09-21-2009, 11:54 AM
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There is beneficial bacteria in the filter material from the established tank. It needs a source of food. In the aquarium the food consits of fish waste,fish food,and ammonia that fish produce through respiration as well as poop. The bacteria breaks this food down first in to nitrites,.and then nitrAtes ,but initially it is ammonia, You can simply add a pinch of food every other day,or place a couple small fish in the tank to keep the bacteria alive. Without a source of food, the bacteria will begin to die off. Adding too many fish at once will overwhelm the bacteria. Is why it is always best to add one or two fish with a week in between new additions to the tank. In this way the bacteria can adjust to the bioload or,number of fish and the waste(ammonia) they produce. It's a bit more technical than this but not much.
There is in the filter cartridges a colony of this beneficial bacteria and by rinsing the filter material out in old aquarium water during water changes,we can preserve this bacteria and get more mileage from the cartridges or pads,sponges ,etc. (note) Always use old aquarium water for swishing the filter material around during cleaning. Using tapwater that contains chlorine will destroy the bacteria. most folks will swish the filter material around in the tank water they take out during changes until the material begins to fall apart. Companys that make the cartridges would like for you to change them frequently = more money for them. The carbon in most of the filter cartridges is exhausted after a couple weeks and it then becomes home to the beneficial or nitrifying bacteria that we wait so patiently on to develop when first setting up an aquarium. So the more mileage you can get from this material,, the better. Some could prolly explain this better but I hope you understand. I have broken my "specs" and am entering this while nearly blind.