I have a Penguin bio-wheel on my 20gal. How often is relatively normal to have to clean it. I have had it set up since 12/29/2006 and have to clean the intake probably 5 or 6 times and I have totally dismantled it 3 or 4 times.
I had 1 time the water stopped except for a small trickle so I cleaned the intake tube and took out all of the parts. When I put it back together it still wouldn't work any better so I committed a huge no-no and rinsed the wheel itself. It worked but then I ended up with a slight ammonia spike 2-3 days later.
1 time 2 snails had gotten down inside the motorized part where the rubber parts are by going up the intake tube. They were small enough to get through the filter basket.
The wheel stalls a lot. It will sometimes be 3-5 seconds before the wheel moves again.
I change the filters when the water starts to slow. There isn't really a current in the tank any more. The water gently returns but I'm afraid it is not circulating enough of the water from the other side of the tank. It used to circulate enough that some of the fish would play in the water as it returned into the tank.
Should I add an airstone? The platies seems happier sometimes when there is one in the tank? I think part of the problem is I am getting too much algae in my tank and I am overfeeding so I do realize this is part of the problem. I thought about moving the filter to the middle of the tank, right now it is on the left side. Any suggestions? Is there something else I am doing incorrectly?