5 Reasons For Your Top Fin Filter Not Working [Solution]

We know that a tank filter is an essential item to keep the tank clean and the fish healthy. And If you have a Top Fin Aquarium then you have already come across the filter it comes with. 

The main issue with this filter is, it stops working sometimes. If we list down the things, these are the top 5 reasons why it happens– 

  1. Clogged Filters
  2. There’s No power supply
  3. Filter cartridge is blocked
  4. The impeller is broken
  5. Air pump is faulty

Without the filter working properly, the fish in the tank can be in danger. So, always keep an eye on it so that you can quickly fix the problem with it as soon as possible.

In this article, I have discussed these 5 major issues with their control measures in a simple way. Read through the whole article so that you can fix it on your own and be informed what else can also happen to stop your top fin filter from working. 

So, without making any delay let’s get down to business–

Why Is My Top Fin Filter Not Working- How I Fixed

1. Clogged Filters

Clogged Filters

If your top fin filter isn’t working and making noises then you need to check the filter for cloggings.

What I’ve seen in my aquarium is that the filters get clogged very frequently and then stop working completely. It can happen when a filter hasn’t been cleaned for a long time.

Control  Measure

Having the right kind of filter is very important. Because sometimes if the filter is too small for your fish tank it will be clogged even if you clean it from time to time. 

Because a small filter cannot handle the waste materials generated by a bigger fish tank. So make sure you have the right filter according to the size of your fish tank.

Besides, if the filter is small in size then the improper water flow in the tank will create some more issues.

If the filter isn’t working properly even after cleaning them several times, then you might need to get a new filter.

To unclog the filters, you have to clean them thoroughly. Check out the step by step process below–

  • Unplug the filter at first and take it out from the tank
  • Disassemble the filter parts and keep them aside
  • Now take two cups of water from your tank 
  • Avoid using cold tap water and even hot water as it can damage some beneficial bacteria
  • Add some water conditioner in the cleaning water (our pick: API TAP WATER CONDITIONER Aquarium Water Conditioner)
  • Then start cleaning the filter media with the conditioned water. But don’t use any kind of brushes or sponges to clean it
  • This is because the filter media contains some beneficial bacteria that improve the health of the aquarium
  • After that, move on to the rest of the filter parts. In this case, you can now scrub them with a brush and clean them thoroughly to remove the debris
  • Then it’s time to reassemble the whole filter then, put it back in the tank, and plugin
  • Normally I clean my tank filter once a month. You can clean your one whenever you can. Just remember to not let it become too dirty.

2. No Power Supply

Sometimes if there’s something wrong with your power outlet or there are power surges issues then your new top fin filter will not be pumping any water.

In this case, you have to figure out whether there’s anything wrong with your power outlet or the filter itself.

Control  Measure

So, if your top fin filter won’t turn on, you definitely have to check the power supply system. If necessary take it out of the tank and plug it somewhere else.

Make sure the filter is properly plugged into the outlet. Besides, check if the outlet is functioning properly. Because if the filter is not getting the power supply it will never work. Try plugging in another device to check if the outlet is working as well.

Also, make sure that the power cord is not damaged or frayed. If this is the case then you have to replace it. 

Besides, your filter has a fuse. So it might get blown sometimes. In this case, you have to get a new fuse of the same amperage.

3. Blocked Cartridge

Blocked Cartridge

Changing the cartridge in a fish tank filter is important. Because it helps to maintain the fish’s health and also ensures good water quality. The cartridge contains filter media that removes impurities such as uneaten food, fish waste, and other debris from the water.

Your tank filters need a change of cartridge once every month. Since it accumulates dirt particles, it gets clogged if not replaced timely. 

Control  Measure

To get your Top Fin filter working, follow these steps below–

  • Before starting, turn off the filter and unplug it
  • Remove the lid of your filter and take out the old cartridge
  • Now take the new cartridge and wash it under cold water (our pick: Top Fin EF-S Element Filter Cartridges for Fish Tank)
  • This will remove any dust particles if present in it
  • Then place the new cartridge into the filter slot 
  • Put the lid back on and plug it back in

4. Broken Impeller Issue

The impeller helps in regulating the water flow and suction of the filter. So, if you have already checked the power supply and cleaned the filter but still it’s not working, this may be the issue.

Sometimes the impeller can be broken or blocked or get loosened too. And this leads to the filter stop working at all.

Besides, make sure the water level in your tank is high enough. Because if it’s too low the impeller won’t be able to operate smoothly.

Control  Measure

When a filter impeller is clogged, it will try to suck the water in but it won’t be able to do anything except for making noise.

Make sure to check the impeller. If it’s dirty then clean and plug the filter back in. but if it still doesn’t work that means the impeller is damaged. In this case, you may have to replace it with a new one.

5. Faulty Air Pump

If the air pump of your top fin filter is loosened, unplugged, or blocked the filter can stop working totally. If the air pump is faulty you will be able to find out easily. Because it won’t make any bubbles in the water anymore.

Control  Measure

First of all, check if the air pump is properly plugged in and make sure it’s receiving power. 

The next thing to make sure of is that the airline tube is connected to the air pump properly.

Also, in my tank, the airline tube gets clogged every now and then. And when I clean out the tube, the air pump starts working automatically. So, check the airline tube of your filter and clean it out thoroughly if it’s clogged.

But if it is still not working, that means something must be broken in there and needs to be replaced. 

You can watch this video to have a more clear idea about this– Why Is Your Filter Not Pumping Water

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How long can fish survive without a filter?

The fish in your tank can live up to a maximum of 3- 7 days without any problem if there’s no filter. But this duration will depend on how clean the water is. As soon as it starts getting dirty, the fish’s health will be at great risk. Also the more fish in the aquarium the faster the water will get dirty. As a result, the fewer days they will survive. 

Is it OK to turn off the aquarium filter at night?

No, it’s not a good idea to turn the tank filter off during the night. To maintain the fish’s health it’s important that the filter keeps running. Otherwise, the tank water will change color and the fish will start to die gradually.

Can the fish be killed by a tank filter?

Sadly, yes! It is possible for fish to be killed by a tank filter if the filter is not properly maintained or if it is too powerful for the size of the tank. You see, filters can create strong currents to trap the fish leading to injury or death. So make sure to get an appropriate sized filter for your tank.


There are many reasons why your top fin filter isn’t working. And the good news is, there are solutions too to help them start working again. 

Ensure that the filters are properly plugged in with an adequate power supply. This is because loosened power cord is the most frequent issue with them. Besides, make sure to keep your tank filter clean of debris and look out if the impeller is working too. 

In this article, I have tried to discuss everything you can do to fix your top fin filter and get it working. I hope you have found the issue with your filter by reading through the whole article.

Howard Parker

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