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I often hear people complaining about yet another expenditure when it comes to investing in the best aquarium vacuum cleaner. The complaint is that when they already have a three-stage filter and protein skimmer, why do they need a vacuum cleaner? It is a dilemma of many. In this guide, we will explain everything about aquarium water cleaners and how they reduce the work of protein skimmers- some even say that you won’t need it.
Owning an aquarium is a responsibility as it becomes a habitat for water creatures that live, breathe, eat, excrete, and die like humans. So, keeping their human-made surroundings clean and as close to their natural habitat is essential.
Every aquarium has a substrate layer, whether of soil or gravel. Many people think that as the gravel is in water, it won’t get dirty and hence, no need to clean. On the contrary, the substrate layer needs proper cleaning and maintenance, unlike the bottom layer.
At times unwanted material or debris may get stuck on the substrate layer, which will make it filthy and smelly, thus making the aquarium environment hazardous for inmates. Even filters may not be able to clean it, and that’s where an equipment like aquarium vacuum cleaner comes into the picture.
Need For An Aquarium Vacuum Cleaners
Maintaining The Environment Of The Aquarium
Cleanliness is of the utmost importance when it comes to fish keeping. Aquatic animals are used to living in fresh flowing streams with sufficient oxygen, but that’s not the case with an aquarium. It comes handy in keeping the water clean, especially with the help of a siphon.
A comforting and fresh environment is essential for your aquatic pets to thrive, and at times, filtration cannot take out all the dirt. Vacuuming will help in cleaning the substrate, which is the foundation of an aquarium by siphoning out unwanted material. If you have low lying fishes, then you should get the best aquarium vacuum.
Increasing The Time Lag Between Changing Water
Changing the aquarium water can be a daunting task, but for the health of the marine pets you can’t ignore. Water gets contaminated with fish mucus, defecation, algae growth, decaying of plants, leftover fish food, etc. So, one has to change the water once a week or every fortnight.
An aquarium vacuum cleaner can clean the water by removing debris which will enhance the time lag between water changes. If you choose a meshed vacuum cleaner while changing the water, it will have a better effect. Now, you can save your energy and make your hobby more fun.
Removing Stubborn Debris
Traditionally, aquarists were supposed to change the water twice a month to ensure unwanted waste material is removed from the water. But, with the help of the best aquarium vacuum cleaner, one can even remove the stubborn or sticky substances that make the gravel substrate looks dirty.
It will also help in preventing algae growth and can siphon off the unwanted waste material that isn’t decomposed and can be hazardous for the marine fauna. So, you can now change the water once every three weeks and still enjoy the view of happy pets in a clean aquarium with the help of a vacuum.
Maintaining The Ph Level
Water chemistry is essential for the health of the aquatic animals. There are a few types of fishes and animals that require a specific environment, and even a drop or rise of pH level by one point can be harmful. There can be a change in water chemistry due to an increase in ammonia or nitrate or unforeseen factors leading to diseases and the demise of aquatic animals.
Regular vacuuming will maintain the pH level of the water and will give a stable environment. So, to witness your aquatic pals live a long and healthy life, opt for vacuum cleaning of the aquarium
The Ammonia Accumulation
Ammonia poisoning is the by-product of increased pH level of water and various other factors. It can deteriorate the fish tissues and can lead to the death of aquatic animals. This often happens in a new aquarium but can occur in the old one as well, if it is crowded.
An aquarium vacuum cleaning will help in reducing the ammonia accumulation, and you don’t have to test the water quality regularly. It also helps in reducing the nitrate level in the tank, thus making it a fresh habitat for the fishes to live comfortably.
Top 10 Best Aquarium Vacuum Cleaners 2019
1. Aqueon Medium Siphon Vacuum Aquarium Gravel Cleaner
Aqueon presents the simplified solution to cleaning gravel without sucking in the tiny fishes. The aquarium vacuum cleaner comes with a medium siphon and has multiple size pumps available from one to five gallon that can clean up to 20 gallons of water.
