It’s very easy to forget about the aquarium substrate when you’re cleaning the fish tank, however it is very important to make sure you clean it properly to get all the dirt out so your fish are kept healthy and happy. If you don’t clean the tank properly it will lead to the water becoming dirty fish and make your fish sick.

There are lots of different models of aquarium vacuum cleaners available on the market, so you have lots of choice to pick out the best one available for you and your tank.

11 Best Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner Reviews – Complete 2020 Guide

Why Should You Get an Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner?

Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner

Getting an aquarium vacuum cleaner enables you to properly clean your aquarium. The vacuum cleans the substrate of your aquarium and gets rid of any bits of food and debris trapped in there. Substrates such as gravel for planted tanks can be especially prone to getting food trapped between the stones. 

If the substrate is left alone these pieces of food, excrement, and waste will stay sat on the bottom of the tank and will decompose, releasing ammonia and nitrates.

Having decomposing waste in the tank will taint the water and become a real danger to the health of your fish. You don’t have to clean the tank in an old-fashioned way of emptying the whole tank and cleaning the substrate separately. With an aquarium vacuum cleaner, you can save a bunch of time and hassle.

Many aquarium vacuum cleaners also allow you to change some of the water as well, which helps to regulate the chemistry and pH of your aquarium. Many aquatic animals can only survive in a specific pH and temperature range, and any help in achieving this is a life saver. And your fish and plants will thank you!

Best Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner Reviews:

11 Best Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner Reviews

1) Eheim Quick Vac Pro Automatic Gravel Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner

EHEIM Quick Vac Pro Automatic Gravel Cleaner and Sludge Extractor- PetOverstock
  • Easy to use - no buckets or hoses required
  • Extends intervals between water changes
  • Fully submersible up to 3 feet
  • Battery operated
  • Ideal for complete aquarium cleaning or quick spot maintenance

This aquarium vacuum cleaner by Eheim brings something a little different and new to the crowded table of substrate cleaners. This cleaner enables you to effectively clean the substrate gravel and extract sludge. This will make your tank clean in no time!

Rather than being hand held or faucet powered, this model is battery powered. This completely removes the need for any tubing or buckets as needed by the siphon type models. This hassle-free way of cleaning the gravel and substrate can be a life saver!

The aquarium water gets drawn in through the bottom of the machine and then gets passed through a super fine mesh cartridge. This cartridge catches even the smallest particles of dirt and gunk. The clean water is then allowed to flow back into your tank. When you feel it is not collecting as it should be, the mesh can then be washed clean of the sludge it has collected, and it will be back to full power. You can repeat as many times as necessary.

One downside is that it utilizes an impeller system, so if your aquarium has a fine substrate like sand, this can get caught in the system and clog it up meaning you have to spend time cleaning it out before using it again. This aquarium vacuum cleaner is best used for tanks with heavy gravel substrates.

This automatic aquarium vacuum cleaner comes complete with batteries in the box, so it is ready to go as soon as you buy it. Just make sure to buy back up batteries when you are next in the store, so you aren’t caught without them!

This aquarium vacuum cleaner is very easy to set up and operate, so you shouldn’t feel daunted trying to use it. It is also very easy to clean, with no hoses or bucket needed. 

A downside is that there is no water change ability, so you might have to do it the old fashioned way.

2) Python No Spill Clean and Fill Aquarium Maintenance System

Python No Spill Clean and Fill Aquarium Maintenance System, 100-Feet
  • Will not disturb fish or decor during routine aquarium maintenance.
  • Adapts easily to most faucets.
  • Complete ready-to-use system.
  • No buckets, no siphons, no mess, no tank tear downs ever again.

This model is very easy to set up. There are no parts to assemble; it all comes ready to go. This is very useful for some people who don’t want to deal with the hassle of a confusing set up.

There is no chance of spillage with the Python Maintenance System. It feeds directly to your faucet which means no more buckets. This is very useful, especially if you have carpets or rugs in the room which could get ruined by spills!

