01-08-2007, 11:42 PM
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I think the real issue here is that maybe you're not completely understanding the biological system?
When the bacteria start to populate in the tank, any surface area is fair game as to where they build. In your mechanical media you find surface area, and it comes into contact with the water, thus it become mechanical AND biological filtration together to help sustain the entire tank. If you remove that media, then the bacteria is forced to find somewhere else to populate to make up the difference... or when you clean it in chlorine solution or tap water. While making up that difference in culture, a tank can go through a mini cycle, depending on the waste load in the tank and how much of the bacteria culture was destroyed and needs to be replenished.
Where the bacteria populate isn't entirely up to us, and to keep mechanical filter media ONLY mechanical... it won't happen unless there is no surface area for the bacteria to grow, in which case, you wouldn't get the mechanical filtration, either.
The whole tank and any part of your filtration, it's media, anything IN the tank, is all a part of your biological cycle if it contributes to either waste or surface area for bacteria to grow.