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The Best Aquarium Gravel Cleaners

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Even the cleanest-looking aquarium could be hiding a dirty secret. As your aquarium fish eat food and produce waste, some of it gets picked up by your filtration system but the rest sinks to the bottom of the tank. There, it dissolves into your substrate where it might stay until the next time you clean your tank. Removing that dissolved waste is the key to keeping your tank chemistry in the clear.

In this article, we’ll talk about the importance of keeping your tank water clean and how to use an aquarium gravel cleaner to do it. You’ll also see our top picks for the best gravel vacuums for tanks.

Keeping your aquarium clean is essential for the health and wellness of your aquarium fish. A reliable aquarium filter will remove solid and dissolved waste from the water column, but debris will still accumulate in the substrate. A gravel cleaner is the best way to remove it. Using a gravel cleaner during routine water changes helps you remove accumulated debris as well as dissolved toxins.

Here are our top picks for the best aquarium gravel cleaners:

Python Pro-Clean Gravel Washer

The Python Pro-Clean gravel washer is available in several lengths, making it easy to choose the one that’s right for your tank. This aquarium gravel cleaner is made with flexible, high-quality tubing with a wide tube for easy debris removal.

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Luigi’s Aquarium Siphon Gravel Cleaner

This gravel cleaner features a hand pump to get water flowing easily and it has the power to clear 30L in as little as 5 minutes. The system comes with a long, durable hose with a filter on the end of the tube to protect plants and aquarium fish.

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TeraPump Aquarium Cleaner

Available in three sizes, this aquarium gravel cleaner features a hand pump to create the siphon effect quickly and easily. A suction cup attachment keeps the tube secured inside the aquarium and a filter keeps large gravel from blocking the pump.

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NICREW Automatic Gravel Cleaner

Give your tank the ultimate clean with this automatic gravel cleaner. High-powered suction removes debris and stubborn sludge with ease, decreasing the buildup of harmful toxins in your tank. It is electric as well to take all the work out of it.

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SSRiver Aquarium Gravel Cleaner

This gravel cleaner features an air-press button to start suction and a flow adjuster to control it. The length of the tube is adjustable for aquariums of many sizes and it is very easy to install and operate.

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Aqueon Medium Siphon Vacuum Cleaner

Choose the right aquarium gravel cleaner for your tank with this model that comes in four different sizes. It features a long, durable hose and a self-priming pump as well as a clip to attach the drain hose to prevent spilling.

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Eheim Quick Vac Pro Automatic Gravel Cleaner

If you need to do a little spot-cleaning in your tank, this aquarium gravel cleaner is the perfect option. It doesn’t require any buckets or hoses – simply insert it into the tank and press a button to vacuum the gravel.

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StarRoad Fish Tank Gravel Cleaner Kit

Control the speed of your water changes with this adjustable flow gravel cleaner. It comes with a number of handy accessories to make your task easier and it has a gravel filter on the end to prevent blockages.

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LL Products Gravel Vacuum

Designed for larger aquariums, this gravel cleaner features an 8-foot hose and a large tube. It comes with a hand pump to start the flow of water and a filter attachment to prevent blockages from happening.

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Aqueon Aquarium Water Changer

Make routine water changes quick and easy with this Aqueon water changer. It comes in 25-foot or 50-foot lengths to eliminate the use of heavy buckets and it comes with an auto siphon with a built-in on/off valve.

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An aquarium gravel cleaner is also known as a gravel vacuum or an aquarium siphon. It’s simply a siphon attached to a hose that enables you to suck water from the tank and empty it directly into a sink or bucket. The siphon creates a vacuum effect that sucks in water, but the pressure isn’t enough to lift substrate. The result is that dirty water is effortlessly remove from your tank and, by using the end of the siphon, you can control where it is collected from.

Here are some simple tips for using an aquarium gravel cleaner:

  1. Prepare your gravel vacuum by unrolling the hose, making sure there aren’t any kinks or twists.
  2. Place the hose end of the siphon inside your bucket or sink and submerge the tube inside the tank so it fills with water – hold the tube diagonally with the opening pointing upward.
  3. Raise the end of the tub out of the water above the aquarium rim until the water starts flowing into the sink or bucket.
  4. When the water has drained halfway out the tube, quickly plunge it back into the water at the same diagonal to star the siphon effect.
  5. Once the water starts flowing freely into the bucket, direct the end of the tube into the substrate at the bottom of your tank.
  6. Move the tube around to collect debris from the substrate, keeping an eye on the bucket and emptying it as needed.

Having a quality aquarium gravel cleaner is one thing, but it won’t do you any good if you don’t use it consistently. You should be performing weekly water changes to maintain high water quality in your tank, using the gravel vacuum to remove debris from the substrate. If you’re looking for a good model to use, consider one of the options we’ve recommended above.


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