Make Your Own Gravel Vacuum for Your Aquarium




A very handy piece of aquarium equipment is a gravel vac. They are useful for getting debris out of the gravel at the bottom of your tank. But they can be expensive, so I'm going to show you how to make a gravel vac for a very little sum!

What you will need:

-Some plastic tubing, not to long, about a metre or so.
-A Coca-Cola bottle or something like it.

Step 1: Get Some Plastic Tubing

Get some plastic tubing. My local aquarium shop had some that I presume was for filters. He gave me some for free. It needs to be about a metre long, or about 3 feet.

Step 2: Find a Coke Bottle

Find a coke bottle and cut it around the part near the bottom of the label, or a little lower or higher depending on the size of your aquarium. Don't discard the bottle lid, It is useful for the next step!

Step 3: The Dangerous Part. Cutting a Hole in the Bottle Lid.

Warning. I take NO responsibility if you hurt yourself while doing this step.

You will need to mark the size of the tubing on the top of the lid, and make a hole with a sharp knife. Kids, ask your parents to do this for you. Maybe, you have a drill bit that can do the work for you. I cant stress this enough, be careful when performing this step!

Step 4: Screw the Cap Onto the Bottle.

Its nearly done. Screw the cap onto the bottle, and you will have something that closely resembles a Gravel Vac that you would buy from the shops, for a few dollars!

Step 5: Try It Out.

Go to your aquarium and put a bucket on the floor in front of the aquarium, place the Gravel Vac into the aquarium, and try to get all the air bubbles out of the inside, I suggest putting it in horizontally and tilting it up to remove them. Then, go to the opposite end, place it over the bucket, and suck until water flows out. There! You now have a functioning gravel vac!



    • Comfort Food Challenge

      Comfort Food Challenge
    • Epilog X Contest

      Epilog X Contest
    • Cardboard Challenge

      Cardboard Challenge

    14 Discussions


    Question 3 months ago

    Will this suck up the gravel as well or will the gravel just circulate around in the bottle?


    Tip 10 months ago on Step 3

    I have made holes in soda lids by burning through them with a glue gun tip. If it leaves behind plastic, you then can trim it off. But way easier than puncturing through one and trying to cut a round hole!


    2 years ago

    I just did about a 30% water exchange yesterday. I keep removing more and more of the decorations & small stones from the tank. Today it looks worse. I'm going to try this because I need this done today. It seems like all their food accumulated at the bottom and it would seem that the filter isn't doing its job even though I rinsed it yesterday. Thanks for this. I'll let you know how I did.

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    they died im assuming? Your not supposed to clean out the filter


    3 years ago on Step 5

    epic thanks for the instructable gonna make it in a min


    4 years ago

    super fun... exacto blade did the job just fine. bottle selection could be important also choose carefully. oh and rule of thumb is to cut small and stuff the hose into. first try did it though thanks!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    if you use tubing that is slightly larger than the inside diameter of the neck of the bottle, you can cut the tube at an extreme angle, and stick the tip thru and thenpull it thru with plyers to make a very tight fit. this will do away with the cap all together.


    7 years ago on Step 5

    since you already put the entire hose into the tank, it's enough to close one end of the hose with your finger (or just squeeze the hose) and once the hose is over the bucket just let go


    9 years ago on Introduction

    nice instructable, simple and effective :) saves needed to buy one One tip though: Rather than sucking, which inevitably results in drinking the water(!!), place the entire tube and bottle into the water until it fills up, then once it has, place your thump over the tube end (still underwater), and then take out that end, place it over your bucket, and remove your thump.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    my guppies make an awful mess that smells after a week or so, how often would you remccomend using this? and you should post a video of you using it. also another question, does this take a lot of water from the tank or just a little ammount? Thanks

    2 replies
    Sam McCauleyJ@50n

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Hi Starburst. Use this when you want to change your tank water. How often do you change your tank water, I would recommend using it about once a week if it gets smelly. You dont want a smelly tank! For how much water it takes, it depends on the size of the bottle, make it a little larger if you have a big tank, or make it small if you have a little tank, make sure there is enough round plastic for the gravel though. Sam


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Cool! If you had a log enough hose, you could put the end outside! Or use the bottle as a funnel to fill the aquarium after!