How To Make A Fish Tank Filter Quieter? [Adjust Your Aquarium Filter Noise] Protection Status

Making a fish tank filter quieter is a task that can be accomplished with a few simple modifications. The first step is to identify the areas of the filter that produce the most noise. In this article, we will show you how to make a fish tank filter quieter. We will also provide some tips on how to reduce the overall noise level of your tank.

Do you love watching fish in your aquarium? If yes, then you must be aware of how a fish tank needs constant maintenance. As an aquarist, you would also know how vital an aquarium filter is for a healthy environment. While the benefits of a fish tank are extraordinary, the weird sound coming from it certainly is a buzzkill! But how to make a fish tank filter quieter? 

Don’t worry, because we are going to discuss the solutions in detail. As we all know, an aquarium filter not only keeps the water clean but also makes the habitat better for aquatic creatures. Not to mention the peace you can feel by just watching them floating around. However, one drawback of this terrific system can be the noise. 

Remember that buzzing sound you sometimes hear whenever you come close to the fish? While it may be tolerable once or twice, you wouldn’t like to hear unwanted sounds constantly whenever you are in the room!

What Is Aquarium Filtration?

Filtration is basically the process of making sure the aquarium water is clean and pure. So, aquatic animals can live there without any issues. As an aquarium owner, you would know how much it hurts to see your tiny fishes die just because of dirty water. No matter how much you feed them, a murky environment is always toxic for those creatures. 

However, the water will get dirty due to various reasons like debris, waste materials, ammonia production, etc. Hence, you have to maintain the tank by constantly changing the water. This is precisely what the filtration process does for you. Generally, an aquarium filter consists of filter media, which screens the tank water and makes it liveable and breathable for the fish.   

As a matter of fact, the filtration process can be of different types as well! The biological filtration process makes sure the beneficial bacteria of the tank water remain intact. These bacteria help to break down the toxic ammonia into harmless nitrogenous compounds. 

In the chemical filtration method, activated carbon is used as the filtration media to clear the water’s toxic chemical substances. However, once the carbon is completely worn, you can not reactivate it. Mechanical filtration uses an array of filtration media like foam filters, filter cartridges, filter floss, filter pad, sponge, etc.

Usually, these sieve-like materials push through the water while the floating particle gets stuck in the opening. Regardless of freshwater aquariums or saltwater tanks, having a quality filtration process is something you can not miss.  

How To Quiet A Fish Tank Filter?

While the aquarium is beautiful to look at, it doesn’t feel good when you have to hear noises whenever you are in the room. You can get rid of the annoying sounds that your filter is making by following some simple steps. 

1. Find Out The Sound Source 

The initial step for fixing the noise issue of your filter is to identify the source behind it. However, it’s not always possible to identify the origin as a place is usually packed with different types of sound coming from all directions. Hence, you have to cancel the other noises to pinpoint the sound source correctly.   

Once you are done with noise cancellation, you can proceed to the next step. If you are sure that the sound is coming from the fish tank, it is time to take some other parts out of the unit. Make sure to turn off the lights, heating elements, and other elements from the aquarium. 

As the lights will be off, you can use a flashlight to see clearly in the dark. Now, check the filter for any noticeable physical defects.

2. Cleaning The Filter

A filter’s work is to screen dirt from the tank water regularly. Hence, it is bound to get dirty at one point. And once it gets too clogged up, the internal system starts to malfunction, heading to loud noise levels. Cleaning the filter may be a good idea to get rid of such problems. 

3. Feel The Noise By Touching The Filter

If you didn’t find any visible issues in the filter upon inspection, you have to touch it next. To prevent the contamination of tank water, make sure to wash your hands beforehand. Once your hands are clean and dried, you can put them inside the tank to hold the aquarium filter. Now start pressing it carefully and gently a little bit to spot the problem. 

If you can feel the filter trembling lightly on your hands, there must be a part in the filter unit that has gotten loose. In such a scenario, you have to repair or replace that specific part with a new one. 

