It’s difficult not to agree with us when we say that finding an aquarium vacuum that can properly clean out your aquarium gravel is much harder than it sounds.
Annoyed by the lack of information regarding aquarium vacuums online, we decided to take matters into our own hands and test out all the aquarium vacuums we could find.
In today’s post, we’ll discuss what it takes for an aquarium vacuum to be worth buying and what are some great aquarium vacuum you should look towards.
After months of testing and weeks of arguments, we’ve decided that these three are the best overall.
Now, let us get into the reviews for the top 5 best aquarium vacuums.
Best Aquarium Vacuum - Best 5 Reviews
1. All-Around Best Aquarium Vacuum - Dora's Corner Store Vacuum Water Siphon Review
This product features a self-priming system that eliminates the need for any kind of bulb. You can get the siphon going just through an up and down motion in order to start the water flow.
The tubing is thick and durable but also very flexible.
It only has three separate parts which make it very easy to assemble for cleaning as well as extremely simple to disassemble when you have to rinse and clean the aquarium vacuum itself.
We’ve been utilizing this aquarium vacuum for months now and it has shown no signs of a dip in effectiveness. It still works like a dream just like the first day we used it.
Features of Dora’s Corner Store Vacuum Water Siphon – Best Aquarium Vacuum
- Dimensions: 18 inches by 8 inches by 2 inches
- Weight: 12 ounces
- Suitable for aquariums between 15 gallons and 30 gallons
- 56-inch long flexible tubing
- Easy to assemble and disassemble
- Long hose
- Tubing is easy to handle
- Long-lasting and durable
- Has a tendency to suck up smaller rocks
- Self-priming feature takes a bit of practice
If you’re looking for a reliable aquarium vacuum that will work consistently for a long time, this product is perfect for you. It works well in the hands of both beginners as well as veterans.
2. Best Aquarium Vacuum with Gravel Guard - Marina Easy Clean Gravel Cleaner Review
When reading up on aquarium vacuums, you may have read horror stories about fish or rocks getting sucked up into the aquarium vacuum resulting in the death of fish or the damaging of the aquarium vacuum. This product comes with a built-in gravel guard that prevents all of these problems.
It’s incredibly well-made and well-designed with high-quality materials that are built to last. You’ll find that this product is very easy to use and people tend to get the hang of this aquarium vacuum much more quickly than most of its competitors.
Features of Marina Easy Clean Gravel Cleaner
- Comes in four different sizes
- Gravel guard to prevent sucking up rocks
- Comfortable, strong grip
- Oval shape for easy cleaning of corners
- 6-foot long cleaning tube
- Lightweight for its size
- Easy to clean
- Easy to assemble
- Suction power is a little underwhelming
- Not suitable for larger aquariums
If you’re worried about fish or rocks getting sucked up into your aquarium vacuum then this is the product you’re looking for. It’s very durable and works great for smaller tanks.
3. Best Self-Priming Aquarium Vacuum - Aqueon Medium Siphon Vacuum Aquarium Gravel Cleaner Review
Every aspect of this aquarium vacuum’s design is aimed at saving you time. Firstly, it’s very simple to set up. Secondly, it features an attachment clip to attach the hose to your bucket so you don’t have to spend time cleaning up spills. Finally, the rate at which this product cleans up aquarium gravel is unparalleled.
All of the tubing is thick and very resistant to all kinds of leaks or tears.
The fact that it comes in so many different sizes means that it’s suitable for a wide variety of aquariums.
Features of Aqueon Medium Siphon Vacuum Aquarium Gravel Cleaner
- Available in many different sizes
- Easy self-priming system
- Suitable for aquariums between 1 gallon and 40 gallons
- Easy attachment clip for bucket
- Removes dirty water as well as debris
- Quicker than its competitors
- Attachment clip makes spillage very unlikely
- Easy to use
- Cleaning hose is slightly rigid
If you’re worried that cleaning aquarium gravel is going to take up a lot of your time then this product is definitely for you. It does the job of its competitors in half the time and it does it just as effectively.
4. Best Budget-Friendly Aquarium Vacuum - Fluval Edge Gravel Cleaner Review
The number of accessories and the quality of the tubing that you get with this aquarium vacuum makes it a great deal for an aquarist on a budget.
It features highly effective performance and it comes with two different cleaning heads that you can utilize in order to get into all the nooks and crannies of your aquarium gravel until there’s no waste left in the cracks.
The easy-start valve is also a welcome feature as it makes this product very easy to use even for people who don’t have any experience working with aquarium vacuums.
