How to Clean Fish Tank Filter to Create Clean and Healthy Living Environment for Your Fish


A fish tank filter is irreplaceable in creating an ideal environment for the fish to grow healthy. If it works improperly, the water inside the tank will soon become dirty. Not to have it break down soon but show optimum results, carry out proper maintenance. Aquarium filters are responsible not only for cleaning and filtering the water but also for maintaining the bacteria highly crucial for the fish. Knowing how to clean fish tank filter is mandatory for every aquarium enthusiast. If you are unaware, we’ll explain all the details worth learning.

Table of Contents:

When to Clean the Filter
How You Should Clean Your Aquarium Filter
Why You Should Clean the Aquarium Filter
How Often to Change Fish Tank Filter

When to Clean the Filter

There’s no distinctness concerning the time you should clean your fish tank filter. Generally, once you notice the equipment is dirty or clogged, undertake its cleaning. You could also make it a routine to clean the filter every week or month for your convenience.

How You Should Clean Your Aquarium Filter

How the filter should be cleaned mostly depends on its type and functionality. Hence, start with reading the instructions provided with the equipment. Every manufacturer provides an insert with set guidelines related to both installing and cleaning the filter.
Anyway, if for any reason you don’t have access to the manual, here we explain how an aquarium filter must be cleaned depending on its type.

Cleaning Mechanical Filters

Cleaning mechanical filter

Is your tank filter mechanical? Is yes, adhere to the following steps and soon you will have a clean and well-operating tool:

  1. Use the water of the tank to clean your mechanical filter. Even though it won’t smell fresh, the fish will feel a change in their environment.
  2. Always unplug the filter before removing it for cleaning.
  3. Wash the filter pad/sponge in a small bowl filled with the water from the tank. Use gloves when removing any gunk stuck to the sponge and washing it.
  4. If there is still water left in the bowl, use it for washing other parts of the filter. Whenever there are stains or dirt that isn’t easily removed, you can scrub it off with a brush.
  5. After having the filter sponge and all other parts washed, you can fix it back. Plug the socket back and watch the filter work better.

Cleaning Chemical Filters

Chemical fish tank filters are cleaned by replacing the carbon. Surely, you can also read in the manual how you can wash other parts, yet without swapping the carbon everything will be useless. Generally, people wash their chemical filters when the water becomes cloudy. However, you can set a specific schedule (every month, for instance) and follow it.

Cleaning Biological Filters

Unlike mechanical filters, biological filters don’t require much cleaning since the growth of beneficial bacteria of the tank is necessary to preserve. Particularly these bacteria are responsible for the filtration, nitrogen fixing, and aeration of the water in the tank. Accordingly, do never apply any hard wash. Merely rinse washing the filter tank and bringing it to an appropriate look will be enough. This way you will maintain the bacteria so important for the filtering process.

Why You Should Clean the Aquarium Filter

Big filtering system

What if I don’t clean my aquarium filter? Can’t my fish survive? If you are discussing these and such like questions, we’ll hurry to explain why it is so important to wash a tank filter. Here are the major points:

These recommendations are proper for ordinary filters while cleaning serious filtering systems designed for huge aquariums with exotic living requires a more accurate and serious approach. If you happen to own one, you will have to set aside days and devote them thoroughly to the cleaning process strictly following the manufacturer’s instructions. However, in such cases, people usually hire professionals.

How Often to Change Fish Tank Filter

Preserving proper filtration in an aquarium is highly important. To do that you must make certain the filter operates unobstructedly. We have already explained how you should carry out a proper maintenance of the filter. Now let’s find out how often to change fish tank filter. This mostly depends on the type of filter. For instance, mechanical and biological filter media don’t need to be replaced unless they fall apart. Moreover, they shouldn’t be replaced as long as they properly as every time you change a filter media, you interfere in the ecosystem of the tank. Chemical filters, meanwhile, must be changed every month.
Let’s have a closer look at each filter type:

Chemical Filters

Chemical filters for fish tanks are designed to remove any impurities that collect in the water. Such type of filter absorbs particles from the water and becomes saturated eventually. A chemical filter must be replaced at least once in two months (better once a month). If you hold longer, you will get the opposite effect.

Mechanical Filters

A mechanical filter keeps the water clear and the aquarium clean by forcing the water through its media where the sponge removes the solid debris. As a rule, it isn’t recommended to change this type of filter media unless it breaks down. When working, beneficial bacteria build on the filter media. And every time you replace it, you thoroughly remove the bacteria from the aquarium. When the old media works no longer and you plan to replace it with a new one, it’s better to leave it in the tank for a month or so to give the new filter media enough time to build up beneficial bacteria.

Biological Filters

Biological bacteria grow all over the tank naturally, yet special biological filters hasten the process. They serve as a separate place where bacteria grow easily. If not fallen apart, you needn’t change fish tank filter of biological type.


Every responsible aquarium hobbyist should always make certain his pets are thriving in a clean and healthy environment. Installing a well-working filter is mandatory for this. However, if neglected, the equipment may get so polluted it can become more harmful than useful. Cleaning the fish tank filter periodically will keep the water clear, the aquarium clean, and your fish happy. Approach this with all your diligence and responsibility.

Did the article help you?

Voted: 706
Aubree Rose
If you still have questions after reading the article, do not hesitate to ask questions.
Ask Question
Rate article


Tips, FAQs & Pet Products


Product reviews

Notify of


Inline Feedbacks
View all comments


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *