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Old 08-23-2017, 01:21 AM   #1
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Filter broke... troubleshooting by mom.

My 20 gallon is kept in my daughter's room. It was originally hers. It's still kinda hers... she feeds them and helps with water changes. But maintenance and all that is my duty. Well, I went in today and noticed the HOB is dead. The waterfall part of it is bone dry.

So... I keep a spare sponge filter in my 40. Partially to over filter the 40 (It's overstocked with fish who eat a lot.) But also because I like having backup filters, just in case. My kids tease me that we never have just in cases. Except when we need an emergency hospital tank. (A few weeks ago we had a columnaris outbreak in the 20.) Or when we have a new fish suddenly that needs a quarantine. Or when a filter that's worked fine for years just stops working.

I pulled one of my sponge filters and put it in the 20 gallon along with the most annoying air pump ever invented. (I got it for cheap at one point.) I said I'd get a non horrible one later, but the filter was working and was cycled, which was the important part.

I had to go to a vet clinic to get something for my sick dog, and they're discontinuing all their fish supplies, so I got the tetra whisper air pump I was going to get anyhow for half off. And some cheaper than usual air lines and a check valve. Not too bad. Still need to get another sponge filter for my tank to repopulate it. But crisis averted for the 20 to not have a filter.
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Old 08-23-2017, 05:29 AM   #2
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Nice going with the spares and excellent shopping on the half off. I think I have a few drawers of stuff but in there spare heaters, etc.
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Old 08-23-2017, 09:24 AM   #3
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I think the heater in that tank might be broken, too. But in the summer the heaters barely need to run if at all, so it's hard to tell. All of the tanks are the same temp. unless I'm running it up for some reason.
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Old 08-23-2017, 09:59 AM   #4
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Hello mimi...

Did you know the filter system doesn't do a very good job of keeping the tank water clean? It simply takes in toxic tank water and returns the water a bit less toxic. If you simply increase the amount of water you change and change it more often, say half the water every 3 to 4 days, all you need is a good air pump and an air stone to mix a little oxygen into the tank water. The water change is the filter, the mechanical gizmo mainly agitates the surface and mixes oxygen into the water. An air stone does the same thing, but at a reduced cost.

I keep minimal filters on my tanks, mainly for aeration, but I also change most of the tank water weekly, so there's no time for dissolved fish wastes to build up before I remove them through the water change.

Encourage the water changer to change more and do it more often. The fish will respond with better health.

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Old 08-23-2017, 11:44 AM   #5
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We do a 25% change on all of our tanks once a week, with a larger change once a month, unless there's something weird happening, which is pretty rare. Filters keep the water polished and aerated, and provide a home for beneficial bacteria. I've switched to sponge filters for the most part, I have a small HOB on my betta/frog tank and my 40 gallon has a hob that I just keep pothos in. I wouldn't even call it a filter so much as a pothos planter that happens to use fish water.

Other than one balloon molly who is old and has either bad tumors or lymphocystis, and the columnaris outbreak which I'm pretty sure came from some bad equipment handling on my part (removed a dead fish from quarantine with a net and reused it without sterilizing it) I haven't had any bad sicknesses. And my water levels on testing are all perfect for my fish, other than harder water than would be ideal for tetras.
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Old 08-23-2017, 12:56 PM   #6
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Hello again...

The beneficial bacteria lives on all the surfaces inside the tank, not just the filter media. What's removed when you clean the filter is replaced within a few hours. So, you can have a balanced tank without a filtration system.

Actually, a 25 percent water change still leaves 75 percent of the toxic water in the tank. If you removed 50 percent every week or twice a week, the fish would live in a purer water environment. Since you have to get out the gear to change the tank water, it would be worth it to spend a few more minutes and remove half.

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Old 08-23-2017, 02:46 PM   #7
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We don't have any sort of automated system, so we're doing it with buckets and siphons. And lugging all the buckets around the house is actually quite a chore. Especially if you're talking about doing it multiple times a week. I'm certainly not able to physically move 40+ gallons for just the one tank via buckets multiple times a week. (And my twelve-year-old daughter isn't either.) I could possibly do it with my tens and the 20, but again, all of my water parameters are fine, my fish in my 40 gallon are happy and healthy. Having no filter at all may work for you, but having filters on my tanks is something that works for me and my fish.
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