these types of filters are not made to be reused. The Structural properties of most* cartrige filters is a lot closer to a poly fill than a filter pad. While you may be able to get away with carefully rinsing it a couple of times, it it just not what the product is built for. Every time you attempt to rinse and reuse these cartridges, you damage the structure of the filter itself and any reduce its function.
Water flow will always take the pth of least resistance. Of parts of the pad become thinner (even slightly) due to improper use (ie cleaning and reusing a filter that is meant to be replced) the water will flow through those thinner areas first. This will reduce the overall quality of the filtration over time.
Meanwhile filters like the Aquaclear HOB
, use a strong mechanical media which was made to be cleaned without risk of damageing the media in the process. Same with canisters. Canister filters generally use a much stronger course filter pad that is pretty strong nd durable.
Basically, the filter cartridges are manufactured to be used then replaced (as clearly marked on the package). the idea being "ease of maintenance" over long term cost effectiveness.
Novice fish keepers don't know anything about water chemistry, nitrogen cycle, long term maintenance, etc. But they know how to throw out a dirty filter and replace it with a clean one. And that's exactly what this type of filter is made for.
You can go with a DIY solution with some king of coarse filter pad (I used to use green scotch brite scouring pads cut to size) which would give you more durability for cleaning the filter, but again, that only addresses one of the many flaws in the overall design of cartridge style HOB
filters. It may save you a buck, but won't make the filter any better.
If that is no longer what you're looking for in a filter, if highly suggest getting rid of your cartridge style HOB
filter, and replacing it with a quality HOB
or a canister.
However, if its not in your budget or not readily avaolible for whatever reason, there is always a DIY solution out there to tie you over until you're ready to step up to a good filter.
I personally would rather spend the little extra upfront for a better quality filter, if for nothing else, peace of mind. The filter is the backbone of the aquarium, and knowing what I know now, I would not leave such a major function to a poor quality product if I had the option of getting a better one. It plays a far too important role for me to skimp out on it.