The quality in construction is extremely good with this aquarium vacuum cleaner.  The materials used are FDA approved which guarantees the quality of the product. The tubing used is non-porous, and the product is UV Stabilized.

This cleaner attaches to a faucet and uses running water to pump the tank water and clean the substrate. It comes with a 7:1 suction ratio which means you will use less water compared with other cleaners which is more environmentally friendly and will also save you money!

It is also very easy to refill your tank with this aquarium vacuum cleaner as you can change the setting to refill instead of drawing out your tanks’ water.

This model is very high quality and offers powerful suction and cleaning. However it can be a little confusing to use at first, so take some time getting to know all the features.

3) SunGrow Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner with Priming Bulb

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SunGrow Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner with Priming Bulb
  • ✔ GOOD AQUARIUM KEEPING AT YOUR DOORSTEP — No more scooping up dirty water with a pail; that can be messy. SunGrow Aquarium Cleaning Pump kit is a...
  • ✔ ROUTINE MAINTENANCE MADE EASY — Every SunGrow fish tank substrate cleaner comes with a short nozzle with nozzle net, flexible standard tubing,...
  • ✔ FREQUENT WATER CHANGE ENSURES HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT — Without water changes, invisible toxins build up in your tank creating toxic environment for...
  • ✔ 2-MINUTES TO SETUP — The short nozzle feature of SunGrow Aquarium sand and substrate cleaner is perfect when you want to replenish or drain...
  • ✔ HASSLE-FREE STORAGE- The flexible siphon pump helps preventing the small gravel and debris from going into the hose. Not only that, after it has...

This aquarium vacuum cleaner by SunGlow allows you to clean your tank quickly and efficiently. This model is effective for both saltwater and freshwater tanks. You won’t need to scoop out water and get water everywhere with the SunGrow.

The SunGrow aquarium vacuum cleaner’s point of difference is the hand pump to get you started. You simply put the nozzle in the tank, the discharge hose in a bucket, and then use the hand pump to start the water flow. The nozzle has a built-in net to keep you fish from being sucked up and can also keep the substrate there too. This is all there is to it, so getting started and up and running is incredibly simple and easy.

Frequent water changes are vital for the health of your aquarium and the life within. Toxins can build up very quickly. This aquarium vacuum cleaner allows you to clean the substrate and change water easily. When you are done with cleaning, simply fill a bucket with water at the right temperature and chemistry using any chemicals you need, then put the nozzle in the fresh water and use the hand pump to refill your tank. Simple!

The flexible siphon pump helps prevent the substrate and any other small articles going into the hose. This flexibility also helps in getting to every bit of your aquarium. Once you are finished with your clean and water change having this flexibility is also very useful in storage, as you can fold it up nice and small.

This model is compact, cheap, and easy to use. However as it is very cheap and cheerful you may encounter some build quality issues. It is best used for smaller aquariums; you may struggle to utilize this aquarium vacuum cleaner fully in larger tanks.

4) Yadico Quick Vac Gravel Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner

YADICO Quick Vac Gravel Automatic Cleaner Auto Vaccum Sludge Extractor for Aquarium tank
  • This is a ideal cleaner for cleaning or quick spot maintenance, easy to operate.
  • Advanced suction power is specifically designed to pick up dirt particles remove waste and extract sludge
  • Super fine mesh cartridge traps even the smallest waste particles while letting water back into your aquarium (any residual cloudy water will clear up shortly after use)
  • Detachable super-fine mesh cartridge easily snaps out for quick cleaning
  • This product is available for freshwater and saltwater tanks with a max depth up to approximately 28"

This aquarium vacuum cleaner by Yadico is extremely good at removing all the dirt and waste trapped in the substrate and sediment. If the substrate isn’t cleaned it can cause the water to become toxic and your fish and plant life will suffer.

One major advantage of this model of aquarium vacuum cleaner is that it plugs in to the mains, so you don’t have to juggle with batteries. This is very useful, as we’ve all forgotten to buy batteries at one stage or another!

