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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Pet Care Library > Articles > Vacuum Your Fish Pond Or Aquarium

Vacuum Your Fish Pond or Aquarium


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A gravel vacuum/cleaner/siphon is used to remove loose debris from the bottom of the gravel bed without destroying the good bacteria that grows there. It is also used to siphon water out of the aquarium during routine water changes.

A vacuum does not remove the gravel from your aquarium. In fact, removing the gravel from your aquarium will destroy any good bacteria that has been established in the gravel bed.

A gravel vacuum should be used to remove fish waste and debris on a regular basis. It depends on the number of fish in the tank, but you should vacuum your gravel at least once every two weeks.

Vacuuming your gravel every two weeks is also a great way of making sure you make the partial water changes that are so important to maintaining good water chemistry.

There are two types of gravel vacuums generally available.

  • The simplest is a tube attached to a short plastic hose. We recommend this style of gravel vacuum for smaller tanks and for situations where large water changes are not required. This style uses the siphoning action to draw debris and water out of the tank. You will need a bucket (we recommend a 5 or ten gallon) to hold the dirty water. Start with a new bucket and use it only for your aquarium. Any residue from normal household chemicals can be toxic to your aquarium water.


  • Some gravel vacuums attach to a faucet and use the water pressure from the faucet to create the siphon. These devices use a long plastic tube (extensions are available) to carry the dirty water directly to a sink. This type of gravel vacuum is best for large tanks requiring large amounts of water to be changed or in circumstances where carrying water back and forth from the sink is not appropriate.

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