Best gravel vacuum cleaners comprehensive buying guideBuying the best gravel cleaner for your tank can improve your tank’s overall ecosystem immensely. However, buying the wrong gravel cleaner for fish tank can become an added hassle and a waste of money.

To make sure you can find the right product for your tank, we have compiled a list of the best gravel vacuums available on the market, keep reading to learn more.

Comparison Chart

Name Dimensions (in Inches) Weight (in Pounds)
NICREW Automatic Gravel Cleaner

17.3 x 6 x 2.8 2.1
COODIA Electric Auto Aquarium Gravel Cleaner

17.5 x 6.7 x 2.5 1.7
UPETTOOLS Aquarium Gravel Cleaner

2.8 x 5.1 x 31.5 2.3
AQQA Aquarium Gravel Cleaner

17.4 x 8.3 x 3.6 2.5


The Best Fish Tank Gravel Cleaners

Let’s get straight into our list of the best aquarium gravel cleaners:

1. NICREW Automatic Gravel Cleaner

– Pros

  • Eco-friendly
  • Easy to use
  • Great for larger tanks
  • Quick maintenance

– Cons

  • Might be too large for smaller tanks

The NICREW Automatic Gravel Cleaner is the ideal device for basic spot washing or overall cleaning of your aquarium. It comes with multiple functions for both gravel cleaning and water changer, making cleaning your substrate a lot easier.

It can easily remove the topmost layer of gravel from any tank, hence, it helps out a lot in getting out all the recent waste and debris accumulated in your tank without moving the substrate around too much. Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about any dust or debris flying into your water and stressing your pets.

The actual cleaning takes place on a fine mesh filter visible from the device’s side. It has various gaps that stop unwanted substances from passing through and reduce harmful toxins from building up in your aquarium. Additionally, this filter is effortless to change, and all you have to do is snap it out for a quick spray to get out the dirt.

As for the device itself, it is pretty large, with dimensions of 17.32 x 6.02 x 2.8 inches. It makes it a suitable option for larger tanks with a lot of free space and substrate to move around. On the other hand, if you have a smaller tank, you might face minor difficulty maneuvering this large vacuum between your fish and plants.

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– Overview

If you are looking for a simple device that can keep your tank clean, the NICREW Automatic Electric Gravel Cleaner is an option to look into. It provides great filtration through its fine mesh filter, which is also very easy to clean. Apart from this, the device is quite large and is great for cleaning larger tanks. However, this does make it slightly difficult to use in smaller tanks.

2. COODIA Electric Auto Aquarium Gravel Cleaner

– Pros

  • Can clean at lower water levels
  • Safe voltage
  • Easy assembly and disassembly
  • Strong pump

– Cons

  • Filter bag sometimes obstructs view

If you are a beginner looking for a convenient device that can get your tank clean, the COODIA Electric Auto Aquarium Gravel Cleaner is an option to consider. It is very easy to use, features a simple installation, easy maintenance, safe voltage levels, and low water level capabilities.

Moreover, it comes with various attachments to offer 4-in-1 functionality as a gravel cleaner, water changer, waste extractor, and algae cleaner. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about most kinds of waste, debris, and dirt when using this device to clean your aquarium.

Other than that, it also has a strong pump that can easily remove all kinds of unwanted materials from your substrate. This pump is located close to the end of the device, which improves the vacuum’s ability to function in lower water levels.

All the water that is sucked in goes through a filter bag located at the back of the device. It is highly efficient and great at collecting smaller particles and dirt to turn your tank water crystal clear.

Additionally, COODIA has placed the filter bag such that it won’t spill onto the ground when in use, hence once you’ve used the COODIA Electric Auto Aquarium Gravel Cleaner to clean your tank, you can clean it up in no time. The credit for that goes to its easy disassembly process, which allows you to take the vacuum apart and get the filter bag clean in a few simple steps.

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– Overview

The COODIA Electric Auto Aquarium Gravel Cleaner is a great vacuum cleaner if you are a beginner aquarist. It has everything you’ll need to keep your tank clean with its 4-in-1 functionality, which will help you clean gravel, algae, waste, and more.

