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5 Best Aquarium Vacuums For Sand in 2023 – Reviews & Top Picks

Lindsey Stanton Profile Picture

By Lindsey Stanton

Sand is a nice substrate to have in an aquarium for various reasons. That being said, sand still needs to be cleaned of fish waste and other debris. This can be a little difficult, unless of course you have the right tools in your arsenal like a good aquarium vacuum.

Today we are here to figure out what is the best aquarium vacuum for sand (this one is our top pick), so let’s get right to it!


A Quick Comparison of our Favorite Picks in 2023

Rating Image Product Details
Genuine TERAPUMP Aquarium Cleaner Genuine TERAPUMP Aquarium Cleaner
  • BPA free
  • Very easy to use
  • Simply pump start
  • Second place
    KEDSUM Aquarium Cleaner KEDSUM Aquarium Cleaner
  • Easy to clean
  • Great for water replacement
  • Features suction/flow control
  • Third place
    Aquarium Gravel Cleaner Kit With Priming Bulb Aquarium Gravel Cleaner Kit With Priming Bulb
  • Durable
  • Wide front for quick action
  • Has a filter to separate sand from debris
  • LONDAFISH Electric Fish Tank Vacuum Cleaner LONDAFISH Electric Fish Tank Vacuum Cleaner
  • Totally electronic
  • Long hose for good reach
  • No pumping/priming required
  • Fluval Gravel Vacuum Cleaner Fluval Gravel Vacuum Cleaner
  • Long tubing
  • Adjustable flow rate
  • Gravel guard to prevent clogging
  • The 5 Best Aquarium Vacuums For Sand

    1. Genuine TERAPUMP Aquarium Cleaner

    Genuine TERAPUMP Aquarium Cleaner

    Check Price on Chewy

    This is a very easy to use syphon and aquarium vacuum. It comes with a simple hand pump for operation. All you need to do is pump it a few times to get the suction started. Once the suction gets started, it will keep going all on its own.

    This particular vacuum has a special filter built right into it. This filter allows dirt and fish waster to be disposed of along with old water, while keeping all of the sand or gravel right where it is supposed to be.

    This version does actually come with 2 different nozzles. One of the nozzles is ideal for simply taking water out of the aquarium and the other one is ideal for vacuuming sand and gravel. This cleaner can transfer around 1.5 gallons of water per minute, which is quite impressive in our opinion.

    The TERAPUMP cleaner is made with PVC tubing, so you know that it is durable, and at the same time it is BPA free, so is also safe to use in the tank. This is a very easy to use vacuum and it also won’t hurt your fish either.

    • Very easy to use
    • Simply pump start
    • Siphons waste out with water
    • Filter to allow sand and gravel to stay behind
    • BPA free
    • Hard to get into corners

    2. KEDSUM Aquarium Cleaner

    KEDSUM Aquarium Cleaner

    The KEDSUM cleaner is a little fancier and better looking than the previous option we just looked at.

    With this one you just have to shake the inner tube up and down to get the suction started. There is no pumping or sucking on tubing involved, making it a really easy to use option.

    This one does come with a flow control valve. This is nifty because it allows you to increase or decrease the amount of suction and water flow while you are trying to clean the sand in your aquarium. If the suction is too high and too much sand is being sucked up, simply turn the suction down. Fish waste and other debris tends to be lighter than sand, so sucking up too much sand is not a huge issue here.

    The extension tube included here is pretty convenient too because it allows you to reach 18 inches into the water without getting your hands wet. Simply insert the tube, shake it up and down, and you are ready to go.

    KEDSUM Aquarium Cleaner comes in several parts, so cleaning it is also fairly easy and straightforward. This is a nice option for syphoning water, replacing water, and for vacuuming and cleaning sand too.

    • Features suction/flow control
    • Very easy to start suction
    • Long tube for extended reach
    • Great for water replacement
    • Works well for sand and gravel
    • Easy to clean
    • May suck up some sand at times

    3. Aquarium Gravel Cleaner Kit With Priming Bulb

    Aquarium Gravel Cleaner Kit With Priming Bulb

    Most of these aquarium sand and gravel vacuums are all fairly simple and straightforward, just like this one. It really does not get any easier to use, which is in part thanks to the priming bulb that it comes with.

    This one comes with a little manual pump to help you get the suction started. All you need to do is pump the bulb a few times to get the suction started.

    This cleaning kit comes with a very wide front nozzle, which allows you to get right up to the sand or gravel for easy vacuuming. This large head does help a lot, but what helps even more is the filter located on the front. This allows you to suck up all kinds of debris while leaving most of the sand exactly where it is supposed to be.

    This one can also be used for simple water changes. Just pump it, get the suction going, and remove as much water as you see fit. This cleaner is easy to take apart, which makes cleaning simple and quick.

    There is also the fact that this thing is made with very durable tubing that won’t break from some simple wear and tear.

    • Good for syphoning
    • Wide front for quick action
    • Priming bulb to get the suction started
    • Easy to clean
    • Durable
    • Has a filter to separate sand from debris
    • Drains water too quickly at times

    4. LONDAFISH Electric Fish Tank Vacuum Cleaner

    LONDAFISH Electric Fish Tank Vacuum Cleaner

    This one is electric, which means that you simply insert some batteries and flip a switch to turn the suction on. There is no pumping, sucking on tubes, or priming involved here.

