Cleaning Aquaclear 20 Filter

Amber818

hello everyone I have this awesome filter on my heavily planted 10 gallon tank. My tank has been running since July 12, 2021. I do water changes every week (about 40%). I know that you are supposed to do maintenance on your filter when doing water changes. I have seen videos where people shake out their sponge and media in aquarium water. People also clean the intake? How do you guys clean the intake and everything inside and how often and thoroughly? Also how often do you replace the media in the inside? I am running everything that the kit came with originally (Aquaclear foam, activated carbon, Biomax Filter insert) . I also have a intake sponge. Should I shake that out too? I am absolutely terrified of killing off my beneficial bacteria and crashing my tank by wrongfully replacing or cleaning these items.
 

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ruud

Filter maintenance depends heavily on tank conditions/approach. Take my 5 gallon tank displayed in my avatar, that has an AquaClear 30 on the left. It is heavily planted and I don't clean anything inside the tank. The plants, glass, wood and sand houses bacteria that keep this tank in condition. The main purpose of the AquaClear for me is the flow it creates; which helps keeping this tank in condition. The tank has 1 tiny fish and a variety of cherry shrimp. The last time I cleaned the filter media was March this year.

The one think that I do change more often is the filter guard/mesh protector that I use on all my filter inlets. It doesn't clog as fast as a typical sponge filter people place over the inlet, like yourself. I take the whole inlet out of the filter (and let the filter run) and put a spare one back in. The dirty one is cleaned and used the next time. The AquaClear itself is a bit cumbersome to clean; although there are tube brushes that can help. I, on the other hand, don't bother to clean it.

Thanks to the filter guard, the filter media doesn't clog easily and also keeps fry, shrimplets and live foods out of the filter. When I do clean the filter media, I rinse with tap water. I don't bother how much of the bacteria gets lost, because of the minimal bioload and "dirty" tank. As far as your inlet sponge is concerned; just take the whole inlet + sponge out, just let the filter continue to run, and rinse the sponge thoroughly. The main function of the sponge should be to have much less maintenance for your filter. The beneficial bacteria on your sponge; consider this as a bonus.

If you are into tank cleaning and substrate vacuuming, and your filter clogs easily (probably implying a lot of bioload), well then perhaps rinse your media with water from your tank. But I would do this in a separate bucket and not by shaking it in your tank.

PS: I would throw the carbon away immediately.
 

ProudPapa

  • It's a good idea to periodically clean your intake sponge and the sponge inside your filter. Do not do both at the same time. Squeeze them several times in a bucket of tank water. You'll get a bunch of gunk coming out. Pour out that dirty water (if you have plants they will like it) and repeat several times until there's not much gunk coming out. If you want to make the process a little simpler, after your tank has been running longer you can rinse them under the faucet, but I wouldn't do that until the tank is a year or so old.
  • The ceramic balls will get some crud on the surface. You can rinse it off.
  • The intake tube on a couple of my tanks occasionally gets clogged up. I just take it off and rinse it under the faucet until I get most of the gunk cleaned out of it.
  • By the way, it's probably a good idea to do this on a regular basis, but I usually wait until I can tell that the flow from the filter is reduced.
  • By this time you can toss the carbon. It's only effective for a relatively short time, and unless you're trying to remove medication or some other impurity you don't need it anyway. I've never even put it in most of mine.
  • The sponge inside the filter should last for years. Don't replace it until it's absolutely falling apart, and even then leave it in the filter with the new media for a month or so to allow the bacteria to colonize it. I know the directions that come with the filters say to replace all the media periodically, but they just want you to keep buying the stuff.
 

awilkinson871

I have aquaclears on 2 tanks. On one I have a prefilter sponge and it gets squeezed out in old tank water every two weeks. I only open the filter every couple months. Then I will squeeze out the foam filter into old tank water. I dont have the carbon in the filter. You can add floss filter instead to help filter out more junk and keep the water cleaner. The intake tube only gets cleaned when I see stuff stuck in it and I have a pipe brush specifically for the tanks that I use to scrub it out. I try not to mess with what is working otherwise it may not.
 

Amber818

I have aquaclears on 2 tanks. On one I have a prefilter sponge and it gets squeezed out in old tank water every two weeks. I only open the filter every couple months. Then I will squeeze out the foam filter into old tank water. I dont have the carbon in the filter. You can add floss filter instead to help filter out more junk and keep the water cleaner. The intake tube only gets cleaned when I see stuff stuck in it and I have a pipe brush specifically for the tanks that I use to scrub it out. I try not to mess with what is working otherwise it may not.
Do you shake out the biomax as well in the old tank water?
  • It's a good idea to periodically clean your intake sponge and the sponge inside your filter. Do not do both at the same time. Squeeze them several times in a bucket of tank water. You'll get a bunch of gunk coming out. Pour out that dirty water (if you have plants they will like it) and repeat several times until there's not much gunk coming out. If you want to make the process a little simpler, after your tank has been running longer you can rinse them under the faucet, but I wouldn't do that until the tank is a year or so old.
  • The ceramic balls will get some crud on the surface. You can rinse it off.
  • The intake tube on a couple of my tanks occasionally gets clogged up. I just take it off and rinse it under the faucet until I get most of the gunk cleaned out of it.
  • By the way, it's probably a good idea to do this on a regular basis, but I usually wait until I can tell that the flow from the filter is reduced.
  • By this time you can toss the carbon. It's only effective for a relatively short time, and unless you're trying to remove medication or some other impurity you don't need it anyway. I've never even put it in most of mine.
  • The sponge inside the filter should last for years. Don't replace it until it's absolutely falling apart, and even then leave it in the filter with the new media for a month or so to allow the bacteria to colonize it. I know the directions that come with the filters say to replace all the media periodically, but they just want you to keep buying the stuff.
Thank you so much for the help. I’m going to get rid of the activated carbon. Do you have a recommendation of what to put in its place? Any experience using filter floss?
 

ProudPapa

I don't have any experience with the filter floss. I just run mine with the sponge and bio rings.
 

awilkinson871

I leave the bio balls. It takes FOREVER for them to get junky enough to lead to any kind of clogging issues. You can use filter floss if you want to remove smaller particles, you can add more bio balls for extra BB. It is up to you. If you have a quarantine tank that you do not always have set up or if you want another tank someday you can add another chunk of filter media so that it can be transferred to the other tank when needed.
 

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