It features 4 super fine mesh cartridges which traps even the smallest waste particles while letting the clean water back into your aquarium. You should note that there may be some cloudiness in the water after use, but it will clear up in no time once it settles.

The filter can be easily taken out and cleaned, and you should do this regularly to maintain the maximum functionality. 

This vacuum cleaner is designed to have a powerful suction, and comes with multiple attachments so can be used as a substrate cleaner, a spot waste remover, and a water changer.

This unit can be used in all freshwater and saltwater aquariums up to a maximum depth of 28″. Just ensure you only turn it on when it is submerged in the tank, otherwise you can damage the product.

5) LL Products Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner

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LL Products Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner
  • Put rigid tube in fishtank and squeeze bulb to create a syphon. Place other end of tubing in bucket
  • Siphon water changer has hand pump, starter stopper valve, long hose with filter attachment.
  • Water-transferring siphons use on medium, large, extra large gallon tanks 20 55 gal.
  • Our BPA Free kit includes a minnow net so you can move your fish for easy cleaning.
  • Total length is 8 feet. Outer diameter of hose is 3/4'' Inner diameter is 5/8'' Water flows quickly

The LL Products Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner is a great cheaper option to choose. It is perfect for cleaning the substrate and rocks in your tank quickly and easily.

It is made with BPA free materials so you don’t have to worry about the plastic leaking and damaging the ecosystem you have created in your aquarium.

There is a one way flow control which prevents water from spilling back up the intake tube back into the tank or onto the floor. Which means you don’t have to worry about making a mess! 

The handy shut off valve enables you to slow or completely stop the flow of water when you have finished with the aquarium vacuum cleaner. 

It is very easy to set up and use. Simply screw the rigid filter vacuum onto the hose and submerge it in the tank water. Place the other end into a bucket and turn the flow control valve, and squeeze the hand pump until a siphon is created and the water flows. 

The filter in the vacuum prevents gravel, fish, and ornaments from being sucked in, while allowing dirt and debris to be able to pass through into the bucket.

You can cut the rigid part of the pipe to any length you wish to best suit your aquarium, so this aquarium vacuum cleaner can fit either small or larger tanks.

The main downside to this model is that you still need to use a bucket which comes with the risk of spillage, but the ease of turning off the water flow means this shouldn’t be a problem, as long as you keep an eye on the water level!

6) Aquatrone Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner

Aquatrone Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner
  • PREVENT BUILT UP OF DEBRIS - Our aquarium siphon is used to remove any uneaten food or detritus that are trapped in the gravel which can be fatal to...
  • DRAIN YOUR AQUARIUM WITH A FEW SQUEEZES - No more sucking on the hose risking dirty aquarium water from entering your mouth or scooping aquarium water...
  • FISH SAFE - Our flexible aquarium vacuum gravel cleaner is meticulously designed using BPA free durable plastic. Each nozzle comes with a guard which...
  • HANDS-FREE - Suitable for aquariums with a height of 4 to 20 inches. Aquatrone's fish tank vacuum comes with a hose holder and a suction cup which...
  • VERSATILE - Our high quality fish tank gravel cleaner comes with 2 types of specialized nozzle. The short nozzle is for draining the aquarium while...

This Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner model by Aquatrone is designed to help you keep your tank clean and remove any uneaten food or detritus and prevent a dangerous build up of debris.

Equipped with a priming bulb you don’t have to worry about dirty tank water getting in your mouth or spilling on the floor. Simply squeeze the priming bulb a few times to get the suction going. A filter prevents fish from being sucked in.

There are two nozzle attachments; a short nozzle for hands-free draining of the water, and a long nozzle for cleaning the substrate and removing debris. There is also a flow controller to manage the rate of flow to allow for better control.

Produced using BPA-free, strong, and kink-resistant plastic, this aquarium vacuum cleaner allows for a very smooth water flow and ensures you receive a durable and long-lived product.

It is a cheap and cheerful aquarium vacuum cleaner model, which will do the job of cleaning your tank and removing debris. It may come with some of the usual drawbacks as with any cheaper product, but it exhibits great value for money.

