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Best Aquarium Vacuum Gravel Cleaners

While it’s important for your aquarium to have all the good nutrients that the fish and plants thrive from, it’s also important to draw the line somewhere.

Sure, regular aquarium filters can capture a lot of fish excrement, and your tanks won’t last long without them. But that alone is not enough. Fish waste can sink down and be trapped in position amongst the gravel at the bottom of the tank 

If too much of this fish waste builds up amongst the gravel, this could be devastating for the fish. There would be toxic levels of ammonia and nitrate, and the fish could die.

Do you think the answer is to get your hands in and remove the waste yourself?

No? Me either. The solution, of course, is to get yourself an aquarium vacuum gravel cleaner. We’ve been checking out some of the best ones out on the market today, and after much deliberation, have compiled a shortlist of our top 5 favorites to show you, all bestsellers.

Then to help you decide on a gravel cleaner, we’ve also got a brief buying guide that covers all the key things to consider before you buy. Then we’re going to top that off with a section where we tackle some of your most frequently asked questions on the subject.

And without further ado…

OUR TOP PICK

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Hygger Aquarium Vacuum Gravel Cleaner

EDITORS CHOICE​

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Boxtech Aquarium Vacuum Gravel Cleaner

BEST VALUE

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Luigi's Aquarium Siphon and Gravel Cleaner

OUR TOP PICK

Hygger Aquarium Vacuum Gravel Cleaner

5/5
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When this article was written, this particular aquarium gravel cleaner was THE bestseller in the category of aquarium gravel cleaners. And with good reason, too. 

It works a little differently to your more basic vacuum gravel cleaners, in that rather than having to constantly squeeze a hand pump, you instead hold the gravel cleaner like you would a pistol, and squeeze the trigger to suck up all the fish waste. 

It has had pretty good ratings from customers so far, earning an average of 4 stars out of 5, after well over 4,400 individual customer ratings.

What we love about this particular gravel cleaner is that it also doubles as a water change, so you effectively get two aquarium tools for the price of just one. And it has some other great features too…

It has a long 79 inch PVC hose which isn’t too soft or too stiff, and is easily maneuverable. There’s a special filter on the business end of the pistol, there’s a flow regulating clamp, should you decide you need it, and there’s also a handy clamp to attach the hose to your bucket.

Included in the box are two sturdy tubes for the business end of the pistol, each 16 inches long. You can either use just the one tube if you don’t have much water to go through, or for larger tanks you can attach the two tubes together, so your hands stay dry throughout the entire process.

It’s a little more expensive than a traditional aquarium gravel cleaner, but you may decide that the convenience and better ergonomics of this cleaner is worth the extra money. After all, it will take time to clear the gravel of fish waste, so you want to be as comfortable doing so as possible.

Amazon occasionally has deals on this particular aquarium vacuum gravel cleaner – and you can simply click on “check price” to see if there’s a deal on now. 

Pros:

  • You can keep your hands dry!
  • Comfortable, ergonomic option
  • Doubles as a water changer
  • Has a flow regulator clamp
  • Attaches to your bucket

Cons:

  • It can take a few squeezes of the trigger to get the water flowing

EDITORS CHOICE

Boxtech Aquarium Vacuum Gravel Cleaner

5/5
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While Boxtech is not quite as big a brand as some of the other gravel cleaners that made our shortlist, this one still made the bestseller lists with the online retailers.

It has excellent customer ratings having earned an average Amazon customer rating of 4 and a half stars out of 5, even after well over 1000 individual customer ratings.

What we love about this particular gravel cleaner is that it also doubles as a water change, so you effectively get two aquarium tools for the price of just one. It’s just a case of using the right end piece. And it can also clean sand as well as gravel if you ever wanted to make the switch.

What we like about this gravel cleaner is how the tubing is particularly thin and narrow, and as such, you can guarantee that no fish is going to get caught up in there.

The tubing is also very long, coming in at over 2 meters in length, so it is suited even for larger fish tanks. It’s also very flexible and easy to bend.

We also like how the pipe is anti-reverse, since this means you get more effective waste removal.

This product is ever so slightly more expensive than the other like for like gravel cleaners out there. But we would argue that it’s worth the extra money. Especially if you manage to catch one of Amazon’s occasional deals.

As we mentioned, Amazon occasionally has deals on this particular aquarium vacuum gravel cleaner – and you can simply click on “check price” to see if there’s a deal on now. 

Pros:

  • Bestseller with great ratings
  • Can also use for water changes
  • No risk of fish getting caught
  • Tubing is very flexible and long
  • Anti-reverse flow valve

Cons:

  • It requires a little minor assembly, but is straightforward enough
  • The tubing is not see through, so you cannot see the fish waste being collected and removed

BEST VALUE

Luigi's Aquarium Siphon and Gravel Cleaner

5/5
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Talk about flying off the shelves!

This particular gravel cleaner has attracted well over 15,700 customer ratings. And better yet, customer feedback has been  incredibly positive, with more than 60% of customers scoring it at a full 5 stars out of 5.

They also rated it highly for a number of features, namely how easy it is to use, it’s value for money, and how easy it is to clean.

Not only is it a very effective gravel cleaner, but it’s also great for siphoning out the water from the fish tank when you need to do a water change, so you get two tools for the price of one. It’s an effective water changer too, able to do a water change in as little as 5 minutes.

It comes with a special filter that prevents small fish and shrimp from getting sucked away, so be sure to use it if you have small fish like tetras.

It’s very simple and straightforward to use, you simply position the filtered end of the cleaner into the gravel and squeeze the pneumatic force capsule, and it will suck up the waste and carry it through to your bucket.

