How To Install an Aquarium Filter


An aquarium filter is crucial for the survival of fish in tanks.

As these creatures are used to living in open spaces, a cramped fish tank can be life-threatening without a functioning filter.

These filters remove physical and soluble chemical waste produced by the respiration and excretion of fish. They can operate biologically using a nitrogen cycle or mechanically using chemical filtration.

How difficult it is to install an aquarium filter

The degree of difficulty of installing an aquarium filter depends on the type of filter you have purchased.

Your filter will either be internal or external. Internal ones are easier to install but external ones filter better.

Some aquarium filters, like underwater gravel ones, need to be installed right at the beginning, before filling in the tank.

In general, it is a fairly manageable task so you can try a DIY installation.

However, the procedure requires a certain amount of precision since the wellbeing of living creatures is involved.

So, if you do not have much experience with home improvement, or if the instructions seem difficult, it is best to hire a professional for it.

Tools and Materials Required to Install

Unlike most water filters or products for home improvement, you don’t need to fish out your tools and equipment to install an aquarium filter.

Everything you need for the process will be included in the product kit.

You can start installing the moment your package is delivered.

Simply open up the box (you may need a box cutter or a pair of scissors for this, but that’s about it) and take out all the contents.

Place all the contents together on a flat surface where you can work with comfort.

You will find various filter media, their containers, a motor, the filter body, and its lid. Keep them in such a manner that each component is visible.

How To Install an Aquarium Filter

Step by step guide to install an aquarium filter

If you’ve kept all the components ready on a surface, you can begin the installation. Simply follow the instructions given below and your filter will be running in no time:

  1. Assemble all the parts

    You will first need to assemble all the parts of the filter. The manufacturer sends them separately for the sake of space and practicality.

  2. Put together filter media

    The product manual will have information and diagram explaining which filter media goes in which container and how to put them together in the filter body. Follow these steps “strictly” and make sure that the entire unit is intact and without leaks or defects.

  3. Seal and Shut

    If you have placed all the media in the filter body, seal it shut with the lid. Check the manual for any specific instructions on assembling the filter.

  4. Place in Tank

    Once the filter body is ready to be mounted, place it in its permanent location in the tank. Before you set up the aquarium, you should find out what kind of filter you have and where its ideal location should be.

  5. Attach powerhead & airlines

    Attach the powerhead and the pump airlines to their appropriate lift tubes. To know which tubes are the correct ones, refer to the product manual. They differ according to the type of filter.

  6. Connect power cable to the source

    There will be an external power cable which you need to connect to a power outlet near the tank. Only connect the plug, do not switch it on.

  7. Fill Sand / Pebbles

    If your filter is an underwater gravel one, fill the tank with pebbles or sand after mounting the filter.

  8. Switch on

    Once everything is set up, pour in the water for the aquarium and switch on the filter.

  9. Final Checks

    Check if it operates fine and if there are any unwanted sounds or vibrations.

If you need further visual assistance for installing your aquarium filter, check out this video –

Things to keep in mind

There are a few things that you need to remember to ensure the installation procedure runs smoothly.

Here is a list of these things:

  1. Do not switch the power on for your aquarium filter before the tank is completely filled with water.
  2. If you have chosen an external power filter, position it at the back of the tank. Place it in a way that the outflow evenly distributes water.
  3. When you set up the holding tank, first only fill it three fourths with water. After you mount it to the filter body, fill it to the brim until the water pours into the aquarium tank.
  4. Incorrect use during installation can end up breaking the filter parts. If you’re new at this, it’s best to do it along with someone who has some experience.

Pros and cons of installing an aquarium filter on your own


An aquarium filter can be installed at home by the owner themselves if they are careful at every step. Having some kind of experience with filters or fish tanks helps.

By doing it yourself, you can operate at a pace that suits you. You also save up on money by not hiring someone to do it for you.

It’s not exactly a complicated procedure so it’s worth trying on your own.


Installing an aquarium filter is something that does require skill and is part and parcel of the fish keeping experience.

It can be a challenge to amateurs who may end up damaging parts. It’s imperative to do this with precision and caution as its operation affects the quality of life for your pets.

This may take up your time and resources so if you’re expecting low maintenance, an aquarium isn’t what you’re looking for.


Installing an aquarium filter is necessary for the sustained life of your pet fish.

Without one, the fish will eventually die. The degree of difficulty in assembling and installing depends on the type of filter.

Most of them are manageable and can be set up at home without a professional.

However, they do require some amount of skill to be installed smoothly. Maintenance and regular cartridge replacements are essential for long shelf life.

About Jennifer Moore

I'm Jennifer and I am a hardcore car racing lover. I have been writing on automotive topics for more than 8 years now, specializing in performance enhancement. My passion is to help people find the best of what they are looking for, be it an engine or a set of tires. If you want to know something about cars and how they work, just ask me!