Why Are My Fish Getting Stuck to Filter in Tank? {Will They Die There?}


Do you find occasions where it seems your fish are not in the tank anymore? Have you wondered why are my fish getting stuck to filter in tank, or you are scared it might happen?

How do I stop my fish from sucking into filters? Could my filter be killing my fish?

In this article, we’ll take a close look at your filter setup and see why your fish might be getting stuck there.

Why Are My Fish Getting Stuck in the Filter?

Fish getting stuck to filter in a tank is one of the problems tank owners encounter with small-sized fish.  It usually occurs when:

  • the filter in the tank does not have a front guard.
  • when the tank is not large enough
  • water flow too strong

The fish might feel forced the fish to swim in the filter way. Some fish may hide behind a tank’s filter and become stuck when they try escape the intense water currents that are present all the time.

If the filter is overly powerful, little fish may also find themselves being pulled into the water intake.

Why is My Fish Clinging to the Filter?

There are several reasons why your fish can cling to the filter. One of the reasons your fish get stuck to the filter in the tank is the fish’s size.  If your fish are small in size, they will face a higher risk of getting stuck in the filter

Here are some other factors that cause fish to get stuck in a filter:

  1. Size of tank
  2. Filter guard
  3. Size of filter
  4. Cleanliness of filter
  5. Water current very strong

1. Size of tank

One common cause of your fish getting stuck to the filter is the size of your tank. If the tank is too small for your fish, it will have a limited place to swim. In addition to this, confinement will make it swim around the filter often, making it prone to this disaster.

2. Filter guard

One essential component of a tank filter is the filter guard. The filter guard prevents fish and other smaller aquatic organisms from being sucked into the filter. However, If your filter does not have this guard, you put your fish at great risk of being stuck.

3. Size of filter

The size of your filter is also crucial as it determines the power at which the filter sucks in water. If the filter is too large for your tank, it will suck in water with great force. As a result of this, Fish in the tank might find it hard to withstand this force and get caught up in the filter.

4. Cleanliness of filter

The cleanliness of your filter also matters when your fish starts getting stuck. When the filter gets dirty and full of particles, it will start malfunctioning and sucking in water abnormally. This change in action can cause your fish to start getting stuck in the filter.

5. Water current very strong

Some fish may hide beneath a tank’s filter merely to get away from the frequent strong water currents. Small fish can potentially get drawn into the water filter’s input if the filter is overly powerful.

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Can a Fish Die from Getting Stuck?

Yes. Your fish can die from getting stuck, as it is very common. It will, however, happen if the fish get stuck for a long while.

To prevent fish death, you will have to make sure it does not get stuck. Take efficient preventive and corrective measures for your fish to be safe.

Being trapped produces extreme tension, which might result in shock. Shock has the potential to kill quickly. And if a fish is trapped for an extended period of time, it might starve.

Could My Filter Be Killing My Fish?

Yes. Filters in the tank are not always responsible for the death of your fish. Filters will only cause the death of your fish when they get stuck in it. You have to make sure the filter does not trap your fish in it.

If you can keep your fish from getting to the filter, you can rest assured they are safe. However, you can as well get a filter guard to keep your fish away from getting stuck in the filter.

How Do I Keep My Fish From Getting Stuck to the Filter?

There are several ways you can prevent your fish from getting stuck in the filters. Here are a few ways to get it done.

  1. Increase your tank’s size
  2. Set up your filter guard
  3. Use the exact filter
  4. Clean the filter
  5. Reduce water current

1. Increase your tank’s size

As you know, the size of a tank can affect the possibilities of your fish getting stuck in the tank, you to be wary of it. You have to make sure your fish tank is big enough to accommodate its movement. Also, a big tank will suppress the action of a large filter, reducing the risk of your fish getting stuck.

2. Set up your filter guard

A filter guard will provide ultimate protection to your fish by preventing fish and particles from being sucked up. The guard will reduce the number of things getting into the filter. It will keep your fish safe, regardless of the size of your fish.

3. Use the exact filter

One of the problems tank owners face is the inability to decide the type of filter that fits their tank’s size. If you have a small tank, you should not use a large filter to be too powerful for the fish. This is because the filter will create a suction force that the fish will not be able to withstand

4. Clean the filter

A messed up filter can malfunction and get your fish trapped in it. You have to make sure the filter is clean and free from dirt. Remove every particle from the filter to ensure the safety of your fish.

5. Reduce water current

This goes without saying, but if you see your fish struggling to swim or getting pushed in one direction, lower the water current intensity.

Can a Filter Be Too Strong for a Fish?

Yes. Your filter can be too strong for your fish, especially if the tank is way too small for the filter.

When the tank is too small for the filter, it creates a great current that might be too much for some.

Furthermore, Ii also creates a great suction force that puts the fish at the risk of being sucked up.

Is it Okay to Turn Off Fish Filter at Night?

No. Turning off the fish filter at night might not be a good thing to do. Also, the filter plays an important role in keeping the tank aerated.

Turning off the filter for hours can deprive the tank of the needed elements and affect your fish’s health.

But you can turn it off once in a while if you are certain that your tank is in a great condition.


Your fish can get stuck to your filter in the tank if you do not take proper care of them. As a result of this, you have to take the necessary measures to keep your fish safe from being sucked and ensure their good health.


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John Brandon

John has kept fish all his life (since he was about 5). He started with keeping guppies and fell in love with fish keeping almost straight away. That was 40 odd years ago. These days John still keeps fish and currently has two large tanks where he keeps many different types of fish such as Angelfish, Neon Tetras, Goldfish, Guppies and many more.