Aqueon Filter Not Working? We’ve Got the Solution for You

Charlie Morton

Charlie Morton


Aqueon Filter Not Working

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If you’ve been keeping fish for a while, you’ll probably have experienced a broken or malfunctioning filter before now.

And if you understand how important a well-functioning filter is to your fish, you’ll know how urgent it is to get it back on track again!

If your Aqueon filter has broken, I have some stunning tips and tricks to help you get your filter working again so that your water can remain a safe and healthy environment for your fish and aquatic pets.

Why A Well-functioning Aquarium Filter Is So Important

The chances are you’ll already know why aquarium filters are so essential, so I’ll keep this brief. In short, filters play a vital role in keeping your fish tank water clean, and clear, and maintaining a safe environment for your fish.

By removing debris, increasing oxygen levels, and converting harmful ammonia into nitrates, proper filtration serves many important roles at once to keep your water quality high and your fish healthy.

If your filter breaks and water circulation stops, your tank environment could quickly become a deadly environment for your fish, even within a day or two.

That’s why it’s so important to make sure your filter is running smoothly and to fix it as quickly as possible if something goes wrong.

The Different Types of Aqueon Filters on the Market

First off, let’s find out which types of Aqueon aquarium filters are currently on the market.

There are 3 basic kinds:

The Aqueon QuietFlow Internal Power Filter Series

Aqueon Submersible Internal Aquarium Filter
  • Fully submersible and self-priming
  • Directional return pipe allows for vertical or horizontal placement
  • Three stage filtration: dense foam for particles and debris, activated carbon for toxins, odors and discoloration and patented BioGrid for ammonia and nitrites
  • Compact size is perfect for placement in smaller aquariums or shallow water

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The Aqueon QuietFlow Hang-On-Back Power Filter Series

Aqueon QuietFlow 20 LED PRO Fish Tank Filter
  • Dense floss removes particles and debris
  • Activated carbon removes toxins, odors and discoloration
  • Patented bio-holster removes toxic ammonia and nitrites
  • Diffuser grid removes additional toxins while adding oxygen for more active fish
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The Aqueon QuietFlow Canister Filter Series

Aqueon QuietFlow Canister Filter
  • Designed for both freshwater and saltwater aquariums up to 55 gallons
  • Included is a unique hang on the back water polishing unit that makes maintaining your aquarium filter quick and easy
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By far the most popular of these is the Hang-On-Back (HOB) Filters, which have been some of the best-selling home aquarium filters on the market for many years.

But one of the reasons for the popularity of these filters is the low prices, which may mean that some components won’t last as long as premium options.

While the majority of Aqueon customers review their filters positively, there are also some issues that we will address one by one in this article.

A Note on Personal Safety and Aqueon Warranty Policy

It should go without saying that there are health risks attached to attempting to fix your own aquarium filter.

Water and electricity are a hazardous mix, so I’d advise caution, especially if you try to fix any electrical components yourself. If you do try, always remember to unplug your filter from the power source, and proceed at your own risk!

Also, Aqueon has different warranty policies for its various filter models which are worth checking out if something goes wrong with yours.

Be warned that if you attempt to fix your filter yourself or customize it in any way, you may invalidate the warranty cover.

Your First Port of Call – Call Customer Service

If you’re having trouble with your Aqueon filter, try calling the Aqueon customer service team.

Their customer service has received mixed reviews, but there are certainly many fish keepers who were provided with free replacements and helpful advice, so it’s the best place to start.

Of course, replacements can take precious time to arrive, so be sure to read the ‘what to do in an emergency’ section at the bottom of the page if you’ll be without a functioning filter for a few days.

If you want to better understand or fix the problem yourself, though, then read on…

Common Problems With Aqueon Filters

Broken LED Indicator Light

Perhaps the most common complaint about the Aqueon LED Pro series is the flashing LED light that is supposed to indicate when you need to replace the filter cartridge.

What many fish keepers have reported is that the lights come on all the time, well before the cartridges actually need changing.

Many users have concluded that this indicator system must be broken, but upon closer inspection, it appears that the system just isn’t accurate.

Aqueon states that their filter cartridges typically need replacing only every 4-6 weeks, but many users have reported that the lights start flashing within a few days!

As a side note, the replaceable cartridge system for filters is quite controversial, since the design demands that you need to keep buying disposable media from the manufacturer.

