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Old 07-21-2010, 01:00 PM   #1
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How to properly clean mechanical filters

So I have a HOB overflow cup (actually two) in my 150G system, and there are a couple of "sponges" in those that basically act as mechanical filtration. Of course they get clogged with time and I know the proper way to clean them is to squeeze them out in post-WC water to release all of the debris.

My question is this: I have little filter-feeding critters (I think they're amphipods) that live on those sponges and are very happy there, and I would kind of like to keep them there between cleanings. At the very least, I have a mandarin goby in my display that would just love a snack. Is there any way I can clean these sponges while somehow saving the critters, or are they doomed whenever I need to clean them?
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Old 07-21-2010, 01:14 PM   #2
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I would imagine if you didn't wring out the sponge real hard when you did it, they will be fine. Use a toothbrush to get all the outside debris off, then run lots of water through it and squeeze gently.
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Old 07-21-2010, 08:10 PM   #3
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I know a lot of people do some real easy mods where they take out those sponges and do a mini fuge in their HOB. This would actually help you out in a couple ways. The sponges do collect a lot of junk and actually start to leech nitrates back into the system unless you clean them out ever couple days. Most people just run them from time to time for a day or two at a time and then leave them out the rest to avoid this. If you put some live rock rubble and/or macro into a mini fuge all those pods that live in your sponges will populate in the fuge and then get washed back into the tank for your fish to feed on.

If that is not an option i'm not sure how you could clean those real effectively without washing away a lot of the pods that live in them.
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Old 07-21-2010, 08:42 PM   #4
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get rid of the sponges. you don't need them. those little creatures will live fine wherever it suits them best in your system.
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Old 07-21-2010, 09:20 PM   #5
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All right, that stuff sounds good. Those things aren't the only mechanical filtration in my system and recently they've been doing more harm than good.

I can't imagine how I'd get macro algae up in there and have it stay, though that sounds like a really good idea. I've got plenty of LR rubble I could use.

My only reservation is that one time my tiny yellow clown goby went missing and I found him in that overflow. The sponge was the only thing that saved him from getting washed down to where I'm sure he would have died. I guess we'll have to hope he learned his lesson at least until he gets too big to get sucked in there.

I'll give it a shot this weekend and let you know how it goes. Thanks for the advice.
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Old 07-21-2010, 09:35 PM   #6
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If you go to your local hardware store they make plastic netting to keep birds out of vents and things of that nature in your house. You can put a small piece of that over any drains your worried about.
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Old 07-21-2010, 09:36 PM   #7
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I actually have some of that laying around. Rep points for you!
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Old 07-22-2010, 10:51 AM   #8
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Make sure its the plastic stuff or it will corrode really fast. Bridal veil from a fabric store will work as well.
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Old 07-22-2010, 10:58 AM   #9
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What I have is a roll of the screen stuff from screen doors. I've used it before in the aquarium and I haven't had any problems. If anything it's a little too fine, but I don't think that will be an issue here.

As far as macroalgae goes, I have a big ball o' chaeto in my fuge, but I was thinking about using a different type here since it's a smaller space and it probably won't be able to "tumble." Is there a particular type of macroalgae that's more suited for this? I guess that may be a question for a different thread on a different board...
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Old 07-22-2010, 11:09 AM   #10
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I'm not sure what you mean by "tumble." Cheato doesn't have to move to grow properly. As long as you really have lights of any sort and nutrients, it will grow. You will see increased growth rates on it if you constantly prune it back. Think of it like a sponge, once it absorbs lots of stuff, it will slow down. Pruning it gets rid of some of the total nutrients it has and it will regrow to get more.

At least thats how I've come to understand it.
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