6 Best Electric Aquarium Vacuum Gravel Cleaners in 2023 – Reviews & Top Picks
Like any other pet sanctuary, it’s important to keep your fish tank as clean as possible. Bacteria growth, excess algae, and other debris can cause your aquatic friends to become ill, not to mention, ruin the integrity of your aquarium. Whether you have a freshwater tank with store-bought decor or a bio-active saltwater aquarium, cleaning it at least once a month is crucial.
Manually cleaning gravel, sand, and other parts of the tank is tiresome and a long chore. To make your life easier, we recommend opting for an aquarium vacuum that will clean the gravel with little muss and fuss. As a matter of fact, most models are multifunctional; providing sand cleaning, water changing, and many other functions.
The trouble with this plan is finding a good electric gravel cleaner that is effective. Not to worry, however, we have you covered. Below, we have reviewed the six best electric aquarium vacuum gravel cleaners we could find. We will share their functionality, flow rate, ease of use, and much more. We have also provided a handy buyer’s guide with some extra tips to keep your fish tank clean!
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites in 2023
|Best Overall||NICREW Automatic Gravel Cleaner||
|Best Value||IREENUO Fish Tank Gravel Vacuum Cleaner||
|Premium Choice||Hygger Electric Aquarium Gravel Vacuum Cleaner||
|Upettools Aquarium Gravel Cleaner||
|Boxtech Electric Aquarium Cleaner||
The 6 Best Electric Aquarium Vacuum Gravel Cleaners
1. NICREW Automatic Gravel Cleaner – Best Overall
Our first pick is the NICREW Automatic Gravel Cleaner. This is an automatic machine that has 2-in-1 functionality; though it technically does more than that. This vacuum can remove debris, excess algae, and fish poo without disturbing the bottom layer of gravel. You can also change out your water and remove sludge. Made for medium to large size tanks, it uses 120 volts with a 6-watt motor.
NICREW can be used to either clean your entire tank or spot clean depending on your needs. It can be used in fresh or saltwater aquariums with a depth of approximately 28 inches, plus it has a flow rate of 90 gallons per hour (GPH). In addition to that, the parts are eco-friendly, so they won’t harm your fish or live plants.
This is a durable option that is easy to assemble and take apart. You will also find a replacement filter that snaps into place. You can also clean it when needed. The superfine mesh filter not only removes toxins, but it reduces the strain on your primary filter. We want to note, however, that this option is not designed for sand, and it should not be used unless your gravel is 2 millimeters or bigger. Beyond that, the two-pound weight is easy to use along with the extended nozzle. Overall, this is our favorite electric aquarium vacuum gravel cleaner.
- Powerful suction
- Easy to assemble
- Extended nozzle
- 28-inch depth capacity
- Not recommended for sand cleaning
2. IREENUO Fish Tank Gravel Vacuum Cleaner – Best Value
If you need something more affordable, we suggest trying the IREENUO Fish Tank Vacuum Cleaner. This is a battery-operated model that uses two C batteries and has a flow rate of 137.4 GPH. Using this machine, you can remove gravel debris, access algae, and change out the water. Weighing 7.68 ounces, it’s easy to use and assemble.
This cleaner has two modes for either cleaning or changing water. The spiral impeller requires no oil that you have to clean, plus it comes with a convenient hands-free hook. You also have an adjustable tube length that comes in three pieces and reaches up to 29 inches. It also has a three-piece removable filter.
The IREENUO can be used in small, medium, and large tanks with a depth range between 7.5 and 23.5 inches. The siphoning action is effective, plus you can use the cleaner for up to 30 minutes of continuous use. The one drawback we wanted to mention is you have to hold the wand between the minimum and maximum water line for it to work properly. It can take some time to get used to. Other than that, we believe this is the best electric aquarium vacuum gravel cleaner for the money.
- Adjustable tube length
- Two cleaning modes
- Oil-free spiral impeller
- 30 minutes continuous use
- Wand needs to be held at a specific height
3. Hygger Electric Aquarium Gravel Vacuum Cleaner – Premium Choice
If you have a larger tank that benefits from extra care, the Hygger Electric Aquarium Gravel Vacuum Cleaner is a great choice. This is a 12-volt, DC-powered model that is energy-saving yet effective. You can use it to clean sand, clear debris from gravel, and use it as a water changer. That being said, you want to steer clear of using it with gravel smaller than 5 millimeters.