    We don’t always like electric tools, but when it comes to vacuuming sand and gravel, it is definitely a big help. Yeah, you will need to buy batteries, but that is no big deal. It does actually come with a charging cord.

    This vacuum is ideal for sucking up all kinds of waste and fish debris. It has a fairly strong suction, which is always nice because it works fairly quickly. There is a netting or filter included at the front of the tube, which serves to keep most larger particles in the tank instead of being sucked up.

    It helps most gravel and sand particles to stay exactly where they are supposed to be, but the suction is fairly strong, so it may suck up a bit of sand. This thing does come with a debris bag, which is pretty convenient if you ask us.

    • No pumping/priming required
    • Strong suction
    • Long hose for good reach
    • Good for syphoning and vacuuming
    • Great for gravel and rough sand
    • Totally electronic
    • Comes with a debris bag
    • Requires batteries
    • One charge only lasts 20 minutes

    5. Fluval Gravel Vacuum Cleaner

    Fluval Gravel Vacuum Cleaner

    This final option on our list but by no means the worst option. The Fluval Vacuum is a simple pump start model. It comes with a priming bulb that you just have to pump a couple of times to get the suction started.

    This one comes with a thumb operated flow regulator. You can turn the flow up if you want to drain water quickly or you can turn it down if you want to do some gentle vacuuming.

    The nozzle and tubing is made long so you can reach deep down into your aquarium without getting your hands wet. The Fluval vacuum is good for all kinds of substrate including sand and gravel.

    Just turn the suction down a bit when vacuuming sand so that not too much of the sand gets sucked up along with the debris. It does come with a gravel guard to prevent clogging, but some sand might find its way through.

    • Long tubing
    • Easy to clean
    • Gravel guard to prevent clogging
    • Adjustable flow rate
    • Good for many kinds of substrat
    • Might suck up some sand


    Buyers Guide: Choosing the Best Aquarium Vacuums for Sand

    There are a few considerations that you want to keep in mind before you go out and buy any gravel vacuum. Let’s talk about the main considerations right now.


    There are different suction methods to consider. Some have a pump, some are electronic, some use gravity, and some require you to suck on the tube to create suction. It is up to you to figure out which method works best for you.

    KEDSUM Submersible Pump
    Image Credit: KEDSUM, Amazon

    Flow Rate

    You want to consider the flow rate as well. A higher flow rate is good for lots of suction and quick water siphoning. However, for vacuuming sand, you might want a model that lets you turn down the suction a bit so you don’t end up sucking up too much sand.


    Many modern vacuums come with a gravel filter which allows dirt and debris to be sucked up without taking gravel along for the ride. Gravel filters may work for larger sand particles, but they may let small sand particles through.

    AquaClear Fish Tank Filter
    Image Credit: AquaClear, Amazon


    Just make sure that you get a vacuum that has enough length of tubing so you can comfortably get to the bottom of the tank without getting wet.

    aquarium plant dividerFAQs

    How To Vacuum Aquarium Sand?

    If you need a good aquarium sand cleaner, an aquarium vacuum is the way to go, and they are easy to use too. All you have to do is find yourself a good aquarium vacuum. It doesn’t need to be fancy. Assemble it once you have purchased it.

    In order to vacuum aquarium sand, ensure that it has the proper filtration system at the front of the nozzle, just so you don’t suck up too much sand, only the debris you are looking to clean away.

    Turn on the suction, which may be mechanical, or you may have to manually create the suction first. Then, just choose where in the aquarium you want to start, slowly vacuum in a straight line, and move back and forth until you have vacuumed all of the sand in the aquarium.

    How to clean aquarium sand is a fair question to ask, because it would seem as though the sand would get sucked up, but if you have the right fish tank sand cleaner, it works just fine.

    saltwater aquarium with fish and plants
    Image Credit: Vojce, Shutterstock

    Is Silica Sand Good For Aquariums?

    Under the right circumstances yes, silica sand can make a fine addition to an aquarium, whether freshwater or saltwater. Silica sand does make for good plant substrate, as it is fairly dense and can easily support a root system, plus it holds nutrients fairly well.

    Moreover, it does have a nice color to it, so it looks nice if you combined it with the right plants and fish, plus some fish love to play in it as well.

    However, what you also need to know is that Silica sand can develop a dirty brown color, especially if not cleaned properly, and certain types of algae have a tendency to grow on it.

    Finally, silica sand also gets stirred up easily, which then clouds up the water, and can ultimately clog your filtration unit. So, silica sand has its upsides and downsides too.

    How To Keep Aquarium Sand Clean?

    There are a number of methods which work well to keep aquarium sand clean, but keep in mind that these methods need to be used together.

    They aren’t individual methods, but ones that work best when all are used in combination with each other. Of course, a good aquarium vacuum is your best bet at keeping it totally clean.

    However, you also want to ensure that your filtration unit is up to the task of keeping your tank clean. The more efficient your filter is, the cleaner the sand will be kept, thus reducing the need for you to clean it.

    Also, ensuring that you don’t feed your fish too much, so they don’t produce an excessive amount of waste, definitely helps too.

    Finally, snails are big time scavengers, as are suckerfish, both of which do a good job at cleaning up organic messes, mainly algae and plant matter.



    When it comes to finding the right aquarium vacuum, all of the above options we looked at are definitely some of the top contenders in our opinion (this one is our top pick). Just keep in mind the main consideration and you should have no problem finding the right option.

    Featured Image Credit: Joan Carles Juarez, Shutterstock

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