Are External Aquarium Filters Noisy? (How To Fix Noisy Filters?)

Image of an aquarium with external filter

Filters play a significant role in keeping fish tanks clean. While internal aquarium filters are suitable for small fish tanks, external aquarium filters are necessary for big fish tanks. Now, most filters produce some sound during operation. Since an external filter is a big and bulky piece of equipment, you may wonder, are external aquarium filters noisy?

Depending on the make and model of the external aquarium filter, it may produce some noise. However, modern external filters don’t make loud, disturbing noises if set up correctly and cleaned regularly. Well-maintained external aquarium filters will only make an electric hum and a trickling sound.

Let’s take a deeper look at this now.

Do Fish Tank Filters Make Noise?

Filters make your fish tank a cleaner dwelling place for your aquatic plants and pets.

However, this equipment is seldom silent.

The air pump in a filter and the power supply usually produces some sound during operation.

If you listen carefully, you can easily identify the electric buzzing sound that filters make. This is produced by the air pump.

Some filters also produce a trickling or splashing sound when the water from the filter returns to the tank.

In most modern filters, the powering mechanism produces a low buzzing sound.

If you set up the filter correctly and there are no blockages in its path, this sound is barely audible.

You will only hear the tranquil and soothing sound of flowing water.

If you hear any other loud or unusual sound, it usually indicates a problem with the filter.

What’s A Normal Aquarium Filter Sound And What’s Not?

Excessive splashing sounds occur when the water level in the fish tank reduces and water from the outlet splashes into the tank.

To fix this problem, you should add more water to the tank.

You can also adjust the position of the outlet hose and the flow rate of the filter. This will reduce the sounds produced by the filter.

Some filter units produce bubbling sounds as the water from the outlet enters the tank.

You can hear popping sounds when the bubbles from the filter enter and mix with the tank water.

This sound is more likely to appear when your filter unit has a sponge.

It can be distracting or annoying to some. Fortunately, there is an easy fix if you don’t like this sound.

Use an air stone or adjust the filter position to muffle the sound of the bubbles.

Adding decorations or plants inside the tank will also help reduce the sound of the aquarium filter.

While bubbling and humming noises are normal, filters shouldn’t produce rattling sounds, loud vibrations, or irritating buzzing noises.

When this happens, it means that the filter is either blocked or damaged.

Loud sounds occur when the filter has a broken part or is blocked.

To fix such issues, you will have to inspect your filter up close and identify the source of the problem.

Recommended Further Reading:

How To Fix A Noisy External Filter?

External filters sit outside the tank. Water from the tank enters the filter through a pipe.

This water passes through the different filter compartments.

The filter will usually have mechanical, chemical, and/or biological components to clean the water of impurities.

Once the water passes through the compartments and is filtered, it can return to the tank.

There is an outlet pump for this purpose.

An air pump is attached to the filter to ensure the smooth flow of the water back into the fish tank.

Now, external filters have big compartments to hold enough filter media.

Due to their ability to hold more filter media, you need not clean them frequently.

External filters can go for a few weeks without being cleaned.

Nonetheless, external filters can get clogged with physical waste and decaying plant parts.

Blockages also occur if you wait too long to clean the filter media.

Trapped algae, limescale, sand, or dirt, can block the filter outlet or pump and cause it to produce loud noises.

If your external filter suddenly becomes noisy, the sound could be caused by a blockage. Cleaning the filter should resolve the issue.

Remove the filter, open it up, and clean its compartments. Refill it with filter media as per your need and plug it back in.

In most cases, this should fix the issue. Your external aquarium filter should once again operate without much noise.

However, if the problem persists despite cleaning the filter, it may be damaged.

You should take the filter apart to investigate and find out whether there is any damage.

Carefully disassemble the filter and separate the parts to find where the problem is.

Take care to follow the instruction manual to avoid causing any further damage to the filter.

Related Further Reading:

Troubleshooting A Noisy Filter

Filters contain various moving parts. Over time, they undergo wear and tear and operate less efficiently.

To keep them in good working condition for a long time, lubricate the moving parts with aquarium-safe lubricants.

Additionally, pay attention to the gaskets, seals, and rings around the different parts. Ensure that they are not damaged or frayed.

One of the most accident-prone parts of an external filter is the impeller.

Any obstruction at the impeller site will also affect the movement of water.

The device will use more force to push the water, which can result in loud, irritating sounds.

The impeller can break if heavy items apply force on it.

If something is blocking the impeller, clean this area with a brush. Then, press it back into place.

If it continues to make noise, the impeller may be broken.

You may have to replace the part to resolve the noise problem and restore your filter to full efficiency.

Now, if the impeller is working fine, check the water pump. Any obstruction in the pump can cause unusual sounds.

Try to fix the problem by cleaning or replacing the water pump if it has undergone extensive damage.

If your external filter is an older model, it may produce more sound.

If the noises bother you a lot, consider switching to a low noise model.

Sponge-based and HOB filters are usually noisier than other models.

You may want to choose quieter canister filters to reduce the noise.

Interesting Further Reading:

Are External Fish Tank Filters Better?

Despite their large sizes, loud buzzing sounds, and space requirements, advanced fish hobbyists prefer external fish tank filters.

External filters are more powerful and efficient than internal filters. They hold more amount of filter media than an internal filter.

They also use a mix of filtration techniques to clean the water in your fish tank efficiently.

Hence, an external filter will leave your fish tank looking cleaner than an internal aquarium filter.

Another factor to remember is that external filters are built to handle bigger filtration requirements.

They are highly suitable for complex and big aquarium settings that house a large number of aquatic organisms and plants.

Since they sit outside the fish tank, they don’t disturb the fish. Neither do they affect the visual appeal of the fish tank.

Nonetheless, external filters use more power. You will also have to spend more time cleaning them when they become dirty.

However, they don’t need frequent cleaning, which makes them the practical and easy choice for busy fish tank owners.