If the filter is an old one that you have been using for a lengthy period, it is better to choose a new aquarium filter. These days you can buy many quality filters within your budget easily. 

4. Check For Debris

Most people like to beautify the aquarium by using stones, pebbles, glazed glass, etc. These particles can quickly gather inside the filter and plug it up. Even the entrapped debris can stop the water from passing by clogging the filter. As a result, the filter starts to make sounds or rattles that can irritate you. 

These days, most filters are built in such a way that you can easily detach the body parts. Hence, you can remove the parts and clean them before putting them back in the aquarium.

5. Lube The Impeller 

You can lube the filter to quiet the filter as well. This will make all the parts glide smoother and quieter. Use Vaseline and silicone oil on the metal parts of the motor. Don’t overdo it though, just try using a light coating on the machine parts. 

As most filters can be dismantled easily, you can also put them back again after finishing the lubing. These products are harmless to the fish, so you don’t have to worry about the after-effects.

6. Adjust The Return Pump And The Hoses If Necessary 

A return pump brings the water back from the filter to the fish tank. Most of the time, this is what makes noises if not attached in a proper manner. Try to listen to the noise carefully to spot the location. If the sound is like the water splashes, the issue may lie within the return pump. 

If the hose that draws the water from the pump is appropriately attached, no loud sounds should come out of it. Still, you can push it deeper into the aquarium to keep it below the waterline. Thus, the issue of splashing sound coming from the pump will be resolved. 

You can also attach the hose to the tank side to stop it from wobbling from its place. The suction clip will also help to keep the hose in its place. Thus, drowning the noise under the tank surface. 

7. Regulate The Water Flow 

During the cleaning process, water passes the filter media quickly. You can hear sounds if the water flow is too fast. Too much flow rate can exhaust the filter as well. The speed of the returning water can also be another reason behind the unwanted noise. You can fix this problem by simply reducing the flow rate of the water. 

Fortunately, water pumps come with the option of adjusting the flow rate based on your need. But don’t reduce the rate too much as it will allow the debris to grow inside the tank, which can harm your fish. 

8. Reset The Water Pump Manually 

A faulty water pump will keep making trouble inside your aquarium filter. As most of the unit contains small sections, it can easily break down and may need repairs. If no other option is working out and your aquarium is still making noises, you can try to do a manual reset as the final resort. 

Just turn off the filtration and pump system of the aquarium and keep it like that for one minute. Then again, switch on the filter. If the sound is still there, you should inspect the pump for broken bits, cracks, or trapped waste products. 

9. Place A Fabric Under The Fish Tank

Most of the mentioned methods will mitigate loud and annoying noises. But if you are concerned about the soft humming coming out of your aquarium, you can choose a simple way to manage them instead. The best option to control the sound is using a fabric below the fish tank. 

You can use mats, towels, heavy rugs, moving blankets, etc., that can consume vibrations like sound. You will notice the change immediately once you put the thick rug under your aquarium. 

10. Anti-Vibration Pads 

Anti-vibration pads can absorb shock and are a pretty good alternative if your fabric technique doesn’t work. These pads can absorb the vibrations coming from the fish tank to a great extent, thus stopping them from circulating to other areas of the house. These are also compact and small, unlike unmanageable rugs. 

You can also easily install them by simply fixing them to the tank bottom. This whole process will take not more than five minutes. These pads are very affordable, and you can also buy them in bulk for later use. 

How To Choose A New Filter?

After trying all the methods above, you would know what should be your next step. You cleaned the aquarium filter and inspected all the elements of the unit. You have lubricated all the parts as well. And even after that, the rattling or buzzing sounds won’t disappear!

It means it is high time to purchase a new filter altogether. If you keep using a broken noise filter, it will end up harming the aquatic environment. However, you should check some facts before buying a new filter. 

Tank Size:

Initially, you have to think about your aquarium’s size before you choose a filter for it. The filter size has to be compatible with the tank size. Otherwise, the filtration method will fail to clean the water. Normally, you will need a large and efficient filter for larger tanks.

