How To Quiet A Noisy Aquarium Filter

Aquarium filters should be quiet.

Fish are meant to be quiet pets that provide a relaxing visual experience - a noisy filter will ruin that.

While older style air pump driven filters tend to be a bit noisier (humming and trickling) than their modern counterpart, the power filter, neither should be particularly noticeable when functioning properly.

noisy aquarium filter

A noisy filter can mean that your filter will eventually overheat which can lead to the death of your fish if you're not careful so fixing this issue is very important.

Below are a few steps to take to eradicate aquarium filter noise:

1. Clean The Filter

Unplug the filter and remove all of the filtration inserts.

Place the inserts in a bowl or similar and, using a toothbrush, scrub them until they aren't green anymore and all debris and dirt have been removed.

Be aware that when cleaning your filter you should clean it with water from the tank.

Although this sounds counter-intuitive as tank water is dirtier than fresh tap water, providing your filter isn't completely broken, it is clean enough to do the job and doesn't present a danger to your fish.

The trouble with tap water is that it contains chlorine which is added to kill bacteria, this means it will kill the necessary bacteria in your aquarium and potentially harm your fish.

If you make the mistake of cleaning your filter with tap water then squeeze it out and soak it for at least 10 minutes in aquarium water to help dechlorinate it as much as possible before reinserting it.

2. Unclog The Intake Nozzle

The intake nozzle is the tube that sucks water up through the filter.

Loose bits of debris, dirt, fish food and fish poo are often sucked up it.

If enough is sucked up over time this can get stuck in the pump system which can eventually clog it and cause it to make a lot more noise as it struggles to keep operating.

Remove the nozzle and give it a good clean with a bottle cleaning type brush.

Also, ensure you check the area where the impeller sits too as impeller obstructions are a very common source of filter noise.

3. Check For Any Loose Parts

If you've thoroughly cleaned the filter and the intake nozzel and can still hear noise then chances are the noise is a mechanical issue.

Remove the filter and dissamble it as much as possible.

Take off the plastic cover and inspect all the components inside, double-check that screws and bolts are properly secured and everything is correctly aligned.

Pay particular attention to the impeller. The impeller spins round drawing water up the intake nozzle so it is very prone to making noise if it is not properly secured and fitted.

4. Lubricate

While you have the filter open it is also worth lubricating moving parts - namely the impeller.

Make sure you use a non-toxic waterproof lubricant such as vaseline which will not hurt your fish.

Coat the shaft of the impeller and also check for any other moving parts and lubricate them.

5. Adjust The Return Hose

The return hose can make a lot of noise if it is poorly positioned.

If it is positioned above the water line then it will make a trickling noise.

Thankfully this is very easy to fix, simply reposition the return hose so that it feeds into the aquarium below the water line.

6. Adjust The Flow Rate

how to fix an noisy aquarium filter

Flow rate can have a big impact on overall sound levels.

By reducing the flow rate you reduce the speed at which the filter needs to work and you also slow down the movement of water both of which will help quieten your aquarium filter.

Reducing the flow rate is simple to do with most filters.

Hang on the back power filters usually have flow-restricting valves on their intake tubes. Simply turn the control knob to reduce the flow.

Canister filters may not come with flow rate valves however additional attachments can be bought if required.

7. Place The Aquarium On A Noise Dampening Mat

This is more of a short-term solution than a long-term one but if you need to rely on your noisy pump for a few more days before you can get it fixed or replace it then putting your aquarium on a noise-dampening mat can help reduce noise.

noise dampening mat

Filter vibrations can easily travel through the walls of the aquarium into the furniture you have put it on.

If it is sat on a hardwood table this can amplify the sound.

Putting the aquarium on a sound dampening mat, or even just a towel, will help dampen the vibrations.

8. Buy A Quieter Pump

If you're tried all of the above and none of it is working then your filter is more than likely irrepairably broken in someway.

A noisy aquarium pump is a danger to your fish as it is likely that it will eventually overheat which could potentially kill your fish.

Ignoring the noise isn't an option.

The only choice left is to buy a new quieter filter such as the highly recommended QuietPro50:

QuietFlow Aqueon 50 LED Pro Power Filter
259 Reviews
QuietFlow Aqueon 50 LED Pro Power Filter
  • The Aqueon QuietFlow LED Pro 50 Power Filter features four stages of filtration–mechanical, chemical, biological and wet/dry–for the cleanest, clearest, healthiest water
  • This new version includes an LED light that flashes when the cartridge becomes clogged, indicating it is time for replacement. The batteries are included for this feature.
  • 250 gph flow rate

We hope this article has helped you get rid of your annoying aquarium filter noise.

A quiet filter is a safe filter - providing it's not quiet because it's off!

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I'm Dan, I live very close to an internationally famous stadium which generates an awful lot of noise that I'd rather block out.

This is my place to document what I've learnt on my soundproofing journey.