Cyclic tasks: How to Vacuum an Aquarium

This article is part of the “Cyclic tasks” series, intended for beginner aquarists who are looking for the basics of running a saltwater aquarium, or for those who are considering setting up a tank and want to understand the amount of work involved.

In the article What work on the aquarium should be done periodically you’ll find a complete list of tasks, along with links to articles that expand on individual topics.

Suction of dirt from the aquarium is a recurring activity, though not always necessary. If the aquarium cleans itself, then this work is redundant.

If we keep a lot of fish in the tank, we feed them abundantly and we have nooks and crannies where detritus collects, then it should be regularly sucked out of the water.

Equipment needed to remove dirt from the aquarium:

  • filter sock with a handle
  • bucket
  • suction hose
  • cleaning cloths
  • clamp for attaching the hose to the sump

Vacuuming in just a few steps:

  1. Turn off the circulation
  2. Install the filter sock in the sump
  3. Put the hose into the aquarium, with the other end we suck water from the aquarium and place it inside the sock, then we fasten the hose with a clamp so that it doesn’t fall out of the sock; we can also ask someone to hold the hose in the aquarium while we suck water
  4. At this point, the water from the main aquarium flows into the sump, we move onto vacuuming the dirt from the aquarium; we must remember two things: that the sock as well as the water in the sump do not overflow; we recommend using a hose with a diameter of 12 mm (0.47 inch) so that the rate of water going down to the sump is not too fast
  5. If the sock begins to overflow with dirt – we have to pull the hose out of the aquarium, clean the sock and start the process again. The bucket is used to carry the dirty sock to the bathroom or other room where we get rid of the dirt and clean the sock.
  6. After the dirt has been sucked out of the aquarium, we restart the pumps. Lastly, we clean the vacuuming equipment and store it in a designated place.


Vacuuming dirt from the aquarium is an easy process, but for good results and work efficiency, it’s worth doing it according to proven rules.

About the author

Picture of Marek Protasewicz

Marek Protasewicz

Reefkeeping has been my passion for over 10 years now. I love learning. The hobby has taught me many valuable lessons, patience being the best example.
Combining work and passion is my path. I run Crazy Coral, a marine aquarium shop, for a number of years. Building this business from the scratch I learnt from my own mistakes at a heavy cost.
Later I managed a project aimed at development of methods for quick growth of Corals in non-natural conditions. The project was carried out by Get Sales, Poland.
Presently, I am responsible for distribution strategy at Reef Factory, of which I am a
co-founder. The company produces smart devices for marine aquaristics.
The last projects I have been involved in are Social Reef and ReefPedia.

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