The Best Gravel Vacuum Cleaners

Everything needs a good vacuum every now and again, and your aquarium is no different. A good gravel vacuum cleaner should easily extract debris from the bottom of your tank helping to keep your water clean. Of course using a gravel vacuum cleaner isn't a replacement for a filter, but cleaning your substrate is vital to keep your fish healthy. Especially considering most substrate doesn't make it to your filter at all. 

In this guide, we are going to provide you with 5 of the best gravel vacuum cleaners for your aquarium. If you want to continue shopping around, we are also going to provide you with information that will help you make a well-informed decision on what is the best gravel vacuum cleaner for the size of your tank.

Best Automatic Gravel Vacuum Cleaners

Here are our top picks for this category:

Winner: Eheim Quick Vac Pro Automatic Gravel Cleaner and Sludge Extractor

The Eheim Quick Vac Pro Automatic Gravel Cleaner and Sludge Extractor is the most expensive in our list at approximately $55 and had a lot to live up to. Featuring advanced suction power specifically designed to pick up dirt particles, remove waste and extract sludge it certainly fits the bill. It is a no fuss battery operated vacuum cleaner that uses 4 standard AA batteries. Notable features of The Eheim Quick Vac Pro Automatic Gravel Cleaner and Sludge Extractor include:

  • 4 hour run time with 4 AA batteries (provided)
  • Super-fine mesh cartridge designed to trap even the smallest waste particulates
  • Use in aquariums of all shapes and sizes
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    Super-fine mesh cartridge is easily snaps out for quick cleaning
  • Not suitable for sand

The Eheim Quick Vac Pro is a powerful automatic gravel cleaner and sludge extractor. Unlike syphon operated gravel vacuums which require buckets and hoses, the Eheim Quick Vac Pro is a hassle-free solution to conveniently maintaining the aquarium bottom

This highly effective tool helps to remove or extract waste before it has a chance to break down and pollute your aquarium, decreases the build-up of harmful aquarium toxins, extends the intervals between water changes and regular maintenance, lightens the load on your filter, and saves you money by reducing the amount of additives required for water maintenance.

Also picks up plant debris, excess food, and other large waste particles. The Eheim Quick Vac Pro measures 24" when fully assembled and although it is recommended for all tank sizes this is really for use on those that a little larger in size.


When looking at what people had to say about The Eheim Quick Vac Pro, there were actually quite mixed reviews. The main issue that has been pointed out by consumers is that water can get into the battery cavity and if it does the vacuum will break.  However, using a tiny piece of silicon tape or silicon oil around the edge of the battery compartment seems to seal it perfectly. What is rather important to mention is that the warranty on this product does not cover water damage so if you do get water in the batteries the only option is to purchase another.

That being said regardless of the water/battery issue almost all reviewers found the suction and cleaning ability to be top draw. Reviewers were particularly impressed with how quick it is to clean following use with one claiming it only takes 30 seconds between emptying the vacuum and starting cleaning again.

Runner Up: NICREW Automatic Gravel Cleaner

The NICREW Automatic Gravel Cleaner is new to the game having only been released into the market in the last couple of weeks. This new offering is at a very competitive price point offering a automatic gravel cleaner for under $30 is fantastic value.  The cleaner purports to being an eco-friendly alternative to your typical automatic cleaner taking 'a green approach'. We couldn't work out exactly why this offering is much greener than the others in the list but we will take there word for it! Notable features of the NICREW Automatic Gravel Cleaner include:

  • Ideal for complete aquarium cleaning or quick spot maintenance
  • Easily removes particles from topmost layer of substrate
  • Eco-friendly product
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    This unit can be used in freshwater and saltwater aquariums
  • New product to the market, relatively un-tested

The gravel cleaner has an intelligent 2 in 1 design, working as both a gravel cleaner and a water changer system for quick and easy cleaning with no siphoning or mess to clean up. The suction is strong enough to pick up and remove all but the most stubborn of debris trapping it in the removeable filter element while allowing the water to pass through back into the tank. As with all gravel cleaners this reduces the build up of harmful toxins in your aquarium while reducing the strain on your filter.


 Looking at what people had to see about the NICREW Automatic Gravel Cleaner is quite difficult given that is a new product. Instead of trying to second guess what a long term user thinks of the product we have included the video above to showcase it in action. Simply right click on the video above and hit play.

