How Often Should You Change Your Aquarium Filter?

If you love tropical, freshwater or saltwater fish, chances are you already have an aquarium or you’re looking to get one.

There are several reasons why one might decide to buy one. Aquariums are usually aesthetically pleasing and can bring a calming artistic aspect to a room. With the hustle and bustle that comes along due to tight work schedules, having a relaxing hobby such as keeping and maintaining an aquarium can be a great stress reliever.

Aquariums provide relaxation which in turn helps to keep our normal lives going on. Recent statistics from studies worldwide reveal that simply watching an aquarium brings about therapeutic advantages such as lowering blood pressure, stress reduction, and an overall calming effect.

If you’re keeping fish, then you’re going to need to get a filter, there are no two ways about it.  It helps cleans the water, aerate the water and promotes a healthy environment for your aquarium inhabitants.

After a while, you might find yourself wondering, how often do you need to change an aquarium filter? Foam filters can’t be kept indefinitely, and only need to be changed when they are physically falling apart. Carbon filters or specialist filters will need to be changed every couple of months on average.

Types of Filtration Systems in an Aquarium

Mechanical Filtration

This type of filtration is what most individuals might consider as real filtration. The device that is used to remove solid substances from the aquarium water, works by allowing circulation of water as its strained through a type of filter. This mechanical form of filtration aids in providing the water with air, a process known as aeration. This type of filtration is what we will be discussing further as we gather information to know how often to change the aquarium filter.

Chemical Filtration

This type of aquarium water filtration involves the removal of dissolved waste substances from the aquarium through the use of chemicals. A commonly used chemical in this form of filtration is activated charcoal.

Biological Filtration

This form of filtrations requires the use of a type of bacteria to biologically break down waste substances such as ammonia and change it to a less harmful form. All aquariums are required to have some form of supplies to enable biological filtration process to occur.
Forms of filtration systems

Canister Filters

This is one of the most powerful forms of aquarium filters. It is best designed to suit different sizes of aquariums. This is mainly because these type of filters are strategically located on the external part of the aquarium. They can be simply obscured behind or below the stand that holds the aquarium. The canister filters provide quality chemical, biological and mostly mechanical water filtration.

These filters work by forcing the water in the aquarium tank to go through a filtration medium, instead of allowing it to move past the filters like other types of filtration devices. Canister filters are well suited for heavy amounts of aquarium water.

Diatomic Filters

The diatomic filtration systems are specially designed to clean the tank water through the removal of tiny particles. These kinds of filters work similarly to the diatomaceous filters for the swimming pools which are specialized for pumping water to flow through finely made particles for scrubbing water.

These filters are usually used in special scenarios such as when a very fine waste matter like algae needs to be filtered out. There are standard aquarium filters that are designed with diatomic filtering inserts to serve more than one function.

Box Filters

These are also known as internal filters or sometimes corner filters. They were the earliest form of filtration machines made for home tanks aquarium. Box filters are more expensive compared to the other types of filters. They can also be easily combined with a number of filtration devices to make them more suitable for different filtration processes.

Corner filters are made from a collection of compact units that are attached to a glass container in the tank. This feature makes them more suitable for small sized aquariums of up to 20 gallons and below. Internal filters are commonly found in hospital aquariums that are used to rehabilitate sick fish. This is because pet fish owners might not afford the budget for setting up an aquarium filter that will be used less frequently. These filters are also convenient for tanks used for breeding.

How Often to Change an Aquarium Filter: What Else to Know?

The aquarium filter is one of the most key contributing factors that determine the efficiency of an aquarium. Lack of proper filtration makes the water toxic and hence harmful to the fish species in the tank. Regular cleaning is recommended with proper maintenance and servicing of the filtration system. The filter should always be working at its optimum potential to ensure that the water in the tank is continuously being cleaned.