For example, if your aquarium has the capacity of containing more than 20-30 gallons of water, you can choose a canister filter for it. For small-sized tanks, you can use basic filters like sponge filters.

Fish Population: 

The aquatic surroundings of an aquarium largely depend on its inhabitants. The more fish you have in your tank, the more waste materials and toxic substances they produce. Hence, you will need better-quality filters to clean the water effectively.

Filtration Type:

We already know that the filtration process can be of different types. All these filtration methods have their own pros and cons, but not all filters can provide you with all the benefits. Some of them have a single filtering process, and some have more than one. Hence, you have to choose the filter depending on your tank condition.

If it requires only one type of filtering method, then you can choose accordingly. If you need more than one type of filtration from one filter, you can use one that can satisfy your need. 

Water Flow:

You have to check the water flow rate of the filter before buying it for your tank. The GPH or gallon per hour means how many water cycles the filter can complete within an hour. The higher the rate will be, the more efficient the filter will be.


If you want the filter to serve you for a long time, maintenance is a prime concern that can not be ignored. A filter keeps a fish tank clean to make the upkeep process under control. However, a tank filter needs to be cleaned as well. You should check the manufacturer’s instructions on how to maintain the filter properly. 


A good quality filter obviously requires a decent amount of money. However, you can also get a cheap one if you are under a budget. But keep in mind, the quality and performance of such products may be underwhelming in the long run. If you want a temporary solution for the filtering process, you can choose a pocket-friendly one for the time being.

But if you want a durable and strong performance from your filter, increasing the budget will work in your favor.

Best Quiet Fish Tank Filters

When we are talking about aquarium filters, you have various options to choose your ideal one. You just have to make sure to pick a filter that comes with the proper circulation rate for your aquarium. For effective filtration and healthy water for your pet fish, the filtering process should have a GPH of four times more than your tank volume. 

You can check these mentioned types of filters to find out the quietest ones yourself. 

Air-Driven Filter

These filters are the most basic type of filter that consists of three elements, sponge filter, air pump, and synthetic airline tubing. The externally located air pump is linked with the sunken sponge filter through the airline tubing. The aquarium air pump forces air into the sponge filter via tubing. 

Due to the suction process, air bubbles are produced to draw the waste and toxic particles from the water body. The nitrifying bacteria then break down those products into harmless nitrogenous compounds. The constant bubbling process keeps moving the water surface with a gentle enough water flow

Because of its quiet nature, simple maintenance, and easy process, both amateur and skilled aquarists have approved this type of sponge filter. 

Hang-On-Back (HOB) Filter

HOB filters are generally put outside of the fish tank. The process is pretty simple with this one. You just have to plug in the unit, turn it on, and the work is done. Keeping the HOB filter is simple as the impeller along with the filtration media is easy to obtain. You can also adjust the flow rate and intake however you want. 

While the motor is moderately quiet, the water returns to the fish tank through a waterfall effect. This sound of running water may soothe some people and can irritate others on the other hand. However, you can control the sound by adjusting the water level up to the filling line. Also, make sure the unit is not placed too high. 

The newer versions of HOB filters now have a slide-in option that makes sure the noise level is tolerable. 

Canister Filter

This three-stage filtering system is situated outside of the fish tank. You can get this one in a modular form or a complete one. The modular type is preferred by most aquarists, as it allows them to mix different filtration media within the filter unit. In this filter, a U-shaped tube is used to draw in the water while the spray bar helps the water go back to the tank. 

The specific cartridge design ensures soundproof filtration throughout. The water-powered system also makes sure there is a minimum amount of internal sound. The tubing system also makes sure there is no waterfall effect.

Undergravel Filter

The type of filter is placed on the tank floor under the gravel. An external pump extracts the water over the substrate while carrying the free particles underneath the filtration plate. As it doesn’t contain any filter media, the waste materials get accumulated under the filter plate instead of washing out. 

While it doesn’t make much noise, the humming sound may irritate some people. However, this one is ideal for small fish tanks only. For example, you can not use this type of filter in a 55-gallon aquarium.