Best Manual Gravel Vacuum Cleaners

Let's take a look on our top recommendations for the best manual gravel vacuum cleaners:

Winner: Zacro Aquarium Fish Tank Cleaner

For those who are looking for the best manual gravel vacuum cleaner the Zacro Aquarium Fish Tank Cleaner would be a good contender. This manual gravel cleaner ticks all the boxes, here are some of its most notable features:

  • High quality faucet design, good control of water flow
  • BPA Free product
  • Removable components making it easy to clean after use
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    Good for larger tanks over 15 gallons
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    Fantastic value for money

With novel design, and using high quality materials, Zacro Aquarium Fish Tank Cleaner is a good choice when it comes to choosing a gravel cleaner. It can potentially save you time and improve your efficiency while cleaning out your aquarium.

The Zacro Fish gravel cleaner comes in at just over 8 feet long, and includes a small intake tube and a hand pump. It also comes with a clip to hold the hose in the bucket, this is a nice little touch that will prevent the hose coming out the bucket and leaving a mess! The design also includes a sieve to stop sand and gravel from flowing up into the discharge tube and away.

This particular gravel cleaner comes with a fantastic 18-month warranty on defective parts, which is the longest warranty period of any of the gravel cleaners we have reviewed.


When looking at what people had to say about the Zacro Aquarium Fish Tank Cleaner, they had great things to say. Customers reported that the product is very easy to put together and appears to be made of quality solid materials with parts that seem like they are made to last.

A feature that particularly impressed a couple of the customers was the addition of an off/on valve. This is something that should really be present on all products but isn't always the case. 

Interestingly a number of people commented on the price of the product, at a smidge under $10 it really is cheap and this almost put some people of purchasing. It was only on the strength of the reviews and recommendations from others that they purchased this unit and we wholeheartedly support there decision!

The only real negative that is repeated throughout the reviews is that the packaging is a little poor. However, you aren't buying this product for it's packaging you are purchasing it for it's superior cleaning and if lower quality packaging keeps the cost low then we are all for it.

Runner Up: Aqueon Siphon Vacuum Aquarium Gravel Cleaner

The Aqueon Siphon Vacuum Aquarium Gravel Cleaner is a strong runner up in our list of the best manual gravel cleaners. One the great features of tis product is that unlike most gravel cleaners it comes in various sizes ranging from Mini (5 inches) to large (16 inches).  Notable features of the Aqueon Siphon Vacuum Aquarium Gravel Cleaner include:

  • Perfect for quick water changes
  • Efficiently separates debris from gravel
  • Self-priming, using up and down motion, to start water flow
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    Includes a clip for attaching the drain hose to the inside of a bucket
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    Multiple-sizes available based on tank size

Maintenance is a necessary part of a good aquarium keeping. Routine water changes and pulling debris from gravel helps maintain a natural balance in the aquarium environment. Aqueon Siphon Vacuum Gravel Cleaners can help to make this job easier and take less time. Just a simple up and down motion with the intake tube will quickly prime the siphon to begin water flow. Debris is pulled away with flowing water and disposed of while gravel falls to the bottom of the aquarium.


When looking at what people had to say about the Aqueon Siphon Vacuum Aquarium Gravel Cleaner, they had great things to say. With over 750 reviews on Amazon the product has received a solid 4 star rating and we think it's worth an extra half a star. 

The majority of customers found the product to work exactly as expected with no problems, a lot of people commented on the price and the value received for only $5 for the mini. It is important to purchase the correct size for your tank and as a number of customers found out if you buy one too large unsurprisingly it doesn't fit in the tank or work as expected! Interestingly one customer suggested buying a size smaller than recommended as even though it takes longer to clean it gives a more thorough clean of the gravel.

Alternative: Lee's 6-Inch Slim Jr. Ultra Gravel Vacuum Cleaner

Lee's 6-Inch Slim Jr. Ultra Gravel Vacuum Cleaner is the smallest gravel cleaner on our list and also the cheapest coming in at $4.99. The gravel vacuum cleaner is self-starting and designed to separate debris from gravel and remove it from the aquarium during routine water changes.. Notable features of the Lee's 6-Inch Slim Jr. Ultra Gravel Vacuum Cleaner include:

  • Features a self-start cap assembly and a 72-inch long vinyl hose
  • One of the smallest gravel cleaners on the market ideal for small tanks
  • Makes aquarium maintenance a snap
  • Too small for aquariums over 10 gallons


Our Recommendation

Our recommendation really depends on the size of your tank, if you have a nano aquarium then we think you can't go far wrong with Lee's 6-Inch Slim Jr. Ultra Gravel Vacuum Cleaner but if you have something larger then both the Eheim or the Zacro are great choices.

Head over to our maintenance page to for more tips on maintaining a healthy aquarium.

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