The Best Aquarium Gravel Cleaners

Whether you are a beginner working with your first aquarium, or an experienced hobbyist looking to add an improved new item to your inventory, you should certainly have an effective gravel cleaner.

With so many different types of them available, it can be difficult to spot the difference between the best aquarium gravel cleaners and the worst.

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Types of Siphons
Aquarium Gravel Cleaner Reviews
Best Aquarium Gravel Cleaner for Betta Fish

Aquarium Gravel Cleaners and Siphons

Over time, debris from within your tank can begin to build up on the substrate, plants, and the décor within your tank. This debris usually consists of a mixture of both uneaten food and fish waste products.

As this waste begins to accumulate, it can begin to cause serious water quality issues. These issues include the possibility of toxins being released into your aquarium – which can be very harmful to your fish’s health if not controlled.

The use of a gravel cleaner, or siphon, directly prevents the build-up of this potentially hazardous debris. Siphons also offer aquarium owners an easy solution to cleaning their tank, opposed to using a bucket and a hose. They also come in a variety of different sizes and styles, making them suitable for different aquarium types.

It should be noted that you should never remove the gravel from your tank to clean it, which is another reason why siphons are so useful.

This is because when you wash the gravel from your tank in the sink you are getting rid of the build-up, but you are also getting rid of all of the beneficial bacteria on the gravel.

How do you use a gravel cleaner / siphon?

The way that you use your siphon is completely dependent on the type of siphon that you have purchased, today we are going to talk you through how to use a standard siphon.

A standard siphon is incredibly easy to use. The most important thing that you need to do involves ensuring that the tank that you are cleaning is higher up than your bucket.

A standard siphon uses a mixture of both gravity and hydrostatic pressure to give you the results that you need. You simply have to place the tube sideways in the tank, ensuring that it completely fills with water.

You then you to flip it around quickly, directing one end of the siphon out of the tank and ensuring that the water is going into your drainage bucket. If you do it quickly, then no air will get into the tube. Then (with science) the water just continues to flow through the tube into the bucket.

You should never suck the water through the standard siphon manually, as it is simply not sanitary or needed with modern devices, and no one wants a mouthful of dirty aquarium water.

Now it is much more common to find a self-priming siphon (see below) this includes a small hand pump which will get the water flowing through the tune without the need of switching it around (or being tempted to suck the water through the tube).

Different Types of Siphons


Standard, mini, and long siphons

These siphons all work in a similar way, functioning based on both gravity and hydrostatic pressure. The main difference is the size of the siphons. Long siphons are perfect for cleaning deep tanks, as they feature an extra amount of hose length to accommodate the depth of the tank. On the opposite end of the scale, mini siphons are generally used to clean fish bowls and nano tanks.

You can also get self-priming siphons; the actual siphon works in the same way as a standard siphon. The difference is that there is no risk of getting a mouthful of water when you prime the siphon, as you simply have to pump it instead.

Water driven siphons

These siphons are one of the most popular types of siphons among aquarium enthusiasts. They can easily be attached to the majority of faucets, as they use the stream of water from the faucet to create a form of suction. You can also use a water driven siphon to return clean water to the tank, although it is always advisable to do a water treatment afterward.

Filter driven siphons

These siphons are driven by the power of the filter in your tank. The hose from a filter driven siphon has to be attached to the inlet tube of a standard filter, the siphon tube is then used to collect the debris in the tank, making it pass through the actual filter. This means that the filter cleans the water that is full of debris, releasing clean water back into the tank environment. The one downside to this is that you need an incredibly strong filter, opposed to a budget one.

Battery powered siphons

These siphons are possibly the easiest siphons to use, as they are battery operated. They suck water directly out of the tank, capturing debris in either a fine-mesh filter or a filter stock. A lot of aquarium enthusiasts have also found that nylon hosiery on the end of a battery powered siphon can ensure that all of the fine pieces of debris are collected too.

