How to Fix a Noisy Fish Tank Filter

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One thing I hate about power HOB filters is they can get pretty noisy.

What if you could take that loud filter and make it quiet as an electric car?

Firstly though, if you have a newer filter, it may be a bit noisy at first but give it some time to build up enough material inside the filter to quiet it down.

If it’s an older filter, the suspect is probably your motor impeller, which is located inside the filter motor itself. The impeller is the rotating fan that moves the water and keeps it flowing.

You should be cleaning the impeller every three months or so, because gunk builds up in and around it. If it’s not cleaned regularly, it will eventually get worn and start to rattle, especially if you have sand substrate.

You must disassemble the motor to get at it. Look at the owner’s manual for how that is done.

Cleaning an Impeller Assembly

To clean it, use an old toothbrush to brush off the impeller itself and all around the assembly.

Inspect the magnet and the skinny metal shaft that goes into the motor for wear. If the magnet piece is worn, then you need a new impeller. If the skinny shaft piece is worn, then you need to buy a new motor.

Lubing the Impeller to Make It Quieter

If the impeller seems to be in good shape then it’s time to do this trick.
Use Vaseline or silicone oil to coat the metal shaft that goes in the motor and the magnetic cylinder.
Don’t worry neither vaseline or silicone oil are harmful to fish.
Don’t use too much, just a light coating is enough.
Next, reassemble the impeller into the pump motor and re-insert into the tank.
The filter should be a lot quieter now.
If not, then you should replace the impeller with a new one.
If that doesn’t work, then replace the motor with a new one.

Watch the video on how to quiet a noisy filter here.

Getting a Quieter Filter

These are cheap ways to fix a noisy filter, but you may want to consider getting a quieter one. Filters have come a long way in technology and newer models are much quieter.
The nosiest filters seem to be ‘hang on the back’ power filters, because of the rattle and the water dumping back in the tank in the older models.
Some newer power filter models, like the Aqua Clear Power Filter, are designed to be much quieter and do a great job of filtering the water with more media surface.

Another quieter type of filter is the sponge filter. These are old school, but effective biological filters. They are also very inexpensive filters and the easiest to maintain.
The downside is they are sort of ugly and take up a lot of room in your tank. Many people find ways to cover the sponges with plants. They are better for smaller tanks or quarantine tanks that need the medication not filtered out. Another problem is you can’t really use them by themselves because they are not chemical or mechanical filters.

The canister filters are also quiet, but are expensive and designed for larger freshwater tanks or saltwater tanks.

All in all, if you regularly clean and maintain the filter and pump motor, you will cut down on the noise factor.


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