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Old 03-29-2013, 12:31 AM   #1
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Let's Talk HOB "Cartridge" Media...

Seasoned hobbyists will, of course, know the stringent rule when using one of Hagen's coveted "AquaClear" HOBs with regard to its media...that is, never throw away your sponge save if it's on its last thread (would take an AWFULLY long time) or your biological media (i.e. BioMax rings/pellets/noodles or whatever you're using in that place), and instead go to rinse/dunk it in removed tank water...however, the situation becomes a bit more complex when talking about HOBs that take these "cartridge" forms of media, such as the Marinelands, Tetras and Aqueons...

Indeed, pro hobbyists will advise against using such filters strictly for the inconvenience of needing to constantly replace the cartridge media (according to the manufacturer), but I have had some luck with the Aqueon line of HOBs and actually like them...they put out a ton of water return flow and are self-priming due to an in-water pump system. That being said, the maintenance of these HOBs has always bothered and confused me in the same vain; Aqueon claims that the catridges should be removed and thrown away after about six or so weeks or when flow is so backed up from debris the filter has a noticeable reduced performance exhibition...their explanation for not needing to worry about throwing away beneficial bacteria? With their line of QuietFlow filters come "bio-grids" and "diffuser grids" which are supposed to grow and house the bacteria supply -- and which are not recommended by the company to be rinsed or otherwise cleaned in any way because of this -- thus allowing the actual cartridge pads to be discarded without fear of going into a mini-cycle...

Here's what these pieces look like on the QuietFlows:







The first two pics show the "bio grid" pieces the cartridges slip into, while the bottom pic depicts a QuietFlow 55 model, like mine, that displays the "bio bar" piece that's supposed to further oxygenate the water before the return flow (a "wet/dry" system, kind of like what Marineland's "BioWheel" is supposed to do)...this "bar" is also supposed to house additional bacteria...

Okay, so all that said, I am wondering if media such as this -- cartridges with carbon and floss -- should be routinely changed out when they're really gross and overstuffed or if they, too, can be dunked and rinsed just like the AquaClear media...the thing with the carbon cartridges is that after awhile, the carbon is exhausted and I have heard that this can leech toxins back into the water if not removed fast enough. On the other hand, I have heard that there's no such thing as "poisoning by old carbon" -- I understand the reasoning behind modern hobbyists turning away from using carbon as any kind of media source unless removal of medication or toxic odors are necessary, but let's just say for a minute there are still hobbyists like me out there that like to run HOBs like these Aqueons with the carbon cartridges...what should the maintenance schedule be like? Do these things really need to be removed and replaced every six or so weeks like the company says, or can I get away with doing what we all do with our AquaClear media -- that is, remove the pads and simply dunk and swish around in removed tank water just to loosen the debris hanging on? Is there any danger of carbon "leeching" something back into the tank when exhausted?

If these cartridges can indeed be reused over and over, just cleaning by rinsing in removed tank water, how long can this/should this go on for...like with the AquaClears, until they're "falling apart"?

Let's get some thoughts!
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Old 03-29-2013, 12:56 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ArtesiaWells View Post
Seasoned hobbyists will, of course, know the stringent rule when using one of Hagen's coveted "AquaClear" HOBs with regard to its media...that is, never throw away your sponge save if it's on its last thread (would take an AWFULLY long time) or your biological media (i.e. BioMax rings/pellets/noodles or whatever you're using in that place), and instead go to rinse/dunk it in removed tank water...however, the situation becomes a bit more complex when talking about HOBs that take these "cartridge" forms of media, such as the Marinelands, Tetras and Aqueons...

Indeed, pro hobbyists will advise against using such filters strictly for the inconvenience of needing to constantly replace the cartridge media (according to the manufacturer), but I have had some luck with the Aqueon line of HOBs and actually like them...they put out a ton of water return flow and are self-priming due to an in-water pump system. That being said, the maintenance of these HOBs has always bothered and confused me in the same vain; Aqueon claims that the catridges should be removed and thrown away after about six or so weeks or when flow is so backed up from debris the filter has a noticeable reduced performance exhibition...their explanation for not needing to worry about throwing away beneficial bacteria? With their line of QuietFlow filters come "bio-grids" and "diffuser grids" which are supposed to grow and house the bacteria supply -- and which are not recommended by the company to be rinsed or otherwise cleaned in any way because of this -- thus allowing the actual cartridge pads to be discarded without fear of going into a mini-cycle...