The Hygger cleaner comes with a non-slip handle, sand vacuum head, debris vacuum head, brush head, and sand washer. It also has a 6.5-foot water tubing that can extend to 32.7 inches when need be. You will also find a flow rate of 396 GPH through the 20-watt pump. With this amount of suction, you can clean your entire tank in no time.
This model has durable seal rings, so you won’t find any leaks in the hose. The assembly is also easy, along with the replaceable filter sponge. The biggest drawback to this option is the price as it’s more expensive than our first two picks. With the multi-functional abilities and the light 3.17-pound weight, you can use this vacuum in salt and freshwater tanks with a depth of up to 3.2 feet.
- Powerful suction
- Long hose reach
- Easy to assemble
- Non-skip handle
4. Upettools Aquarium Gravel Cleaner
Our fourth option is the 110-volt, 28-watt Upettools Aquarium Gravel Cleaner. This model is another multi-use design that will clear your tank’s water of debris, change the water, and remove toxins and impurities. With a flow rate of 449.09 GPH, you can change the water in a 180-gallon tank in about half an hour. If that is not enough, this vacuum is caple of performing three additional functions including sand washing, water shower, and water flow.
Upettools has four-modes you can make use of. The first is for cleaning gravel with a 360-degree duckbill head. The second is a 45-degree corner head for cleaning smaller particles and changing water without sucking up any sand. The third is strictly a water changer, while the fourth is a water shower to add oxygen to your aquarium. That being said, it can be time-consuming to shift between the different cleaning heads that are solely designed for their specific functions.
Beyond that, this model has a tool-free detachable motor making it easy to clean. Unfortunately, this is something you will use as it can get clogged easily. On the other hand, you can use this machine whether you have a fresh or saltwater aquarium. It weighs 2.2 pounds, plus you have an adjustable pump flow depending on the job at hand.
- High flow rate
- Adjustable flow
- Four-cleaning modes
- Adjustable tub length
- Unit clogs easily
- Difficult and time-consuming assembly
5. Boxtech Electric Aquarium Cleaner
Our second to last option is the Boxtech Electric Aquarium Cleaner. This is a safe and durable option that can change water, clean sand, remove debris, filter water, and create water showers and flow. It has a max flow rate of 256 GPH with a depth of 118 inches. What’s more, this is also an energy-saving machine at 12 volts, but it has an effective 28-watt motor.
The Boxtech comes with a brush, sand washer, suction cup base, and duckbill head. Not only that, but it has an anti-slip grip, as well. You want to be careful using it with gravel smaller than 3 mm as it can jam easily, however. Be that as it may, you have an adjustable flow for your various cleaning projects, plus the motor and other parts are easy to disassemble and clean.
One thing of note we wanted to mention is the adjustable hose. Although it is flexible, it’s prone to leaks. In addition to that, the wear-resistant shaft is not as long-lasting as we would hope. To end on a good note, however, the reusable filter bag is effective at clearing your water, plus it weighs an easy to use 2.2 pounds.
- Anti-slip grip
- Reusable filter bag
- The shaft is not durable
- Machine can jam
- Hose leaks often
6. COODIA Electric Auto Aquarium Gravel Cleaner
Our final pick is the COODIA Electric Auto Aquarium Gravel Cleaner. This is a 4-in-1 sludge, algae, and debris remover that also doubles as a water changer. It runs on a safe 12 volts, though it only has an eight-watt motor. Unfortunately, the motor is not as strong as in the other options we have described. That being said, the pump is installed close to the end of the wand, so it can be used with lower water levels. Plus, it won’t disturb the bottom layer of gravel.
The COODIA is easy to assemble and has a reusable filter bag. What’s more, it has a fixture clip for attaching the hose to the side of the tank. That being said, the clip is not sturdy, so you will likely find yourslef reattaching it. On top of that, the adjustable flow is not effective and difficult to work. Made for larger tanks, you will also find water leaks throughout the cleaning process.
One interesting note is that we were unable to find a flow rate for this model. Be that as it may, you can make use of the extendable hose that reaches between 9.5 and 26.5 inches. Overall, with the lack of durability and poor functionality, this is our least favorite electric aquarium vacuum gravel cleaner.
