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Old 11-07-2018, 02:17 PM   #1
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Protein Build Up

Hi everyone,

I’m new to the hobby. I have a 20 gallon freshwater tank that is cycled (fish in cycle). I upgraded from a 10 gallon to 20 gallon a couple weeks ago so I am currently still running both filters on the new tank so I don’t lose the beneficial bacteria. (Basically just moved everything over to the new tank). Some dates for reference:

-9/29 my 10 gallon tank was setup (2 weeks later, 2 fish were introduced).
-10/28 converted to 20 gallon tank
-1/1 two additional fish were introduced

*been checking water daily with api master kit. Numbers have been stable since cycling was completed.

We now have 4 fish and I’ve been getting some protein (foam) buildup at the top of my tank. I’ve done 2x weekly gravel cleanings and 50% water changes but it keeps building up daily. Just did a cleaning yesterday and this morning the foam is back. I’m also trying to be careful of overfeeding.

Just looking for advice on what to do about the buildup? How long do I need to continue running the old filter? Should I replcae the filter cartridge? Everything I have read from fish experts say they do not really ever need to be replaced, but wondering if that could be my problem?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 11-07-2018, 04:08 PM   #2
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Rinse out your filters with dechlorinated water to clean them. You will lose a little BB but not all or even most of it. All filter elements will have to be replaced at some point. Nothing lasts forever. I haven't heard of never cleaning a filter element either if that's what you mean. Not only does it eventually clog the filter itself and causes it to stop running but it will also build up nitrates in your tank.
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Old 11-07-2018, 05:25 PM   #3
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I appreciate the reply, thank you. I was referring to replacing the filter cartridge, not cleaning it. I read that it's not a good idea to change those very often since they hold the BB. Since it's only been a couple of months, I was thinking it was too soon for a full replacement.

I just did another cleaning and water change and rinsed my filters as well as the sponges as you had recommended. That had not been done yet because I was afraid of disrupting the BB, but it sounds like it was long overdue. I will add that task to my routine cleaning.

How long do you suggest keeping my old (10 gal) filter running along with my new 20 gallon filter in the tank? I was thinking a month should suffice, but I don't want to pull it too early.
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Old 11-07-2018, 08:38 PM   #4
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A month should be plenty. But id gauge that by testing your water. If you can go 7 days with no ammonia and no nitrites with some sort of a nitrates reading I'd say you are cycled. Test day 4 after a water change and day 7 before your water change.

BB grows on everything inside the tank..... substrate, decor, plants, inside tank glass, ect.
You may lose a little BB from a filter cleaning but not all of it. Make sure you use dechlorinated water or old tank water and not straight tap water when rinsing your filters clean.

If you run two filters long term on your tank then alternate between cleanings.......pull one filter element and clean it then the next week pull the second filters element and clean it. This will keep your tank from possibly having a bacteria bloom.
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Old 11-12-2018, 12:03 PM   #5
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King Fisher is giving good advice. Another benefit of running both filters is that if you use the 10 gallon as a quarantine/hospital tank with new fish, all you need to do is move the 10 gal. filter over and youíre instantly cycled.
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