How to Clean Fish Tank Filter

How to Clean Fish Tank Filter & Aquarium Filter?

Last updated on September 5th, 2022

Fish tank filters serve several purposes and are very important in many ways. Perhaps the most common goal is to clean and purify water in the tank so that your fish can have a healthy habitat.

Therefore, the quality of your filter will determine the cleanliness of the water in the tank. To maintain high water quality standards at all times, you need a highly active filter.

And when the filter gets clogged with filth until it cannot do its job correctly, you should clean it as soon as possible. This article is designed to show you and guide you comprehensively on how to clean a fish tank filter.

Benefits of a Clean Aquarium Filter

First of all, you should understand that a tank filter is the most vital part of an aquarium. Regardless of the type of filter, its importance is enormous, and its benefits are endless.

Depending on the kind, your filter can be responsible for filtering out dissolved and solid waste products, as well as cultivating a colony of helpful bacteria to help maintain the nitrogen cycle in the tank.

Those are a few of the many reasons why your tank filter should always be fully functional and deliver optimal performance at all times. One way to make sure that this is achieved is by cleaning the filter regularly. There are three significant types of aquarium filters:

  • Mechanical filters
  • Chemical filters
  • Biological filters

How to Clean Different Types of Aquarium Filters

When cleaning this device, you should remove accumulated debris and decaying organic material. On the other hand, you should be careful not to kill or remove too many useful bacteria.

That is why you should avoid using soap, bleach, or hot water to clean your filter. All these can kill the biological filtration system. Here is how to clean different types of tank filters:

Canister Filter

When cleaning a canister filter, the first step should be to unplug and remove any equipment that might be attached to it. For instance, you should unplug the inline heater a few minutes before you turn off the filter. By doing this, you will give it enough time to cool down.

When it is finally ready, empty the filter media into a bucketful of water fetched from the tank. As you do this, remember to keep the device and its contents wet since a dry environment might kill the helpful bacteria.

When cleaning this type of filter, focus on the canister itself, the impeller, as well as the hoses. Scrub the tubes and the impeller gently using a soft brush, then extend the scrubbing to the small parts that hold them together.

Clean comprehensively without forgetting any part. In the end, everything should be spotless. When you are done, fill the canister with water from the tank, hook it up, then turn it on.


Sponge Filters

Depending on the kind of sponge filter you have, the cleaning method will vary to some extent. A sponge filter powered by a pump or power head requires you to disconnect everything first, then clean the impeller.

For this part, follow the same procedure you followed when cleaning the canister filter. Rinse the service lines, too, removing accumulated debris using a toothpick.

Fetch about two or more cups of fish tank water to clean the filter sponge. It is essential to use the existing fish tank water for the benefit of the fish in that they will be less sensitive to the change.

Once you have fetched enough water for the cleaning process, pour it into a medium-sized bowl. Unplug the filter to avoid shocks when cleaning the filter.

Remove the filter from your tank and place it in another container to prevent messing your floor up. With a bowl of water in place, wash all the debris and filth off of the sponge in the water using your hands.

Simply cleaning and squeezing the sponge dry will not remove all the beneficial bacteria, so you should not be worried. Instead, it would be best if you strived to clean the sponge until the water runs clear. Even so, some helpful bacteria will be left behind, which is what protects the fish from ammonia in the tank water.

You can perform this part of cleaning with a pair of hand gloves on, or you can do without it. When you are done cleaning the sponge, use the remaining water to clean the other filter parts.

If the water left in the bowl is not enough, feel free to fetch more water from the tank. This is the part where you scrub the tubes and casing thoroughly until they sparkle. Scrub even the hard-to-reach parts using a gentle filter cleaning brush.

When everything has been cleaned, return the pad or sponge to the filter then put the filter back in the fish tank. If there is clean water left from the cleaning project, you should pour it back into the fish tank.

Chemical Filters

If your fish tank uses a chemical filter, the only cleaning you will have to do is to swap out the carbon regularly. You can do it when the water turns cloudy or only once a week.

The manufacturer will provide you with the right procedure. Follow it to the latter, or at least until the filter becomes clean again.

You will have to remove the carbon before you begin cleaning other parts of the filter and replace it with a new carbon when you are finished and before attaching the filter to the tank.

Biological Filters

You should not clean a biological filter much if you want it to be filled with good and tank-skimming bacteria. A quick rinsing in water from the tank should be enough. Ensure you free it from clogging while you also use instructions from the manufacturer for the correct cleaning process.

Final Verdict

If you have multiple filters or filtration systems in your tank, you should alternate the cleanings so that you do not clean both filters the same week. This guide should help you clean any filter successfully and without damaging the unit. It should also help you keep your fish safe in the process and as a result. Now that you have an idea of how to clean a fish tank filter, save some money by doing it yourself.

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