Why Is My Fish Tank Filter Not Working

Why Is My Fish Tank Filter Not Working? (And How To Fix It)

Last updated on September 11th, 2022

All aquarium or fish tank owners know the benefit of having a functional filter. When the filter doesn’t function, it becomes a very big problem. That’s why you need to know how to fix the problem to make the fish tank filter systems function properly. The best thing is that solving fish tank filters does not require you to have any experience or skill.

With a proper diagnosis of the problem, you can manage to fix it within no time. Using a filter after purchasing it will not be a smooth journey. Some points you will have minor problems and other times, even major problems. This requires you to have information on how to deal with any problem. However, what makes the filter very important that it needs urgent fix once there is a problem?

Importance of a Fish Tank Filter

Buying a fish tank leads to buying a fish tank filter. I mean, if you want your fish to have a great environment, a fish tank filter is a must-have equipment. There are different fish tank filter models. Regardless of the difference in features, all models have a single goal, to ensure proper filtration of fish tank water. Here are some of their importance;

  • Filtering out dirt, debris, and toxins
  • Keeps the fish tank water clean
  • Helps in the oxygenation of fish tank water
  • It ensures that there is minimized growth of algae in the fish tank
  • Gives the fish a conducive environment for a proper thriving

Common Problems and Solution of Fish Tank Filter

There must be a solution for each of the major and minor fish tank filter problems. You can experience minor problems that don’t need too much knowledge to fix them. These are problems that you can fix by just reading the manual that comes along with the filter. However, there are 3 main problems associated with all aquarium filter types. Are you ready to know how to diagnose and fix the issues? Well, let’s get to it then.

  • No Suction

Almost all filters use the suction technique to filter out debris from the fish tank. What most fish tank filters have is a motor that allows the impeller to create a suction power. This ensures that the aquarium water gets into the filter media through an intake tube or pipe. If the suction does not take place, this implies that no water will be taken to the filter media.

Well, you know what that implies, no suction, no filtration. The filter itself will run; however, there will be no proof of the aquarium water getting into the filter. If you experience such an issue, you might be having a clogging problem. The clogging can be at the impeller or the intake tube.


The solution to this problem is super easy, unclogging. How then do you unclog the intake tube or the impeller? You need to unplug the filter from the power source. Disassemble all parts of the fish tank filter. The filter’s manual will show you the right way to disassemble the parts.

This will help you identify whether the clog is at the impeller housing or the intake tube. Once you spot where the cold happened, rinse out the debris in either of the clogged parts. Once you are done, reassemble your filter and test if it will work.  In case it still doesn’t work, you need to replace the impeller or the motor.

Suction Cup
  • The Filter Won’t Run Completely.

This might be a major problem. I mean, it better not suction than stop running completely. There is no need to worry. We are here to help you fix what seems unfixable. You will know the filter won’t run when you plug it to a power source, turn it on, and it remains silent. There are a lot of issues that make the filter not work. The main cause of this is because the motor is clogged.

Unlike with the suction issue, when the motor is clogged, the fish tank filter cannot turn on. If the filter doesn’t run, you also need to check the power supply. If there is a power surge, the filter will not have a power supply, which means it will not run. In case there is no power surge, then you need to check the connection cables. The fuse might have blown, wires broken, cord broken, or other cable issues.


The solution to a clogged motor is simply unclogging. Disassemble the filter. Take out the motor and remove the debris that is causing the clog. You can use your hands if you see the debris and where they are clogging. If this is too had for you, use air that’s lightly compressed to blow out the dirt. For the waterproof motor, it becomes easier.

Just rinse the motor with running water, and you are good to go. For the power surge issue, wait for the electricity before turning the filter on. You can also use a power back up. The connection cables need to replacement or the fuse itself if it is faulty.

  • Flow Rate

Different aquarium filter types are of different flow rates depending on what aquarium size they support an also the fish species. If the flow rate is not proper, the fish tank filter systems may not be able to perform their filtration job perfectly. The flow rate also has a great effect on the fish.

Some fish species need a higher flow rate, while others need a low flow rate. The delicate and sensitive fish need a low flow rate, while the stubborn from quick flowing water bodies need a higher flow rate.

Fluval Aquatics


The solution to the flow rate issue is getting the right filter. You should get a powerful filter if you need a high flow rate. If you get a fish tank filter with an adjustable flow rate, it is even better. This will help you regulate the flow rate depending on different needs. This will ensure that the filtration process takes place perfectly and also create a great environment for your fish.


Get the right filter, install it properly to ensure that it is fully functional. However, there is always a way to solve the issues that are not related to the installation. It is a great idea to know all the parts of the fish tank filter and the problem associated with each part. This will ensure that you deal with a problem easily once it arises. We hope your filter functions again.

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