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How to Prime a Fish Tank Filter in 1 Simple Step!

Lindsey Stanton Profile Picture

By Lindsey Stanton

fish tank with filter hose

Fish tank filters are an integral part of every home aquarium. Simply put, without the filter, your fish would probably not survive for a very long time at all. They clean the water so that your fish have a habitable place to live.

However, not all filters work the same way, which is especially true when it comes to starting them up. Today, we are here to talk about how to prime a fish tank filter, or in other words, how to get it ready to go.


What Is Priming?

Priming is something that all filters have to go through in one way or another. This is a part of the startup process. In terms of aquarium filters, priming means filling the reservoir and the whole thing with water to get it going.

If you do not prime the filter before using it, it will be running with air in the tubing instead of water. This will cause the motor to burn out very quickly, plus the filter won’t be filtering water as it should. Priming is something that needs to be done in one way or another.

Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

How to Prime a Fish Tank Filter

Priming a fish tank filter, while necessary, is also quite easy to accomplish. There are some no-prime or self-priming filters out there. For these, all you need to do is press the primer button once or a few times in order to bring water into the tubes and the chamber. However, not all filters are self-priming. Some need to be primed manually, which is where you come in.

Simply make sure that the pump is off and take some water, putting it into the pump reservoir until it is full. Different types of filters have different setups, but they all have a pump reservoir. Now it is time to turn the pump on and let the water work its way through.

You may need to continue pouring water into the reservoir as it runs in order to completely prime it. Other than that, there is really nothing else that needs to be done.



There you go, it’s as easy as that. If you don’t have a self-priming filter, priming the pump is as easy as pouring some water into it and letting it run for a little while.

Feature Image Credit: RaKav007, Shutterstock

Lindsey Stanton Profile Picture

Authored by

Lindsey discovered her passion for fish keeping after a junior high school field trip to the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. Prior to becoming Editor-in-Chief of It's a Fish Thing, Lindsey studied marine biology at the University of California-Santa Cruz. She loves goldfish, tetras, and mystery snails, and recently began experimenting with a saltwater aquarium.

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