Top 6 Ways To Clean Fish Tank Gravel In Easy Methods

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Cleaning your fish tank gravel is an important part of aquarium maintenance. All the fish waste, uneaten food and dirt that settles to the bottom of the substrate will not disappear on its own!

A clean tank ensures optimal health for your fish and provides them with a safe environment to swim and grow. One of the most important parts of cleaning a fish tank is cleaning out the gravel. Food and debris tend to sink to the bottom of the tank and get trapped under the gravel. Proper cleaning of your tank gravel is essential to the health of your fish and should be done approximately every two weeks.

The general rule of thumb is to clean the gravel out of the tank at every water change. When a fish keeper cleans the aquarium once a week, fish tank gravel cleaners are essential in the overall process. Hobbyists may decide to clean the tank without a vacuum, and the low-tech method is acceptable but not as easy.

How to clean gravel from fish tank?

There are many types of gravel for your aquarium. Typical substrates for fish tanks include quartz or other non-calcareous minerals. Most hobbyists use a gravel vacuum to keep the substrate clean. Fish keepers need to be vigilant when learning how to clean a fish tank. Some fish farmers don’t use a vacuum and prefer a low-tech method, but gravel cleaners make the job easier. Clean gravel is an essential step in ensuring that your fish stay healthy.

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Fish Tank Gravel Cleaners – Get the Job Done

Aquarium gravel cleaners keep the substrate clean. These cleaners pick up dirt and food debris. Rough! This debris destroys your aquarium environment if it settles to the bottom of the tank.

Gravel Vacuum for Fish Tanks

An automatic gravel vacuum or battery powered gravel cleaner keeps the environment clean by keeping the water chemistry constant. The vacuum agitates the gravel in a moving column of water to loosen and carry debris trapped in the stone out of the tank.

Gravel Washing Equipment Checklist

How to clean gravel from fish tank

Low-tech methods are also an option, and hobbyists should know that there are several ways to clean old and new gravel from fish tanks. The equipment used by farmers is technically dependent, so the equipment may change if the farmer decides not to use a battery powered vacuum tube. All the equipment is easy to find at a pet store.

  • Secondary tank (optional)
  • Two trash cans marked for aquarium use only
  • Gravel suction tube with siphon or battery-powered gravel cleaner
  • A hose reserved for your aquarium

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How to clean gravel from fish tank in three easy steps

This part will discuss the 3 easiest steps to clean fish tank gravel. You will use a gravel vacuum and a fish tank siphon. Schedule this task once a week.

Step one: unplug equipment, remove fish and artificial plants

Fill a secondary fish tank or bucket with some of your existing (used) aquarium water and place your fish and fake plants in there while you vacuum.

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Step Two: Vacuum the Tank

Use your siphon gravel vac with an attached hose or battery-powered gravel cleaner to remove water and gravel into a bucket.

  • Only remove up to 40 percent of the water in the tank. The goal is to keep the beneficial bacteria in the tank.
  • Debris will go up the siphon; Continue until the water begins to clear or you have cleaned all sections of the gravel floor.

Step Three: Reassemble

Replace plants and decorations, and replace water.

Video credit: aquarium genie

Techniques for cleaning new gravel

When you need to clean up new gravel, the technique is simple. Fish farmers often buy bagged stones, which must be free of dust.

  • Open the garden hose and fill an empty bucket.
  • Slowly pour in a few inches of gravel and allow the dust to settle to the bottom.
  • Stir the gravel slowly by hand, scoop out the water, and pour the clean gravel into a second bucket. If you are outdoors, pour the water on the ground.
  • Rinse and repeat this process until all the gravel is clean.

How to clean fish tank gravel without a vacuum?

Novice fish keepers can clean without a vacuum, but experienced hobbyists recommend gravel vacuums. If a hobbyist uses this equipment, it is a more efficient way to clean the tank. This low-tech method is similar to the previous technique for cleaning new gravel, except that the hobbyist removes the stone from the existing tank. Replace step two above, which involves the gravel vacuum, with the instructions below.

  1. Use a cup to scoop out the dirty gravel and place it in a colander to clean.
  2. Rinse the dirty gravel in the sieve under running water or a hose.
  3. Move the gravel so that the debris settles to the bottom.
  4. Do not clean all the gravel to make sure there are still some bacteria.
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Gravel cleaners make life easier for hobbyists

Always use a gravel vacuum before trying the low-tech method. Gravel vacuuming is easy and makes one of the gravity water change steps more efficient. Fish keepers must ensure that the tank is cleaned once a week, and the process must be low-stress for the fish. The less time the fish spends in a bucket, the better.


  • Leave your fish inside to clean it. It’s much more stressful to get them out; unless you have a very small bowl, save them.
  • Live plants are a great way to keep your aquarium clean and healthy.
  • Do not vacuum or replace all the gravel or water at one time. You want some of those beneficial bacteria.
  • Consider cleaning the gravel along with your weekly water change.
  • Before cleaning your tank, make sure your hands are clean. The use of lotions or jewelry is not allowed.


  • Never clean your aquarium, gravel or decorations with soap, detergents or bleach.
  • To clean your aquarium, gravel or decorations.
  • Never use anything that has come in contact with soap, detergents, or bleach. Instead, sterilize the items by washing them in lukewarm water.

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