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I’m sure if you are reading this, you already understand how crucial a fish tank filter is, but you probably hate the buzzing sounds it makes keeping you awake all night, and most likely, you also despise it for pushing your power bill through the roof.
Which leads us to the question; is it a must you keep aquarium filter running all day (24/7), or it’s OK to turn it off at night.
Well, disappointing as this answer may be, its not a good idea to turn off a fish tank filter, especially not every or all night.
The main reason why you want to keep it on is to protect the healthy bacteria housed in the filter, that breakdown ammonia produced from fish waste and leftover fish food.
Without these bacteria in the tank, you will most likely have a health problem in your fish because the harmful ammonia will gradually poison your water.
Be that as it may, turning your filter off for an hour or two is not too bad, more so when cleaning your tank. This is so because it takes a long minute for ammonia to accumulate in the tank to a level where it kills fish, leaving you a small window to work with.
Please read on for more insight on how to operate your aquarium filter.
Is it OK to Turn Fish Tank Filter Off at Night
I’ve already mentioned above that it is not advisable to turn off your aquarium filter at any time, including at night. Of course, if your turn it off for a while for some peace of mind and quite or to save on a few dimes worth of power, your fish won’t die.
But when you turn off your filter all night there will be an accumulation of ammonia in the tank which, as you may already know, will kill your fish.
Moreover, your filter is responsible for aerating your fish tank, especially if you don’t have an air pump, so when you turn it off the filter, the fish and plants will be hanging on to their dear lives, if not from ammonia poisoning, from a lack of air.
Now that your sure switching off your fish tank filter is not feasible, I’m sure you are wondering how much more you will have to pay in electricity, also whether there is a way to quiet your filter.
Well, let’s get to it
Wiil A Fish Tank Filter Use Too Much Electricity Now That You Can’t Turn It Off
Apart from fish food and maintenance products, the cost of power should be the only other huge-price you may have to pay when running a freshwater aquarium. Filters, heater, lights, and air pumps need to stay on almost all the time to keep your fish alive.
However, while you can and should turn off your lights and heaters, and even an air pump if you have one, you have to keep filters on 24/7.
So how much power does an aquarium filter need to keep running?
Overall, a 10-gallon freshwater aquarium running at a temperature of 72°F has an average consumption of about 150KWh a year. Whereas a medium-size 30-gallon tank will run at between 150 and 200KWh a year.
Howbeit, the bigger-percentage of the power consumed within the year is spent by aquarium lights (45percent) and heaters (35percent). Your fish tank filter will only take up about 12 percent of the power, which comes to 18KWh a year, give or take.
So, to answer the question “Do fish tank filters use too much electricity, considering you can’t turn them off?”.
No, your filter won’t run your power meter too fast, at least not as fast as your aquarium lights and heaters, especially if you keep them on all day.
Therefore, assuming you want to turn off your fish tank filter at night, electricity should be the least of your worries.
But what about the noise?
How To Make a Fish Tank Filter Quieter If You Can’t Turn It Off
An aquarium filter making a loud noise is a pretty common complaint (a topic we’ve I’ve covered in much depth here) with fish keepers, and in this situation, one can be quite tempted to turn it off, if not for anything else, for a little peace of mind at the very least.
But switching off your filter means killing your fish!
So what else is there to do?
The first step would be to find the source of the noise.
Because aquarium filters come in different shapes, sizes, and power ranges, the buzz or rattle you hear could be coming from anywhere. Moreover, not all the noise in a fish tank come from the filter and the only way to be sure is to isolate the sounds.
In my experience, most filter units are generally quiet given the advancement in technology, but the splashing noise from the flow into the tank can be quite irritating.
The sound is usually worse if the intake nozzle is clogged with algae or other debris, which also compromises your filter functionality.
To remedy the splashing noise, fill your tank to the top or maybe put a cover on the release area. To cover the outlet, place nylon over the outlet or add an extra filter sponge on the outtake to reduce the current.
You can also choose to lower the water flow rate, which not only reduces the splashing noise but also cut back on any sounds made by the filter from working too fast.
Away from the splashing sounds, your unit will be deafeningly loud if it’s not working as it should.
A faulty filter will mostly make a rattling noise, especially if a component is broken, in which case, you will need to disassemble it to find out the faulty part.
If you are lucky, it will probably be a blocked part from debris like algae, and all you’ll need to do is clean your filter.
On the flip side, a component in the filter unit may be broken and need fixing or a replacement. In most cases, the culprit will be the air pump.
To make sure your filter air pump is not the problem, try pumping he water manually without the filter.
Other items that commonly get break down and cause off noises on filters include:
- Filter impellers such as this one and this one
- Rim connectors like this one
- Flexible tubings
- Suction cups
- Sealing rubber rings
- Cartidges such as this ones tetra whisper replacement
- Filter pad and floss such as this one
please note that the links above are for specific items, so you might need to look for the piece that goes with the filter unit your have. I’ve used them only for demestration purposes.
Having said that, some aquarium filters are loud by design, and the only remedy is to get a quieter unit.
Please note this article has not covered the filter noises and how to quiet an aquarium filter exhaustively, so you may need to a little more research. I’ve only covered the basics with the assumption that part of the reason you want to switch off your aquarium filter is the noise.
Should Air Pumps Always Be On in a Fish Tank
If you have a powerful filter that can aerate the water in your tank, or a large aquarium with a few fish that won’t outcompete each other for air, fish can live without an air pump. This also means that it is perfectly fine to turn your air pump off if you need to, assuming you have one in your tank.
Basically, an aquarium air pump (Recommended) is only used to aerate the water in your tank, which is the source of oxygen for your fish, though some units like this tetra whisper pump are used to run filter like sponge units that do not have an inbuild air pump.
As you may already know, most tropical fish only breathe through their gills inside the water.
In nature, the water that the fish live in is oxygenated by the air from the atmosphere. More so in rivers with strong currents.
Fish species that live in still water are also able to take in oxygen because open lakes and marshes have more than enough reserves of dissolved air.
However, in the fish tanks the stagnant water in a tiny space make the less than enough dissolved oxygen a priced commodity for your fish.
So, when is it OK for you to turn off your fish tank pump?
- If you have a large tank that is sparsely populated.
- When you have a powerful filter like a hang-on-back unit that can filter and also aerate your fish tank.
- If you have labyrinth fish like gouramis and bettas that can breathe air from the surface of the water.
- When you’ve been running your air pump long enough and are confident your aquarium inhabitants won’t suffocate. However, if you’re tank is small in size and heavily stocked, I recommend you leave the pump on most of time.
Have fun keeping fish.