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Old 01-17-2010, 11:32 PM   #1
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Nitrate Factory

I have heard people refer to spone filters in a canister as a nitrate factory. Can someone explain that and also give some advice related to when I clean my fluval 405 sponges every 4-6 weeks, should I freshwater clean (spray out) one or more of the 4 sponges or just rinse out as best I can in a bucket of saltwater from the tank as I have been doing. I have a 44g saltwater FOWLR.
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Old 01-18-2010, 09:32 AM   #2
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The sponges catch all the crap. That crap breaks down and turns to nitrate. To help avoid that problem, clean the sponges in freshwater every week.
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Old 01-18-2010, 03:05 PM   #3
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If I clean in freshwater, doesn't that destroy all the good bacterial living in the media also?
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Old 01-18-2010, 03:16 PM   #4
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Yup, that's why you have the live rock. The can will just be doing mechanical and any chemical filtration you decide to use. The biological filtration will be done other places.
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Old 01-18-2010, 04:10 PM   #5
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Of course, that assumes that you *have* live rock! (Duh... just went back and reread your post and I see you say FOWLR. Guess you do have live rock!) If those sponges are your only form of bacterial filtration, yes... rinse them out in the old saltwater.

The "nitrate factory" name gets tagged on to cannisters when they aren't cleaned out regularly. Even if you're not doing a weekly water change, you want to rinse/clean those sponges weekly to avoid finding out where the name comes from.
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Old 01-19-2010, 01:43 AM   #6
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Let's boil this down then. Are you suggesting that I rinse my sponges in my canister with saltwater to preserve some biological filtration that lives within the sponge or are you suggesting that I clean with freshwater thus killing virtually everything in the sponge, but getting a much cleaner sponge with many fewer nitrates in the end? I do have live rock and sand in the tank, but the fluval 305 is the only filter I have running.
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Old 01-19-2010, 02:13 AM   #7
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The answer is "yes". All depends on what YOU want to do.

Not sure how much rock you have in there, but if you have "sufficient" rock - say 30-40+ lbs, the rock is what is doing your bacterial filtration - NOT the cannister. In that case, rinse with fresh water or salt water... your choice.

If you only have, say... 10 lbs of rock, then your cannister *may* be harboring some bacteria that ARE providing chemical filtration. In that case, I wouldn't want to kill off that bacteria so I'd rinse in saltwater.

Regardless of what you rinse them out with, doing it on a weekly basis should do wonders for you, compared to 4-6 weeks.
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Old 01-19-2010, 02:19 AM   #8
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I only have about 12 lbs of live rock in a 44g because my kids bought me the tank it it came with a gigantic castle that had to go in and took up all the space. The canister does have ceramic inside two chambers. When I rinse the sponge in saltwater I can only clean somewhat. If I use freshwater, I can hose it down with hot water using a sprayer hose and do a much better job. What are your thoughts?
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Old 01-19-2010, 08:12 AM   #9
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If you rinse a sponge in fw it won't kill all the sw bacteria nor will it even cause major disruption. I have kept many a tank quite cycled and filtration-active by doing so. Just put the sponge under a running hose/faucet and squeeze the sponge filter until clear water expels. This shouldn't take more than 30secs. There is no need to blast it clean with the hose, specialized sprayer, or "water blaster." XD
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Old 01-19-2010, 11:25 PM   #10
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my nitrates we high and taking my canister filter out helped reduce my nitrates! If you have enough live rock do away with the canister filter
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