How to Remove Sand Filter (Fluidized Bed Filter)? Step-by-Step Guide! Protection Status

In this article, we will provide you with a concise and straightforward guideline on how to remove sand filters/ Fluidized Bed Filters, outlining the key steps involved in the process.

Maintaining a healthy aquarium is a rewarding endeavor, but it can also be a challenging one. One of the most important components of an aquarium is the filter, and sand filters are a popular choice for many aquarists.

Fluidized sand filter (fluidized bed filters) are specially used for water filtration as they are highly effective at removing particles, debris, and impurities from water sources.

Sometimes, you may need to remove the sand filter for repairing, replacing, maintaining, or upgrading your filter system. Removing a sand filter might be hectic for some people since they need to learn how to do it!

In this article, we will provide you with a concise and straightforward guideline on how to remove sand filters/ Fluidized Bed Filters (fluidized sand filter), outlining the key steps involved in the process.

We will also discuss the importance of properly cleaning the filter before and after removal. Following these steps, you can confidently remove the sand filter and perform your desired maintenance or replacement tasks.

What Is Sand Filter for Aquarium?

Sand filters, also known as fluid bed filters, are used to filter water and play a crucial role in promoting the health of your aquarium through effective biological filtration.

These innovative filters create an ideal environment for beneficial bacteria to thrive and colonize by suspending sand with water pressure. These bacteria work tirelessly to break down fish waste into less harmful compounds, ensuring a safer and cleaner aquatic habitat for your underwater friends.

The water passes through the sand, and the biological filter media traps particles, such as algae and other debris, while allowing water to flow through.

The sand also helps oxygenate the water and keep it cleaner for longer. Sand filters are great for aquarists looking for an efficient way to maintain healthy aquarium water.

Why Should You Remove a Sand Filter from An Aquarium?

There are several vital reasons why removing a sand filter from an aquarium is necessary. One of the main benefits is that it allows you to clean and replace the filter media, which ultimately improves the overall water quality of your aquarium.

It also provides an opportunity to inspect the tank and equipment, identify potential problems, and take appropriate action to correct them. Finally, removing a sand filter allows you to clean and disinfect the filter and the surrounding parts of the aquarium.

Our recommended sand filters for aquariums are as follows:

  1. QANVEE Fluidized Moving Bed Filter
  2. Aquatop Media Reactor with 152 GPH
  3. Two Little Fishies ATLPBR150 GFO PhosBan Reactor 150
  4. UPETTOOLS fluidized Sand Filter

Stationary Sand Bed Filters

Stationary sand bed filters are a type of aquarium filtration system commonly used in public aquariums and large-scale aquatic facilities. They are designed to provide both mechanical and biological filtration for large volumes of water efficiently and effectively.

These filters have the upper hand thanks to their high surface area and impressive filtration capacity.

Stationary sand bed filters are highly efficient at removing debris, particulates, and waste from the water, providing excellent mechanical filtration.

The sand particles in the filter trap hold onto the suspended particles, helping clarify the water and improve its quality.

Small Aquariums Fluidized Sand Bed Filters

Small aquarium fluidized bed filters have been popular for many hobbyists, especially those with limited space or smaller aquarium setups.

They consist of mechanical and biological filtration in a compact design, making them ideal for aquarium enthusiasts with limited space or small tank sizes.

While traditional small aquarium fluidized sand filters used sand as the fluidized media, introducing K1 fluidized bed media in this filter revolutionized the filtration landscape. K1 media, which consists of plastic bio-media with a specific design, offers significant advantages over sand.

Unlike sand, which can be challenging to set up and keep running efficiently, K1 fluidized bed filters are much simpler to install and maintain.

DIY Fluidized Sand Bed Filters

Some aquarium hobbyists create DIY fluidized bed filters using various materials like PVC pipes, containers, or even repurposed canister filters.

These DIY setups can be customized to fit the specific needs and size of the aquarium. For those who wish to make a customized sand bed filter, here is a link to YouTube for the tutorial:

How to Remove Sand Filters from Aquariums? And what are the specific steps involved in removing a sand filter from an aquarium?

