Tanks & Accessories
The 10 Best Aquarium Vacuum Cleaners of 2020
An aquarium vacuum cleaner is a handy tool every fish-tank owner appreciates. It cleans fish tanks by sucking out dirty and potentially harmful water.
You can get a manual vacuum cleaner, which uses either siphon or squeeze mechanisms to initiate water drainage. Or you can opt for an electric one, which uses battery power to vacuum.
When choosing an aquarium vacuum, check the cleaning and vacuum tube length, to determine they fit your fish tank’s size.
Check out our top 10 aquarium vacuum cleaners review to help you choose the model that suits your fish tank best.
10 Best Aquarium Vacuum Cleaners – Review
1. Tera Pump TRFTCLN (Best Overall)
2. Fluval 11059 (Best Budget)
3. Eheim 3531090 (Best Electric)
4. Python Pro-Clean 16PC (Best for Large Tanks)
5. Koller Products TM1096 (For Multipurpose Use)
6. Aqueon 100106229 (For Regular Water Changes)
7. SunGrow Gravel Cleaner (For Freshwater & Saltwater Tanks)
8. Python 25NS (No-spill Tube)
9. Zacro ZGS2-AUX-US-2 (With Water Flow Controller)
10. Marina 11062A1 (With Non-kinking Hose)
1. Tera Pump TRFTCLN
2. Fluval 11059
3. Eheim 3531090
4. Python Pro-Clean 16PC
(Best for Large Tanks)
5. Koller Products TM1096
(For Multipurpose Use)
6. Aqueon 100106229
(For Regular Water Changes)
7. SunGrow Gravel Cleaner
(For Freshwater & Saltwater Tanks)
8. Python 25NS
9. Zacro ZGS2-AUX-US-2
(With Water Flow Controller)
10. Marina 11062A1
(With Non-kinking Hose)
1. Tera Pump TRFTCLN – Best Overall Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner
- Power: Manual Squeeze
- Aquarium Size: > 10 gallons
- Cleaning Tube: 3.5 inches
- Suction Tube: 51.5 inches
Starting us off is Tera Pump TRFTCLN, the best overall aquarium vacuum cleaner. It comes with 2 multi-purpose nozzles, a suction cup, and a gravel filter for efficient cleaning.
This cleaner is built for efficient vacuuming of dirt from large aquariums greater than 10 gallons in capacity. It comes with a short nozzle for drainage, and a long nozzle for cleaning leftover fish food, fine gravel, and droppings.
It also features a suction cup, which keeps the suction tube secured firmly in place to allow for a single-hand pump operation. You’ll also love the fact that this aquarium vacuums cleaner works without harming any of your aquarium life of décor.
Another useful component of this vacuum cleaner is its filter, which works excellently to prevent large gravel from getting into the pump, thus preventing blockage.
We did note, however, that the discharge hose below the operation bulb of Tera Pump TRFTCLN is rather short and may require elevating the waste budget to avoid spills.
2. Fluval 11059 – Best Budget Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner
- Power: Manual Siphon
- Cleaning Tube: 13 inches
- Suction Tube: 60 inches
Fluval 11059 is the best budget aquarium vacuum cleaner on our list. This affordable and inexpensive cleaner is also built for ease of use.
It features a contoured angle design to fit perfectly on the fish tank’s edge without kinking the suction tube or cleaning tube. The angled design is also useful in supporting maximum depth reach.
This vacuum cleaner also comes with 2 cleaning heads, which are designed to not only clean effectively but also prevent gravel from being sucked in by the pump.
You also tube of superior length with the vacuum cleaner. Its cleaning tube is 13 inches long while the suction tube is 60 inches long. The two grants you enhanced cleaning flexibility with minimal limitations.
We did note, however, that the siphon mechanism of Fluval 11059 may take a bit of time and effort to get started, which some may find inconveniencing.
3. Eheim 3531090 – Best Electric Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner
- Power: Battery-Powered
- Cleaning Tube: 12 inches
Eheim 3531090 stands out as the best electric aquarium vacuum cleaner. It is a battery-powered unit, which saves you a lot of time and effort when cleaning your aquarium.
Because it is battery-powered, this vacuum cleaner will not require any manual siphoning or squeezing. For this reason, it does not come with long tubes that are often prone to kinking.
Also, because of its unique design, you can submerge the unit fully up to 3 feet in the aquarium or fish tank. The tool is also great for cleaning gravel and extracting sludge.
The vacuum cleaner is very versatile and will excel in complete aquarium cleaning or quick spot maintenance when intensive cleaning is not necessary. You can also use the cleaner in both marine and freshwater.
An issue we noted with Eheim 3531090 is that it is recommended for use in an aquarium with a minimum depth of 12 inches, which means any smaller tank may not benefit from the vacuum’s cleaning power.
4. Python Pro-Clean 16PC – Best Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner for Large Tanks
- Power: Manual Siphon
- Aquarium Size: 20 - 55 gallons
- Cleaning Tube: 16 inches
- Suction Tube: 72 inches
Python Pro-Clean 16PC emerges the best aquarium vacuum cleaner for large fish tanks. It is recommended for use in an aquarium of 20-55 gallons in capacity.
