The paper presents an experimental study of suspension flow patterns and velocity field inside two types of circular settling tanks with continuous operation. The two tanks differ in inlet- and outlet configurations. Research was focused on the influence of flow field on the sedimentation efficiency of both settling tanks. Experiment was carried out on a settling tank sections made of plexi-glass that represented radial slices of prototype circular settling tanks. Kinematic flow properties inside settling tank sections were determined by computer-aided visualization in order to analyse the whole instantaneous flow field at once. Sedimentation efficiency was assessed by measurements of inlet- and effluent suspension concentrations. Pronounced density current evolved in both tanks, which under certain conditions enhanced sedimentation. Flow field showed qualitative changes during operation and proved to be significantly dependent on average suspension density in the inner chamber of the settling tank. Some important properties of the flow field could also be reconstructed from the spatial distribution of the remaining sludge. Centrally fed settling tank with peripheral effluent generally performed better in terms of sedimentation efficiency mainly due to insufficient height of the effluent baffle in the peripherally fed settling tank.