Why is my fish tank filter not pumping water?

An aquarium filter is needed for mechanical purification of water from turbidity, for chemical purification of water from waste products of fish and other aquarium populations, as well as for mixing water with adequate filtration.

Why is my fish tank filter not pumping water?

How do aquarium filters work?

An fish tank filter is a mandatory attribute of modern aquariums.

Without it, life is possible only in the presence of a large number of living plants.

Filters have two main parts. The first is a pump that pumps water, the second is a cartridge with filter material.

The principle of operation of filters for an aquarium is as follows: water is drawn in through a cylindrical body with slots, to which a small pump is attached. It enters the inside of the housing, where the cartridge with the filter material is located, and, passing through it, gets rid of foreign impurities and goes back to the aquarium in a cleaned form.

Why is my fish tank filter not pumping water

Whatever the design of the air pump, the filter elements or the type of placement, the operation of the entire assembly is the same everywhere:

  • The crude liquid is sucked up by the pump.
  • Undergoes a cleaning procedure (mechanically or chemically).
  • Purified water goes back to the aquarium.
  • The constant movement of the liquid in one direction contributes to the circulation of all the water inside the closed container.

Fish tank filters are one of the most important pieces of equipment you should purchase and will benefit both you and your fish.

But like any device, fish tank filters can stop working, which can be worrisome, especially if you don’t know the reason.

How do you know if your fish tank filter has stopped working?

It is very difficult for beginners to determine why the fish tank filter not working. This misunderstanding can destroy your entire tank filter if the problem is not corrected in time.

But if you know how a standard water filter works. then it won’t be hard to figure it out.

Signs by which you can understand that the tank filter is not working:

The engine at the fish tank filter does not work

Listen to the sound the filter makes. If you hear a low hum, then your filter is working properly. Any absence of sounds indicates that the motor is faulty.

Before listening to sound, make sure the filter is plugged in.

You can also observe a light current on the surface of the water, which means that the filter is working.

Strange sounds

If you hear strange noises at the filter, such as grinding, squealing, or rattling, sand or gravel particles may have gotten into your filter. If so, the filter is clogged and needs to be cleaned before it breaks.

Slow filtration

Damaged filter mechanisms suck water poorly or not at all.

The first thing to do is look at your fish tank filter intake tube to see if it’s sucking in water.

The second way to tell if your filter’s suction capacity has decreased is to see if it’s pumping out water. If the filter is good, you will see water flowing from the top of the filter or the intake tube of the canister filters.

Slow filtration is usually caused by a clogged impeller or a broken motor.

Water test

The main task of the filter is also biological filtration, which filters many toxins from the aquarium.

Most fish tank filters have special filter media that act as a breeding ground for beneficial bacteria. When aquarium water passes through them, all toxic compounds such as ammonia and nitrites are recycled.

And when the filter does not work as it should, a lot of toxic substances are released into the water. Use an aquarium water test kit to measure the level of toxicity.

Why is my fish tank filter not pumping water

3 reasons why your fish tank filter not working:

So, let’s look at the most common reasons why an tank filter not working:

The filter does not start or does not turn on

This may be due to various reasons. One of the reasons why the filter in the aquarium does not work is a clogged engine. This is very similar to the other option, which is associated with a clogged impeller, outlet or intake tube, but in this case we are talking about something stuck in the mechanism.

A clogged air intake will make noise, but it will still try to suck in water, but a filter with a clogged motor will not turn on at all.

This problem is very easy to solve. You need to open the filter and disassemble it in parts, and then remove everything unnecessary from it and rinse it. You can do it by hand or use compressed air.

The filter may stop working due to a power surge that you might have at home. This may cause the fish tank filter to stop working and you may need to wait a while to turn it back on. But it happens that due to a power surge, some parts of the filter may burn out. Then you will have to purchase spare parts, either take the filter in for repair or buy a new filter.

Another problem may be with the power supply or connecting cables, such as a blown fuse, broken wires, and so on, some of which can be easily replaced.

The degree of damage will determine how much it will cost you to repair the engine and filter, so it will be more profitable to buy a new filter.

There is a blockage

The other most likely problem you may encounter is lack of suction. The aquarium motor drives the impeller, which is needed to draw water from the tank water into the inlet pipe, where it passes through the filter media and back on the other side in the form of completely clean water.

The suction problem is that your clogged filter. If the filter motor is running but there is no suction, then you most likely have a clogged intake or exhaust pipe. This problem can be solved.

You will need: a bucket, a siphon and a screwdriver.

  • Step 1. Drain a small amount of aquarium water into a bucket.
  • Step 2. Disconnect the filter from the power source, dry it and completely disassemble it.
  • Step 3. Rinse the filter media under running water.
  • Step 4. Pull out the motor and rinse it, then gently clean the mucus inside the filter head with a cotton swab and insert the motor back.
  • Step 5. After that, assemble the tank equipment and reconnect it to the power source.

It doesn’t matter what kind of filtration systems you have, the main thing is to remove everything unnecessary from the filter, because if something remains inside, you have to disassemble and clean the filter again.

Why is my fish tank filter not pumping water

This is a particularly big problem for people who have sand as a substrate, because it often clogs the filters. It is suitable for people who use shallow ground, as this is enough to cause severe clogging.

If this does not help, then most likely your filter is broken, and you need to replace the entire filter.

Incorrect water flow rate

One final, major problem that many aquarium filter users face is incorrect flow rates.

You should know that this is not a problem with the filter itself, but it affects the life and health of your fish.

Depending on the fish, the speed of the water flow is chosen: there are fish species that need a strong current, to swim against it, and others are better off living with a little current, and they just rush around the aquarium. If the current is too strong, the fish may be blown away and not comfortable.