Sump Filter

For a tank capacity of more than 75 gallons, using a sump filter is by far the most ideal choice for you. Sump filters can provide you with the power-packed performance you can not expect from a sponge filter or a HOB filter. This one is basically a housing of all the filter media that rests under the main tank.

Similar to the canister filter mechanism, you can use an array of filtration media depending on the brand. This filter is one of the easy-to-install machines among the others. It doesn’t come with hanging tubes inside the aquarium. Instead, a drilled hole in the tank side allows the water to go out after achieving a certain height.

The water then goes through a tube connecting the sump inside the aquarium stand. The water will pass through a filter media and later the ceramic rings. After all these phases, the water goes through the last compartment and returns to the fish tank using a pump. The system is similar to the canister filter, only without the high pressure of the water flow.

Considering the large capacity of the sump filter, it is one of the least noisy filters you can find in the market. The cleaning procedure is also pretty smooth and straightforward to follow. The only drawback of this filter is that the tank has to be reasonably large to match its power.  

How Can You Make Your Canister Filter Quieter?

While canister filters are considered one of the quietest filters, there is no guarantee that they won’t be making any noise ever! But remember, there are always solutions to every problem. Hence, you can just figure out what the problem is and act accordingly to fix it.

  • The impeller should be placed correctly inside the filter unit. If it is not positioned firmly in its spot, the filter unit will keep vibrating, and the inside parts won’t stay steady. As a result, you have to endure the annoying noise it produces. Make sure to check the impeller placement in case you are trying to reduce the noise.
  • Avoid overfilling the media baskets with the filtration media. If the filter media inside the basket is higher, then the top of the basket won’t seat firmly. The extra media will prevent the two parts from fitting together perfectly. It means the basket will wiggle after you put it inside the canister to start the operation. Leave at least half an inch of space on the top to avoid this problem.
  • Make sure the surface you are putting in the canister filter is entirely flat. A little bit of bump will cause the unit to vibrate and make sounds. Also, make sure the unit doesn’t touch anything else.
  • You can also put rubber mats under the canister unit so it won’t be vibrating anymore.
  • Often debris can clog the filter media and cause the filter to make weird sounds. Check the filtration media and clean them whenever necessary. 

Why Is My Whisper Filter So Loud?

Well, there are several reasons to make your whisper filter noisy! However, before you decide to replace the filter, you can check some facts to make it silent. Check the propellers as worn propellers can make loud sounds. You can simply replace it without changing the whole filter. Waste products can also cause your filter to make weird sounds.

If specks of dirt start to clog your filtration media, it is bound to create noise due to the disturbance. To eliminate this problem, you have to make sure the filter media is clean of any debris or waste.

What Is The Quietest Aquarium Filter?

There are plenty of aquarium filters that can give you the quiet and calm environment you wish for. But not all can be equally qualified. The Fluval fx6 canister filter, Aquaclear power filter, Biorb, etc., are some of the best ones you can buy right now. In general, an external canister filter is a front-runner in the quietest filter competition.

The main reason is that it contains the operating unit outside of the aquarium. The system mostly depends on the water pump, tubes, flow rate, etc. Hence, it creates minimal internal sound and vibration. The water goes back to the tanks using the intake tube by agitating the water through oxygenation

Besides reducing the sound of waterfalls or splashes, this also makes the water healthier for aquatic animals. Moreover, recent models are more developed with built-in sound-eliminating tech to ensure the noise level stays on the lower side. So, in short, using the best canister filter can give you the quietest aquarium experience for sure. 

Final Words

When you are into aquariums, taking care of your tiny little friends becomes your sole responsibility. You wouldn’t want them to suffer just because you didn’t know how to take care of their living system! Therefore, your fish tank needs a proper filtration system to ensure the water’s safety and purity, even if you are not present there all the time.

After going through this whole write-up, you must have gotten a better idea of how to make a fish tank filter quieter. It’s natural if you find the methods a bit difficult to try at first. But once you try them, you will get good results for sure. And if you are confused about which one would be better for your aquarium, start with the most simple one!

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