The pumps are designed to segregate debris from live aquatic animals and substrate layer; no wonder this is the best aquarium vacuum cleaner an aquarist can get.
It also ensures that dirty water or waste is not spilled on the floor as there is a clip at the discharge end. It is easy to use, and the price won’t affect your budget.
- Easy to use with the help of a manual suction control option.
- It does not lead to a mess as there is a clip at the discharge end.
- It can easily remove all kinds of debris.
- It is pocket-friendly and won’t harm your aquatic pets.
- Pumping is not easy, and you will need time to come along if you are a novice.
- The suction pump needs to be modified as it can be powerful for small tanks.
- The hose is very big and gets clogged at times.
2. Dora’s Corner Store 2×10-Inch Vacuum Water Siphon with Self Starter Gravel Cleaner
It is a BPA Free model that means that aquarium will not be contaminated and inmates won’t be at risk. It is a cylinder cleaner with 56’’ hose ideal for 15-30 gallon water tanks.
The three-part vacuum cleaner comes with a hose, 10inch tube and backflow valve lid which is easy to install and can separate the debris from gravel.
It can also be used while changing the water and makes the whole process easy. You will see a clean tank where fishes are swimming and spawning comfortably.
- It has only three tools to assemble and comes along with an instruction manual making it easy even for amateurs.
- It is a BPA free cleaner which makes it safe for fishes.
- It is a self-priming model which means you don’t need a bulb to get it started.
- You can siphon without changing the water by positioning the hose in the right direction. Read the manual for instructions.
- It comes with a long hose that makes the work easier and less messy as you don’t have to put your hands in water.
- It is not an ideal option for small rocks
- It is a pricey option for new hobbyists.
3. Pro-Clean Gravel Washer and Siphon Kit For Aquarium
What is one thing that can spoil the aesthetics of the aquarium? Accumulation of unwanted and stubborn debris or gravel, stones, etc. It will not only make the aquarium look unkempt, but lead to health hazards on marine life.
Pro-Clean Gravel Washer and Siphon Kit by Python are suitable for large aquariums of 20-55 gallons. It can be used easily by new and experienced hobbyists as it comes with a proper instruction manual.
The suction of the cleaner is appropriately balanced to ensure it separates the gravel. It is a fast machine that can suck up anything and fill the bucket within two minutes. The hose can be small, but otherwise, it is the best aquarium vacuum cleaner for large aquariums.
- It comes along with a siphon kit.
- It works wonders by separating the gravel from the unwanted waste and cleans it.
- Kinking the hose will prevent jamming if it has sucked in a fish or a big stone.
- Suction is strong and fast, ideal for large tanks.
- The green part connecting the hose is weak and gets cracked easily.
- The quality of material used is sub-standard.
- Not a suitable option for small tanks with less than 20gallon capacity.
4. Nicrew Automatic Gravel Cleaner, Electric Aquarium Cleaner, Sludge Extractor
The power VAC Plus cleaner is a complete aquarium maintenance device with in-built sponge filter traps. Aquarists often complain that they can’t adjust the flow rate, but the Nicrew aquarium vacuum cleaner has a flow adjustment valve that helps with its adjustment.
It is quick on the spot cleaning machine that will clean the top layer of the substrate without affecting the lower one of gravel. It does not come with a hose, but you can attach an external flow to prevent discharging of dirty water on the floor.
- As it uses electricity instead of a battery, the machine has strong suction that can clean even a turtle tank.
- If the gravel gets stuck, you can unscrew the system and take the gravel out.
- It is easy to use a three-in-one tool.
- It can be used as a siphon by installing a hose to the filter.
- Lack of proper instructions
- It gets jammed easily and unscrewing it every time is frustrating.
- It is expensive in comparison to its counterparts, and water change can be daunting as it does not come with a hose.
5. Python No Spill Clean and Fill Aquarium Gravel Tube
Made of plastic, it comes with a female connector and will work for a tank of 20 – 70gallon capacity. As it is not a battery operated tube, there is no risk of corrosion and malfunctioning of motor.