How often to change the aquarium filter depends on the type of filter being used. Other types of filters might require less changing period than others. Changing your aquarium filter too often can be disastrous because it includes the removal of beneficial accumulated bacteria. So as to balance out filter change, it is recommended that you consider investing in good sand or gravel containing pre-added bacteria.

The moment you realize that your filter media is falling apart, then that’s when you know that you need to change your filter. Poor working filters will leave the water dirty and toxic for the fish. However, when cleaning the fish tank, it is advisable not to do all the cleaning in one day. This allows the fish in the tank to slowly adjust to the changing environment as they recover.

Installation of a New Filter

The mechanical portion of the fish tank filter can be changed as desired. However biological and chemical aquarium filters usually require a certain period to allow the process to occur as required. When you are ready for installation of the new filter, you chop up the old filter and add it the new. This allows the newly installed filter to build new bacteria from the older filter.

Always check to ensure that your chemical filters are set as recommended. The number of nitrates, ammonia and also nitrites should be steady. There are affordable tests that can be done to check the levels of these chemicals. Stress coat is a chemical agent that is used to lower the amount of chlorine in the water. Stress Zyme is an agent used to boost bacteria that will allow the filtration process to be efficient.

How to Clean an Aquarium Filter

Tap Water Treatment

This first step will require you to treat water to make it safe for fish. The treatment agent makes the water safe through the removal of toxic chemicals and metals. Though filling your tank directly from tap water might be convenient, it is advisable that you consider treating it first as it may cause harm to your fish.

Set aside the treated water while you complete the rest of the steps.  Waiting for a while will allow the treatment to take effect.

Complete a Water Change

Using a siphon, drain between 10% and 30% of your aquarium water into a bucket, we’re going to want to keep this water aside for a bit.

If you have a gravel siphon, you can also use this to clean the gravel or sand at the bottom of your aquarium as the water drains.

Unplugging and Cleaning the Filter

Aquarium filters need to be cleaned frequently, at least every time you complete a water change.

Make sure everything is turned off and remove the filter media from the pump.  The media should then be cleaned in the drained tank water.  This helps to maintain the bacteria levels in the filter.

Never use chemicals or soaps to clean the filter.

Cleaning Dirty Aquarium Decorations

Cleaning the water tank accessories during each water change is not necessary. This can disrupt the normal functioning of the good bacteria that is found in the water tank. It is advised to avoid cleaning the decorations with soap. This will prevent the harmful chemicals found in soap from harming the fish.

If you do decide to clean your aquarium decor items, simply remove them and scrub them with an Algae Pad.

Cleaning Aquarium Walls

You should look out for brown or green substance on the walls of the tank. Use a algae sponge to remove the green or brown residue until the walls are clean. After performing all the cleaning, re-fill the aquarium water tank with the treated tap water. You can then put in the decorations either exactly where they were or by moving them to a new position altogether.

Caring for an Aquarium

Always check the aquarium water temperature daily to ensure that the optimum temperature is attained for the safety of the fish. On a weekly basis, you should replace a certain percentage of water with clean water. You can also test the chemical concentration of the water for ammonia, acidity, and alkalinity. On a monthly basis, you should clean the gravel in the tank and replace about 25% of the water in the tank. It is also important to check the filter and wash or even replace the cartridge.

Owning an aquarium requires dedication and proper maintenance which will require you to have a proper functioning filtration system that is best suited for the type of aquarium tank you have. This will depend on the size of the aquarium, small, medium or large. It may also vary depending on the type and number of fish in the tank.

Benefits of Keeping an Aquarium

Quiet Nature of Fish

Fish usually go about their daily routine quietly unlike other household pets like cats and dogs. The fishes in an aquarium will swim from one end and then turn and go to the other end stop occasionally for meal time.

Learning Experience for Children

Kids are ever curious to know about how things function. By answering how often to change the aquarium filter, you will be able to provide a learning opportunity for your child by ensuring the aquarium is always clean.

Little space required

Aquariums require very little space hence making it easy to find the perfect spot to put up one. They are suitable for small homes, large homes, and even office spaces and shops.

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