Originally Posted by peaceablegarden
Wondered when is it time to clean or change filter media. Are there any guidelines? I've heard that it's best to just rinse the media in tank water (obviously not in the tank) rather than change it completely, but there must be some instance when it would need to be changed completely.
Are you talking about pads, media such as bio-balls/ceramic rings, or chemicals such as activated carbon/ammonia chips/etc?
As BillD already stated, pads can last forever if they are properly maintained and kept clean.
Chemical filtration media should be changed frequently. Activated carbon (AC
) is pretty much useless after 3 days and the only real purpose of it is to absorb meds that have been used in the tank. Ammo-chips and the like should be changed probably every < 4 weeks if there is a high bioload or maybe they will last longer if the bioload is light. I have no experience with ammo-chips and nitrite/nitrate absorbing media.
Ceramic rings should be replaced when they break apart. It's probably best to remove 1/2 of them and put the other half in a filter bag. Then put 1/2 new ones in and put the bag with the old ones back into the filter. Next filter maintenance day change out the old 1/2 of the rings and fill with new rings. Bioballs should last forever. They will just need to be washed periodically.