To remove a sand filter from an aquarium, you will need to follow a few steps. – Start with turning off and unplugging any electrical components connected to the filter. Then, remove any hoses or tubing attached to the filter. Next, carefully lift the filter out of the aquarium, ensuring no sand or water spill. Finally, please dispose of the used sand and clean the filter thoroughly before storing it or replacing it with a new one.

Now, you will need to follow a series of steps. Please note that the specific process may vary depending on the type and model of your pool filter sand. The following instructions provide a general guideline:

STEP~1: Remove The Filter Media

Most sand filters have multiple layers of filtration media. Carefully lift the filter media trays or compartments and place them in a bucket with aquarium water to keep the beneficial bacteria alive.

If any filter media is worn out, replace it with fresh media.

STEP~2: Remove The Sand Substrate

Removing the sand from the filter can be tricky. Depending on the type of sand filter, it may have a separate compartment for the sand or use it as the filtration media.

Either way, you will want to scoop out the sand using a bucket or carefully vacuum it with an aquarium water siphon or gravel vacuum. Take your time and be gentle to avoid stirring up the debris.

STEP~3: Rinse The Sand

If you plan to reuse the sand, rinse it thoroughly with clean water to remove any accumulated debris.

Use a bucket or large container and pour water through the sand while stirring it with your hand. Continue this process until the water runs clear.

STEP~3: Clean The Filter Housing

Once you have removed the sand, inspect the filter housing for any debris or remaining sand particles. Clean the filter housing carefully using a sponge or soft brush to ensure it’s free of clogs or blockages.

STEP~4: Reassemble The Filter

After the filter housing is clean, place the filter media back into their respective compartments, ensuring everything is positioned correctly.

STEP~5: Refill the Aquarium

Now that the filter is ready, start filling the aquarium with dechlorinated water, ensuring the water level is back to its average height.

STEP~6: Reconnect And Start the Filter

Reconnect any hoses or tubing and plug in the filter. Turn on the pump and check for any leaks or unusual noises. Let the filter run for a few hours to ensure everything works properly.

As mentioned earlier, removing a filter can disrupt the beneficial bacteria colony that helps maintain water quality. To mitigate this, keep the filter media moist in aquarium water throughout the process. If you’re using new filter media, consider adding a bacterial supplement to help establish a healthy bacteria colony in the filter again.

Advantages Of Fluidized Sand Filter/ Fluidized Bed Filters

Fluidized bed filters offer several advantages that make them a popular choice for aquarium enthusiasts:

1. Versatility in Media Selection

One of the key advantages of fluidized bed filters is that they allow the use of various types of filter media.

Whether sand, white quartz, sintered glass, K1 media, or other porous materials, you can choose the media that best suits your specific filtration needs.

2. Increased Surface Area

Their surface area increases drastically when the media is suspended in the fluidized chamber. This means that even tiny particles of the media are fully utilized. The larger surface area provides ample space for beneficial bacteria to colonize, resulting in highly efficient biological filtration.

 3. Effective Ammonia and Nitrate Reduction

Fluidized bed filters excel in reducing ammonia and nitrate levels in aquarium water. The high surface area and efficient biological filtration help convert harmful ammonia into nitrites and less toxic nitrates, promoting a healthier environment for your fish and other aquatic life.

 4. Simplicity and Ease of Use

Fluidized bed filters are relatively simple to set up and operate. They do not require complex mechanisms or intricate plumbing. Once correctly installed, they are easy to maintain, and routine maintenance is generally straightforward.

5.  High Filtration Capacity

Fluidized bed filters can handle a significant volume of water, making them suitable for larger aquarium setups. The large chamber size allows ample filter media, further enhancing their filtration capacity.

 6. Self-Cleaning Action

Fluidized bed filters have a self-cleaning mechanism due to the constant motion of the media within the chamber. This movement prevents particles from clumping together and clogging the filter, ensuring continuous and efficient filtration.

