Everyone who’s ever owned a fish tank knows all about those cheapo plastic siphon-action gravel vacuums. They’re messy, the tubing can be difficult to control, and if you suck something up into the vacuum you didn’t intend to, you end up having to yank it up out of the water to release the suction. There’s got to be a better way to clean your aquarium gravel!
It turns out, there is an easier way!
Electric aquarium vacuum gravel cleaners are relatively new and have rapidly become more affordable for most budgets. They are easy to use and are intended to make cleaning aquarium substrate and performing water changes easier and less mess, saving your floors from a watery fate.
Here are reviews of the 5 best electric aquarium vacuum gravel cleaners to help you pick the right one for your needs. Once you pick one, you’ll finally be able to put away that towel that lives in the cabinet under your tank solely to mop up water change messes.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
The 5 Best Electric Aquarium Vacuum Gravel Cleaners – Reviews 2021
1. Eheim Quick Vac Automatic Gravel Cleaner – Best Overall
The best overall electric aquarium vacuum is the Eheim Quick Vac Automatic Gravel Cleaner for its handy design and ease of use. This product is battery operated and it is fully submersible up to 3 feet.
The Eheim electric gravel vacuum provides easy gravel cleaning between water changes. This product pulls water in and filters it through a fine mesh filter, allowing waste to be pulled from the water while returning the cleaned water back into the tank. The suction in this product is made to stand up even to tough sludge. Since this vacuum is simply removing waste and returning clean water to the tank, there is no need for buckets or hauling dirty water out and clean water in.
This vacuum is not intended to replace routine water changes, but it will help decrease the need for tank maintenance by keeping filters cleaner, preventing the buildup of waste byproducts like ammonia, and removing solid waste from the tank.
2. NICREW Automatic Gravel Cleaner – Best Value
The best value product reviewed is the NICREW Automatic Gravel Cleaner because it’s the best electric aquarium vacuum gravel cleaner for the money. This product is powered via an electrical plug but is submersible. The water pump should be fully submerged, or this vacuum will not work, but care should be taken to ensure water does not drip down the electrical cord into the outlet.
This electric gravel vacuum is intended to suction solid waste from the gravel and can also be used for water changes. This product can be used simply to remove solid waste between water changes, decreasing the frequency of water changes needed. It includes a suction nozzle, extension nozzle, and extension tube. With the extensions, this product can be used to clean a tank that is up to 28 inches deep and it is safe for saltwater and freshwater use.
This vacuum should not be used with substrate less than 2mm, making this inappropriate for use in tanks with sand and dirt substrates. This product should not fully replace water changes.
3. COODIA Electric Auto Aquarium Gravel Cleaner
The COODIA Electric Auto Aquarium Gravel Cleaner is a 4-in-1 product for cleaning and maintenance of tanks. It operates via an electrical cord.
This vacuum kit includes a fixture clip that allows you to clip the tubing onto the edge of the tank, a flow adjustment valve, and an on/off switch. It also includes a large suction nozzle, small suction nozzle, and algae cleaner attachment. The small suction nozzle has a built-in grate to prevent gravel and live animals from being pulled through the vacuum. This vacuum can be used for solid waste removal, algae cleaning, water changes, and gravel cleaning. It has a soft, fabric filter that allows large waste particles to be captured before clean water is returned to the tank.
This vacuum does not replace regular water changes, although it can decrease the frequency of water changes. The water pump has to be fully submerged for this product to work, making this a poor choice for tanks less than a tall 10-gallon tank. The fabric filter bag is made of thick fabric to catch waste and return clean water but can cause leaks and overflows as well.
4. Upettools Aquarium Gravel Cleaner
The Upettools Aquarium Gravel Cleaner is a 6-in-1 electric aquarium vacuum. It operates via an electrical cord and an on/off switch.
This product can be used to change water, clean sand, vacuum solid waste, filter water, improve water flow, and create a shower. It includes a sand washing head, suction head, shower head, substrate washing tube, tank cleaning head, and four extension tubes for various tank depths. It has a soft, rubber handle and a mesh filter bag. It also comes with a water intake strainer pump for adding and removing water.
This product should not replace regular water changes but can be used to decrease the frequency of water changes and make water changes easier when needed. The water pump does need to be fully submerged for this vacuum to function properly. The filter bag may detach from the pump if not handled carefully, causing a watery mess. This product does not always come with instructions, so you may have to reach out to the manufacturer for operating instructions.
5. AQQA Aquarium Gravel Cleaner
The AQQA Aquarium Gravel Cleaner has 6-in-1 functions. It operates via an electrical cord with an on/off switch.
This product can be used for water changes, sand washing, solid waste removal, water filtration, water showering, and improve water flow. It comes with a brush head, sand cleaning head, suction head, gravel washer with filter and sponge, and shower head. It also includes a mesh filter bag and suction intake and has a soft, spongy handle. The handle tubing can be extended from 17-33.5 inches.
This product does not replace water changes but can be used to make them much easier. The on/off switch is not waterproof, so it should be kept away from the water at all times. This vacuum is somewhat bulky and may be difficult and awkward to use because of this. The filter bag may come off if not handled carefully, causing leaks and overflows, or returning dirty water back into the tank.
The world of electric aquarium vacuum gravel cleaners is relatively small, but it’s still important to make sure you end up with a high-quality product. The best overall product is the Eheim Quick Vac Aquarium Gravel Cleaner because it’s easy to use, handy, and perfect for quick aquarium cleanups. The best value product, though, is the NICREW Automatic Gravel Cleaner since it’s cost-effective while still being an effective product.
These reviews are intended to provide you with five high-quality picks for finding the right electric gravel vacuum to make it easier for you to narrow things down. From a product with a single function that will make your life and tank maintenance easier to 6-in-1 products, there’s something here for any needs you may have. Now all you have to do is pick one out!
Featured image credit: Open Mind Art, Shutterstock
Oliver (Ollie) Jones – A zoologist and freelance writer living in South Australia with his partner Alex, their dog Pepper, and their cat Steve (who declined to be pictured). Ollie, originally from the USA, holds his master’s degree in wildlife biology and moved to Australia to pursue his career and passion but has found a new love for working online and writing about animals of all types.