Fish Tank Filter Stopped Working – What Should You Do?

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Ensuring that your filter works and produces clean water day by day is very important. The aquarium is a closed system where a lot of waste and debris is accumulated over time. There are various contaminants that can make the water poisonous for your precious little fish.

For your pet fish, health and safety come first and your filter takes care of a huge part of that. Well-oxygenated water is not only good for your fish but also for your plants and the beneficial bacteria that live there.

In this guide, you are able to read about the main problems with a typical aquarium filter and how to fix them. First, you need to be able to identify the issue and then you are going to see how easy it is to fix it.

Clogged Filter

Waste and debris can accumulate in an aquarium filter over time and the pores can become clogged as a result. The way to solve this problem is to unplug the filter and take out the biological filter. Then, prepare a bucket with water in it and put the filter media in there.

The water in the bucket has to be from the aquarium. The media has to be thoroughly cleaned until you see no more waste coming out of it. There is no need to buy a new biological filter, as you can just clean it and put it back right away.

However, if you have used it for 1 to 2 years, then it is probably the best idea to buy a new one. If you notice the water coming out slower than usual, then the filter is probably clogged somewhere. Of course, you also need to check every other filter media every now and then and change them if necessary.

Broken Impeller

In case the impeller in your aquarium filter is broken, then it can cause problems in the water pump. Now, this part of the filter is usually quite gross and dirty when this happens. If you unplug the filter and take a look at it, you might notice there is a lot of accumulated dirt that also has plenty of bacteria in it.

The accumulation of this dirt is what can cause the impeller to slow down. Keeping this area clean is, therefore, very important. What you need to do is to remove the impeller and clean it thoroughly. If you notice that your impeller is damaged, then it is best to replace it with a new one.

Otherwise, just rinse it with clean water and wipe it around with a sponge or cloth. Once you put the impeller back, make give it a spin with your hand to make sure it spins freely again.

Dirty Filter

A dirty filter can cause the water flow to slow down and unhealthy contaminants to accumulate in the water. Therefore, it is important to fix this problem as soon as possible. You need to unplug your filter, remove it from the tank and then remove all the filter media.

Cleaning the media is really simple. Prepare some clean water and rinse all the media until the water that comes out is not dirty anymore. Of course, sometimes the filter media has to be changed to a new one. It is best to keep track of how long you have used each filter media for and only use them for as long as they should be used.

Dirty Hoses

Filter hoses can get cloudy and murky over time. You need to clean those hoses if you want your filter to work effectively. First off, unplug your filter, remove it from the aquarium and then carefully remove the hoses. Prepare some warm water in a bucket and put those hoses in it for at least half an hour.

This will make sure that all the dirt is loosened up on the surface of the hoses. For this, you might want to wear gloves so that your hands won’t get dirty. Then, grab a hose brush which will allow you to reach deep into the hose and clean it thoroughly.

This will take some time but a good old scrubbing is going to help a lot. If your hoses tend to get dirty, you need to perform this simple maintenance every now and then.

Broken Motor

If you notice that the pump in the filter is not working properly, then there is some maintenance that has to be done. Take that filter out of the tank and take its cover off to gain access to the impeller. Grab a screwdriver or a similar tool to pull the impeller out.

A broken impeller means that there is nothing to push the water through the filter. Rotting plant matter, waste and other particles can accumulate around the impeller and make it hard to spin. You need to clean it thoroughly before you put it back. In case the impeller is broken, you need to buy a new one.

Keep in mind that it is always better to try and inspect the filter for broken parts than to buy a new filter right away.

How Long can Fish Survive Without Filter?

Unfortunately, most aquarium fish can’t survive that long without a filter. If you notice that your filter is broken, you need to do something about it as soon as possible. For fish, living without a filter has serious health consequences and they can survive only for 3 to 7 days without it.

This depends on various factors, such as the number of fish there are in your tank and the number of plants and bottom feeders that help with filtration. Changing the water more regularly also helps the situation but you will be still unable to fully remove the contaminants.

After all, you can’t change the entirety of the water because then you would remove the beneficial bacteria as well. What you need is a working filter so the problem needs to be fixed as fast as possible.

Wrap Up

If your filter has stopped working, it is not the end of the world. You can always take it out of the tank and follow the tips you have in our guide to fix the problem. More often than not, there is a lot of dirt that gets accumulated in different parts of the filter.

Then, all you need to do is to clean those parts and put them back and your filter will work just as effectively as before. Of course, sometimes you need to buy new parts or a new filter media depending on the situation. Filter media can be usually cleaned a few times before you need to throw them away.

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