As it is a transparent tube, you can see what is happening while cleaning. It is a long tube that can go deep inside the tank, thus preventing your hands from getting dirty. Not just cleaning, it also helps in refilling the water.
- It won’t result in rusting of batteries as it is not battery operated.
- There is no hassle of installing the set-up as it is a single tube with a female connector.
- It can also work in conjunction with the No Spill Clean System.
- The green connector can be used in refilling the water.
- Cleaning of the deeper aquariums has become easy with the help of long tubes.
- It is comparatively slower than battery-operated cleaners.
- To prevent leaks, replace the black gasket in the package with the garden gaskets.
6. 8 Foot Long Aquarium Gravel Cleaner With Mini Net
It has a one-way flow which restricts the flowing back of water in the aquarium making it dirtier. The valve can be shut off, which helps in slowing the water flow, making it suitable for water and gravel cleaning.
It also helps in changing the water and squeezing the pump; a siphon is created. It contains a filter that prevents siphoning of hard rocks, aquatic pets, gravel and separates it from dirt.
- It comes along with a fishnet that helps to move the bottom layer and fishes.
- The adjustable valve is an advantage as one can adjust the water flow.
- Siphoning is easy and segregates debris from gravel.
- Water can be changed with a hose, so goodbye to carrying water buckets to and fro.
- Cleaning hose is also not a tough job.
- Clogging is the problem with this cleaner.
- Hand pump installation can be tricky (adhere to instructions) and if installed in the wrong direction can result in poor or no suction.
7. Laifoo 50ft Aquarium Water Changer Gravel & Sand Cleaner Fish Tank Siphon Cleaning Tools
Laifoo presents a whole range of cleaning tools, including a 5-ft Aquarium water changer gravel. It serves the dual purpose of conveniently removing fish feces and impure water out of the tank and refilling the tank with freshwater.
The 50ft hose is durable, anti-kinking and does not spread any peculiar smell in the tank. It can be easily cleaned. It comes along with a gravel tube that suctions exceptionally well without destroying the décor or harming the invertebrates.
It comes with a three-month warranty and will help to keep the aquarium environment clean and fresh for the fishes.
- It is useful in deep cleaning of the large aquariums and refilling of water without leading to a backache.
- The suction is adjustable and won’t harm the inmates.
- Size of the hose is adequate, and you don’t need to wet your hands.
- Easy to install and operate, it takes the rocket science out of aquarium cleaning.
- Water pressure is not strong for big aquariums.
- As the suction ball cannot be moved, it makes it a job for two people to clean and refill the tank.
- It can be challenging to fit it in a faucet except for the sprayer faucet.
8. Coodia Vacuum Gravel Cleaner Automatic Aquarium Sludge Extractor Water Changer
Are you looking for an aquarium cleaner that not only cleans the gravel but is effective in water changing? COODIA launched a three-in-one system efficient in vacuuming the gravel, sludge extraction, and changing water.
It can easily trap the dirt while replacing dirty water with clear water and is simple to use. It does not harm the bottom layer of the grave but eliminates dirt and toxins from the substrate layer.
It shoulders the burden of a filter as it decreases the presence of harmful toxins. Thus, you can increase the time interval between water changes and reduce the use of a filter.
- Easy to use for all age groups.
- It is sturdy and operates efficiently on large tanks.
- It is a quality product and budget-friendly, making it an ideal choice even for new aquarists.
- It is not suitable for sandy soils and can clog the filter.
9. Toopify Aquarium Fish Tank Clean Tools
The ensemble can fit tanks of different sizes and makes cleaning easy without making your hands dirty. It is the multifunctional system that helps in changing the water, washing soil bed, eliminating excrement, and algae bloom.
The best thing about these tools is that there is no need to dirty your hands for cleaning the aquarium. An easy to operate and install equipment, it is safe and helps in creating a nurturing environment for the inmates.
- The manual gravel cleaner works smoothly and does not require frequent pressing.
- The tubes are flexible, sturdy, and soft.
- Price of the product is reasonable, considering it is a multifunctional product.
- There are significant priming issues.
- Instructions are not adequate for a first-time user.
