06-08-2012, 01:24 PM
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Filter: This is tricky, unless you don't care about Carbon (I don't because my tanks are planted). The filter pad itself can be used forever until it literally falls apart, or looses its shape so water goes around it instead of through it.
An idea would be to buy a foam pre-filter that you stick into the intake of the HOB. That you just squish a few times in your old tank water to remove the debris in it, then put it back on the filter intake. They'll last a very long time and will keep enough bacteria to prevent new mini-cycles. I got some at Petsmart, they were the Fluval brand, and were less than $2 if I remember right. Maybe $3.
Cycle: At 6 weeks, with fish in the tank, yes you should of seen something by now. What is your water change schedule (how much and how often)? And do you have live plants (and if so, how many and what type)?
In response to another poster, it dosen't mater if you change water and the filter on the same day, the water does not contain any beneficial bacteria, it's all in the filter, substrate, and other hard surfaces (decorations and such).