How Often Should You Clean Your FilterFalls?

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Atlantic FilterFalls are  one of the best designed upflow biological filtration units on the market. The low maintenance FilterFalls works in two ways to remove wastes. It removes visible suspended solids mechanically by trapping them in the filter pads, clearing the water. One type of bacteria that grows right on the filter pads consumes that trapped organic ooze.
Why use FilterFalls
The primary function of the filter is to remove the toxic ammonia and nitrites excreted by fish, converting them to harmless nitrates. This function is performed by a nitrifying bacteria which  lives in the filter pads. Without them the fish and animals in the pond would actually poison themselves very quickly in their own wastes. These bateria require a constant flow of oxygenated water and cannot survive drying or washing in chlorinated water. They take a long time to grow and a longer time to grow back. They are essential to the health of the pond. The longer the filter is left undisturbed, the better it will do its job. The filter should not be cleaned more than a few times a year; once or twice a year is typical. Look for greatly reduced flow as an indicator of when to clean it, or wait till the end of the season before closing it up for the winter.
Cleaning your FilterFalls
To keep the bacteria alive, take the top pad out and keep it in a bucket of pond water so the bacteria doesn’t die. It doesn’t need to be perfectly clean. Only wash the bottom filter pad in chlorinated water. Put the top pad down on the bottom and the cleaned pad on top and fill the filter with pond water. The check valve at the pump will keep the water from draining out of the filter. Reassemble the filter and start the pump. The water from below will help the undisturbed pad reseed the cleaned pad above it, ready for next year.
So relax, enjoy your pond and rest assured that your filter is doing its job without much intervention needed.

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7 thoughts on “How Often Should You Clean Your FilterFalls?

  1. Iam having to clean my pump every 3 /4 days, I have a 2.4 x 1.2 x 600mm sleeper pond.
    The pump starts to slow down after 2 days it is absolutely full wen I take it out.
    I have 6 small koi 2 Sterlets and 2 small tench .
    feed em 3 times daily, any suggestions or is this the normal at this time of year,
    Regards Sean.

    1. Sounds like there’s a lot of muck in the pond, which is a product of the food that goes into it. What the fish consume (and what they don’t) provides nutrients for algae, which die and provide more nutrients for the next bloom, and produce more muck. Pumps can move the muck to a filter, but can’t remove any. I’d recommend a FiltoClear pond filter with built-in UVC clarifier to remove the accumulating waste and deliver it where it can be useful, like an adjoining garden. Depending on the pump and the amount of waste, I’d bet you’d see clear water in a week or less, and if you had an AquaMax pump, Oase would guarantee it via the Oase Clear Water Guarantee.


      1. I clean my filter 4 times a year, once a quarter. Having said that, last time I had a ‘party’ muggins here ended up in a black barrel with 12 holes. The end result was me simply covered in a white substance that not even vanish could get shut of ????….I only wish i had a ‘filter’ ????

  2. I have a 150 gal. fish pond with a waterfalls that has a course and fine filter cleaning the water coming in from the pond. 800 gph pump that keeps the water flowing. The 5 fish are thriving and water is crystal clear. The problem I’m cleaning the filters every 6 or 7 days there so black and dirty the water rises in the back of the water fall box’s and leaks out. My pump has not been cleaned since I installed it 4 months ago and the flows like it should over the falls. Do you think my pump is to big ??

    1. It sounds like the issue isn’t with your pump, it’s with your filter. If your filter is clogging that and the flow of the pump is good perhaps you should consider changing the filter. What size or type of filter do you have now? Can you add filtering capacity or change filter media to make it work better?

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