How to Clean Fish Tank Filter? Without killing Bacteria

Does your tank filter need cleaning? Do you know how to clean a filter and what procedures to take? Ever questioned how simple the work is? or, perhaps more crucially, how to maintain a filter?

Well, filter maintenance is required. Since they aid in keeping your tank clean, and if you don’t, bad bacteria can spread more quickly and infect fish.

As a result, I have put together this simple guide on how to clean your fish tank filter. The procedure is straightforward, so read on to have a thorough understanding of it.

How often do Clean Aquarium Filter?

Your aquarium’s size and the amount of fish you keep will determine this. Large aquariums with a small number of healthy fish, such as tetras, might need cleaning less regularly than smaller aquariums or aquariums with a large number of species. In light of this, it is ideal to do so every three to four weeks.

How often do Clean Aquarium Filter

Internal and exterior filters are the subject of this instruction due to their widespread use. If you want a filter that needs less upkeep, an under-gravel filter might be great. The problem is that a lot of plants will prevent the under-gravel filters from working as effectively as they should, which could lower the water’s quality.

Cleaning the Filter the Right way

Cleaning your aquarium filter is absolutely safe, provided you do it properly. Because filters serve as hubs for the good bacteria that maintain the health of your aquarium, improper filter cleaning might kill that bacteria.

Many novices will merely take the filter out of the aquarium and run the filter media under warm water from the faucet to clear out all of the clogged-up dirt and debris.

This Poses a Serious Threat to the Aquarium’s Health for two Reasons

  • Before any of your fish or equipment ever comes into touch with tap water, it must be treated with a water conditioner to get rid of chlorine and other dangerous contaminants.
  • The beneficial bacteria have taken a while to establish themselves inside your filter medium. If all of that is washed away, the ecosystem might completely collapse.

Beneficial bacteria use a process called biological filtration (one step of aquarium filtration) to transform toxic chemicals and other pollutants into ones that are less damaging to your fish. For instance, toxic ammonia is converted into dangerous nitrate and finally deadly nitrites (safe in small quantities). This procedure, referred to as “cycling,” is crucial to maintaining a healthy aquarium. Every fishkeeper ought to be knowledgeable about it.

How to Clean the Aquarium Filter without killing the Bacteria?

Unplug or Shut Down the Filter System

Pause the filter so that your fish won’t get sucked up while it is being cleaned. You can disassemble and clean it more easily and safely as a result. Turn off any UV sterilizer that operates in conjunction with the filter (most models are designed to not operate in the absence of water). If you’re worried about bacteria or slime getting on your hands while cleaning, put on a pair of disposable gloves.

Siphon the Water from the Tank into a Clean Bucket

25% of the tank’s water should be transferred into a container using a gravel cleaner. Verify that the bucket is empty of any liquids or cleansers that can contaminate the aquarium water. To make it simple to submerge and squeeze the filter sponges in the water, fill it at least halfway.

Fewer bacteria will likely be killed when you clean your filters with warm, dechlorinated aquarium water. When cleaning the filter, never replenish all of the water. To maintain the water’s chemistry, aim to replenish only around 25% of the volume. Use a siphon you may buy or build your own with a hose that is 4-6 feet (1.2-1.8 meters) long.

Disassemble and Remove the Filter Media

The pads, sponges, or bio-rings that capture particles are the filter’s media. Spread a fresh plastic bag over any sponge filters you find inside the tank before removing them with your hands. The filthy water that squishes out of the sponges will be caught by the plastic, preventing it from spreading. Simply open the media container on a hang-on-the-back or plastic container filter and remove the dirty pads or sponges.

Aquarium Filter Without Losing Bacteria

Related Post: How to Clean Fish Tank Rocks?

One Filter Sponge Should be Wrung Out in the Aquarium’s Water

Squeeze the sponge by kneading it to remove any loose particles and contaminated water. The dirty pads should be removed from multilayer filters by wringing them out firmly. Use softer sponges and squeeze them more gently; the objective is to get rid of all the solid material, not to completely clean it.

Only pull out one sponge or pad per cleaning if your filter system has two sponges or more layers in order to keep some germs in the filter at all times. Consider splitting the sponge in half if your filter just has one. Every time you clean, squeeze or replace one half while leaving the other half alone to harbor bacteria. If extra aquarium water is required to continue cleaning after the bucket of water turns brown, do so.

Gently Stir the Aquarium Water while Stirring the Biological Media

When the porous surface is clogged by debris, only clean bio-layers are applied. To remove a visible, solid accumulation, gently rinse the media in the container of tank water and swirl it around. Be very careful when cleaning these layers because if you scrub too hard, the bacteria can be displaced. When the mechanical filter layers are functioning effectively, biological media take months to clog, requiring much less frequent cleaning.

Clean the Impeller, Inlets, and Outlets

Use the tank water to scrub the filter’s non-media components thoroughly. To clean the impeller (the rotating component that creates water flow), the impeller housing, and the filter housing, use a small cleaning brush, sponge, or filter floss. Make sure there is no solid debris in the water inlets or outputs by cleaning them as well. Discard the contaminated tank water once everything has been cleaned.

Reassemble the Filter and Deliver it

Test the filter after placing each filter medium in its corresponding compartment. Reconnect the filter’s plug and switch it back on after making sure no fish or other debris has gotten inside the pump. The filter will operate more effectively if all of the sponges or pads were correctly changed. Fill the tank with fresh water. If the filter is still not functioning properly, disconnect it once more and check that the compartment and media lids are all tightly closed. If the water is still murky, try cleaning the aquarium gravel to remove any debris that may be obstructing the filter.

Reassemble the Filter and Deliver it

A Few days after Cleaning, Test the Water

Check your levels of ammonia and nitrite (AKA, thriving bacteria). Take a jar of tank water to a nearby aquarist or pet store for testing, or use a home testing kit. To prevent the water from cycling if the levels are too high, you may need to add bacteria to a bottle.

Keep your eyes out for ammonia and nitrite levels exceeding 2 ppm in your water. This is the point at which your fish can start to suffer. In the tank, organic waste breaks down to produce deadly ammonia. Ammonia is first transformed by bacteria into harmful nitrites and subsequently into advantageous nitrates.

Only Wash the Filter Media as Required

The bacteria colonies in the filter could be harmed by frequent cleaning. Only wash the sponges when there is an obvious increase in the amount of waste blocking the filter, when the water flow is thinning, or when the oxygen level in the tank is low. This equates to around once each month in properly maintained tanks.

Colonize Fresh Filters with old Media

Insert used sponges to preserve bacteria when changing a full filter. If any media, such as bio rings, sponges, ceramic rings, or foam pads, fits in the media compartment of the new filter, you can reuse it. These sponges support the majority of the bacteria in your tank, so recycling them won’t significantly alter the bacteria levels in the water.

Fresh Filters with old Media

If you use a cartridge filter system, recycle old cartridges. If the existing one is in good condition, there is no need to get a new one; they last for many years. Simply leave the old filter in the tank for 4-6 weeks alongside the new one if the old media won’t fit in the new filter. This keeps bacteria stable while the new.

The Bottom Line on How to Clean Fish Tank Filter?

You must now understand how to clean a filter, right? The procedure is not as challenging as it first appears to be. You must only use the right tools and take the right precautions and not skip any of the steps. Most importantly, take care not to remove the beneficial bacteria from the tank.

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