routine substrate maintenance.

Most of these devices will trap dirt and debris using fabric or mesh filters, which you should clear occasionally.

Electric and automatic gravel vacuum cleaners are usually more powerful than manual versions.

Hence, they are better suited for bigger and messier tanks.

Most electric gravel vacuums don’t suck water out with the waste. So you may not be able to use them for water changes.

However, they do a powerful job of cleaning the tank and getting rid of even tiny and fine waste particles.


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