DIY (Aquarium) Gravel Cleaner




Introduction: DIY (Aquarium) Gravel Cleaner

After my nano aquarium was up and running for a few weeks, I realised I needed a gravel cleaner. Why? Because I need to take water out of the tank for a weekly refresh, I want to clean the gravel, but I don't want to suck it up with a hose!!!

I soon found out there are specialised articles on the market for these types of tanks, but also that they are well overpriced. I decided to use some of the leftovers to build a DIY Gravel Cleaner after the idea of JBL, found here. (Nice thing about it is that it is square so it can reach the corners of the tank easily)

This article is based on my blogpost on, where I also post the entire DIY project for building a filter for my shrimp-aquarium. Comments and feedback are welcome!

Here are the steps I took:

Step 1: Ingredients

Some PVC, e.g. electrical pipe

Some tubing of roughly the same diameter
Have some tie-wraps and teflon-tape or plumbers-tape ready

Take a small (transparent) square container left over after the contents have run out. I used a soap-container in my example. I would not recommend to use something that stored any more serious chemicals

Clean out the container REALLY thoroughly as shrimps will die if you don't!!!

Step 2: Building

Cut out the bottom of the container with a stanley knife

Bend the PVC pipe in a 90 degree angle to form an L-shape, such that it feeds the hose away from the aquarium. Bend the pipe easily by pouring hot water over it

Insert the PVC pipe into the fill-cap of the container. If it doesn't fit, use the plumbers-tape to create a tight fit and secure it with a tie-wrap

Fit the hose over the other end of the PVC tube by heating it in hot water, lubricating it with some soap and stretching it over the PVC pipe. Cool it down in order to quickly reshrink it and secure it with a tie-wrap

Do some cleaning again to make sure any leftovers of soap are gone!

Step 3: Usage

Obviously, this tool is used to take water out of the tank, have enough suction power to take away dirt while keeping the gravel in the tank. Here is a quick how to:

Place a bucket on the floor near the tank

Put the gravel cleaner in the tank (make sure there are no curious shrimps in it)

Suck up some water from the other side of the hose (don't worry, you won't die of a little water and you will get better at it)

Now quickly put that end of the hose in the bucket when pressure builds up

If you have a large diameter hose, like I do, squeeze it to control the flow and keep the gravel inside the tank

To stop the flow, just pull the cleaner out of the aquarium

Step 4: Tips

I actually use the same hose, but in reverse, for filling the aquarium

The larger the difference in heights between the bucket and the tank, the higher the flow-rate

Have fun using this cheap solution to great aquarium cleaning!

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    5 years ago

    Ok, but why not just put some holes all around your "square container" so that the gravel will not be able to rise all of the way into your tube? Fish poop and what not ain't that heavy you know.


    5 years ago

    thank you, just realised the gravel can be cleaned in this way.

    i made it 2 weeks ago based on your article, and it works!

    the crafting guy
    the crafting guy

    7 years ago

    I defendantly need to build this as I get constant fish poop on the gravel :-) lol


    9 years ago on Introduction

    you should specify Aquarium gravel in the title, because i was wondering why someone would need to clean driveway gravel.