Here's what these pieces look like on the QuietFlows:

The first two pics show the "bio grid" pieces the cartridges slip into, while the bottom pic depicts a QuietFlow 55 model, like mine, that displays the "bio bar" piece that's supposed to further oxygenate the water before the return flow (a "wet/dry" system, kind of like what Marineland's "BioWheel" is supposed to do)...this "bar" is also supposed to house additional bacteria...

Okay, so all that said, I am wondering if media such as this -- cartridges with carbon and floss -- should be routinely changed out when they're really gross and overstuffed or if they, too, can be dunked and rinsed just like the AquaClear media...the thing with the carbon cartridges is that after awhile, the carbon is exhausted and I have heard that this can leech toxins back into the water if not removed fast enough. On the other hand, I have heard that there's no such thing as "poisoning by old carbon" -- I understand the reasoning behind modern hobbyists turning away from using carbon as any kind of media source unless removal of medication or toxic odors are necessary, but let's just say for a minute there are still hobbyists like me out there that like to run HOBs like these Aqueons with the carbon cartridges...what should the maintenance schedule be like? Do these things really need to be removed and replaced every six or so weeks like the company says, or can I get away with doing what we all do with our AquaClear media -- that is, remove the pads and simply dunk and swish around in removed tank water just to loosen the debris hanging on? Is there any danger of carbon "leeching" something back into the tank when exhausted?

If these cartridges can indeed be reused over and over, just cleaning by rinsing in removed tank water, how long can this/should this go on for...like with the AquaClears, until they're "falling apart"?

Let's get some thoughts!
Not sure if carbon will leach back into the water, perhaps after a long while. I've seen it debated online a lot.
You might be able to cut the carbkn out of the plastic cartridge and just use the floss part. You'd be perfectly fine with rinsing the cartridge and returning it back to the filter and you won't have to worry about the carbon. Maybe if you just slit the of the "fabric" covering you can pour the canon or dig it out with a spoon.

Usually, with HOBs, I'll stuff them with poly fill and be done lol. And I'll just rinse it like every month and hardly ever change it. My nitrates always stay at 5, and I've been doing this forever
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Old 03-29-2013, 01:36 AM   #3
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Not sure if carbon will leach back into the water, perhaps after a long while. I've seen it debated online a lot.
You might be able to cut the carbkn out of the plastic cartridge and just use the floss part. You'd be perfectly fine with rinsing the cartridge and returning it back to the filter and you won't have to worry about the carbon. Maybe if you just slit the of the "fabric" covering you can pour the canon or dig it out with a spoon.

Usually, with HOBs, I'll stuff them with poly fill and be done lol. And I'll just rinse it like every month and hardly ever change it. My nitrates always stay at 5, and I've been doing this forever
Thanks, George...

Tell me what you make of this response I received from someone over on another forum regarding this issue, if you would:

No, at least not under the conditions in our aquariums. We use activated carbon in the water treatment industry as biomedia for bacterial treatment of drinking water just as we do in our fish tanks. Also, from all the research I've done on activated carbon, the only way for the carbon to leech would be under extreme conditions such as highly acidic or basic water.

In the environment that we keep our fish, you would never need to worry about the carbon leeching. If the water is acidic or basic enough to start leeching anything then your fish and anything else in your tank would be dead. So forget the science talk and just know that there's nothing to be concerned about.


Your thoughts?
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Old 03-29-2013, 01:53 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ArtesiaWells View Post

Thanks, George...

Tell me what you make of this response I received from someone over on another forum regarding this issue, if you would:

No, at least not under the conditions in our aquariums. We use activated carbon in the water treatment industry as biomedia for bacterial treatment of drinking water just as we do in our fish tanks. Also, from all the research I've done on activated carbon, the only way for the carbon to leech would be under extreme conditions such as highly acidic or basic water.

