Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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Willow518 08-17-2008 05:34 PM

Filter media for BioWheel 400
I have a 29 gallon aquarium (I think) and the Emperor 400 filter (I know, a bit overkill but that's what it came with, it was given to us). It came with 2 media cartridges with a bag of carbon. I filled both cartridges with the carbon and have them in the filter but I seemed to have misplaced the regular blue filters that I'm almost positive came with everything else. Right now, I'm just cycling the tank. Will those cartridges be enough, or should I have the blue ones in there too? I know the filter is made for use of both at the same time, but will the cartridges alone be sufficient?
Thanks in advance!


Pasfur 08-17-2008 06:43 PM

The cycling process only involves the biowheels. As bacteria grow on the biowheels, Ammonia and Nitrite will be removed from the aquarium, resulting in readings of zero for each. Because the bacteria grow on the biowheels, these should never be cleaned. Without the bacteria, fish can not live in an aquarium.

So, to answer your question, yes you can cycle without the blue filter pads, because these pads do not grow bacteria. And by definition, the growth of bacteria is the "cycle".

However, these filter pads are still very usefull. They remove suspended particles from the water helping to keep it "clean" to the eye. Similarly, the carbon trays absorb organic acids from the water, helping it to sparkle and look clear in appearance. Each of these are designed for the aquarium to look nicer to the observer, so their use during the cycling process is optional.

Willow518 08-17-2008 07:36 PM

Thanks Pasfur,
I guess what I meant to ask was if those media cartridges would be fine by themselves, even when I finally do put fish in the tank.


iamntbatman 08-17-2008 07:41 PM

I would recommend trying to use one of the regular foam cartridges so that you're filtering out particulates from your water.

Pasfur has much more fishkeeping experience than I and he supports the use of activated carbon in fish tanks. I, personally, don't use carbon in any of my tanks except to remove medication from the water after I've medicated for something. If it were me, I would replace both carbon cartridges with regular sponge cartridges and only use the carbon when needed. If you decide to use the carbon, keep in mind that the carbon needs to be changed out roughly once a month in order to be of any use.

Willow518 08-21-2008 08:58 PM

Thank you iamntbatman.
I plan on getting the foam cartridges... (are you speaking of the blue ones with the carbon inside?) but was just going to use the carbon cartridges until i could get it ready for the fish. And until I can get to a pet store. I checked my pH today and it's off the charts. I've had it running, fishless, since this past Sunday. I'm planning to move the fish I have in a 10 gallon (4 penguin tetras and an algae eater) to the big aquarium. I guess I need to do some research about lowering pH.

Thanks to you both for replying. And sorry about the delay in answering, I've been in the middle of a move, so I've been very busy.


iamntbatman 08-21-2008 09:20 PM

I use the blue cartridges, but I usually slit them open along the top edge with a sharp knife, dump the carbon out into a ziplock bag, and save it for when I need it. I hardly ever replace the entire cartridge - I just give them a good rinse in the old tank water when I do a water change.

1077 08-22-2008 03:53 AM

Your water will remain clearer with the use of the blue cartridges. The carbon inside is only active in my expierience for approx two weeks. After that I swish them around in aquarium water that is removed during water changes and stick em back in. Don't rinse them in tap water. Bacteria, (the good kind) will colonize these cartridgesand when they begin to fall apart then I replace them with new ones. I have used some for up to four months before they begin to fall apart. The other media cartridges the gray ones If it is the emperor model I put ceramic beads in and uaually swish them in aquarium water every couple months. As has been noted you do not want to touch ,rinse, etc. the bio wheels. :wink:

Pasfur 08-24-2008 07:34 AM


Originally Posted by iamntbatman
I use the blue cartridges, but I usually slit them open along the top edge with a sharp knife, dump the carbon out into a ziplock bag, and save it for when I need it.

Great idea! I would personally add additional carbon , rather than dump out existing. (But as mentioned, that is a debatable topic.) The point is that you can modify these filter pads to make them more versatile for the fishkeeper.

okiemavis 08-24-2008 10:53 AM

When I'm not keeping fish prone to HITH, I keep the carbon in there after it's deactivated and use it as biological media. I also stuff filter floss in there for extra mechanical filtration, or fill it with clay balls for easily contained biological filtration.

Tyyrlym 08-25-2008 06:25 AM

Or you can use something like this:

I'm ordering a set today to see how they work.

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