Aquarium Gravel Cleaner Reviews

Aqueon 06229 Medium Siphon Review

Ideal tank size in gallons: 3 – 10.

People who own small aquariums could potentially benefit from having the Aqueon 06229 Medium Siphon, as it makes a lot of standard activities an awful lot easier. A lot of people that own this particular siphon use it to facilitate water changes, as it is much easier than attempting to change the water using cups.

It is worth noting that this siphon is entirely self-priming and very easy to use. It utilizes a unique up and down motion that initiates the continuous flow of water within the device, leading to the debris easily being pulled up out of the gravel during a water change.

This particular model also includes a clip that allows you to attach the drain hose directly to the inside of a bucket, and anyone who has accidentally spilled old tank water over their floor will know just how beneficial this can be.

Python Pro-Clean Gravel Washer and Siphon Kit Review

Ideal tank size in gallons: 20+.

Whereas the Aqueon 06629 Medium Siphon is suitable for tanks that are relatively small, the Python Pro-Clean Gravel Washer and Siphon Kit can handle medium to large sized tanks with ease.

It is a standard siphon, and it is one that you would usually have to start manually. Luckily, Python also stock a Python Squeeze Siphon Attachment, you simply have to attach it to the tube and squeeze the rubber bulb to start the cleaning process.

This particular siphon is perfect for both beginners and experts, as it easily separates debris from gravel while you clean and perform a water change. It is a siphon (and brand) that is known for being powerful, and it can clean a medium sized tank relatively quickly.

Python No Spill Clean and Fill Aquarium Maintenance System Review

Ideal tank size in gallons: 50+.

People with larger tanks will have to look for certain specific qualities that a siphon may or may not have, and the Python No Spill Clean and Fill Aquarium Maintenance System is one of the ones that does have those qualities.

The Python No Spill has the tube length that is necessary for cleaning tanks with a large depth, and it makes things even easier by performing as a water driven siphon. These siphons simply have to be attached to your faucet, making them rather simple to use.

This particular model makes changing the water in your tank a hassle-free task, opposed to a standard chore. It also thoroughly cleans the gravel in your tank whilst doing so. In our experience, this type of siphon is fantastic if you need to do small, regular water changes that would quickly become a hassle.

It is worth noting that the Python No Spill also comes in several different sizes, making it suitable for a variety of large tanks.

EHEIM Quick Vac Pro Automatic Gravel Cleaner and Sludge Extractor Review

Ideal tank size: Large.

Aquarium enthusiasts frequently talk about battery powered siphons, and the EHEIM Quick Vac Pro Automatic Gravel Cleaner and Sludge Extractor is a fantastic example as to why they do.

A battery powered siphon completely gets rid of the need for buckets and hoses, in a way that is even easier than using a water powered siphon.

We have found that this model is good for both complete aquarium overhauls but even more so when you just want to do a little bit of maintenance here and there.

It is fully submersible, so it can be used in large tanks. All you have to do is insert the suction end into the gravel, the water suction process then sucks up all of the debris. It then collects it in a super-fine mesh cartridge, meaning that you can get all your cleaning done quickly.

You should never use this specific product with a small tank, as the suction capability is simply too powerful. Also, if your tank is less than 12” deep, then this product would not be suitable for your needs.

Best Aquarium Gravel Cleaner for a Betta Fish Tank

If you were to choose one of these aquarium gravel cleaners for your betta fish tank the winner would have to be the Aqueon 06229 Medium Siphon.
It has everything that we need, especially for use in a betta fish environment. Most aquariums that are used for betta fish are at least 3 gallons, meaning that a siphon meant for a smaller sized tank works perfectly with them. The other products that we have reviewed are fantastic too, but for use in larger tanks.

The Aqueon Siphon is easy to use, and it can be used to frequently perform water changes without the water changes becoming a vigorous challenge that you certainly do not look forward to.

A weekly clean is standard in a betta fish environment, and this particular product ticks all of the boxes for use in a betta fish aquarium.


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