Continuous Fish Tank Vacuum Filter




About: Living the dream.......

This is my first Instructable so any suggestions are welcomed.
I got a fish tank from a neighbor that needed to be cleaned. I knew that the tank vac works but I did not think that i could get it clean enough before I ran out of water in the tank.
I came up with this.

This is what you need.

1. A pond pump. 100 gph
2. plastic tubeing
3. Fishtank vac
4. Plastic bucket
5. 1l and 2l plastic bottles
6. binder clips
7. Filter media (quilt batting)

Step 1: The Setup

The first thing you need to do is cut the bottom off the 2L bottle and cut a section out of the 1L bottle put it under the 2L for a spacer.  Set them in the bucket and use one of the clips to hold it to the side. Then put the batting in the 2L bottle.

Step 2: Running the Lines

Put the pump into the bucket with the hose attached to it and run the hose to the tank, clip it to the tank so it does not fall out. Run the discharge hose for the tank vac into the 2L bottle with the filter in it. Use the tank vac and clean the tank. When there is enough water in the bucket start the pump to run the water back into the tank. Keep cleaning until the tank is clean.

Step 3: The Nasties at the End.

When you are done you have all the junk in the bottle filter. Toss the filter and put a new one in next time you clean.



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    7 Discussions


    8 years ago on Introduction

    This is excellent! I'd just been developing such a cleaner using an old drinking water filter but stopped because I couldn't find any clips big enough to hold the return tube to the tank. Putting a flexi-pond hose over the vacuum hose is also a brilliant idea - stops the blasted thing from curling! I'm going to set this up today! My fish will be very pleased with the reduction in tank cleaning time and less stressful for them too. Now could someone develop a vacuum that doesn't take up the snails and loose plants but allows the dirt out!

    1 reply

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    I have had good luck putting a layer of window screen over the vacuum hose. It will keep out most of the larger pieces, down to the small gravel size. If it gets plugged tap it against something solid and most will fall off..


    5 years ago

    Is this loud thou?


    5 years ago on Introduction

    This worked very well. I would like to make a few suggestions though. Make sure you have the right sized bucket. I bought a new one that is 13L and it just fits the water in my 3g tank. It would not do for my 10g I am sure. Also, if you can get one that is tall and thin it would be good too. I find that my filter medium sits in the water and the gunk goes back into the water. Just little things that I noticed after I got it going. I do appreciate that post though. It makes cleaning the tank so much easier.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Do you use this setup 24/7, or just for periodical cleanings? If so, what prevents fish from being sucked up into the vacuum?

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    I use this for deeper cleaning, not 24/7, most of the time i put the fish in an another small tank when cleaning, so i have not had issues with fish being sucked up.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Actually its perfectly safe to take the polyfill or batting your using put it in a mesh delicates bag or a tied up pillow case and run it through your washing machine using only pure ammonia. I run it through 2 cycles and 2 rinse cycles. Then you can reuse it forever. Ive been using mine for about 2 years with no problems for my fish and I have 20 plus tanks in my house.