How to Clean Fish Tank Filter

How to Clean Fish Tank Filter Most Effectively?


This is so cute to enjoy the movement of colorful fishes inside an artificial water container known to be an aquarium. It inspires awe and admiration intensely for the first-time onlookers and for the people this is very familiar to as well.

It's singularly ecstatic that you are rearing fishes in a water-filled box and they are growing up in front of your eyes. But the seamy side of this fun is that you need to provide both food and proper habitation.

Giving food is not that tough but maintaining a healthy atmosphere inside the aquarium is not that easy. It requires adequate knowledge on how and when to clean the filter that goes cloggy and dirty between the cleaning sessions.

Moreover, the several types of filters complicate the condition leaving you bound to handle the filters delicately and carefully. But cleaning an aquarium filter is not that tough to get seized with panic.

An informative piece of write-up on this topic will turn this tough task into a fun job as the fish-rearing is. This in-depth article on how to clean a fish tank filter will make maintaining fish tank filter water easy for you.

Fish tank filter comes in three different models and serves different purposes. But one common trait among them is all the types of filters badly need to be cleaned. Below you go with the standard filter types.

Mechanical, Chemical, and Biological are the three aquarium filter types. Let's know how they serve in scrubbing the fish tank, and we will be clear how to clean it effectively.

Mechanical Filter

Mechanical filters are the aquarium purifier that blocks the mechanical waste from entering into the main tank where the fishes are seen to graze.

Those filters trap tiny and subtle debris, silicon, and tiny particles of other hard substances. But they can't protect the water form toxins and chemical pollutants that dissolve into water.


Chemical Filter

That kind of filter purifies the water from the pollutants that get dissolves in the water. So here the activities are sanitizing more than filtering.

There the carbon used as the filter disinfects the toxins mixed in the water that can seriously affect the habitat inside the aquarium.


Biological Filter

Biological filters would rather accelerate bacteria cultivation to keep the aquarium water necessarily nitrated. They generate nitrate by converting food waste, fish excrete, dead fish and rotting plant.

And this nitrate should not be left in the container for long as they can prove to be very dangerous for the fishes if left unchanged for longer than a week.


How To Clean Different Filters Effectively?

Now we are better aware of the functions of different fishtank filters means that we have half learned how to clean the filters efficiently.

The course of cleaning will complete if we can understand that the cleanup is not just wiping the dirt off the filter.


Cleaning is urgent to ensure the survival and health of the fishes. And care should be taken so that no part of the filter are harmed, deformed, or broken anyway.

Let us advance one by one examining the different processes of cleaning the different filters for one common goal.

Cleaning Mechanical Filter

To get you your mechanical filter free of the mechanical wastes, you should better divide the arduous process into various steps to make the cleaning a fun like solving a riddle or mathematical problem.

Whatever way you follow to scrub the filter you must not avoid the manufacturer's directions in this regard detailed in the manual.

Here you go with the cleaning processes:

Deduct Some Water

The first step to clean the aquarium filter will cause you to lose a little water from the tank. As little as two cups of tank water should suffice to scoop out to clean the sponge of the filter.


A mechanical filter comes equipped with a default sponge to filter tiny mechanical particles, and it gets clogged after a prolonged blocking of the same.

And this is the time it counteracts by polluting the water by the wastes accumulated over a certain period. Siphoning a glassful or two cups of water will serve the purpose better to release the clogging.

Put Off the Filter

After the initial waste scrubbing, you have to unplug the tank to clean it further. It will save you from shocking while cleaning it by your hands. Better to put the filter off the tank to get leverage while cleaning.

And don't forget to set a wide bowl or big bucket under the filter and save your floor form marshy and smelly water.

This putting off of the filter involves a risk to a certain extent as it will disturb the set schedule of the fishes for a while.

You should take more care so that the delicate aquatic creatures are not hurt so long the cleaning is going on. That is why a large bowl or deep bucket will be the better option in this step.

Squeeze the Sponge or Pad

The filter is cleaned to the limit; now it's time to squeeze the dirt and waste trapped inside the pores of the sponge out. The cleaning process will remain half if the sponge is not washed correctly.

To do that, you need to soak the sponge or pad with the tank water and squeeze it to the last drop. This compression should go on until the squeezed water looks clean as fresh as the tank water.

Use a Scrubbing Brush

The casing and tubes are the parts of the filter you cannot reach with an empty hand. These are too narrow for the fingers to clean correctly.

It requires a scrubbing brush to clean the notch and patch of the tubes and casing. That type of brush is widely available in the stores where pet accessories are sold.

Able/Expert Finishing

As I have told earlier that cleaning a fish tank filter is not done if you can't maintain the healthy surrounding for the fishes. So the most crucial part of cleaning a filter is to reassemble it successfully.

Not only the filter parts should be put back rightly rather you should put the tank water back if it is not too cloudy or full of gunk.


Cleaning Chemical Filters

It's been clear already what a chemical filter does. Given the task of sanitizing toxins it accomplishes, the chemical filter uses a carbon to maintain the purity of the water.

So, just replacing the carbon will do in this regard. But the steps one, two, four, and five are applicable there too. The further mentioning of the steps will be sheer a waste of time and boringly repetitive.

Cleaning Biological Filters

Interesting enough, biological filters serve the fish survival in the tank by maintaining a breeding ground for the bacteria. Therefore, it contributes to increasing gunk in the tank water.

And cleaning this seriously will prove counter-productive as the most needed nitrate will not be generated after a thorough scrubbing.

Despite the fact, a light rinsing of the tank water or replacement of the same at a regular interval is a must. Otherwise, the nitrate itself will be toxic enough to infect the eyes and system of the fishes.


Like all other hobbies, rearing fish in aquarium entails its extra hassle. Cleaning the filters to keep the aquarium habitat livable and healthy for the fishes is the only price you have to pay for this extra-ordinary beatifying and charming hobby.

And this cleaning will not cost you other than time except the sponge or pad of the filter goes too dirty to scrub.  This filter replacement will not cost you dearly too. 

About the Author Team Chooserly

A passionate blogger! Editor at Chooserly, and a regular author at HuffingtonPost, LifeHacker & Forbes!

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