Aquarium Filter Maintenance

Regularly scheduled maintenance is an essential task to keep your filtration system working efficiently and to keep your aquarium clean and healthy. Most filters perform three types of filtration and each type should be considered in your maintenance regime.

Mechanical Filtration

Mechanical filtration is used to trap particulate waste and debris. Mechanical media is usually a sponge or fibrous pad. Maintenance or replacement of this mechanical media helps to prevent waste from decaying in the aquarium which may lead to nutrient build-up in your aquarium water.

Mechanical filter media should be inspected during scheduled maintenance or depending upon the nitrate levels or bio-load (population) in your aquarium.

Gently rinse the filter pads or sponges to remove loose particulates.

Expert Tip: Rinse in a bowl of aquarium water instead of tap water to preserve the beneficial bacteria. If your filter has multiple mechanical cartridges or pads, alternate rinsing or replacing them each time you clean the tank.

Replace pads when it can no longer be cleaned effectively, or if the shape or texture of the media is altered.  Replace cartridges as per manufacturer instructions.

Chemical Filtration

Chemical media, such as activated carbon, absorbs medications, dissolved organic material, odors and other anomalies from your aquarium water. Other types are designed to remove specific toxins from the aquarium water and are generally used to address a specific problem in the aquarium. Chemical media generally come in granulated or pad form and are adjacent to the mechanical filter media in the filter.

Activated carbon is the most common media used as chemical filtration.  Chemical media and resins should be replaced every 1 to 2 months or according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Biological Filtration

Biological media is where beneficial bacteria make their home. Nitrifying bacteria are the heart of the nitrogen cycle, and a thriving population will help to keep the aquarium water free of ammonia and nitrites. Biological media should be handled carefully, and only changed or rinsed when absolutely necessary, to preserve the bacterial population.

If your media becomes clogged with excess debris over time, rinse it in a bowl of aquarium water and check that you have proper mechanical filtration in place.

Equipment Maintenance

Regular maintenance on your aquarium filter will improve the performance and lifespan of the unit. Check your user manual for specific instructions on your model. This reference only serves as a guide.

• Perform filtration maintenance during regular water changes, gravel siphoning or scheduled filter media replacement.

• Unplug your equipment during maintenance to avoid injury and/or damage to the system.

• Remove, clean and inspect your filter’s impeller and impeller housing.

• Clean all the parts of the filter to remove excess build-up.

• Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on lubricating any necessary seals or parts.

• Re-assemble your filter and prime it according to the manual’s instructions to restart the unit.