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Old 10-16-2008, 07:59 AM   #1
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Question changing cleaning filter media

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.
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Old 10-16-2008, 08:16 AM   #2
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When it completely falls apart change it.
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Old 10-16-2008, 09:28 AM   #3
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How about when to rinse it?
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Old 10-16-2008, 10:08 AM   #4
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Depends on the media. Some media needs to be changed quite often because it gets clogged and can't be cleaned. Some brands of filter element will get matted with attempts at cleaning, reducing water flow through them. Sponge inserts will last indefinitely and can be cleaned often to keep them clear of solid material. I have Aqua Clear foam inserts that are over 10 years old.
Regardless, the inserts need to be cleaned as needed to work properly. Nitrifying bacter are aerobic, and if the filter material gets clogged and anaerobic conditions are created they will die. Nitrifying bacteria don't consume solids, so they have to compete for available oxygen with the bacteria that do. Keeping the filters cleared of solid material will help keep nitrate levels lower.
So, the inserts should be cleaned as needed (in tank water), and this depends on the individual tank as to how often is a minimum. Cleaning inserts before they get plugged up is good practice, and cleaning too often does not exist in an established filter.
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Old 10-16-2008, 10:26 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peaceablegarden View Post
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.
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Old 10-16-2008, 10:27 AM   #6
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FWIW, I rinse the filters in my canisters in a bucket of tank water once a month. When they start looking too worn I replace them.

I also do 25% PWCs/substrate vac weekly.
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