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Beginners Guide

How to Upgrade an Aquarium Filter and Save Your Money

by Nguyễn Hoàng Anh Tuấn 04 Apr 2023 0 Comments

Most aquarists didn't realize you can replace disposable cartridges with reusable and long-lasting filter media. This article shows seven ways to help you optimize your aquarium filter to minimize costs. Let's start with us.

Why should you remove the filter using cartridges?

The fact is that most cartridges are made from a fine filter pad for the mechanical filtration of carbon and internal chemical filtration (to remove dust and other impurities from the water). Delicate filter cushions and activated carbon quickly become saturated with waste and pollutants, significantly reducing their effectiveness. Their dense materials are challenging to clean and reuse.

Get the Prefilter Sponge

A prefilter sponge is a foam cylinder that fits into the intake manifold of your suspension filter or canister. Not only do filter sponges grow a lot of beneficial bacteria, but they also help mechanically filter by preventing food, small fish, leaves, and other large debris from being sucked into the engine compartment of the filter.

Beneficial bacteria are a natural form of biofilter that consumes toxic nitrogen compounds from fish waste, making the water in the tank safer. Therefore, we encourage their growth by increasing the surface area in your tank with a sponge filter. Choose a prefilter sponge the right size for your filter, and you'll easily double its filtering capacity.

However, if your prefilter sponge is too loose, you can cut a sponge and stuff it down the filter head to make it fit. If the water flow from your filter decreases, regularly clean the prefilter sponge about once a month by filtering out debris in an old aquarium water tank.

How to reuse filter equipment - prefilter sponge

With pre filter sponges, there is no need to replace them; they are reusable, have more surface area for biological filtration, and can increase filtration capacity up to four times. You should rinse the filter media in the aquarium water once a month.

The coarse sponge pads remove debris from the water and can be reused by washing them monthly. Rough sponge pads are not prone to clogging during water purification, are inexpensive, and can last ten years or more.

For biological filtration, you can use physical filter bags with many pores for beneficial bacteria to grow. If the bag doesn't wholly fit the filter, you can buy a traditional filter to reshape them.

Use a sponge in front of the filter to cover the intake.


This depends on the type of fish you keep; for example, if you are saving a lot of small fish, we recommend these as they cover the water inlet so the small fish won't get sucked in and because since it covers the bay pretty well, it reduces water flow which is great stuff for your aquarium.

You don't need to use coarse filters if you keep Cichlids or other large fish. They prefer high water currents and fast water flow rates. To sum up, if your fish is in the breeding process, we recommend using this filter as it protects the small fish, and you won't have to worry about any snails. Or any shrimp or fish are sucked up.

Cleaning Reusable Filter Media.

Regularly maintain your filter and wash the filter media once a month. Cleaning the filter reduces the chance of the filter becoming clogged, and debris trapped inside these builds up over time. Mechanical filtration works like a garbage bag collecting the trash present in your aquarium. Even though it's called a "garbage filter bag," you still have to clean this bag to ensure the trash does not overflow back into the aquarium.

More filtering is only sometimes better.

Many aquarists, especially beginners, think that more filtering is better. They often cram multiple canister filters into an aquarium or immobilize them to achieve high water turnover rates.

Remember that owning multiple filters costs money, takes more energy, and takes longer to maintain. When you only have one filter, you will pay more attention to it in cleaning the filter media, checking for any strange sounds it makes, and adding replacement parts as needed.

Focus on making your one filter as efficient as possible, clean it regularly, and do more for less. If you keep up with what you already have, it will take less effort to keep it working.

Upgrade filters and combine heaters.

If you want crystal clear water, add a layer of the fine poly pad with tiny holes that can remove small particles. The poly pads are great at removing fine particles, so you get crystal clear water, and your fish looks like they're flying through the air. Like cartridge filters, these fine filter gaskets will eventually need to be removed and replaced after they become saturated with debris. However, the advantage is that these pads are cheap and can be cut to any size.

Placing your heater next to the filter will help the warm water spread evenly throughout the aquarium. This is necessary if your tank is large and your fish community needs to be warmed up in winter. You can put these mini heaters behind the filter media, which will heat all the water through the filter.

Add an air stone inside the sponge filter so that the flow of the water forms a steady stream of small bubbles. These tiny bubbles create a constant stream of water through the sponge material, making the filter more effective at blocking particles and reducing bubbling noise.

Adding an air stone to the filter drill enhances the growth of beneficial bacteria. It infuses the water with excellent oxygen, so fish and plants thrive.

Upgrading your filter with reusable filter media makes your aquarium system better at keeping good water quality. Still, reusable filter media tend to last for the filter's life, saving you a lot of money in the long run. The initial upfront cost can be slightly higher. We hope you gain more info about quick and easy tricks to improve your aquarium filter. If you want to read more about “How to do a water change and why it’s so important”, read it here.

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