10. 4 in1 Aquarium Gravel Cleaner
The set of four includes Aquarium gravel cleaner, an algae scraper, water flow clamp, and a fixture clamp. It can be used for removing algae from the tank, changing the water and balancing the water chemistry by eliminating debris.
It has an added feature of air-pressing that helps in the automatic flow of water. So, instead of manual labor, be smart and use a vacuum cleaner to make your aquarium beautiful and hygienic.
- Multipurpose package for large tanks and heavy plantation.
- It reduces the toxicity of water and balances the pH level.
- It is worth the price and less time-consuming.
- The pump is weak, and siphoning can be a challenge.
- It can leak sometimes.
Disadvantages Of Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner
Dangerous For Small Pets
Vacuum cleaning of the aquarium requires vigilance as it can be risky for the little fishes. If you have a vacuum cleaner with a siphon, then use it according to the manual as it can siphon off the fishes leading to their death. Ideally, transfer the aquatic animals in another aquarium or tank to prevent a mishap.
Complicated For New Aquarists
An aquarium vacuum cleaner is different from other vacuum cleaners. Hence, it is essential to understand the mechanism then operate the machinery. If you are new to fish keeping, then do not start with vacuum cleaning. Take some time to learn the tricks of the hobby and then opt for advanced maneuvers.
Jamming Of The Cleaner
If you are using the vacuum cleaner for gravel cleaning, then there are chances of stones getting stuck in it. The diameter of the tube is small, and if it is siphoning a large rock, it can jam the cleaner, even leading to internal damage or permanently breaking off the system.
It can be time-consuming if you like to shift the fishes in another aquarium and then clean it. Also, as a new hobby, many people find it a difficult task.
If you are on a budget, then you may have to expand it if you want to buy the best aquarium vacuum cleaner. If you are new to the art of fish keeping and don’t want to spend too much, then start with manual cleaning and then opt for vacuum cleaning.
How To Use And How Often To Use An Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner?
The question that crosses every aquarists mind: How often to vacuum the aquarium? There is no fixed answer to the problem. It depends on the biological ecosystem of the tank, i.e., a number of inmates and their species, is the aquarium loaded with plants and decorations or is vacant.
Is it spacious enough or not? How often you have to change the water? These are some of the factors to consider as no two aquariums are same. But, make it a point to vacuum the aquarium once a week.
The reason behind it is that weekly vacuuming will reduce the toxicity of water and prevent algae growth. It will further reduce the accumulation of debris and other chemical substances that can be hazardous for marine life.
The most crucial factor to consider is the behavior of the inmates. If you feel that the fish looks sluggish, then it is time to vacuum the aquarium immediately. Often the fish rots release ammonia in water which makes the fishes stressed and can lead to health problems.
Observe the behavioral changes in your marine pets and if anything feels off, then vacuum immediately, in fact, change the water as well. If the aquarium has one or two fishes and just a few plants, then you can vacuum twice a month. With a regular cleaning schedule, the chances of a disease outbreak are less, but in case there is an outbreak then your aquarium needs a deep cleaning.
Now The Question Arises, How To Use The Aquarium Vacuum Cleaners?
If you are using a siphon vacuum cleaner, then keep in mind a few tips:
Keep the siphon end of the tube which is in the aquarium above the discharging end of the tube which is in the bucket. The tube should be full of water without any air and move the water through the tube.
Purchase a suction pump to initiate the process if it is not available in the vacuum cleaner.
The Best Gravel Vacuums: Make an Informed Decision
The detailed review of some of the popular aquarium vacuum cleaners must have resolved doubts of many and must have confused a few. Many new aquarists must have finally got the answer to their question of why do they need an aquarium vacuum cleaner in the first place.
So, if you are wondering which one is best from the lot, our suggestion is Dora’s Corner Store 2×10-Inch Vacuum Water Siphon with Self Starter Gravel Cleaner. It is BPA free equipment with self-priming option. It will not only keep your back from aching by carrying buckets full of water but will also enhance the water chemistry and make your aquarium a comfortable replica of nature.