When it comes to keeping your aquarium clean and healthy, maintaining your filter is one of the most important things you can do. Not only does your tank filter help to remove solid debris particles from the water but it also helps to filter out dissolved wastes and toxins. If you do not properly clean your filter once in a while, it may not work as well as it should and your fish could suffer as a result.
How Often to Clean a Filter
Variety of aquarium filters
The frequency with which you must clean your filter may vary depending on the type of filter you have. Hang-on filters, for example, may need a quick cleaning every few weeks while a canister filter may not need to be cleaned more than 3 times per year. Sponge filters and undergravel filters, however, need more frequent cleaning – about every 2 weeks – to prevent them from becoming clogged and hampering their function. In order to ensure that your filter receives proper cleaning in a timely manner, you should establish some sort of schedule and keep track of the dates on which you clean the filter. For example, you might schedule the cleaning to coincide with your bi-weekly water changes so that you have an easier time remembering to do it.
Proper Filter Cleaning Technique
The proper cleaning technique varies from one filter type to another. Below you will find an overview of how to clean the most popular types of aquarium filter:
Canister Filter – Before you turn off the filter, unplug your inline heater (if you have one attached) so it cools down before the water stops flowing. Next, fill a bucket with tank water that you will use to keep the filter media wet while you clean the filter itself. Carefully remove the impeller from the filter and scrub it to remove algae build-up. Use a small brush to clean the hoses as well as the small nooks and crannies in the filter itself. Once you are finished cleaning, make sure the sealing ring is still in good shape before you refill and reinstall the filter.
Hang-on Filter – If your hang-on filter has a biological filtration component, be sure to keep it wet with tank water during the cleaning process. Otherwise, all you have to do is disassemble the filter and clean the hoses and filter body with a soft brush.
Sponge Filter – A sponge filter is an important source of biological filtration for your tank, so you do not want to boil the sponge or use untreated tap water to clean it or you may kill off too much beneficial bacteria at once. To clean the sponge, simply fill a bucket with tank water and squeeze it into the bucket a few times to remove built-up debris. Never let the sponge dry out during cleaning.
Undergravel Filter – The key to keeping your undergravel filter running properly is to perform weekly cleanings of the tank gravel using an aquarium vacuum. As long as you keep debris from building up in the substrate of your tank, your undergravel filter should work well. In regard to maintenance, all you should have to do is scrub the hose and impeller (if your filter has one) once every few weeks.
Other Tips for Keeping Your Tank Clean
In addition to having and maintaining a high-quality filtration system, there are a few other simple things you can do to keep your tank clean and your tank water clear. Installing an EcoBio-Stone in your fish tank, for example, is something that takes you one minute to accomplish but will save you a great deal of time. EcoBio-Stones are infused with beneficial bacteria as well as the nutrients they need to reproduce and thrive in your tank. Once these bacteria are established, they will work to maintain the nitrogen cycle in your tank, ensuring that wastes are properly broken down and that your tank water stays clear and healthy.