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Filtration & Media


March 25, 2019 | By Tom Sarac

When using a canister filter, especially a Fluval canister filter there are options and choices that can pay dividends should you practice what we preach. Thanks to the tedious efforts of Fluval engineers following up on best maintenance practices is convenient, the reward will be healthy fish in a clear, clean healthy aquarium environment.

Let’s break it down according to these categories:


It’s no secret that regular maintenance of aquarium water is the best strategy for optimal water quality. When it comes to filter maintenance, Fluval makes this an easy task given one motion filter locking clamps and a media basket assembly that is so fast and easy to remove you could easily do it during a commercial when watching Sunday Night football! Take advantage of the well thought out Fluval canister filter pre-filter foam assembly by rinsing it regularly, as regular removal of organic waste assures you of maximum flowrates, better oxygen levels and a cleaner aquarium.

Preventative Measures

As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That really holds true when considering how you use your filter. There are a number of things that can be done with your filter that are not time consuming yet can help prevent issues over time, here are some of the top ones and the benefits they provide:

  • Always locate the output nozzle at the waters’ surface so that you see good water surface movement. There isn’t a better way to improve oxygen levels. Yet in the many pictures we see of aquariums often the output nozzle is well below the surface. Use your filter to provide benefits, your fish need oxygen and they will exhibit much better color, movement and overall condition when it is available.
  • Lube those O rings! Pick up a tube of Fluval Silicone Lube, A-325 and make sure to apply some lube to all the o-rings your filter has, there are a few places. The motor head has a large rubber O-ring, the Aqua-Stop valve also has a couple, make sure those are cleaned and lightly lubed as well.
  • Change the hose connectors annually. It is a good idea to at least once a year to remove and inspect the rubber hose connectors that are twisted on to the input and output hosing ends that are located on the inside of your aquarium. The rubber will dry and harden over time making it prone to allowing air to enter the canister filter if there is exposure to air (dependant on water level), should this happen it can be a factor in seeing burst of air coming from the filters’ output.
  • Keep airstones well away from filter siphon strainers. The distance needs to be a least 6 inches with a a foot being preferable.
  • Remember to remove carbon if you are medication sick fish. Carbon efficiently absorbs a number of different medications, remove it, rinse it and seal it in a clean plastic bag. If you store it this way you can re-use it until it is necessary to replace it.


The most important thing to do when you prime your filter for the first time or after a full maintenance is to ensure the output nozzle is positioned slightly above the water surface before you open the aquastop valves. Doing this will ensure all the water that enters does so from the input side only, it will effectively flush out the air from the canister and prevent excess air from being trapped.

Always check the inlet strainer; make sure it is free of debris and ensure that the small check ball that is located in the upper compartment is present and moves freely as priming will be seriously impaired if it is not.

It is also a good idea to periodically put a small amount of Fluval Silicone Lube on the actual priming handle stem, this will ensure a smooth effective motion when priming.

The Right Filter Media

Choosing the right filter media is important and the best way to ensure your Fluval canister filter operates the way it was engineered to is to install Fluval branded filter media. The foam blocks are of the correct size for example, exact fit is important to ensure filtration efficiency.

Multiple media baskets allow for a wide selection of filter media to be used. When filling the baskets make sure to not overfill, avoid compressing media in an effort to maximize the amount included, the filter will operate more efficiently and effectively when not impeding filter flow. Always make sure to rinse filter media before installation to remove fines and to help flush excess air from it.

Aquarium Considerations

One of the most common questions we get at Fluval HQ is: which model of Fluval canister filter do you recommend for my size of aquarium? While each Fluval filter does have an aquarium size range recommendation on its’ packaging, there is overlap and a willingness on the part of many Fluval faithful to get extra capacity to keep their cherished fish in the best water quality possible. To that end we advise always the next model up if it fits your budget, the included valves can be throttled back to slow filter output should the fish population consist of smaller species and/or prefer calmer waters.

Some fish originate from very strong water currents (some river environments), for those species stepping up more than one level of canister filter beyond the recommended range may be necessary or there is always the option of supplementing water movement with a Fluval Circulation Pump, CP1/CP2/CP3/CP4.

How is the aquarium going to be aquascaped, is it going to be densely planted or will be it be sparsely decorated with a few feature rocks and open areas? This is also another important consideration in regard to filter flow. Densely decorated aquariums do inhibit water movement, water current that is effective at helping to trap debris should be maintained, this also needs to be factored in when selecting a filter.

Always consider and review the intentions you have when selecting the fish for your particular size of aquarium, it will pay dividends and be a factor in your long-term enjoyment of this fascinating hobby.


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