It does not matter the size of your aquarium. It is always good to run a filter on your aquarium to make sure your tank can be as clean as it should be. Most of the time, you would likely have an external filter to help with the cleaning task.
Among many types of external filters available on the market, canister filters are the go-to choice for many people nowadays. While the job of the filter is to clean your tank, your job is to clean the filter.
This article will take you through a simple step by step tutorial to show you the best way to clean your canister filter, making sure the filter is always in its best condition.
Table of Contents
What is a Canister Filter? Why Choose Canister Filter?
Canister Filter is an enclosed type of external filter. Canister filters remove water from the tank through an intake tube or valve. Then this water will run through some specific type of filter media in a pressurized canister.
In this process, the water will be clean and clear out of dirty pollutants. Then the now cleaner water will be pump back to the tank through spillway or spray bar.
Canister filters are heavy duty filters. They are suitable for many types of aquariums, especially the large or heavily stocked tanks. They can be used for both saltwater and freshwater aquarium.
Furthermore, the best selling point of the canister filter is how rarely you need to clean it. Compared to other filters, canister filter can go the longest between cleaning. You may only need to clean the filter once every 3 to 4 months.
How Often Should You Clean Your Filter?
In terms of taking care of your aquarium, you should have your water changed weekly. With a filter, you don’t have to change as often.
Especially if you use a canister filter, you only need to clean it every three months or so. However, the three-month cleaning is recommended for full cleaning of the filter.
You should also clean parts of the filter along the way depending on the condition of your tank. The thing you should do most often is clean or change out the media in your filter.
Keep in mind these characteristics of your tank and filter to determine an appropriate amount of time between changing the media of your filter.
- The first thing you need to keep in mind is how stocked your aquarium is. Needless to say, the more heavily stocked your aquarium is the more waste there would be, and the more often your filter would need to be cleaned.
- Secondly, you need to be aware of the type of media you use with your filter. The type of media will affect how often you need to change it. If you use fine white filter media (like the recommended type of media many filters use nowadays), you should consider changing the media about once a week
You should combine the two listed factors to determine how often you need to clean your filter and change the media. Even though you use the fine white media for your canister filter, if your tank is very lightly stocked (plants aquariums are often lighter stocked than fish tanks), you may only need to change out your media once every two weeks.
Step-by-step Tutorial to Clean Your Canister Filter
In this guide, we will show you the step by step tutorial to clean out the Fluval FX5 filter as an example. This is quite a popular filter. If you don’t use a Fluval FX5, some parts you may find different.
However, most of the external filters will have basically the same principal of baskets of media. So many of these following steps are similar or the same for other filter types and brands.
1. You should schedule to clean your canister filter at the same time with one of your weekly water changes because you will need to use some aquarium water for part of this cleaning routine. So plan accordingly.
2. Disconnect the filter from the tank. Before disconnecting, you need to make sure to close off all connections to prevent tank water from dripping or escaping.
3. Place the filter in an empty bathtub or wet room or any area that you are comfortable letting dirty water dripped out. Then you open up the connections that you close off earlier to let the water leak out and run down the drain.
4. After most of the dirty tank water leaks out, look for the screws that hold the outside structure of the filter together. We only need to deal with the screws that hold the lid to the rest of the filter. Undo those screws to get access to the filter media inside. If you don’t know which screws to undo, there will likely be instructions printed on the outside of the filter itself or in the manual.
5. After undoing the screws, carefully remove the lid. You should see the media baskets in the external filter. When doing this step, be careful to not open the lid too harshly or rapidly. The little media inside can easily fall out of the basket. That means extra clean up time for you later on.
6. Carefully remove the filter media baskets from the canister. Remove the whole baskets, not just the media itself.
7. There should be more than one basket all stacked up together forming a structure. Separate each media basket apart by removing the connecting rods between the baskets.
8. Clean out the empty canister. This is the step you can use the aquarium water. You can either use aquarium water or a shower head to effectively get rid of any gravel that may get inside your filter.
9. Remove any pads or foam media from the baskets. Place them in a bathtub or shower basin.
10. Any baskets with nonfoam or pad media should be left as it is in the basket. Then, you should place these baskets in the bathtub or shower basin as well.
11. Clean the baskets and the foams separately and thoroughly. It is highly recommended to use aquarium water to clean both the foam and the baskets. You need to keep cleaning until the baskets and the foams look physically cleaner. It is easy to see this in the foams. There should be not many dark spots or dirt left.
12. Put the foam back into the filter. Put the filter back into the canister by adding the basket. Basically, you need to reassemble the filter to its original look at this stage.
13. Fill the filter up with the water you are using to add to your aquarium. You may not have to do this step for some filters. Regardless, filling up water is highly recommended. So you should as well do this for all filters before placing it back in the tank.
14. Connect the filter back to the aquarium. Wait for all the bubbles have come out of the inlet and outlet of the pipes. Make sure all the connections are locked before opening the connections on the connecting pipes.
15. When you are certain that all the air bubbles have come out, you can turn the filter on.
16. Last but not least, you should check the water coming out of the outlet of the filter to make sure your filter is working properly again.