7) Hygger 5-in-1 Electric Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner

Hygger 12V DC 5-in-1 Electric Aquarium Gravel Vacuum Cleaner Kit Sand Washer Gravel Cleaning Tools Water Change for Fish Tank
  • Quick water change and easy gravel cleaning with Hygger Electric Gravel Cleaner Kit. DC powered adapter with UL certificated, safe to use, energy saving, makes sand cleaning and water change a breeze (NOT FOR FINE SAND)
  • Aquarium Gravel Cleaning kit includes a non-slip handle, 4 sections of extension tubes, 1 water pump, 1 sand vaccum, 1 debris vacuum, 1 brush head, 1 sand washing head, 1 filter housing and 6.5 ft water pipe
  • Sand vacuum for cleaning coarse gravel(stone size over 5 mm), brush head for cleaning gravel-free aquarium's bottom, sand washing head attachment for cleaning pebbles, debris vacuum for vacuuming out fish waste, intake strainer for water changing and filter housing for trapping large particles
  • Extendable Pole: Build in 4 sections tubes, it can be extends from 11.4 inch to 32.7 inch which is long enough to clean up to 3.2 ft depth tank. Threads together with extension tightly no flexing, white seal ring prevents leaking
  • Water pump provides strong water flow up to 396 GPH (6.6 Gallon per Minute), easy to assemble and detach, drains and fills aquarium rapidly and effectively

Hygger’s 5-in-1 Electric Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner is a top of the range unit which makes sand cleaning and water changes a piece of cake.

Hygger 5-in-1 Electric Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner

It is DC powered with an adapter that is UL certificated, so you can be assured that it is safe to use and energy saving.

The pump is very powerful and allows for up to 396 gallons per hour. This equates to 6.6 gallons per minute, which makes for extremely quick and easy water changes, and effective substrate cleaning. 

You get five different attachments with Hyggers aquarium vacuum cleaner. The debris vacuum sucks debris out of the substrate, the sand washing vacuum is used for washing fine sand, the sand washing head is used for washing coarse gravel, the brush head scrubs the substrate, and the intake strainer is used for water changes. The filter housing also traps larger particles of dirt and debris.

The extendable pole is built in four sections. It can be extended from 11.4 inches through to 32.7 inches which enables you to easily clean a tank up to 3.2 feet in depth. The pole fits together tightly without leakage and is not flexible so allows for a rigid tube.

If you have a larger tank then this aquarium vacuum cleaner will be perfect for you as it is powerful with a high flow rate, and will enable you to clean the substrate and undertake water changes quickly and easily.

8) Coodia Electric Auto 4-in-1 Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner

Coodia Electric Auto 4-in-1 Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner
  • 4 in 1 design that it combines the gravel cleaner, water changer, alge cleaner and waste extractor. Ideal for complete aquarium cleaning or quick spot maintenance
  • With the pump installed close to the end allows you to clean the tanks with lower water leavel compared with other cleaners.
  • A strong pump easily removes particles from topmost layer of substrate without disturbing the bottom layer of gravel.
  • The filter bag collects the particles and dirts while the clear water is returned to the tank. Easy to take apart for cleaning.
  • Unlike the other electric cleaners, this COODIA grave cleaner runs on DC 12V, which is safe voltage provided by an adapter( the input of adapter is 110V)

The Coodia Electric Auto 4-in-1 Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner offers very good value for money. For the functions that it has and the reviews it has the price is brilliant.

The four in one design allows for a complete cleaning of your aquarium. You can easily switch between the gravel cleaner, water changer, waste extractor, and algae cleaner.

The suction cups are designed with a 90 degree angle in them so you can reach into the very corners of your tank, and the suction cups also have a network which allows dirty water and debris to be extracted but prevents the intake of fish and gravel.

You can adjust the flow to best suit your needs, which is very useful when changing the water. Also useful in water changes is the hose fixture clip, which enables you to attach the hose to the side of your tank.