To solve this problem, it is important to choose the right fish tank filter for the volume of your aquarium. It is best if you find a filter with an adjustable flow rate. If your filter is unregulated and either too powerful or not powerful enough, the right decision is to buy a new filter that will fit the needs of your fish.

Filtration types

Professional filters include three main types of filtration; mechanical, biological and chemical filtration.

Each type of filtration filters water differently.

Mechanical filtration

Debris is removed from the water by passing through a porous material that traps particles of a certain size. This material must be periodically cleaned and replaced (on average, every 14 days).

Biological filtration

This method provides for the purification of water not only from suspended impurities, but also from hazardous chemicals. Colonies of beneficial bacteria form on the surface of the device, decomposing ammonia into harmless components. One of the filler options is porous ceramics.

Biological filters have a variety of designs: bottom, internal, external, with horizontally and vertically located compartments.

However, the general rule for all is that it is necessary to create such conditions under which in 2 hours all the water in the aquarium must pass through the biofilter, and the area of ​​the biofilter was close to or equal to the area of ​​the bottom of the aquarium.

The best substrate for nitrifying bacteria is fine gravel with particles 3-5 mm in diameter. The thickness of the gravel layer in each compartment should be 5-6 cm, which creates optimal conditions for the vital activity of nitrifying bacteria.

Water chemistry filtration

An efficient way to remove dissolved substances. The filters are filled with activated carbon, sometimes with peat. Moreover, the first removes ammonia and odor, and the second is used for fish that need soft acidic water.

Types of filters by installation method

Fish tank filters can be installed both inside and outside the aquarium. External models, in turn, are divided into mounted and canister.

Internal filters

The most popular devices that provide effective cleaning at an affordable price. Despite the fact that the most powerful models are designed for aquariums up to 500 liters, this is enough for most aquarists. Such filters are compact, almost do not reduce the volume of the aquarium.

In large tanks, they are used for additional filtration in tandem with external devices.

The most effective internal filters are “glasses” (closed models). Their performance is limited (no more than 200 liters), but the efficiency is quite high. There are also filter heads, airlifts, etc.

Note! The principle of operation is based on the fact that the built-in pump creates a stream of water that is reflected from the walls and raises suspended particles. The latter, in turn, are absorbed by the filter.

External filters

They have high performance, so they are installed in aquariums with a volume of 150-1500 liters. As you might guess from the name, such devices are installed outside. Through a hose, water from the aquarium is supplied to the external filter and, having passed through all the layers of the filler, returns back through the second tube.

Why is my fish tank filter not pumping water

The advantages also include reliability, full filtration cycle, ease of operation and durability. There are only two drawbacks – high noise level and overall dimensions.

Frequently asked Questions:

Can an aquarium work without a fish tank filter?

An aquarium can exist without a filter, but then it needs proper start-up and maintenance. For the comfortable operation of an aquarium van you need a lot of live plants to increase the level of oxygen in the aquarium.

But plants may not be able to cope with the bioburden of the aquarium, so it is important not to overpopulate the aquarium and not stock the aquarium with those species of fish that which produce a lot of waste, such as goldfish.

Can fish live without a filter in an aquarium?

Fish can live without a filter if they are in good health and always have clean water, and this depends on the availability of other sources of aeration and filtration in the aquarium.

In dirty water without aeration and lack of proper filtration, fish can live only a few days, and sometimes hours.

Although fish do not have lungs to absorb oxygen from the air, they do have gills to get oxygen from water.

If there is little dissolved oxygen in the water, the fish will suffocate very quickly. In their natural habitat, the fish lives where there is a current or a lot of plants.

As long as there is water circulation or oxygen injected into the aquarium water with a compressor, the fish will be able to breathe, allowing them to live long if the aquarium filter fails.

When should you change your tank filters?

Each aquarium has its own unique ecological system with unique properties, depending on the following parameters:

  • chemical composition of water;
  • soil;
  • the number of inhabitants;
  • species of fish, snails, shrimps;
  • type and amount of food;
  • plants;
  • use of chemicals to clean the power filters and fish tank walls.

It is not easy to give general recommendations on the frequency of filter cleaning and replacement, as the load on the device and the rate of contamination can vary significantly.

“Standard” recommendations: the internal filter needs to be cleaned weekly, and the external filter needs to be cleaned monthly. These are approximate dates, you need to focus on the condition of the water in the aquarium. An important indicator is the pressure of the water jet coming from the filter. If it has decreased, then it’s time to rinse the filler.

If you’ve cleaned everything but the fish tank filter not working or isn’t working effectively, it might be time to replace it with another filter. It is not always profitable to refurbish filters, especially if they have withstood heavy use or were poorly designed to begin with.

What fish are suitable for an aquarium without air and a filter?

In an aquarium without additional equipment, unpretentious fish should be populated in a limited number.

  • What fish take root in an aquarium without a filter and aeration:
  • corridors;
  • gourami;
  • laliuses;
  • Siamese males (single settlement);
  • macropods;
  • acanthophthalmus;
  • ordinary pinches.

There are other types of fish which can live without additional oxygen supply. When choosing inhabitants for a home pond, consider its volume, temperature conditions, soil quality and other important details.

Do you need soil in an aquarium?

The soil for the aquarium has a very important role in the formation of biological balance, as well as the creation of biological regeneration systems in aquariums. In addition, the soil in the aquarium is important, first of all, for aquarium plants, for them it is a place for the development and rooting of the root system, a source of nutrients.

The soil in the aquarium performs the function of a mechanical filter, on which large particles that are suspended in the water settle, and a biological filter, because colonies of nitrifying beneficial bacteria appear and develop in it.

Some soils can also perform a specific conditioning function by changing, for example, hardness, mineralization or pH of the water in the aquarium.

We hope that this article helped you solve the problem and your aquarium filter works like new.

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