It is often an aspect of caring for our aquatic friends that we overlook but it is a known fact that regular water and filter changes can provide many health benefits for your fish. In general, filters alone clean the water by removing solid and dissolved waste while at the same time providing an environment of beneficial bacteria that helps manage the nitrogen cycle. Keeping our fish healthy can be a delicate balance and starting with regular maintenance will cultivate an aquatic environment that will provide a long and happy life for our finned families.

So how often should we clean our tanks?

Many of us have a weekly maintenance habit of changing the water and sometimes even a monthly schedule of changing our filter media…but is that enough? While many of us do our best to keep up with these maintenance needs, we often forget about also cleaning the filter itself. Adding this additional step to your cleaning routine can have many benefits however, there is a balance. Cleaning your filter too often can remove the beneficial bacteria and may remove the biological filtration system that develops.

Here are some general tips and suggestions for the frequency of filter cleanings and general good habits.

Check your filter often and make sure that the inlet is clear of debris. When it is time to clean your filter, do not clean your filter using tap water as this will further remove the good bacteria. Simple daily visual checks can be done to ensure the filter is working properly. Make it a daily habit to take a quick look and make sure that there is movement at the water surface level. This should also be seen in any plant life in the aquarium as you should also see visible flow causing plant movement. Take a look at the filter inlet for any obstructions from algae etc. Taking a quick glance to make sure all pipes and fittings are secure is also a great idea

There is no exact schedule for filter cleaning as every filter is different however, one basic way to get an idea as to when it’s time to clean is by monitoring flow. Once you are able to see that the flow of water has slowed down, it is probably a great time to go ahead and clean your filter. The average rule of thumb is that filters should be cleaned at least once a month.

Choosing the best filter for your tank can also be difficult as there are different types of filters that can be used. Hang-on filters are a popular option that simply hang on to the class of the tank itself and is secured in that manner. Another popular filter option is what is known as a canister filter. A canister filter is a cylindrical apparatus that uses a pressurized canister to pump water in and then push clean water back into the tank. All in one filters are probably the most advanced as far as water filtrations as they also come with a built-in protein skimmer, media cartridge, probe holder, and much more. Filters in general come in many different sizes to accommodate your tank size.

Cleaning your water filter is a great practice in maintaining your aquarium but at the end of the day, you also need to make sure that you have a good routine of changing out the water itself as well. It is a general rule that about 25% of the water in your tank should be changed every two to four weeks. It’s always a good idea to also stir the gravel on the bottom of the tank. Only removing and replacing a quarter of the total water volume is done on purpose since any more than this can also remove good bacteria. There is no need to remove the fish during this process. If you have any questions about filtration systems for your tanks, please stop in Fins and Feathers and let us answer all your questions!