7.  Oxygenation of Water

As the media is fluidized, it promotes excellent water oxygenation, which benefits the beneficial bacteria and the health of fish and other aquarium inhabitants.

8.  Minimal Dead Zones

Fluidized bed filters do not have dead zones where water flow may be restricted, ensuring that all areas of the media receive adequate water circulation for optimal filtration.

9.  Longevity of Filter Media

Since the media is suspended and constantly moving, it experiences less wear and tear compared to media in traditional filters. This setup potentially leads to a longer lifespan for the filter media.

Disadvantages Of Fluidized Bed Filters (Sand Filters)

While fluidized bed filters offer some advantages, they also come with several disadvantages that aquarium owners should consider before choosing this filtration system:

1. Cost

Fluidized bed filters can be more expensive than other filtration systems, especially when considering the cost of specialized filter media such as sand, Kaldnes K1 media, or high-quality plastic beads.

 2. Space Requirements

These filters typically require space behind the aquarium to hang or mount the filter, which means the tank cannot sit flush against a wall. This can be an issue for aquarium setups in smaller spaces or tight corners.

 3. Plumbing Complexity

Fluidized bed filters often rely on the aquarium owner to determine the necessary plumbing connections. They may not come with pre-configured intake and return tubes, making the setup process more challenging for beginners.

 4. Monitoring and Maintenance

Continuous monitoring is required to ensure that the particle bed within the filter remains “fluidized” and free moving. The filter’s efficiency can significantly decrease if the particles clump or clog. Regular maintenance is necessary to prevent clogging and maintain optimal performance.

 5. Restart After a Power Outage

Some fluidized bed filters may struggle to restart correctly after a power outage. The particles may settle and compact during the power loss, requiring manual intervention to restore proper fluidization.

 6. Noise and Vibrations

Depending on the design and setup, fluidized bed filters can produce noise and vibrations, which might be a hassle in quiet living spaces or bedrooms.

 7. Large Particle Accumulation

Larger debris and particles can accumulate in the fluidized bed filter, reducing its effectiveness and potentially causing issues with clogging.

 8. Limited Chemical Filtration

While fluidized bed filters are efficient for mechanical and biological filtration, they may be less effective for chemical filtration. Additional chemical filter media or a separate filter might be required for specific water quality concerns.


Q: Are there any safety precautions that should be taken when removing a sand filter from an aquarium?

Yes, several safety precautions should be taken when removing a sand filter from an aquarium. First, make sure to turn off all power sources in the aquarium. You should also wear gloves to protect your hands from sharp or rough edges on the filter or surrounding parts. Having a bucket or container nearby is also a good idea to catch any water or debris that may spill out during the removal process. Finally, avoid damaging other aquarium equipment or disturbing the aquatic environment while removing the sand filter.

Q: Can the same steps be applied to removing different types of aquarium filters, or are there specific steps for each type?

The safety precautions mentioned above should generally be followed when removing different types of aquarium filters. However, certain filters may require specific steps or techniques, so it’s always best to consult the manufacturer’s instructions or seek guidance from a professional if you need more clarification. It’s also important to note that different types of aquarium filters may have varying levels of complexity and require various tools or equipment for removal.


Removing a sand filter from an aquarium can be a straightforward process if you approach it with careful planning and attention to detail. By following the steps we have outlined, aquarium owners can ensure the safe removal of the filter while minimizing stress to the aquatic inhabitants.

Remember to lower the water level in the tank to prevent overflow, disconnect the filter from power and hoses, and carefully remove the filter media.

Writer’s Advises:

Take time to clean the filter housing and reassemble the filter components correctly. After refilling the aquarium with dechlorinated water, check for leaks and let the filter run for a few hours to ensure proper functioning.

It is crucial to keep the filter media moist during the process to preserve the beneficial bacteria colony. Replace worn-out media or add a bacterial supplement to help re-establish a healthy bacterial population if needed.

I hope this article will come in handy to all the aquarium enthusiasts!

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