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How To Clean Canister Filter Hoses (3 Methods)

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By Lindsey Stanton

cleaning the aquascape

Canister filters are undoubtedly some of the biggest, best, most powerful, and highly efficient filtration systems for aquariums out there. There is simply no denying the fact that they get the job done. They have plenty of room for media, they usually always engage in all three major types of filtration, and they have unrivaled processing power.

However, with that being said, they do have some issues, with the cleanliness of the hoses being one of the biggest ones. When it comes to the query of how to clean canister filter hoses, we have a few different solutions for you to take a look at right here and right now.

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How To Clean Canister Filter Tubes

Canister filter hoses are essential to the function of your filter. The intake hose takes in water with a pumping system, tank water that gets filtered through the various media in the filter.

The other hose takes that clean tank water and relays it back to the aquarium. The hoses can and do get dirty. They get full of grime, gunk, and other littler particles that clog up the hoses over time.

This is, of course, not a good thing because clogged hoses lead to decreased water flow and filtration power. Therefore, cleaning filter hoses is crucial to do every couple of months at the very least. So, how do you clean a canister filter hose?

Let’s talk about the different methods you can follow right now.

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Image Credit: Joan Carles Juarez, Shutterstock

Before You Get Started

There are a couple of things to keep in mind before you begin. First and foremost, remember to power down the filter and disconnect it from the power outlet. You don’t want to be messing around with things that are still connected to the power supply. Also, disconnect all of the hoses that you are looking to clean.

Before you disconnect the hose, make sure that the intake and outtake valves are both in the off position in order to make sure that no water damage of any kind occurs and so that you don’t make a mess either.

Before you actually start cleaning the tubes, make sure to soak them in some warm water for about 15 to 30 minutes. This will help loosen stuff up a bit, making things easier when it comes time to actually scrub the hoses. Also, you might want to put down some old towels or floor mats and maybe wear some rubber gloves, too, because this does get pretty messy.

Method 1: The Hose Brush

Perhaps the most common way of cleaning out hoses is by using a hose cleaning brush. These are specialized brushes made just for this very purpose. Hose brushes tend to be like really bristly pipe cleaners on a long and highly flexible stick.

This allows you to get far down into the tubes with the hose cleaning brush. Simply take the brush, take your tubes, insert the hose brush, and start scrubbing away. To see what you have cleaned and what still needs cleaning, you might want to flush them through with water every few minutes.

The hose brushes do have their limitations that can make the job harder for you. First of all, if you have really long canister filter tubes, you might just not be able to get far into the tubes to clean everything out. Also, these hose brushes might just push the gunk around instead of cleaning it out.

Finally, hose brushes can be a little flimsy, which leads to decreased torque and cleaning power. However, for simple cleaning jobs, canister hose brushes will do just fine.

aquarium filter hose
Image Credit: 4wahid_vidi87, Shutterstock

Method 2: Hose Magnets

You may have never heard of these before, but rest assured that they certainly do exist. Hose magnet kits can be bought at online retailers, hardware shops, and local bet stores too. Hose magnets consist of 2 main components, the magnets, and the cleaning surface.

This is a fairly easy method to try. Simply put the magnet with the cleaning pad on the tube’s interior and pull it along the tubing with the exterior magnet from one end to the other, thus pushing out all of the gunk.

These are pretty neat tools because there is no risk of them getting stuck in there or breaking off as a hose brush can. You might have to scrub a bit by moving the magnets back and forth, but all in all, this method is quite easy.

It might take a bit of time to get the job done, but it certainly works. On a side note, these magnet kits can be a little pricey, so be prepared to invest a few bucks, but in our opinion, it is well worth the few extra bucks.


Method 3: The Pump

Perhaps the easiest way to clean canister filter hoses without much effort is with a pump. Use your sump pump or water pump to clean the filter hoses. Simply submerge the pump in a solution consisting of water and vinegar or water and hydrogen peroxide.

Connect the tubes to the pump, turn them on, and let the pump blast the solution through the tubes. It should take no longer than 30 minutes for all of the gunk and grime to be flushed out of the hose.

fish tank with filter hose
Image Credit: RaKav007, Shutterstock

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Finishing The Job

Once you have finished using one of the above methods to clean out the hoses, place them in a dry and well-ventilated area so they can dry out.

If you happened to use the vinegar or hydrogen peroxide pump method, you will notice that your pump looks extra clean. Anyway, while you are waiting for the hoses to dry, you can work on some other kind of aquarium maintenance if there is something to do.

After the hoses have dried and you are satisfied that they are clean, reattach them to their corresponding valves, plug the filter back in, and you are good to go.

If the filter still does not have the level of water flow it usually has when clean, either you need to clean the tubes more, or there is a different problem with your canister filter.

Why Do You Need to Clean Your Canister Filter Hoses?

You might think that there is only water running through those hoses, so there is no need to clean them. However, this is, of course, not true.

There are actually many reasons why filter hoses need regular cleaning.

Filter hoses can get clogged over time. Various things like fish waste, uneaten fish food, plant matter, and other substances can build up in those hoses. This leads to clogged hoses.

If the filter hose gets clogged, it will reduce the efficiency of your canister filter. Simply put, it’s like having a lot of cholesterol and plaque buildup in the arteries.

The tubes get smaller and less water can travel through them. This inefficiency in regards to filtration will lead to a dirtier aquarium. Of course, a dirty aquarium puts stress on the fish and may lead to health issues for the aquarium inhabitants.

Clogged hoses also put a lot of stress on the filter itself, particularly the pump. The more clogged those hoses are, the harder the motor has to work to force water through them.

Eventually, this can lead to your motor burning out and breaking down, with the end result being you need to buy a new filter.

Algae can also start to build up in the hoses, which is not a good thing. Let too much algae build up in there, and it could lead to a full-scale algae bloom.

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How Often To Clean Canister Filter Hoses?

How often you clean your filter hoses really depends on the bio-load in your aquarium, or in other words, how many fish and plants you have in there.

Generally speaking, the recommendation is that canister hose filters be cleaned every 2 months at the very least. The more fish you have in your tank, the more plants you have, and if there are things like algae present, the more often this cleaning needs to be done.

If you have a heavily stocked aquarium, you may want to consider cleaning the filter hoses as much as every month.

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Conclusion

Whatever method you end up choosing, cleaning canister filter hoses is pretty easy. It may take some specific tools, some elbow grease, and some time, but it is definitely not hard. It is a necessary part of aquarium canister filter maintenance that needs to be done every now and again.

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Feature Image Credit: Open Mind Art, Shutterstock

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