To enable maneuverability of the cleaner, especially in large-capacity tanks, this vacuum’s main tubing has been constructed using flexible and sturdy material. The material used to make the gravel tube is also crack and chip resistant.
The cleaning tube that comes with this vacuum tube has a generous length of 16 inches, making it suitable for reaching fairly deep fish tanks.
It has been proven effective in the separation of debris from aquarium gravel, thus supporting routine water changes. You can perform as many cleanups as you want with this cleaner.
An issue we didn’t like with the Python Pro-Clean 16PC is that it requires manual siphoning to start. Hence, this action may require some effort, especially because of the long suction tube.
5. Koller Products TM1096 – Multipurpose Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner
- Power: Battery-powered
- Aquarium Size: Up to 20 inches deep
Koller Products TM1096 stands out from the pack because it is a multi-purpose aquarium vacuum cleaner, which can execute different forms of cleaning.
This 3-in-1 battery-powered vacuum can siphon water, clean gravel, and remove algae, all at once. And because it is an electric tool, it will not take up a lot of your effort in cleaning.
It also does an excellent job in multiple cleaning tasks including spot cleaning, nano-tanks siphoning, and cleaning hard-to-reach areas, especially because of its slim profile.
In case you need to reach deeper parts of your aquarium, this vacuum cleaner is extendable from 8 inches to 16 inches, which means it can reach depths of up to 20 inches.
Even though this vacuum cleaner is electric, it is reasonably priced and won’t cost a fortune. You are getting a lot of value for your money.
A disappointing discovery about Koller Products TM1096 aquarium vacuum cleaner is that the 2 C-size batteries required to operate the unit are not included.
6. Aqueon 100106229 – Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner for Regular Water Changes
- Power: Manual Siphon
- Aquarium Size: 15 - 35 gallons
- Cleaning Tube: 9 inches
- Suction Tube: 72 inches
If you prefer to clean your fish tank regularly, then Aqueon 100106229 is the aquarium vacuum cleaner for you.
It is ideal for routine water changes in your fish tank. The vacuum cleaner is effective in pulling debris from the gravel, thus helping to maintain a natural balance for your fish in their aquarium environment.
The cleaner is self-priming, and you can get it pumping out water using simple up and down motion, which initiates siphoning and water flow.
For ease of handling, the hose comes with a clip, which helps attach it firmly to the inside of a drain bucket.
This vacuum cleaner is recommended for use in aquariums of 15 gallons to 35 gallons in capacity, which is where most standard fish tanks fall. If you need to vacuum a larger capacity, you can opt for the option supporting aquariums over 40 gallons in capacity.
An issue you may encounter with Aqueon 100106229 is the high likelihood of hose kinking, because of its superior length.
7. SunGrow Gravel Cleaner – Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner for Freshwater and Saltwater Tanks
SunGrow Gravel Cleaner is famed for being a great aquarium vacuum cleaner for freshwater and saltwater fish tanks.
This manual hand pump is also incredibly easy and effortless to assemble. You can complete assembly in a few minutes to get the unit running in no time.
Another superior feature of this vacuum cleaner is its netted nozzle attachment at the end of a long hose. The nozzle design helps in draining water from your aquarium without sucking up gravel or any underwater vegetation that may be required in the fish habitat.
You’ll also love that that the cleaner’s tubes are kink-resistant and made of strong, durable plastic that will not spill any water even in demanding cleaning tasks.
An issue we encountered with SunGrow Gravel Cleaner is that its short nozzle is prone to gravel buildup, which may interfere with smooth water removal.
8. Python 25NS – No-spill Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner
- Power: Water Pressure
- Cleaning Tube: 10 inches
- Suction Tube: 300 inches
Python 25NS is a no-spill aquarium vacuum cleaner, which stands out from the pack because of its superior suction tube length of 300 inches, which eliminates messy water changes.
The vacuum’s no-spill system is designed to address common challenges experienced during aquarium cleaning and water changes, including the need for multiple buckets, constant siphoning, water leaks, and even tank tear downs.
This cleaner also easily adapts to most faucets, hence making this model highly adaptive to many types of drainage systems and fish tanks.
It also comes complete and ready-to-use. Simply unpack the unit and follow the user guide to assemble it and begin cleaning your aquarium.
You’ll also love the fact that this vacuum cleaner does not disturb fish or the aquarium’s décor during routine cleaning and maintenance.
The Python 25NS is, however, a bit pricey, and the most expensive aquarium vacuum cleaner on our list.
9. Zacro ZGS2-AUX-US-2 – Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner with Water Flow Controller
- Power: Manual Squeeze
- Aquarium Size: 20 - 40 gallons
- Cleaning Tube: 7.87 inches
- Suction Tube: 51.18 inches
Zacro ZGS2-AUX-US-2 is a unique aquarium vacuum cleaner, which comes equipped with a water flow controller.
