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Old 08-17-2015, 07:38 PM   #1
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Filter maintenance question

I'm so full of questions lately - thank you for indulging me.

I have a question about filter maintenance:

My 5G came with a Cascade 300 internal filter. After about a month or so, when according to the package I should have replaced the carbon cartridge with a new one, I instead swapped it out with some ceramic bio media.

I'm not sure I can say that's to blame, but I feel like I've had water quality issues since then.

About once a month when I'm doing a water change I'll pull out the filter and give both the sponge and the media bag a swirl around in the removed tank water to get some of the crud off. I find that enough stuff collects that the filter flow is effected.

Should I be cleaning it differently? Should I go back to charcoal and if so should I swap it out once a month?

Should I ever be changing the sponge?


Now, I just set up a 23 gallon tank. It came with an AquaClear 30 which has a sponge, charcoal, and bio media.

According to the instructions, each of those should be replaced every 1-3 months, on a rotating schedule, so you're never removing all the bb at once.

Do you think that's true? I feel like the advice I see on here leans towards far less changes and cleaning than the packages suggest.

Any help is much appreciated!
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Old 08-17-2015, 07:54 PM   #2
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What you could do with your AC30 is remove the carbon, and replace it with some pillow stuffing. This will help keep the water nice and clear, but also keep more junk off of the biomedia.
I'd imagine you could do the same thing with your internal filter if you remove some of the biomedia.

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Old 08-17-2015, 09:19 PM   #3
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First point (which honestly deserves its own thread) I don't see why people have issue with carbon, its serves a valid chemical filtration purpose.

If carbon had a do it all big brother it would be purigen, which is what I recommend for that slot of your filtration. Seachem purigen is a fantastic chemical filter that lasts up to 6 months.
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Old 08-17-2015, 09:38 PM   #4
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First point (which honestly deserves its own thread) I don't see why people have issue with carbon, its serves a valid chemical filtration purpose.

If carbon had a do it all big brother it would be purigen, which is what I recommend for that slot of your filtration. Seachem purigen is a fantastic chemical filter that lasts up to 6 months.
Thank you. I've just seen so many posts advising against the carbon that I went along.

So, with either carbon or purigen - they need to be replaced every so often. Doesn't taking them out cause a mini cycle from loss of bb or does the sponge maintain enough that it doesn't matter?
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Old 08-17-2015, 10:13 PM   #5
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The sponge will contain most of the Bb, I've never heard of carbon or purigen causing a mini cycle. Personally I would go purigen. Carbon needs replaced every 30 days(ish) purigen is replaced every six months.
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Old 08-18-2015, 07:04 PM   #6
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I have had excellent results with purigen. Also, it doesn't leach toxins back into the water like carbon can if not replaced. The purigen or carbon only takes up a small percentage of your overall filter capacity and replacing either should not cause a mini cycle. Purigen can be recharged with the use of beach but this is not a practice that I'm comfortable with, I just replace it.


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Old 08-18-2015, 07:33 PM   #7
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Thank you for the feedback.

The Cascade 300 internal filter only has two spaces - one for the sponge and one for something else. So if I put in purigen that means not having the ceramic bio media.

Does that still sound like what I should do?

As for the sponge - do I just never replace it at all?

I feel silly asking so many questions - but I keep seeing conflicting advice.
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Old 08-19-2015, 11:06 AM   #8
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Carbon is great, its actually a bit more efficient at cleaning than purigen is... it just doesnt last long and can get expensive which is what the primary problem is with it.
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I have had excellent results with purigen. Also, it doesn't leach toxins back into the water like carbon can if not replaced. The purigen or carbon only takes up a small percentage of your overall filter capacity and replacing either should not cause a mini cycle. Purigen can be recharged with the use of beach but this is not a practice that I'm comfortable with, I just replace it.


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Carbon diesnt leech anything. Its just ablervading myth that refuses to go away.

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Thank you for the feedback.

The Cascade 300 internal filter only has two spaces - one for the sponge and one for something else. So if I put in purigen that means not having the ceramic bio media.

Does that still sound like what I should do?

As for the sponge - do I just never replace it at all?

I feel silly asking so many questions - but I keep seeing conflicting advice.
Purigen takes up almost no space. Keep the sponge and ceramic media, just sandwich the pyrigen in between them.

The sponge should be replaced whenever it starts deteriorating. It could be 6 months, could be a year or two. You will just have to keep an eye on its condition.

Dont feel silly asking questions... thats how we learn after all
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Old 08-19-2015, 02:30 PM   #9
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Dont feel silly asking questions... thats how we learn after all
Thank you. I really appreciate that.

It's amazing that no matter how much I think I've researched, I still find myself feeling unprepared.

I plugged the specs of my new tank into Aqadvisor and they said the filter wasn't enough. (A filter made for a 30 gallon tank not enough on a 23 gallon?!?)

But I suppose over filtration isn't a bad thing, as long as I look out that the water flow isn't too much.

Maybe I'll get the Aquaclear 50 for the new tank and move the 30 over to the small tank (making sure to preserve all the existing media during the switch) just to make my life easier with a little more filtration.
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Old 08-19-2015, 02:31 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by StellaStars View Post
Thank you. I really appreciate that.

It's amazing that no matter how much I think I've researched, I still find myself feeling unprepared.

I plugged the specs of my new tank into Aqadvisor and they said the filter wasn't enough. (A filter made for a 30 gallon tank not enough on a 23 gallon?!?)

But I suppose over filtration isn't a bad thing, as long as I look out that the water flow isn't too much.

Maybe I'll get the Aquaclear 50 for the new tank and move the 30 over to the small tank (making sure to preserve all the existing media during the switch) just to make my life easier with a little more filtration.
The figure for filtration capacity from Aqadvisor is useless. I wouldn't even pay attention to it.
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Old 08-19-2015, 06:15 PM   #11
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Carbon is great, its actually a bit more efficient at cleaning than purigen is... it just doesnt last long and can get expensive which is what the primary problem is with it.

Carbon diesnt leech anything. Its just ablervading myth that refuses to go away.



Purigen takes up almost no space. Keep the sponge and ceramic media, just sandwich the pyrigen in between them.

The sponge should be replaced whenever it starts deteriorating. It could be 6 months, could be a year or two. You will just have to keep an eye on its condition.

Dont feel silly asking questions... thats how we learn after all

My apologies, carbon doesn't leach back into the tank under normal aquarium conditions. Did some research and agree that it's a myth.
Never to old to learn or admit I'm wrong 😀.


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Old 08-19-2015, 10:44 PM   #12
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when I removed my filter cartridges back when I did have FW I replaced it with carbon pads , kept water clean and it didn't break the bank and the water always sparkled
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