It’s also good value for money, setting you back little more than $10 or so. 

We like that it comes backed by a money back guarantee, that way you don’t risk losing any money.

Pros:

  • Bestseller, flying off the shelves
  • Can be used for water changes!
  • Excellent customer ratings
  • Filter to prevent losing fish
  • Excellent value for money

Cons:

  • You’ll have to use the attached filter to ensure that small fish don’t get sucked up by it

RUNNER UP

Python Pro-Clean Aquarium Gravel Washer

4/5
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Here’s another bestseller in the category of aquarium gravel washers, and again one that has been met by excellent customer ratings and reviews. With over 60% of customers rating it at a full 5 stars out of 5.

This particular brand is one of the few that dominates the charts with the online retailers in the category of aquarium gravel washers, as we discuss in our buying guide a little later on. 

Python’s specially designed patented gravel cleaning systems use UV stabilized, non-porous tubing. And what this means is that using the gravel washer in the aquarium eliminates the possibility of releasing toxins into the water from the plastic.

This tubing is very flexible and easy to maneuver around and position as needed. 

What we love about this gravel washer is how it will only suck up debris amongst the gravel, and there is no danger of the washer sucking up the gravel itself or any small fish.

It’s very simple and straightforward to use, you simply position the filtered end of the cleaner into the gravel and squeeze the hand pump, and it will suck up the waste and carry it through to your bucket.

This gravel cleaner is available in two different sizes, namely medium and large.  The medium one is for aquariums up to 20 gallons in size, and the large one is for aquariums between 20 and 55 gallons in size.

Customers rated it fairly highly for ease of use and value for money.

And it’s available at an excellent price to boot – a bargain if you ask us.

Pros:

  • A top, well established brand
  • Use in medium or large tanks
  • Excellent customer ratings
  • Very easy and simple to use
  • Excellent value for money

Cons:

  • You may end up sucking a little water up when you suck up the fish waste

RUNNER UP

Laifoo Aquarium Siphon Vacuum Cleaner Washer

4/5
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Here we have another good quality aquarium gravel cleaner for you, available at an excellent price. It comes from one of the brands that currently dominates the bestseller lists in this category with the online retailers.

It’s gone down really well with customers too, earning a 4 and a half star rating, even after well over 1,700 individual customer ratings.

It’s very simple and straightforward to use, you simply position the filtered end of the cleaner into the gravel and squeeze the hand pump, and it will suck up the waste and carry it through to your bucket. And you just repeat this process until all the fish waste has been removed from the gravel.

The plastic tubing is completely see through, so you can see the gravel washer working. The tubing has plenty of flex, won’t kink and break, and is easy to maneuver around. Moreover, there are no chemicals on the tubing that could release toxins into the tank water and harm the fish.

There’s a special filter in position on one end to ensure that small fish and pieces of gravel will not get sucked up.

It’s available in 2 different sizes, one that’s 5 feet long, which is suitable for small and medium sized fish tanks, or a larger one that’s 7 feet long that you could opt for if you have a particularly large tank to take care of. The longer one is more expensive, but not by much.

If you decide to buy this one, be sure to use it within the first 3 months after the purchase, because if you do run into any issues with it during this time frame, you can access their professional after-sales service and get a replacement or refund if need be.

Pros:

  • A top, well established brand
  • Use in medium or large tanks
  • Excellent customer ratings
  • Very easy and simple to use
  • Excellent value for money

Cons:

  • You may end up sucking a little water up when you suck up the fish waste

Best Aquarium Vacuum Gravel Cleaners Buying Guide

As promised, here’s your buying guide.

Size 

You have to ensure that you buy a big enough system for the size of your particular tank, since you’re going to need to get one end right to the bottom of your tank, and then come right out over the top of your tank and then all the way down to your bucket. (If you stand your bucket on a table or chair, this can help.)

Double Usage

Some of the aquarium vacuum gravel cleaners that we’ve shown you here today can do more than simply clean up fish waste from the gravel. They can also be used to remove water from the fish tank for you to carry out a water change.

If this is of interest to you, then we can recommend our number pick, the  Hygger Aquarium Vacuum Gravel Cleaner.

Brand

There are certain brands that dominate the bestseller lists with the leading online retailers. These include the likes of Python, Hygger, and Laifoo. So we were sure to look into these brands before coming up with our shortlist of products. We’ve included one from each of these brands in our shortlist.

Value for Money

You can usually pick up an aquarium vacuum gravel cleaner for about $10 or so, however some brands will charge a little more than that. Not so much that it’s an unreasonable cost, however. These tend to be the brands that use a patented design rather than just a simple squeeze of a pneumatic force capsule.

Customer Ratings and Reviews

Generally speaking, aquarium vacuum gravel cleaners don’t tend to attract particularly rave customer reviews, that’s why if you do see one with a customer rating of 4 and half stars out of 5, rather than the more usual 4 stars, then you should totally check it out. 

It’s also worth checking out what the reviewers have to say about the product, such as how much suction power there is, how easy it is to use and so on. 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

What is the best aquarium gravel vacuum?

We would argue that the best aquarium gravel vacuum around at the moment is our number one pick, the Hygger Aquarium Vacuum Gravel Cleaner…

We picked this one because we love the fact that you can use it without ever having to put your hands in the dirty fish tank water. And it has excellent features besides, such as how it can double as a water changer, how ergonomic it is to use, the clamp to attach the tubing to your bucket, the filter to prevent small fish from being sucked up, and the anti-reverse flow gadget.

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