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Canister Filter Question


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I have read conflicting advice about canister filters. Not on here. And i don't know if it is actually conflicting or based on circumstances. Anyway moving forward. I have heard you clean them very regularly, every couple of weeks, or they can become toxic. And then i have heard to leave them alone and only service them every couple of months. Two very different sets of directions. Does it depend on tank size or something like that? How does the whole process work that something so beneficial can turn toxic? If that is the case. I would love the how-tos, pros and cons, and just personal opinions before i make up my mind on such a big decision. By the way it would be for a 55 gallon tank.

Edited by Anielynn70
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  • Regular Member

When you empty out your HOB filter box you will see loads of black disgusting yuck. It gathers in the bottom of the box over time and needs to be emptied out and cleaned on a regular basis.

A cannister is mu;ch the same way. It is designed and filled with the purpose of removing waste from the fish water. Large odd-shaped media in the bottom produces swirling currents that slow, dropping large debris out of the stream. Slighly smaller debris is captured by coarse filter floss/sponges. The finer media and filter sponges/floss polish and biologically clean the water further on in the cannister's flow. But the large debris in the coarse sponges and in the bottom can and does collect quickly. It MUST be emptied out regularly.

As long as the cannister is running correctly, you should not get any "bad anaerobic bacteria" gathering. But the cannister can become a home for hatching parasites. Most importantly, the collection of mulm and waste that gathers there is still being processed by your "good bacteria" - forcing them to work harder and produce more nitrates than you might wish. A simple cleaning will elliminate this source of waste/nitrates, eliminate a hiding spot for parasites and allows you to check the function of the filter. A regular cleaning will go a long way toward ensuring that it is functioning in it's full capasity.

Select you cannister with this in mind. Just assume that you will wish to open it at least twice a month to clean it out. IF the filter is very difficult to open, stop from syphoning when you are servicing or reprime when you are done, it is not worth having. Select one that makes cleaning easy. You will be happy that you did - and happy that you thought about it BEFORE buying. Sometimes a slightly more expensive filter may be worth the money simply because of the ease of cleaning. Some types have replacement parts more readily available, too.

I LOVE cannisters. But I treat them like I treat my HOB. They get opened, checked and cleaned on a very regular basis.

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I love my canister filter, too. Right now I have a Fluval going with a Biowheel on a 29 gallon with two fish. I've found that rinsing it welll once a month works well for me. I do it on the first of the month so I don't forget. And if you fill it back up with treated water it starts right back up.

I've never actually rinsed out my HOB box. I always just rinse the sponges. It never occured to me to clean out the whole box. How often should I do that?

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Daryl I think cleans hers twice a month. She is very good. Typically I clean mine when I clean the rest. Typically once a month, but since I have 2 canisters I try and stagger their cleaning weeks so no bumps occur.

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Yep when I had mine going, I also had two HOB's on the tank to. I would rinse out one HOB and then rinse the canister too. I would clean mine out once a month but the HOB's would get cleaned every week. I think it depends on the bio load you have going on.

So in general if you keep up with them they wont cause a problem, but if you neglect them they can be just like a hollow log :o

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