Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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-   -   How often to Clean Filter / Change Filter Pads? (

that Fish Guy 03-20-2013 01:29 AM

How often to Clean Filter / Change Filter Pads?
I have a Tetra Whisper Hang on the Back Cascade Filter.

The Filter gets really dirty.

I have been cleaning the Filter itself and replacing the Filter Pad once a week.

Somebody told me not to do that though.

What makes good Filter care, cleaning, cartridge rplacement?

Chesh 03-20-2013 05:08 AM

On my tanks that run a HOB I rinse the media in the old/dirty tank water every week during my normal water changes. I don't replace the filter pad until/unless it's falling apart, though. There is a lot of beneficial bacteria that can colonize in your filter. If you're removing it every week, it can be difficult for the bb to colonize, and you *might* have a less stable tank as a result. I've actually replaced the brand filter pads with foam aquarium sponges. They do the required job nicely and last forever. Since I never have to change out my media, the bacteria is allowed to grow and thrive. :)

AbbeysDad 03-20-2013 07:52 AM

+1 you can rinse and re-use filter cartridges until they all but fall apart.

Some folks think that the beneficial bacteria only (or mostly) lives in the filter. Although the filter is a great place, once a tank is established, there is a lot of BB elsewhere in the tank, especially in the substrate. This makes any BB in the filter much less significant, so in time, you could even rinse that cartridge in tap water and/or replace it with no negative results....'believe it or not'. :-)

Chesh 03-20-2013 09:53 AM

Agree - good point AD, I may not have been very clear with my "*might*."

Each tank is a unique environment, to an extent, and how you treat your filter is a big part of that. Stocking, substrate, decor, presence of live plants, how you do your cleanings, and much more - all play a role in the overall health of the tank and the BB that keeps it going.

It is absolutley possible to have enough BB contained within the tank itself so that you don't need to worry about the filter at all. . . in this example, the filter pad has been changed weekly, so my assumption is that there is not enough BB on the pad to be of much use to the tank at this point. You CAN continue to do things this way, there isn't anything wrong with your method (though the expense in filter pads is going to get astronomical over time). Unless you're having a problem with flux in your parameters and seeing 'mini cycles' (the presence of ammonia, nitrites), it is safe to assume that there currently IS enough BB inside of your tank to carry the bioload of the fish with ease.

I'd only recommend that you be aware of said bacteria while doing your routine maintenance, as cleaning the tank too aggressively (or more than your norm, assuming everything is going well) could possibly cause trouble were the BB to be disturbed. This holds true for all tanks, though - regardless of filter pads!

There's a balance to be found in every tank - if you've have that already, then there is no need to make any changes!

lorax84 03-20-2013 06:54 PM

I clean my HOB filters approximately once every two months. When I used penguin and tetra filters it was more often, but I clean my aquaclears much less frequently. My canisters get cleaned once every 2-3 months and my sponges get rinsed in tank water every few water changes. I reuse all my filter media until it is falling apart.

How often you do maintenance on your filter really depends on the size of the tank, the stock, and the type of filter. One of the reasons I moved away from tetra filters is that they seamed to require a lot of cleaning.

AbbeysDad 03-21-2013 01:54 PM

Getting back to cartridge and filter cleaning, here's the thing... the cartridge traps larger detritus as it should...but if the material stays there the water erosion and rot and decay will convert it into dissolved organic solids (DOCs) that will pass on through and pollute the water. DOCs can cause a slight yellow or tan tinge to the water and can encourage heterotrophic bacteria that can make the water slightly cloudy. This condition is often the root cause of fungus and fin rot problems.

If it's a newly setup aquarium, you might want to leave the filter cartridge untouched for as long as it takes to cycle the tank, being careful NOT TO OVER FEED. After that, or otherwise, the cartridge should be rinsed (Tank or conditioned water) as often as necessary, maybe even twice a week to remove the detritus and prevent it from dissolving. Once a tank is established (6 months) you can rinse the cartridge in tap water or replace without concerns.

As to cleaning the filter itself, it shouldn't need it anymore than say a few times a year, once a month if you really feel the need.

Thanks for reading. :-)

Tip: Increased cartridge filter filtration - stuff polyester fiber in the space behind the cartridge.

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