Features of Fluval Edge Gravel Cleaner
- Dimensions: 3.3 inches by 6.3 inches by 18 inches
- Weight: 6.4 ounces
- Easy-start valve
- 13-inch intake tube with 5-foot water tube
- Works well in planted aquariums
- Lightweight for its size
- Doesn’t take up too much space
- Highly effective
- Very easy to get the hang of
- Easy to clean corners of aquariums
- Not suitable for larger aquariums
If you want clean and waste-free aquarium gravel but are a little low on cash, then this product is ideal for you. It’s very easy to operate and works effectively even in planted and decorated aquariums.
5. Best Automated Aquarium Vacuum - EHEIM Quick Vac Pro Automatic Gravel Cleaner and Sludge Extractor Review
This is the only product on this list that isn’t a siphon-style aquarium vacuum. It vacuums very efficiently and you’ll find that its long tube-like design makes it very easy to reach the bottom surface of the aquarium gravel without getting your hands wet.
Even though it’s very high-powered, the aquarium gravel is hardly disturbed and your fish won’t even notice its presence because it makes little to no vibrations in the aquarium.
Features of EHEIM Quick Vac Pro Automatic Gravel Cleaner and Sludge Extractor
- Dimensions: 2.8 inches by 1.5 inches by 24 inches
- Weight: 15.7 ounces
- Includes 4 AA batteries
- Can operate continuously for up to 4 hours
- Lightweight for its size
- Easy to use
- Long battery life
- Does not disturb fish at all
- Easy to assemble and disassemble
- Can’t be used for water changes
- Not effective in aquarium sand
- Quite expensive
If you’re tired of the hassle of setting up tubing for siphon-style aquarium vacuums then this product is ideal for you. It takes little to no effort to use and it’s very quick in its operation.
Why do I need an aquarium vacuum?
If you have a small to a medium-sized aquarium, i.e., somewhere between the 10-gallon to 45-gallon range, we recommend that you definitely invest in an aquarium vacuum because it will make your life a whole lot easier.
Firstly, water changes are something that you need to do regularly and an aquarium vacuum provides a great and convenient way to siphon water out of the aquarium. It’s much less tedious and a lot more convenient than using a cup or a pitcher to take the water out.
Secondly, your aquarium gravel can become very dirty if it’s not regularly cleaned. Many things like fish waste, debris, uneaten excess food, and other gunk will definitely get deposited between the cracks in your aquarium gravel. If they are not removed, eventually they will emit hydrogen sulfide which can be very toxic to your fish. Aquarium vacuums provide a wonderful way to separate the dirt inside your gravel from it. It sucks up all the waste without sucking up the gravel and it is, by far, the most effective and most time-efficient way to clean your aquarium gravel.
How do aquarium vacuums work?
Aquarium vacuums are usually the shape of a column and this column churns gravel around and knocks loose all of the dirt and waste that had been deposited between the gravel. All of the debris that is dislodged is then carried away by your aquarium vacuum. The power to suck this debris and waste usually comes from a siphon. You can start the siphon manually by pumping the nozzle up and down and gravity will do the rest.
How can I judge which aquarium vacuum would be most suitable for me?
There are a number of aspects you can look towards that can help you decide which aquarium vacuum would be best for you. Some of these aspects are:
Aquarium Size and Depth
When it comes to talking about aquarium size in regards to an aquarium vacuum, you’re generally talking about the depth of your aquarium. You’ll need to look at how deep your aquarium is and get an aquarium vacuum that has a tube long enough to deal with that depth. You don’t want to be sticking your arm all the way in there so be sure to get an aquarium vacuum with a tube that’s adequately long.
Secondly, you need to think about how much gravel there is inside your aquarium and get a tube with an appropriately sized opening. The standard-sized opening is about 2 inches in diameter and is suitable for aquariums 20 gallons and over. The small-sized opening is about 1.5 inches long and is suitable for aquariums between 5 and 20 gallons. The micro-sized opening is 1-inch long and is suitable for aquariums up to 5 gallons.
If you mean to siphon water out of your aquarium into your yard, for example, you have to consider how much tubing you’ll need. If your aquarium is placed very far away from wherever you want the aquarium wastewater to end up, you may want to think about investing in extra tubing.
How do I use an aquarium vacuum?
Start by starting your siphon and placing the end of your aquarium vacuum tubing into your gravel. Be sure to have your finger or thumb blocking the bucket end of your aquarium vacuum, slide the vacuum end into your aquarium gravel as far down as it goes.
Release your finger or thumb from the bucket end of the aquarium vacuum. Once you do this, the debris and gravel should start bouncing around, churning and dislodging. Water should start flowing through the tube and waste should be flowing alongside this water into your bucket. Be sure to keep the aquarium vacuum moving along in a straight line in your aquarium gravel. Do not move it back and forth or up and down as this will permanently dislodge your aquarium gravel and just create a mess inside your aquarium.
