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Old 11-05-2008, 05:43 PM   #1
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Changing my filter media?

Hey everybody. My 20g high freshwater tank has been setup for about 2 months now. Im guessing it maybe isnt the time to replace my filter media quite yet as it was a brand new tank and I have built up the beneficial bacteria. I have an AquaClear power filter for a 20g tank, it has 3 pieces: the BioMax filter insert, Activated Carbon Filter Insert, and the Foam Filter.

How should I replace those and should I do them one at a time, and if so which first?

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Old 11-05-2008, 05:56 PM   #2
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Most people on here are going to tell you two things: don't change filter media, and don't use charcoal.

You want the bacterial colonies that have developed in the filter to remain there, and changing out media removes them. Activated carbon isn't bad so far as I know (except that if you use a medication it tends to be removed by the charcoal), but its effect is short-lived (days) and generally unnecessary. It isn't doing anything bad in your tank, though, and I would leave it.

You want to replace the filter generally because it has become clogged, but it's easier and better for your fish to keep the old filter and next time you change water from the tank, remove the filter elements and rinse them in the old tank water. It will still look gross afterward, but flow will be fairly well restored and you'll keep your bacteria.

If it does become necessary to replace the material, as eventually it does wear out, it is best to replace one of the three at a time, with a week or two in between for new bacteria to become established on the new filter. If the new one is placed last in line it will be quickly seeded with bacteria from the older filter elements.
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Old 11-05-2008, 07:16 PM   #3
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Any chance you own the GeoSystem 60?

I would change the carbon, but wouldn't the other two just stick around?
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Old 11-05-2008, 10:48 PM   #4
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Good advice about the filter rinse with tank water. I use dechlor'ed water but tank is okay. Tap water (chlorine) will wipe out the bacteria colonies.

I use carbon to keep the water clear and smells down. (actually, my tanks don't smell at all) I can provide evidence that the carbon lasts more than a few days. Just make sure you rinse the fines out well before you drop the bag back into the filter housing. Treat it gently too.

I use Aquaclear filters as well. The foam insert should last for a long time. I went three months on one of mine. Tank water quality was good but the flow was slowing decreasing. Definitely change filter elements one at a time with at least a week in between, never all at once.
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Old 11-06-2008, 12:18 AM   #5
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I've been wondering this as well, I have an aqua clear 50 on mine and I've hit the 2 month mark now. Would loss of bacteria still be an issue if only one section of the filter's 3 is changed at a time?
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Old 11-06-2008, 07:16 AM   #6
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In the aqua clears, I assume we never change the bio max filter insert, right? That's the one that's nothing more than a host for beneficial bacteria to live on--I can't see how changing that helps.

My aqua clear has a permanent spongy plastic structure through which the water is filtered--I do rinse this is tank water during PWCs here and there, but again, I couldn't see replacing it.

I don't see what gets replaced above and beyond the carbon here. Am I missing something?
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Old 11-06-2008, 11:16 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Tuttle View Post
In the aqua clears, I assume we never change the bio max filter insert, right? That's the one that's nothing more than a host for beneficial bacteria to live on--I can't see how changing that helps.
Exactly. The ceramic blocks don't need changing, or even rinsing I think.

I actually rinsed the foam filter out real well in de-chlor'ed water and completely changed out the carbon bag in my 20 gallon unit. After I did that I thought I should have kept the old carbon until it built up some bacteria but I checked the water a couple days later, zero Nitrites. Tank is lightly stocked though.

When you rinse out the foam filter media use tank water as there's no chlorine, or de-clor some tap water. Just don't use straight from the tap water.
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Old 11-08-2008, 05:33 PM   #8
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Okay, so lemmie see if I am hearing this right...

I have a Whisper ex 30, so translating to a different filter (still a multistage HOB though)

Obviously, the plastic bacteria host should not be messed with, but the whisper has a filter floss pouch with carbon inside. Are we saying that the thing doesnt need to be changed all that often? The pouches come with a little change indicator pack that you crack and it eventually turns red to let you know when it needs to be changed... has nothing to do with the actual filtering done, but the change happens over about a 2 week period. Is two weeks too often to change the mechanical and chemical filtering? Can I get away with just rinsing the pouch and shoving it back in?

