Should I change my bio-bag?
I have two Tetra pf30s on my 30 gallon, and today I noticed that one of them had water coming out of the intake spillway instead of the output spillway. I took the bag out and swished it around for quite a bit in the old water when I did my pwc, but that made no difference. I was wondering if I should replace it or just leave it out? It is made up of the filter floss bag which I know is good for bacteria, but also has carbon inside which I have heard you should only have in your filter if you just medicated the tank. Should I cut the bottom open and dump the carbon out? Also, will it hurt my bacteria count significantly if I replaced it with a new one?
One more question- Could the carbon in the bag be holding the tank back from cycling by filtering too much? My 3 gallon that I started cycling a week ago had nitrites the second day, and has already had a little reading of nitrates!
Well, the good news is that you have two filters. First off, if memory serves those filters just use the one bio-bag for all filtration, mechanical, bio, and chem, correct? There's nothing else in the filter?
Carbon is an consumable filtration media. It has to be changed regularly, every two to four weeks as it fills up with the stuff it pulls from the water and looses effectiveness. One thing it pulls out that isn't good is DoCs, dissolved organic compounds. They bond readily with heavy metals and neutralize them but carbon sucks them out of the water. If you run carbon you need a good decholorinator that also neutralizes heavy metals. Carbon can go either way in my opinion, there are benefits and draw backs like everything else. Carbon won't affect your cycle one way or another.
Now the old style bio-bags used to be two piece affair, a filter sock that fit over a frame and you'd pour carbon into the middle of it if you wanted it. Has that changed? Anyways, its not a bad system as it lets you replace carbon without tossing the floss that's got your bacteria on it. The downside to the design is that floss is all you've got, once it gunks up and can't be cleaned you've gotta replace it. If you can take the filter floss off the frame can you try turning it inside out and rinsing it that way?
If the floss is well and truly gunked up irreversibly then you'll need a new bio-bag. My advice is to take the old bio-bag out and cut it up. I'd go with a strip about half as wide as the bag and only one side. Place this upstream of the new bio-bag to help seed it with bacteria. Remove the strip in about two weeks. When you do all this test your water parameters daily and be prepared to do a water change if necessary. You're going to be taking out a big portion of the tank's biofilter.
My filters actually have two filtration areas. One is the bio-bag which is the floss surrounding what is a very little bit(palm size) of carbon, as well as a sponge that sits in a separate frame that comes after the the bio-bag. Since the bio-bags are all one unit now(carbon and floss) I think that I will just cut the bottom of the new bag, and pour out the carbon. That way, I will be able to use the bag for a few months without having to replace them. Also with bottom sitting open I will be able to turn it inside out to clean it! Thank you for your advice, I am going to replace it right now.
Sounds like you just need to replace the bio-bag based on the product doc. I think the sponge is your bio filter:
Designed for ease of use, WhisperŪ Power Filters use Bio-BagŪ filter cartridges for mechanical and chemical filtration. The disposable Bio-BagŪs remove waste particles, discoloration and odors from aquarium water. Bio-BagŪs are easy to change, making it easy to maintain clear aquarium water.
Filled with Ultra-Activated carbon, the ready-to-use disposable single packs remove waste particles, odors and discoloration, and are easily changed once a month.
The Tetra Whisper Bio-Bag multi-packs come unassembled and offer economical pricing on larger quantities. It is recommended that you replace your Tetra Whisper Bio-Bag when water begins to overflow excessively from the Wonder Tube chamber.
Oh well SURE, make me go read the product info why don't you!;-) Thank you both. Bag has been changed and carbon taken out.
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