This is not only wasteful but it can become expensive too.

Some aquarists choose instead to customize these types of filters with their own homemade filter media which can be cleaned and returned instead of thrown away. Check out this useful video to learn how!

Filter Making Too Much Noise

The second most frequent complaint about Aqueon QuietFlow filters is that, despite the name, they can sometimes become noisy.

To be fair to Aqueon, they’ve done everything possible to make their hang-on-back filters exceptionally quiet, and many customers report being pleased with the noise level.

But hang-on-back filters will simply never be as reliable and noise-free as canister filters and can still become noisy sometimes. This can be caused by a couple of different issues.

Impeller Rattling

A common problem with hang-on-back filters is the impeller (the blue, star-shaped propeller) rattling and making a racket.

I used to struggle with this with my internal power filter of another brand which stopped me from sleeping before I found an amazing solution – vaseline!

Yes, vaseline or other petroleum jelly lubricants can work a charm on noisy impellers. By lubricating the filter impeller shaft, the impeller can rotate far more smoothly and quietly.

You may need to reapply this lubricant every month or so, and when you do so, also make sure that your impeller and impeller shaft are spotlessly clean to improve performance even further.

Trapped Air Bubbles

Another common issue with all kinds of power filters is trapped air bubbles in the system.

An aquarium filter is designed to push water, not air, and any bubbles in the system can get lodged, begin to rattle and make an irritating noise.

The best way to deal with air bubbles is to completely flush the system with water to push out the bubbles. This is especially important on the Aqueon canister filters which need manual priming with water before operating.

Loose Filter Housing

Another potential noise issue with power filters is when the plastic housing that encases them comes loose.

When your filter is switched on it will make a quiet hum, but if the plastic housing is loose, the sound is amplified as the plastic parts rattle together.

Some aquarists have removed parts of the housing altogether, while another solution would be to clamp them tight.

Change the Adjustable Flow Rate

Lastly, it’s worth fiddling with the adjustable flow dial on your Aqueon filter to see if that makes any difference to the noise levels.

Obviously, fast-flowing water will clean your tank more effectively than a gentle current, but the maximum flow rate isn’t always necessary (or even desirable for some fish).

Aqueon Filter Not Working

Filter Not Turning On

Now for some more serious issues. If your filter is not turning on, there could be a variety of causes.

Broken Cables, Connections, and Fuses

It’s fairly obvious, but your power filter won’t work if you have a problem with the power supply.

If there are broken cables or broken wiring anywhere in the system, your filter motor will fail to turn on at all.

If you have experience with electrical wiring, you could open the plug and check for any loose connections.

Are your other aquarium appliances working? If not, you could also check for blown fuses and flicked trip switches that could be causing the problem.

Damage From Power Surges

Power surges occur when the flow of electricity is stopped and then started again, or when something (like a lightning strike) sends a lot of electricity back into the system.

Power surges can damage all kinds of electrical equipment including fish tank filters and aquarium heaters.

Sometimes the problem is only temporary, and your filter will turn back on after a few hours, but other times a power surge could leave your filter permanently broken.

A great way to guard against power surges is to plug all of your aquarium appliances into a trusted power strip surge protector.

Belkin Power Strip Surge Protector

Power everything on your desk with a single compact surge-protected extension cord. This reputable power cord offers 12 AC outlets with surge protector for charging your computer, laptop, phone, camera, and more. One charging station for a clutter-free desk.

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Filter Making Noise but No Water Flow

If your filter’s motor is turning on but there’s very little or no water passing through, it suggests either an obstruction in the system or a faulty component.

Clearing the Clogs

Water flow issues or loss of suction are often due to an obstacle within one of the channels that needs to be removed.

This could be within the intake tube, outtake tube, or impeller shaft of the filter. Take your filter apart and use a baby bottle brush or q-tip (cotton swab) to clean all channels thoroughly.

Also, use a flashlight to check that the rubber bearings on the ends of the impeller shaft and the smooth magnet on the impeller are immaculately clean!

Even tiny pieces of dirt can cause big problems here. Turn the impeller manually to see if it’s rotating smoothly without any resistance.

Lastly, try playing with the water flow rate dial on your filter to see if that makes a difference.

Put your filter back together and see if there’s any improvement.