The pump is very strong and easily removes detritus from the substrate, but won;t disturb and disrupt the bottom layer of gravel.

The filter bag collects and cleans the water of dirt particles and returns the cleaned water to your aquarium. It is very easy to detach to remove the filter and clean it. Remember to clean the filter in tank water or treated water, as you don’t want tap water to harm your fish.

9) Yokgrass 5-in-1 Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner

Yokgrass 5-in-1 Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner
  • AIR-PRESSING AND WATER FLOW CONTROLLER: This Air-pressing Button has strong suction, can allow one-hand operation even as a child. The water flow...
  • 5 IN 1 MULTIFUNCTIONAL: Water changing, sand washing, and excrement absorbing, raking sand, scraping algae. No immersing your hands in the aquarium...
  • EXTENSION WATER INLET & OUTLET TUBES: This Aquarium cleaner tool kit has 2 inlet tubes (2*15.75in), which can be extended and combined together. It...
  • FISH PROTECTOR: The fish tank gravel cleaner includes a filter basket net which prevents aquarium gravel from jamming the check valve assembly and...
  • CUSTOMER SUPPORT: The siphon will work as long as the drainage bucket is lower than the tank, fitting different-sized fish tank. We strive to provide...

The Yokgrass 5-in-1 Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner is another model which offers great versatility; it is designed to be a five in one multifunction gravel cleaner. 

It comes equipped with different removable heads which enable you to change the water,  wash the substrate, rake the substrate, pick up detritus and scrape algae. The algal scraper is designed not to scratch glass so won’t cause any issues with the sides of your tank.

The hose can be extended, so you can be sure that the vacuum cleaner will reach every part of your tank no matter if you have a small or larger aquarium.

A net basket which is built into the aquarium vacuum cleaner ensures that no fish or gravel will be sucked up mistakenly. There is also a built in valve which prevents any backflow of water.

It is extremely easy to set up and get going; an air pressing button on the handle is designed to be used with your thumb and gets the suction going very quickly and easily. A water flow clamp gives you control over the flow rate. There is also a clamp which enables you to connect the hose to the tank when changing the water.

For the price this is an extremely durable, functional and good value for money aquarium vacuum cleaner.

10) Nicrew Automatic Gravel Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner

NICREW Automatic Gravel Cleaner, Electric Aquarium Cleaner, 2 in 1 Sludge Extractor for Medium and Large Tanks
  • Ideal for complete aquarium cleaning or quick spot maintenance
  • Easily removes particles from topmost layer of substrate without disturbing the bottom layer of gravel
  • Decreases the build-up of harmful toxins in your aquarium while reducing strain on your filter
  • Eco-friendly products support aquatic life with a "green" approach
  • This unit can be used in freshwater and saltwater aquariums with a water depth of up to approx. 28”

The Nicrew Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner is ideal for use in all freshwater and saltwater tanks to a depth of 28 inches. It is very easy and simple to use, making it perfect for both quick spot maintenance and complete cleaning.

It simply plugs into the mains and has a built in filter that is very easy to remove and clean, making maintaining the unit very easy.

An intelligent 2-in-1 design allows for use as both an aquarium vacuum cleaner and water changer without the need for siphoning. The powerful suction removes debris and detritus waste and traps it in a filter element before returning the cleaned water back to the tank.

This model can be used on all freshwater and saltwater aquariums up to a depth of approximately 28 inches. This model supports aquatic life with a more green approach, decreasing the build up of harmful chemicals and toxins whilst not disrupting the bottom layer of gravel.

11) Hygger Gravel Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner

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Hygger Gravel Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner
  • 【3 in 1 Function】: ① Dirt Suction. Gravel Vacuum for Aquarium equipped with a duckbill suction inlet accessory, and it is easy to suck the feces...
  • 【Working Principle】: Manual air-pressing. The upgraded part is equipped with a handle, which has more operating space and saves labor and brings...
  • 【Easy to Use】: Push the siphon switch of the aquarium siphon vacuum cleaner several times, and make sure that the inlet tube part is full of...
  • 【Accessories Include】:1 *Air-pressing control body; 2 *Extension Inlet Tube; 1 *Extension tube connector; 1 *User Manual; 1 *Duckbill suction...
  • 【Wide Application】: Aquarium Vacuum Gravel Cleaner is suitable for various types of fish tanks, with spliced extension tubes, two-stage splicing...