3. UPETTOOLS Aquarium Gravel Cleaner

– Pros

  • 6-in-1 functionality
  • Powerful motor
  • Simple installation
  • Various attachments

– Cons

  • Designed for larger tanks

If you have a tank with a high bio-load and have problems keeping it clean, the UPETTOOLS Aquarium Gravel Cleaner is an option for you. It comes with six unique functions that include a water changer, sand washer, water shower, and more. Also, this cleaner works well in both fresh and marine water tanks to help you clean most tanks with it.

These various functions are possible because of the multiple attachments provided right out of the box with this device. Each attachment head fits onto the nozzle perfectly and is tailor-made for a specific purpose, so you will always get the best quality cleaning with this device.

Adding to the cleaning functionality of this device, UPETTOOLS has added a powerful 28W water pump for vacuuming water. This pump is very efficient and can reach an impressive flow rate of 450 GPH, which is more than enough for even larger tanks. Moreover, the flow rate is easily adjustable, so you can set it to match your tank’s requirements.

Surprisingly, even with all these individual parts and accessories, the UPETTOOLS Aquarium Gravel Cleaner is very easy to set up and use. It comes with a great video guide that will help you through the steps to assemble and change different attachments and how to use them properly.

– Too Large for Small Tanks

The only issue we saw with this cleaner was that it was a bit too large to clean our smaller tanks. While it still managed to get the job done, its size made it much harder to get into the corners and around our plants and decor without moving them around. To sum it up, if you have a tank smaller than 15-gallons, it might not be the best-suited option for you.

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– Overview

The UPETTOOLS Aquarium Gravel Cleaner is designed to help you clean through all kinds of dirt and grime in your tank. It comes with six unique functions and various attachments to efficiently clean through your tank. Moreover, with a high-powered motor, you can get through even the highest bioload tank without this device having any problems.

4. AQQA Aquarium Gravel Cleaner

– Pros

  • 6-in-1 multifunction device
  • Sturdy build quality
  • Extendable handle
  • Secure packaging

– Cons

  • Slightly expensive

If you are looking for a well-built device that you can trust, the AQQA Aquarium Gravel Cleaner is a great choice to consider. This device is built out of high-quality ABS stainless steel, which is much stronger than the plastic used in many alternatives on the market. Since stainless steel is much more resistant to cracks and leaks, and corrosion, it is an excellent choice for all kinds of tanks.

Along with being sturdy, the main tube of this gravel cleaner is length adjustable. Originally 16.9 inches long, you can easily extend it to 33.6 inches to get to all the corners and crevasses if you have a larger tank. All you have to do is turn the switch at the top of the pipe, and it will start to extend until you stop it. This feature makes it a great gravel vacuum for small tanks and large ones too.

This gravel vacuum also comes with multiple attachments ranging from a 360° Brush Head to clean dirt from your tank walls to a Duckbill Suction Inlet for cleaning up debris and waste that may be at the bottom of your tank. Using these attachments and the many more you get right in the package, you can use this device for up to 6 unique functions.

– The Design

Despite all these attachments, AQQA has designed the device to keep assembly and maintenance simple. You can easily take it apart at the nozzle and change out whichever attachments suits your cleaning task. That being said, you will have to keep in mind that, unlike the tube, the attachments are plastic and might break under heavy pressure.

Apart from this, the AQQA Aquarium Gravel Cleaner comes with an electric water pump that is very powerful and great for cleaning purposes. With this, you can quickly perform a water change or even get to the bottom of your substrate to get out any dirt that might have found its way through. In addition, this pump can work in water as low as 0.3 inches in height so that you can clean all kinds of environments with it.

With all this, it is a great gravel cleaner that can surely get the job done without compromising quality. However, this does come at a price as this option is one of the most expensive choices on the list.

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– Overview

The AQQA Aquarium Gravel Cleaner is a sturdy device that is great for heavy-duty cleaning purposes. The primary tube is made out of ABS stainless steel, which is much stronger than many online competitors. Apart from this, it comes with multiple attachments and a powerful pump to make your tank cleaning work a lot easier although, this cleaner is also quite expensive.