Prime Your Filter and Clear Air Bubbles

Just as trapped air can cause your filter to become noisy, it can also prevent your filter from cycling water at all. This is especially likely in the Aqueon canister filters that need manually filling up with water before operation.

On hang-on-back models, make sure that the intake is positioned well inside the water to prevent the filter from sucking up any air.

Filter Leaking

Another potential problem with filters positioned outside of the tank is that they can leak.

Several customers have reported this with Aqueon canister filters, but it’s also possible the problems were caused by incorrect assembly.

If your filter is leaking, check for cracks in the pipes and components, and order replacements from Aqueon if you need to.

One of the most common components to cause leaks is the perishing rubber O-rings which will need replacing periodically, just as rubber parts on any appliance do.

How To Avoid Problems With Your Aqueon Filter

Avoid Sand Clogs

One of the most common causes of a clogged filter is aquarium sand getting sucked up and jammed in the system.

Since clouds of sand stirred up in the water are the main cause of the problem, remember to turn your fish tank’s filter off whenever you disturb a fine substrate.

If your fish are constantly churning up sand, consider using a different substrate or alternatively use a pre-filter to remove the relatively large particles from entering your main filter media.

Ensure Proper Water Level

Another major cause of filter problems is when the aquarium water level is too low and the intake either can’t suck up any water or also sucks up air bubbles at the same time, which then get lodged within the system.

Always make sure your tank is topped up properly, or, if you prefer a lower water level, extend your intake so that it’s fully submersed in your water.

Clean Your Filter Regularly

Just like other filters, Aqueon filters need regular cleaning to continue performing properly.

On hang-on-back models, this means replacing the cartridge every 4-6 weeks or cleaning your own customized filter media every 2-4 weeks in a bucket of tank water.

Aqueon canister filters only need cleaning every 1-2 months but each cleaning could take you up to an hour to complete.

What To Do in an Emergency

If your filter suddenly breaks and you’re unable to fix it straight away, you need to take action to maintain a safe environment for your fish.

Without a filter, oxygen levels in the water will decline, and ammonia and nitrite levels will likely rise, thus creating a toxic and potentially deadly environment for your fish and aquatic pets.

Keep a Backup Filter

Firstly, I’d recommend keeping a backup filter in case of an emergency.

If your main aquarium filter breaks, it could take several days to fix or replace it, and in the meantime, your aquarium water could become deadly.

A cheap sponge filter and air pump will only cost you as little as 15 bucks and, when primed with the beneficial bacteria from your broken filter, could work wonders to save your fish from ammonia poisoning and oxygen depletion in an emergency.

If You Don’t Have a Backup Filter

If your main filter breaks and you don’t have another one, you’ll need to make continuous water changes to maintain a healthy environment for your fish.

Without biological filtration, toxic ammonia or nitrite levels can build quickly, so you need to be changing at least 30% of your water every day until you have your filter working again.

Test Your Water Regularly

In case of emergency, it’s essential to have a reliable aquarium water testing kit on hand to test your water at least once a day.

API Water Test Kit
  • Accurately monitors 5 most vital water parameters levels in freshwater aquariums: pH, high range pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate
  • Designed for use in freshwater aquariums only
  • Use for weekly monitoring and when water or fish problems appear

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Although a backup filter or regular water changes might save the day, you’ll still need to run regular tests to make sure that they’re effective in maintaining a safe environment for your fish.

How Long Do Aqueon Filters Last?

Aqueon is a market leader for low-budget aquarium filters, but some customers feel that the longevity of their products has waned in recent years.

Looking through online reviews you can find many reports of customers having problems with their Aqueon filters a few months after purchase.

With thousands of filters being sold every year, it’s not surprising to receive a few complaints, and other users have reported their Aqueon filters performing well for years without problems too.

Alternatives to Aqueon Filters

Aqueon is a popular filter brand that is used by aquarists around the world, but if you’ve had repeated problems with them, you might be interested in trying another type of filter.

As I write regular reviews of filters for aquarium websites, I keep a close eye on the best filters on the market.

Feel free to check out my review pages for the best filters for betta fish and large aquariums, as well as my top picks for quiet aquarium filters by clicking on the links.


Aqueon filters are popular around the world, but as with any aquarium equipment, users sometimes experience problems.

Whether your filter is making a lot of noise, has sprung a leak, won’t cycle water, or simply won’t turn on, I hope that this guide has given you some helpful hints and tips to get your filter back on track again!

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