How Do I Maintain A Filter?
Different filters vary in required maintenance but the basic principles are the same for all filters. The first rule is to always clean your filter media in water taken from the tank, if you clean media under the tap you will kill a large proportion of the bacteria that break down waste products.
Whilst it is important to clean your filter regularly, it also needs to get a little dirty to function properly, so if your filter looks quite clean each time you clean it, cut down the frequency of cleaning. Conversely, if it is caked in debris, you need to increase the frequency.
Sponges in your filter can be continually used until they start to loose their 'springiness', whilst biological media is best replaced once a year. If possible, it is best to avoid replacing all the foam and biological media at one time, or you will loose all your established bacteria, which can have serious consequences for your fish.
If you just have a simple internal filter with one piece of foam, cut the foam in half and replace one half then the other a month later, this will allow some of the old bacteria to establish on the new foam.
Many filters have activated carbon, which is used to remove pollutants that are not processed by bacteria, and these needs replacing every few months. If left for long periods, carbon will become saturated and may eventually leach the pollutants it has absorbed back into the water.
When cleaning your filter it is a good idea to open up the chamber that holds the impeller, remove the impeller and give the area a good wipe around. Do this with care as some impellers are only held in by a delicate ceramic shaft, which can be costly if damaged. Giving the impeller regular maintenance will help to prevent the filter from braking down prematurely.
For more information read our article on Filter Maintenance