The water flow controller is achieved using a high-quality faucet design, which grants you more control and flexibility over the cleaning process. You can stop water flow in case the vacuum is sucking out too much water or content from the aquarium.
This cleaner comes with a large suction balloon, which minimizes the effort required to start the suctioning process. Simply squeeze the balloon gently to initiate the vacuum process.
It is also safe for your fish and other aquarium life. It is ideal for use in 20-40-gallon fish tanks. The pump won’t scare your fish and its BPA-free material won’t poison aquatic life.
The entire setup is also practical, easy to remove, and easy to clean.
Zacro ZGS2-AUX-US-2 is big, and with high suction power, so it is not ideal for use in tanks with less than 20-gallon capacities.
10. Marina 11062A1 – Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner with Non-kinking Hose
- Power: Manual Siphon
- Cleaning Tube: 15 inches
- Suction Tube: 72 inches
Marina 11062A1 is an aquarium vacuum cleaner built for hassle-free start-up and reliable service because its core component, the suction hose, is non-kinking.
The cleaner ensures efficient evacuation of dirt and water while preventing gravel from being sucked out. To achieve this, it comes with an exclusive gravel guard, which ensures gravel is retained in the tank during cleaning.
This cleaning kit comes fully assembled and ready to use. Simply unpack the cleaner and follow the instructions provided for a quick and easy start-up.
Because the cleaning tube is made narrow and oval-shaped, it allows easier access for those hard-to-reach areas of your fish tank, such as the corners.
Its cleaning hose is also long, at 72 inches, to ensure spill-free water changes and eliminate the need for cumbersome collection buckets common with short-hose cleaners.
An issue we noted with Marina 11062A1 is that its tubes are tinted grey, making it difficult to spot debris and gravel being lifted out of the tank.
How to Buy the Best Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner
1. Aquarium Size
Different aquarium vacuum cleaners are suited for varying fish tank sizes.
The design and length of the cleaner’s components determine the size and depth of the aquarium be serviced.
From our review, vacuum cleaners with long cleaning and suction tubes accommodate large-capacity gallons. The Python Pro-Clean 16PC, for example, can clean aquariums of up to 50 gallons in size.
For smaller aquariums, you can opt for vacuum cleaners that are optimized those tanks so that you avoid purchasing bulky cleaner that may be cumbersome to handle.
There are different mechanisms that can power an aquarium. The three common ones include electric power, manual squeezing, and manual siphoning.
Since fish tanks, especially those found at home, are not overly large, manual squeezing and siphoning are not as tedious as one would imagine. You only need to initiate the process and the cleaner runs itself.
The materials used to construct your aquarium vacuum cleaner will largely determine its ease of use and durability.
Most of the models we reviewed have their core components (cleaning and suction tubes) made of plastic.
Plastic is a great choice of material because it is flexible, durable, and can be made in a clear finish to enhance visibility.
You may also find aquarium vacuum cleaners made of rubber, which has almost similar properties as plastic. Components such as the manual squeezer tend to use rubber for enhanced flexibility.
4. Easy to Operate
The ease of operating your aquarium vacuum cleaner will depend largely on the number of components the tool incorporates, ease of assembly, and mode of operation.
If your cleaner has a lot of components to be assembled before use, then it may not be the easiest to assemble or use.
Also, manual and electronic vacuum cleaners will have varying degrees of usability, with the latter tending to be more convenient because little effort is required from you to start or operate the tool.
5. Durability and Ease of Maintenance
We all desire durable and easy-to-maintain appliances, and aquarium vacuum cleaners are no exception.
Even though the primary role of the vacuum is to clean, the tool itself requires cleaning. It is advisable to wash off the dirt that accumulates in your vacuum cleaner and its tubes as frequently as is necessary, or as soon as signs of dirt accumulation appear.
Also, the durability of your aquarium vacuum cleaner may be influenced by the materials used to construct it. Plastic is durable and requires consistent maintenance to guarantee long-lasting service from your aquarium vacuum cleaner.
Our aquarium vacuum cleaner review highlights the many benefits fish tank owners can derive from the tool.
If you’re looking to the leading aquarium vacuum cleaner, choose Tera Pump TRFTCLN, our best overall pick. It supports large medium-to-large tanks, has long tubes, and is easy to operate.
If affordability is your primary consideration, go for Fluval 11059, our best budget aquarium vacuum cleaner.
- 10 Best Aquarium Vacuum Cleaners – Review
- 1. Tera Pump TRFTCLN – Best Overall Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner
- 2. Fluval 11059 – Best Budget Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner
- 3. Eheim 3531090 – Best Electric Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner
- 4. Python Pro-Clean 16PC – Best Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner for Large Tanks
- 5. Koller Products TM1096 – Multipurpose Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner
- 6. Aqueon 100106229 – Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner for Regular Water Changes
- 7. SunGrow Gravel Cleaner – Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner for Freshwater and Saltwater Tanks
- 8. Python 25NS – No-spill Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner
- 9. Zacro ZGS2-AUX-US-2 – Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner with Water Flow Controller
- 10. Marina 11062A1 – Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner with Non-kinking Hose
- How to Buy the Best Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner