No matter how good your pond filter or how clean and tidy your fish are, your backyard pond will inevitably turn into a mess of algae, dirt, and grime if it’s not frequently cleaned.
But cleaning your pond by hand can be a tiring task.
It’s not surprising, most pond owners aren’t excited about doing regularly.
That’s where pond vacuums come in. A quality pond vacuum can actively clean your pond without forcing you to drain it or to scrub the flooring by hand.
Dramatically reduce the amount of work it takes to keep your pond looking fresh and your fish healthy.
To help you find the best pond vacuum for you, I’ve put together a guide explaining everything you need to know about these handy cleaning machines.
Plus, I’ll highlight 7 pond vacuum cleaners for every style and size of pond for any budget.
Pond Vacuum Buyer’s Guide (How to Choose)
You’ve likely heard about the benefits of pond vacuums from fellow aquarists, but don’t know where to start when it comes to choosing one.
Here, we’ll take a deep dive into everything you need to know about what pond vacuums are and how to find the one that’s right for your landscape aquarium.
How Do Pond Vacuums Work?
Pond vacuums work like wet steamer vacuums typically used for indoor carpets. Essentially, the pump or motor provides suction that draws water through an intake hose and into the vacuum.
From there, the dirty water is passed through a filter that catches debris like leaves, dirt, and algae. Then the resulting clean water is pushed back into the pond through an output hose.
The best thing about pond vacuums is that they are simple to clean. When the filter is full, you can simply remove it from the vacuum, pick or hose the debris off of it, and then put it back into the vacuum.
Types of Pond Vacuums
There are two main types: hand-pumped and electrical power pond vacuums.
Hand-pumped vacuums require you to pump in order to create suction. These vacuums are great for cleaning small ponds since they are compact and relatively inexpensive.
Plus, since they don’t rely on an electric motor and you’re in complete control over the suction, they tend to be relatively durable.
But, if you have even a moderately sized fish pond, you might want to think twice about a hand-pumped vacuum. It doesn’t take much water volume to tire out your arms, especially if you end up fighting with clogs.
Electrical Power Vacuums:
Electric pond vacuums use an electric motor to drive the suction unit. These are the most common type of pond vacuum because they are suitable for any size of pond and don’t require much manual labor beyond cleaning the filter.
Plus, many electric pond vacuums offer more suction power than their hand-powered counterparts.
Which is best?
That depends on the size of your pond and your budget. If you have a medium to large pond, it’s almost always worth spending the extra money for an electric vacuum since pumping a hand-powered vacuum can be exhausting.
For smaller ponds, the choice comes down to how much you want to spend. An electric vacuum is more convenient, but you can save a significant amount of money by opting for a hand-powered vacuum.
Hose Length vs. Maximum Suction Depth
It’s important to consider the dimensions of your pond – and particularly the depth – when choosing a vacuum. For starters, the hose needs to be long enough to reach the deepest part of your pond so that you can clean the entire floor.
But, there’s more to choosing a vacuum than just hose length. Pond vacuums have a maximum suction depth, which is almost always shorter than the hose length.
The depth of your pond needs to be less than the maximum suction depth of the vacuum in order for you to clean out the bottommost section of floor.
The reason that hoses tend to be longer than the maximum suction depth is that a longer hose allows you to reach out further into the center of a large pond.
If your pond is relatively small, hose length might not be all that important a consideration for you.
The suction power that you need from your vacuum will depend in large part on the size of your pond and how dirty it gets between cleanings. A larger pond with more grime built up on the bottom will require more vacuuming power, while smaller and relatively clean ponds won’t need nearly as much suction
In general, it’s a good idea to spring for a pond with more suction power than you think you need, since this will give you more flexibility if the pond goes for an extended period without vacuuming.
When considering vacuum power, flow rate is generally a good metric to use as an indicator of suction power. A higher flow rate means that the vacuum can cycle more water per hour, which is advantageous for larger ponds.
Keep in mind that electrical vacuums also have electrical power requirements. Unfortunately, this can be quite high – more than 1,000 watts – for most vacuums. That means that running your electric vacuum for an extended period can be somewhat expensive.
The best way to moderate this cost is to get a vacuum that has enough suction to clean your pond floor in a single pass so you can get the job done quickly.
Number of Chambers
Pond vacuums typically use either one or two chambers, and this design aspect has important consequences for how effective the vacuum is at cleaning your pond.
Single chamber pond vacuums alternate between suctioning up water and discharging it back to the pond.
These vacuums typically have less suction power than double chamber vacuums and operate more slowly since you have to wait for the discharge before continuing to vacuum.
However, they are popular for small- and medium-sized ponds since they are relatively inexpensive and are capable of vacuuming up fine particles of sand and grit.
Double chamber pond vacuums suction in water and discharge it at the same time from two different water chambers.
That reduces overall cleaning time and allows for more powerful suction compared to a single chamber vacuum. But, expect to pay a premium for double chamber vacuums.
Weight & Mobility
Most electric pond vacuums come with a set of wheels, and rightly so. These vacuums can be heavy thanks to the electric motor, and are even heavier after they are filled with wet muck from the bottom of your pond.
If you find an electric pond vacuum without wheels, you’ll want to consider mounting it on a wheeled cart in order to use it.
On the other hand, many small, hand-pumped vacuums aren’t as heavy as their electric counterparts and don’t come with wheels. Just remember that you’ll need to carry the vacuum back to your garage or shed after your arms are tired from pumping.
Attachments, Accessories, & Nozzle Sizes
Many pond vacuums come with multiple attachment heads, which can be very helpful for cleaning.
At the least, look for vacuums that come with a standard wide head for cleaning the majority of the pond floor plus a narrow head for cleaning around corners.
Vacuum attachments with bristles can also be useful for scraping away at areas of the pond where grime has built up on the floor surface.
Reviews for the 7 Best Pond Vacuums
Now you have a better understand on what goes into the process when deciding which pond vacuum is best for you, you can use the following reviews to make an informed buying decision.
1. OASE PondoVac 4 (Best Overall)
This powerful dual chamber pond vacuum from OASE is an upgrade over the much-loved PondoVac Classic. Thanks to the powerful 1,800-watt motor, two chambers, and automatic discharge, you can speed through cleaning without having to wait for the vacuum to catch up to you.
In addition, the PondoVac 4 offers precise control over the suction power so you can adjust the intake for shallow waters around the edges of your pond. Plus, a maximum suction depth of seven feet means this vacuum is suitable for relatively deep backyard lagoons.
The tubing and body of this pond vacuum is made from aluminum, which is much more durable than the plastic typically used in these units.
Better yet, the aluminum construction doesn’t significantly increase the weight of the vacuum and a transparent section of tubing allows you to see when a section of the pond has been thoroughly cleaned.
· Powerful two-chamber design
· Aluminum tubing for durability
· Comes with four attachment heads
· Adjustable suction power
· Two-year warranty
· Somewhat expensive
2. Matala Power-Cyclone Pond Vacuum (Heavy Duty)
This heavy-duty pond vacuum from Matala is the ideal choice for large, grimy ponds that don’t see frequent cleaning.
The vacuum is built with enough suction power to reach all the way down to 18 feet, while the 26-foot suction hose allows you to reach far out into the middle of spacious ponds.
Transparent tubing allows you to check your work, although the plastic construction can feel a little bit wobbly when it’s fully extended.
Compared to most other pond vacuums, this unit offers impressively powerful suction that can handle built-up muck. The active discharge system allows you to work somewhat continuously, although the motor needs to be switched off every 5-7 minutes to allow it to cool down.
The main downsides to this vacuum are that it’s expensive and bulky. But, those are necessary prices to pay for a pond vacuum that offers this degree of suction and the ability to handle the largest landscape aquaria.
· Extremely powerful suction
· Maximum depth of 18 feet
· Automatic discharge
· Transparent tubing sections
· Heavy and bulky
· Plastic tubing can bend easily
· Motor needs to cool after 5-7 minutes of use
3. Matala Pond Vacuum II Muck Vac (For Ponds Up to 3,000 Gallons)
This relatively inexpensive pond vacuum from Matala is perfect for medium-sized ponds up to 5 feet deep.
The vacuum has enough suction power to pick up small pebbles as well as stuck-on grime, which can make cleaning ponds with rocky bottoms significantly easier.
Three different attachment heads also help with cleaning in tight spaces, and tubing extensions allow you to reach out into the center of your pond.
The one-chamber design of this vacuum means that you will need to switch between suction and discharge. The Muck Vac automatically suctions for 40 seconds and then discharges for 20, so you don’t have to worry about clogs from over-suctioning.
Keep in mind that while this vacuum is only moderately heavy at 25 pounds, it doesn’t come with wheels. That means that you’ll need to have a fair amount of strength to move this vacuum around or a cart to push it around the yard.
· Suctions up small pebbles
· Three attachment heads
· Automatic discharge cycle
· Relatively inexpensive
· Only works up to 5 feet deep
· No wheels
· Automatically turns off suction for 20 seconds every minute
4. OASE 602401853010 PondoVac Classic (Best Budget Option)
This compact pond vacuum from OASE is a tried and true standard among backyard aquarists. With a moderate price tag and a versatile design, this vacuum can handle a variety of small- to medium-sized ponds.
OASE gets around the limitations of the single chamber construction by having the pump automatically switch from suction to discharge every 15 seconds.
This means that you don’t have a lot of uninterrupted suction time, but it does ensure that the filter and holding tank don’t get clogged. The downside is that when the pump switches to drain, all of the water in the intake hose rushes back into the pond – causing a cloud of grime that is hard to vacuum up again.
The water can be easily returned to the pond through the 7-foot discharge hose and the included filter bag.
However, keep in mind that this discharge hose and filter bag can clog easily if you have a very dirty pond floor. Still, except for the nuisance of frequently cleaning the filter bag, this isn’t a problem for most pond owners.
· Compact and relatively inexpensive
· Automatic discharge cycle
· Included filter bag for discharge
· Comes with multiple attachment heads
· Two-year warranty
· Discharge filter bag clogs easily
· Water backwashes into pond when motor switches to discharging
· No wheels
5. OASE 706759372305 PondoVac 3
The PondoVac 3 is a slightly lighter duty alternative to OASE’s PondoVac 4, but it offers a lot of the same designs aspects that make the PondoVac 4 our overall favorite pond vacuum.
Most important, the two-chamber construction and automatic discharge allows you to run this pond vacuum continuously so you can clean a large pond in a matter of just a few hours.
It’s easy to move around your pond as you clean with this vacuum thanks to the adjustable-length handle and the built-in wheels. On top of that, OASE includes four different nozzles so that you can reach into corners and in between rocks for cleaning.
The 16-foot suction hose is built from plastic, which makes it slightly less durable than the PondoVac 4’s hose. Still, it comes with the same transparent section so you can check your cleaning effort and the 7-foot maximum suction depth allows this vacuum to be just as capable for deeper ponds.
· Powerful suction with 7-foot maximum depth
· Two-chamber design with automatic discharge
· Includes four attachment heads
· Competitive price
· Two-year warranty
· Plastic tubing is not very durable
6. Aura 6250 Paradise Power Spa Vacuum
This simple siphon-action vacuum from Aura is as simple as it gets – there’s no motor and no pumping required. To make this vacuum suck, all you have to do is cover an air hole in the pole with your finger.
With that, you get about 15 seconds’ worth of suction before you have to bring the vacuum up out of the pond and dump the collected water through a filter (not included).
The advantage to this design is that the vacuum is incredibly light weight and simple to use. Plus, without tubing or other parts, this vacuum doesn’t take up much space and is almost impossible to break.
That said, this vacuum is only suitable for very small ponds with relatively superficial silt rather than stuck-on grime.
The suction power is very limited, especially for ponds deeper than about 3-4 feet deep. In addition, having to pull the vacuum out of the water and drain it manually every 15 seconds can be quite cumbersome if you are trying to cover a larger area.
· Lightweight and inexpensive
· Enough suction for silt and algae
· Needs to be manually drained every 15 seconds
· Very limited suction power for stuck-on grim
7. Python Ulti-Vac
This simple pond vacuum from Python uses water pressure from your hose to drive the suction.
That means that the vacuum itself can be relatively simple, compact, and lightweight, but the suction power you’ll get depends heavily on the water pressure of your hose outlet. As a result, users have very mixed results when working with this pond vacuum.
The key to being successful with this vacuum is to use it only for basic silt cleaning around small, shallow ponds. The plastic hose doesn’t accept nozzle attachments, so you won’t be able to scrape up stuck-on grime or to get good cleaning action in tight corners.
But, if you limit yourself to general cleaning, the hose can be very useful for sucking up a large amount of material.
Note that while this vacuum comes with a discharge hose, it’s not meant to filter water back into your pond. Instead, you’ll need to replace any of the water that you vacuum up after you are done cleaning.
· Compact and lightweight
· Good suction for lightly settled silt and algae
· Must replace suctioned water afterwards
· Suction power depends on hose pressure
· Cannot accept cleaning nozzle heads
Deciding on Your Pond Vac
Pond vacuums cover a wide range of designs to fit every pond and budget. Two-chamber pond vacuums like the OASE PondoVac 3 and PondoVac 4, as well as the heavy-duty Matala Power-Cyclone, are perfect for aquarists with large water features and a lot of stuck-on grime to clean.
Owners of small ponds who don’t mind waiting for water to discharge from their vacuum can save money by opting for the one-chamber OASE PondoVac Classic or Matala Muck Vac.
For the most budget-conscious aquarists, non-motorized vacuums like those from Aura and Python can offer superficial cleaning in between more thorough pond cleaning sessions.
No matter which vacuum you ultimately choose, having a pond vacuum can dramatically reduce the amount of time you need to spend tidying up your pond. That way, you can get back to enjoying clean water and healthy fish.
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Last update on 2019-10-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API