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Change Of Filter Media
May 20, 2009
12:50 am
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Reva
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Sometimes practice does not make perfect. So I thought I'd ask the experts here if I am doing it all wrong, after all these years. This line of questioning is brought on by my daughter's recent sorrow. She rinsed the filter sponges in her Marineland filter for her 55gallon salt tank. She didnt touch the ceramic bead bacteria culture. But just after her sponge rinse (on the advice of the LFS guy), her yellow tang died.

My practice in my fresh water tanks is to rinse the sponges and change the charcoal/zeolite package about once every three months. But I do weekly partial water changes.

In your expert opinions, what is the ideal practice for salt and fresh water filter media changes?

May 20, 2009
2:01 am
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dunc
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Personally I go by the following ethos:

You don't want actual dirt/excrement in your filter media, but obviously it's vital to retain the bacteria colony.

Some sponges tend to clog quite quickly - that will noticeably impede the flow of your filter outlet and should be fairly obvious. These sponges should be rinsed thoroughly in old tank water, obviously not tap water as the chlorine could potentially kill the nitrosomonas.

The "noodles" et al shouldn't be much of a problem - sometimes their container needs a bit of a rinse.

I've never actually replaced any of the media in my canisters because it all seems in reasonable shape. I presumed - maybe incorrectly - that the media will retain the appropriate attributes for colonising bacteria until it's literally falling apart (thinking sponges there).

May 20, 2009
7:07 am
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Mark Duffill
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I give my sponges a quick squeeze through in some tank water usually every week while doing water changes, some I may leave two weeks depending how clogged up they are. Externals I strip down every 6 weeks or so and clean each set of media in a bucket of tank water.

I haven't changed any media in my externals for around 5 years and the only reason I will have added new sponges to my internals in that time will be to use a mature sponge in a new filter in a new setup.

May 20, 2009
6:13 pm
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Eyrie
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Agree with the above.

The only media I ever replace is the prefilter floss in my internals, and even then that's probably an annual occurrance when it's falling to pieces and so no longer working efficiently.

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May 20, 2009
6:44 pm
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Reva
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wow, thanks guys. I have been doing the rinse in the tap (but we have filtered well water here). Old tank water is Very Good Advice (especially if you are a bacteria! Class M planet please!). I guess the LFS guys want to sell more sponges.

So my charcoal changing practice is ok?

May 21, 2009
2:01 pm
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Bluedave
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I rinse mine when it looks like it needs it - which isn't very often!

I don't use charcoal.

May 21, 2009
2:25 pm
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dunc
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Oh yeah, sorry, missed that entirely. If you want to use carbon/zeolite it needs to be changed on a regular basis. I'm not sure if it's actually true but legend has it carbon releases its pollutants back in to the water once its absorbing properties have aged/filled.

Either way I'm fairly sure it stops doing what it's meant to do after a couple of months.

Make sure you remove if you need to medicate your fishes though, carbon nullifies the use of most meds.

May 21, 2009
6:49 pm
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ndc
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i rarely touch filters, i only clean the sponges if the flow is seriously low. in the ex1200 external i dont have any sponges at all, only different kinds of media and i have only cleaned it out once since i bought it - about 18 months ago - and that was because i was changing the tank completely and thought id do it for the sake of it - didnt really need it. just set up a pro 3 eheim so i think that will run for years before a major clean although as theres mbuna in the tank i will be running it with a sponge in the top to catch fine particles so that will need cleaning probably every couple of months.

May 22, 2009
2:33 pm
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Eyrie
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QUOTE (dunc @ May 21 2009, 03:08 PM) < {POST_SNAPBACK}>
I'm not sure if it's actually true but legend has it carbon releases its pollutants back in to the water once its absorbing properties have aged/filled.


Be interesting to get more views on this. Obviously will depend on how permanent the absorption is, but any release could be managed with frequent water changes.

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May 22, 2009
3:01 pm
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Matt
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Active carbon works mostly by adsorption i.e. stuff sticks to it so once the surface area starts to be used up pollutants will appear in the water for sure. Not sure about what Dunc said, in theory it should be possible I've just never heard of it happening.

I'm the same as most here Reva, hardly ever buy new filter media just clean the old stuff in tank water periodically, more often for sponges.

Cake or death?
May 22, 2009
8:43 pm
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Reva
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thanks everyone. that's a great help. Not only am I making more work for myself, but it isnt good for the bacteria culture. I will pass this info on to my daughter too. Any special pointers for salt tanks?

Also, what do you guys think of that new product (I cant remember the brand name) that are rechargable filter beads. They supposedly take the place of charcoal and are recharged in bleach water (which makes me so nervous that I bought some, used them, and after recharging and rinsing them, I couldnt make myself put them back in the filter). Dumb move , I know. /huh.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":huh:" border="0" alt="huh.gif" />

May 23, 2009
8:22 am
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Bigbadbaz
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I usually clean my filter out every week the day before my water change, I replace the filter floss, give the sponges a squeeze to get rid of the gunk and clean the impellor. I then put it back online and do the water change the following day. This system works for me as I have not lost any fish for a very long time and all my stats are perfect.

May 23, 2009
11:51 am
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Eyrie
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QUOTE (Matt @ May 22 2009, 03:44 PM) < {POST_SNAPBACK}>
Active carbon works mostly by adsorption i.e. stuff sticks to it so once the surface area starts to be used up pollutants will appear in the water for sure. Not sure about what Dunc said, in theory it should be possible I've just never heard of it happening.


So it's not a case of pollutants leaking back into the water but rather that these are starting to show up again because the underlying issue hasn't been addressed.

Cheers, Matt /smile.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":)" border="0" alt="smile.gif" />

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May 26, 2009
1:11 pm
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Bluedave
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That's right Eyrie - there are lots or reports from people on various forums that talk about carbon leaching things back into the aquarium but i'm fairly certain that this isn't possible because of the adsorption process - unless of course there is something out there that stops everything sticking to the carbon (i.e. it affects the adsorption properties of the carbon?) - my A-level chemistry is a bit rusty and i'm not a chemist so not entirely sure!

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