In the environment that we keep our fish, you would never need to worry about the carbon leeching. If the water is acidic or basic enough to start leeching anything then your fish and anything else in your tank would be dead. So forget the science talk and just know that there's nothing to be concerned about.

Your thoughts?
That's interesting, I dont have enough carbon knowledge to be able to contradict this. It seens very plausible.

But, when you really think about it, have you ever heard of carbon leeching the meds it took out of the water? Or leeching anything back into the tank? I haven't (doesn't mean it can't happen lol). IME, carbon won't leech back into the water. while i highly doubt you would run into issues using the same cartridge,I personally wouldn't want to run 7 month old used carbon because its pointless at that point.


I think I had a bag of carbon in my canister for about 3 months when I forgot it and everything was fine.

Maybe one of the "sciencey" members will chime in with their more educated opinions lol
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Old 03-29-2013, 02:05 AM   #5
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That's interesting, I dont have enough carbon knowledge to be able to contradict this. It seens very plausible.

But, when you really think about it, have you ever heard of carbon leeching the meds it took out of the water? Or leeching anything back into the tank? I haven't (doesn't mean it can't happen lol). IME, carbon won't leech back into the water. while i highly doubt you would run into issues using the same cartridge,I personally wouldn't want to run 7 month old used carbon because its pointless at that point.


I think I had a bag of carbon in my canister for about 3 months when I forgot it and everything was fine.

Maybe one of the "sciencey" members will chime in with their more educated opinions lol
Indeed; I suppose I wouldn't keep these "exhausted" cartridges in the filter for ridiculous amounts of time anyway, as at a certain point the pads just couldn't hold the debris anyway and would need to be replaced, but I was just curious if there was a danger of leaving exhausted carbon in a cartridge for semi-extended periods of time...

Thank you for your thoughts and time.
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Old 03-29-2013, 02:12 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by ArtesiaWells View Post

Indeed; I suppose I wouldn't keep these "exhausted" cartridges in the filter for ridiculous amounts of time anyway, as at a certain point the pads just couldn't hold the debris anyway and would need to be replaced, but I was just curious if there was a danger of leaving exhausted carbon in a cartridge for semi-extended periods of time...

Thank you for your thoughts and time.
I think you'll be perfectly fine if you did good luck!!
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Old 03-29-2013, 03:02 AM   #7
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Wow, this is an interesting thread. As earlier stated meds could possibly be reintroduced but other than that I don't know why you would go the lengths of water backing up to change it. I have a 110 hob on one of my tanks and change carbon every 2-3mo but I do rinse it 2-3 times in that period. My levels have never spiked and water has consistent clarity and safe levels. I started off with xp-2 canister, then went to 110 and whisper with the bio bar to just using the 110. The aquaclear hob is def my fav filter.
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Old 03-29-2013, 03:12 AM   #8
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I've had the same cartridges in the two HOB filters that I do run cartridges in for as long as I have had the filters themselves. All of the HOBs I am running save one are around a year old. One is older than that, but I tossed the cartridges and packed it with filter floss for better particle filtration and I did the same with another one that I got along with my 56 gallon because I didn't have any cartridges. I have a marine land penguin 350 on my 56 and my 30, plus each tank has a second, less powerful HOB with filter floss. My other tanks run sponge filters. I rinse one set of cartridges with every other water change (the 350s each have four cartridges plus two bio wheels). Never had any problems, although I t looks like it won't be long before I need to pick up new ones to start replacing some, as they are falling apart.

Also, I don't think those plastic grids can hold much bacteria. My oldest running HOB has one of those things, but I don't trust it to hold nearly as much bacteria as the floss behind it does. Although it is good for holding the floss in place!
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Old 03-29-2013, 12:31 PM   #9
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I have 2 aqueon 55/75 running my 55 Fowler and all I did was remove cartridge added pillow poly fiber from Walmart that came in a roll for 6 dollars wich I replace one of the cut out polyfiber every month and I'm using a media bag with carbon behind the polifiber and change it every 2 months and my water is clear I'm planning thou to replace the carbon for chemi pure elite
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Old 03-30-2013, 06:05 PM   #10
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I think you'll be perfectly fine if you did good luck!!
You mean if I left the carbon in for extended periods of time?
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