Buying Guide

Here’s a list of some things you should consider when choosing a gravel vacuum:

– Attachments

Along with just gravel cleaning, many gravel vacuums available on the market today offer many additional features and functions. These range from water siphoning which helps you perform water changes in your tank, to more specific ones such as waste extractors to get waste out of your substrate. Further, for these functions, you often need to use specific attachments.

These attachments usually attach to the nozzle of your vacuum and modify the flow to make it better for specific purposes. For example, you would use a brush head for cleaning algae or an intake strainer to suck in water. Therefore, when looking for a new gravel cleaner, make sure it has the attachments you need for your tank setup.

– Build Quality

Gravel vacuums are used in all kinds of tanks and carry waste and other unwanted substances out of your substrate and water. Due to the latter, it is important that the materials that it sucks up don’t leak back into your water as it can harm your aquarium’s ecosystem, it is important to look for a gravel cleaner with a sturdy build quality.

Moreover, most gravel cleaners on the market are made out of plastic as it is light and also cost-efficient. While this is often good for most cleaning requirements, you can opt for better materials if you have high usage and want to get the best. We suggest that you would look for stainless steel gravel vacuums as they are much stronger and less likely to break.

– Maintenance and Cleaning

A regular part of using a gravel vacuum is cleaning out the waste as well as maintaining the vacuum itself, as this process can often take up a lot of time and also require excessive effort. Due to this, many options on the market come with easy bag systems that make cleaning out waste a lot easier. In addition to the simple assembly procedures, maintaining your vacuum also becomes a lot easier.

When you are looking for a gravel vacuum for your tank, look for one that matches your usage, meaning, if you have heavy and regular usage, a vacuum with easy cleaning and maintenance features would be very helpful. On the other hand, if you only plan on using the vacuum sparingly, a simple option would also suffice.


Let’s discuss a few frequently asked questions related to aquarium vacuum cleaners.

1. Are Gravel Vacuums Good?

Yes, gravel vacuums are very important and useful for keeping your tank clean. These devices use motors to move around the upper layers of your substrate and suck in debris, waste, and toxins that can be harmful to your pets and plants. Depending on the type of cleaner you get, they also perform various other functions such as water changes and algae removal.

2. How Do I Choose a Gravel Vacuum?

The size of your gravel vacuum is totally dependent on the capacity of your tank. That is because if you have a smaller tank, a large cleaner will not be able to maneuver as easily and might end up disrupting the bottom layers of your substrate. So, make sure you go through the recommended sizes and capacity when buying a new gravel vacuum for your tank.

3. How Often Should You Gravel Vacuum?

While it depends on the bioload of your tank, we suggest you vacuum your gravel once every two weeks. Any longer than this can lead to the build-up of waste and toxins in your tank, which are often very harmful to plant and animal life. That being said, if you have a tank with only a few fish and plants, you might be able to hold off for a bit longer.

4. How Often Do You Change Gravel in Fish Tank?

You don’t need to change the gravel in your tank at all. While gravel gets dirty and accumulates many toxic materials over time, a simple vacuuming will keep it clean and safe for your fish and plants. Although, you can change your gravel if you want a new look for your tank as substrate comes in hundreds of different colors and textures.

5. Why Do You Have To Clean Gravel in Fish Tank?

Gravel can contain lots of debris and dust that needs to be cleaned before using it in your tank. If you try to use gravel without rinsing it beforehand, the dust can fly up into your water and damage your fish’s fins as well as their breathing. So, always make sure you thoroughly rinse any new gravel before using it in your tank.

Best gravel vacuum cleaners6. Do You Put Water or Gravel in First?

We suggest putting the gravel in afterward or pouring the water in slowly. Any fast movements can cause dust and debris in the gravel to get loose and float into your tank’s water. That is why whatever you do, make sure you don’t dump it all in at once to avoid any issues.


After going through all of the amazing gravel cleaners on our list, our choice for the best overall device is the NICREW Automatic Gravel Cleaner. This vacuum is great for the basic cleaning of your tank or individual spot maintenance, while also being easy to use. Moreover, the filter is also designed for easy access. So if you’re a beginner, this option is worth considering.

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