What do you all reccomend?
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Old 11-08-2008, 10:40 PM   #9
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You can just rinse the pouch and put it back into the filter. I'd keep rinsing and reusing that pouch until it starts to get thin and the carbon starts fall out of the bag. If the flow slows down really badly, then you might also consider changing the pouch.
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Old 11-09-2008, 07:47 AM   #10
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Huh... guess I should have known that the industry side of fishkeeping is predatory and will tell you anything to make a sale. Good thing I asked. Was almost out of filters and needed to buy a new box.

yeesh.
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Old 11-09-2008, 08:20 AM   #11
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the best thing to do is get a biowheel... change the filter all you want.. the wheel, and the sponge stay... you never lose your bacteria lol.
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Old 11-09-2008, 03:47 PM   #12
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IMO it is definitely ok to change your filter media...any and all of it...as need be because the bacteria we rely on are not solely limited to living there and do, in fact, take up residence in your tank as well; generally on things such as the substrate, decorations, plants, and even the glass. Basically anywhere water, and hence, ammonia and/or nitrite pass by them. I do agree that you don't need to chance the biofilter media in a filter very often but it is definitely a good idea to rinse it out in order to remove any detritus that may have become trapped because it not only adds to the bioload, but can also cause problems for the bacteria it may be covering.

Also IMHO, the best thing to do is to stick to rinsing the media in water from the tank as you are performing water changes. The primary reason for this is because the bacteria is already acclimated to the exact water chemistry and like our fish, they can be damaged from experiencing a sudden change in chemistry, including temperature I believe...so, in reality, unless your tap water is both the same as your tank water at any given time and does not contain chlorine, it's better to rinse with old tank water.

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Old 11-09-2008, 04:06 PM   #13
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I would only respectfully disagree to this extent. There are only enough bacteria to sustain the cycle for the current bio load in the tank (as there is only enough food/waste to feed them, the remainder die off). As such, if you change too much at one point you may (repeat that MAY) see a mini cycle in your tank as the bacteria load may be smaller than the bio load at that point.

I would recommend to only change one pad at a time. Even with that, in some cases, you may see a mini cycle.

The rest of the post I am on board with.

JMO2,

Aaargh
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Old 11-09-2008, 10:21 PM   #14
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There are only enough bacteria to sustain the cycle for the current bio load in the tank
True...I'm just saying that all of those bacteria do not necessarily reside within filter media so it would be hard, if not impossible to remove all of the bacteria at once just by replacing filter media. Simply put, the whole idea behind biofilter media is to create a place in which water moves past it, and hence, the bacteria set up shop there because the food source is supplied constantly. This same principle is also applicable to objects in the tank which also experience water movement. In fact, when you replace the carbon filter media, you are also removing bacteria yet I haven't heard too many people experiencing mini-cycles after replacing it all at once.

Anyways, I'm guessing that this isn't the best place to debate this stuff and I completely agree that changing only half of the media at one time is a good idea and is the way I usually go. I guess my motivation for the comments in my last post was to help ease concerns about losing too much bacteria and/or to help add some confidence for those who may have a singular filter in which it is not as easy to replace only half of the media at a time. IMO, everyone has made some fantastic points and as usual, there are multiple ways of looking at things and none of them are completely right or completely wrong.
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Old 11-09-2008, 11:52 PM   #15
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I thoroughly rinsed (in de-chlor'ed water) the foam insert and completely changed out the carbon bag in the Aquaclear 70 in my 20 gallon tank.
Didn't see any mini-cycle. Nitrites and NH3 stayed at zero.
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Old 11-11-2008, 07:11 PM   #16
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It's not about removing them all. It's about having enough to consume the ammonia waste so it doesn't create a toxic environment. At any given them there are just enough to consume the load in the tank. Destroy a reasonable quantity of them and you won't have enough to consume all the ammonia/nitrite.. hence the mini.

Even if you have a single pad I would always recommend to cut part/half of it off and jam in in with the new filter for a few weeks.

Stressed fish leads to disease and downhill from there.

Opinions differ, this is mine
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