Equipped with a three in one functionality this Hygger Aquarium vacuum cleaner is designed to be very easy to use and can be modified for use in both small and large tanks by extending the tubing. 

It features a duckbill suction inlet accessory which allows you to vacuum up the freestanding detritus on the top of the substrate. You also get a siphon for sand washing. This gets the trapped debris that gets stuck in the substrate. This siphon is equipped with a 3D filter basket net which protects your fish and gravel from being sucked up by the siphon. It is also equipped with a water changing function .

The aquarium vacuum cleaner contains two air thickened air bags which drives the suction, which are housed in the handle. These airbags are built with PP ABS materials which are extremely durable. The handle has a trigger which you press to get the suction going; pressing 7 times works best.

Gravity is also used as a driver in this unit, so to work efficiently the water outlet needs to be at least 19 inches lower than the water inlet. This will enable the water to flow properly.

There is also a water hose control clamp which enables you to reduce the water flow if the flow rate is too high. There is no clear rate of water flow as it depends on many factors, so this gives you control.

How To Set Up And Use Your Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner

Each model of aquarium vacuum cleaner is slightly different with slightly different properties and functions. Therefore, there is no one way to set up and use all the different models.

Make sure you check the manual that comes with the model you choose and follow the manufacturers guidelines laid out. Most models are very easy and user friendly so it shouldn’t be too difficult. That said take some time to get to know your aquarium vacuum cleaner so you can fully utilize all the functions it has.

How Often Should You Use Your Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner?

As already said, it is very important to clean the gravel or whatever substrate you have to prevent the build-up of toxins in your aquarium which can harm both your fish and plant life.

In most cases vacuuming once per week should be enough to ensure a clean and healthy aquarium environment. However, if you have a larger tank with a lot more fish or pants than normal you may have to vacuum a little more often.

You don’t want to be using your aquarium vacuum cleaner every day as this can disturb your fish and plants and cause unnecessary stress for your aquarium life.

If you find the substrate constantly in need of cleaning then you may be feeding your fish too much or too often. Try and see whether the debris is food waste or fecal matter. If it is excess food you may want to get an automatic fish feeder, as you can portion food properly and save time and hassle.

Which Is The Best Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner?

Choosing the best aquarium vacuum cleaner can seem daunting, and the right one for you depends on your aquarium, and also what equipment you already have. All of the cleaners reviewed above will do the job nicely.

However, the two best models in our opinion are the Eheim Quick Vac Pro Automatic Gravel Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner and the Hygger 5-in-1 Electric Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner.

Hygger 5-in-1 Electric Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner

The Eheim model gives a very powerful and extremely easy to use experience, and is very solidly built. The Hygger 5-in-1 model allows you to have complete control over cleaning your tank, and allows for water changes as well as substrate cleaning. 

Eheim Quick Vac Pro Automatic Gravel Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner

Both of these are well-built and durable and offer good value for money. They are worthy of being the best aquarium vacuum cleaners, and you won’t regret having one of them for your aquarium. However the choice is yours, so pick the one which you feel fits your aquarium best!

Conclusion

These best aquarium vacuum cleaners offer innovative and hassle-free ways of effectively cleaning your aquarium’s substrate properly. Pick the model which best suits you and give your fish the cleanest tank possible!

Your fish will be grateful, and you will see the difference in the behavior and look of your fish as they swim in their new spotless tank.

About the author

Authority Aquarium Staff

Authority Aquarium Staff writers are experts and aquarium enthusiasts, our in-house marine biologist fact checks all our content and reviews to bring you the best advice for your aquarium health.

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