Once the water inside the tube is running clear, place your thumb or finger back on the bucket end and remove your aquarium vacuum from the aquarium.
How often should I vacuum my aquarium?
This may vary depending on a number of factors such as what type of inhabitants you have inside your tank, what you’re feeding them, your aquarium’s size, what type of filtration system you have and whether your aquarium is a saltwater aquarium or a freshwater aquarium. Generally, you need to perform regular cleaning along with regular 10-15% water changes every week. This is when you should bust out your aquarium vacuum.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How can I aquarium vacuum sand?
You can easily clean aquarium sand using an aquarium vacuum in the same way as you would aquarium gravel. The key is to not let your aquarium vacuum sit inside the aquarium sand for too long. Push the aquarium vacuum inside the sand for a couple of seconds until the sand gets churned and dislodged then take the aquarium vacuum out of the sand until the sucked up sand falls back into your aquarium and repeat.
How can I ensure my fish don’t get disturbed when I’m vacuuming my aquarium?
Siphon-style aquarium vacuums are very discreet and don’t tend to disturb fish at all. You don’t need to worry about your fish getting stressed as long as you yourself don’t make any sudden movements that could cause the water to move around too violently inside your aquarium. As long as your own movements are calm and relaxed, your fish will be completely fine.
What are the different types of aquarium vacuums?
There are mainly two types of aquarium vacuums: siphon-style aquarium vacuums and electric or battery-operated aquarium vacuums.
Siphon-style aquarium vacuums, as the name suggests, work by creating a siphon that sucks the water out of the aquarium and in the process, dislodges the dirt and debris that had been deposited between the aquarium gravel. This dislodged waste is sucked up along the water.
Electric or battery-operated aquarium vacuums do not suck water out of your aquarium. Instead, they cycle it inside them and then put it back into your aquarium. Inside the aquarium vacuum are several membranes that are designed to catch the dirt, debris, and waste, thus, cleaning your gravel.
What can I do to clean the aquarium vacuum itself?
Most aquarium vacuums are very easy to disassemble and you can easily clean the tubing by running aquarium water through it.
Start by removing some aquarium water and placing it in a clean bucket. You can then utilize this aquarium water to rinse and clean all the parts of your aquarium vacuum. This will help it stay unclogged and prevent it from developing mold.
Note that you should not rinse your aquarium vacuum with tap water as tap water contains chlorine that is toxic to your fish.
Can I use an aquarium vacuum to refill my fish tank as well?
Yes, you can definitely use an aquarium vacuum to refill your tank. In order to do this, you need to have a clean bucket and fill it with water that has been dechlorinated and treated with a water-conditioning agent. Next, you need to put this bucket at an elevated height so that it’s higher than your aquarium. Once this is done, you can set up your siphon-style aquarium vacuum and once again, let gravity do the work for you.
What are the most trusted brands from which I should buy my aquarium vacuum?
Some of the most reputable brands when it comes to aquarium vacuums are:
How and where should I store my aquarium vacuum when I’m not using it?
Your aquarium vacuum should be stored in a cool and dry place that does not get any direct sunlight. This is important because an aquarium vacuum is generally wet when you put it away and this, combined with sunlight can result in your aquarium vacuum getting clogged by algae.
Can I use an aquarium vacuum to suck up algae in my fish tank?
You can definitely try to but we would not recommend it. Aquarium vacuums are not specifically designed for the removal of algae from an aquarium. If your particular aquarium vacuum has this as an added feature and it’s purposefully designed to be able to remove algae, then you should definitely go for it but if you have a regular aquarium vacuum, you might just end up clogging it.
Can I use an aquarium vacuum to suck up snails in my fish tank?
Again, this is not an intended use of an aquarium vacuum. You can definitely try to do this but you would be doing it at your own risk. Sucking up snails like this could do permanent damage to your aquarium vacuum and we would recommend that you turn to other more natural techniques of removing snails if you’re having a problem with them.
What are some drawbacks of using an aquarium vacuum?
Aquarium vacuums are not yet a perfected system and it may take you some time before you get used to using them. The first time you use them, you might not be able to get all the dirt effectively and you might even end up sucking up a small fish if you’re not careful. The key thing to keep in mind is that using an aquarium vacuum takes practice and you should not be too hard on yourself if you mess up the first few times.
Aquarium vacuums make life very easy for fishkeepers but this is only when fishkeepers do their research to get aquarium vacuums that are appropriately suited for them.
At the end of the day, we had to give the crown to Dora’s Corner Store Vacuum Water Siphon. It’s extremely well-made, beginner-friendly and it comes at a very reasonable price.
And with that, we’re at the end of our post for the best aquarium vacuums.
Let us know in the comments what aquarium vacuum you’re using to clean up your gravel.