- Extendable hose
- Won’t disturb the bottom layer
- Reusable filter bag
- The motor is not powerful
- Leaks water
- The fixture clip is not durable
- No flow rate
Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the Best Electric Aquarium Vacuum Gravel Cleaners
Although the aquarium gravel cleaners above are a good place to start to keep your fish tank in pristine condition, there are some other aspects of aquarium maintenance you should be aware of to keep your aquatic habitat as healthy as possible. Let’s take a look at why cleaning your fish tank is important, plus when you should be using one of these machines.
Importance of Cleaning Your Aquarium
Cleaning your tank is more important than just an aesthetically pleasing fixture in your home. It keeps your fish healthy by removing any bacteria and toxins found in the water. When using a gravel vacuum, you are riding the habitat of debris you likely can’t see with the naked eye.
Leftover fish food, algae, fish scales, and other materials are generally floating around in your aquarium even if you have the best filter going. Leaving these toxins to sit can affect the health of your aquatic swimmers, but it can also be devastating to live plants if you have a bio tank.
In general, you should be cleaning your tank weekly to keep it as healthy as possible. Besides using a gravel vacuum, you should also use a squeegee to get at the insides of the glass, plus you should change out the water to ensure any microscopic particles are being removed. Changing water is essentially changing the bed sheets for your fish!
Tips For Cleaning Your Aquarium
First and foremost, cleaning your aquarium can largely depend on the type of tank you have. There can be big differences between how you clean a freshwater tank and a saltwater aquarium. The type of fish/animals you have, plants, size, and structure of your fish tank can also play a role.
To ensure your aquatic structure stays as healthy as possible, you must do your research to ensure you are keeping up with not only the cleaning recommendations but water temperature, pH levels, mineral suggestions, and filter use.
- Lower Substrate: Disturbing the lower level of gravel can cause a shift in your tank’s equilibrium that can be harmful. Unless you are completely changing out the substrate, you should concentrate on only cleaning the top layer.
- Changing Water: You should empty 85% of the water in your tank and replace it with fresh water weekly to ensure you are removing any toxins that could be hiding in the water. A gravel vacuum often doubles as a pump that makes this process a lot easier. What’s more, a larger fish tank can often go longer without a water change, but it should be done at least monthly.
- Watch Your Fish: A good way to know whether you have to clean your tank is by watching your fish. If you notice any differences in their behavior or appetite, they could be trying to tell you something is not right in their habitat.
- Deep Cleaning: Twice a year you should remove everything in your tank for a deep clean. Start by unplugging and removing all machinery, plants, and other accessories. You will also want to remove the gravel or substrate for washing or replacing. Of course, fresh water is important on top of cleaning the inside of the glass as thoroughly as possible. Before replacing your filters, plants, etc, make sure they have also been closely inspected and cleaned.
- Cleaners: You want to stay away from any chemical cleaners that can cause harm to your tank. Using a gravel aquarium vacuum is sufficient for weekly clean-ups, and a mild dish detergent (eco-friendly is better) for deep cleans. That being said, make sure you rinse everything thoroughly before putting the items back in your fish tank.
- Water Calendar: You should also get into the habit of keeping a water calendar. This can (should) be done on a weekly or monthly basis depending on your tank. Keeping a record of the water temperature, pH level, ammonia level, and nitrate levels can help you head off problems before they start. The numbers should be fairly consistent, and they will give you a window into the health of your aquatic habitat.
As there are many variables that dictate when to clean your fish tank, so there is no hard and fast rule to govern how you should go about doing it. That being said, take a look at the chart below for a basic outline.
We hope you have enjoyed our six reviews of the best electric aquarium vacuum gravel cleaners. It can be difficult to find a good model that is right for your tank with so many available options. If you go with our first pick, you will find the NICREW Automatic Gravel Cleaner to be effective, easy to use, and a great multi-functional tool for most fish tanks.
On the other hand, you don’t need to spend a lot of money to find a great fish tank vacuum, either. In fact, if you want something more affordable, we suggest going with the IREENUO Fish Tank Gravel Cleaner. This is a slightly less-powerful option that will remove debris, algae, and other materials from your aquarium, plus it will be invaluable at saving time changing out the water.
Featured image credit: Dmitri Ma, Shutterstock