How to Change Top Fin Filter Cartridge? Complete Guide

Keeping the aquarium clean is important for the betterment of the fish living inside it. That is why keeping a good filtration system is mandatory.

The filter cartridge is one of the main elements of the filter. As it catches the particles from the water it gets dirty and needs to be changed. But how do you change the filter cartridge when you are a beginner?

Changing the filter cartridge is simple. All you need to do is, take out the old one from the filter and place the new one.

Later in this article, I am going to discuss this in detail.

What is a Filter Cartridge?

A filter cartridge is considered the main part of the filtration system which mainly takes part in mechanical filtration. It catches the particles and impurities from the water and keeps it clean.

Inside the cartridge, there is activated carbon which absorbs some of the chemicals. It is considered chemical filtration in the aquarium. Without it, the water in the tank will eventually turn yellow.

Do Cartridge Help in Biological Filtration?

Yes, it does.

Biological filtration is another kind of filtration which is needed other than the two mentioned earlier. In this process, beneficial bacteria grow and help to build an ecosystem inside the tank.

The beneficial bacteria grow inside the cartridge as well. It provides the bacteria surface to grow. 

So, a filter cartridge definitely helps in biological filtration.

How to Change Top Fin Filter Cartridge?

Changing the top fin filter cartridge is the easiest thing in the whole tank cleaning process. You need to replace the cartridge every 3-4 weeks. It does not work for more than a month.

  • To change the cartridge, first, open the lid of the aquarium.
  • You will see a filter cartridge inside the filter compartment. It is located on top of the tank so there should be no complication in locating the cartridge.
  • Take out the old cartridge.
  • Damp the new cartridge with tank water and put it where the old one was placed.
  • Close the aquarium lid.

How to Clean Top Fin Cartridge without Removing the Beneficial Bacteria

Clean the cartridge gently with old tank water without rubbing it.

This is the safest method you can use for cleaning the cartridge. You have to be very gentle because there are beneficial bacteria living in the cartridge. If you fully remove all of that while cleaning, it affects badly in the tank ecosystem.

Try not to use tap water directly to clean the cartridge. It shocks the bacteria and they die so much more than necessary. Use old tank water or mix the water conditioner with tap water.

Gently rinse the cartridge making sure it is not 100% clean.

How Often You Should Change the Cartridge

The top fin filter cartridge should be changed once every month for better filtration.

Yes, you can clean it sometimes, but after one month the cartridge does not work at its full potential. You may notice water flow decreasing or water getting dirty if you do not change it on time.

To keep the water clean and keep the fish healthy, change it on time. Or you can try the alternatives of the filter cartridge. You can read more about it in the article Top Fin Filter Alternatives.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is it safe to clean the filter cartridge?

Yes, unless you are cleaning all the beneficial bacteria out of it.

What technology do aquarium filters use for water purification?

The aquarium filter uses Reverse Osmosis to purify the tank water.

Should I clean the cartridge with hot water?

You should never clean the cartridge with hot water. It kills the bacteria needed for the fish.

Can I use a sponge pad instead of a cartridge?

Yes, you can.


By now you already know the importance of a filter cartridge. It is the heart of the water filtration system. So, you need to change it when it is needed.

Top fin cartridge last for one month. If you have decided to reply on top fin cartridge only, make sure to change it every 3-4 weeks. So that, the water remains clean and the fish happy.

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