cleaning a filter
we recently started our first aquarium. it is a 3 gallon freshwater tank. it has 1 cardinal tetra, 1 red wag platy, 1 silver molly, 1 apple snail and 2 ghost shrimp.
how often should we clean our filter? it is a whisper 2-10i if that helps..
and how do you clean a filter? i read somewhere that you can mess up your filter if you clean it with tap water..
When trying to establish a new aquarium it is wise not to disturb the filter for that is where the majority of beneficial bacteria that is needed is found. Only if the water stops flowing through the filter or slows down considerably, should it be cleaned. To clean the filter (cartridges, sponge, etc) you simply swish the material around in dechlorinated water or old water that you take out during water changes and then,, stick it back in the filter. Never clean the filter material with tap water.When the filter material begins to fall apart over time,, Then you can replace the cartridge. Some filters also have a black pad or sponge looking thing that fits in the filter along with the cartridge and this black pad,sponge, or whatever you wish to call it. very seldom needs cleaning if at all. IF it should ever need to be cleaned which might be,, every three or four months depending on stocking levels and feeding,, then you clean it the same way.
Yeah, never use tap water because it kills the beneficial bacteria colonies. I did that the first time I cleaned my filter and my tank had to re-cycle putting my fish at risk of ammonia and nitrite poisoning. Luckily, we didn't lose any but definitely use old tank water to rinse off filter materials.
thank yall very much!
What precautions should be noted when replacing the filter cartridge as 1077 mentioned?
Should a new one be placed in the water for a week or so to allow at least SOME bacteria to establish? Then maybe after a short time replace the old one inside the filter assembly?
The beneficial bacteria live in both the filter media and in the gravel/substrate. On all of my tanks I use a sponge (filter type) over the intake of my filter. It keeps small fish, snails, and shrimp from getting sucked up in the intake of the filter. It also is another place that the beneficial bacteria build up.
The key is having enough bacteria that they can keep up with eating the ammonia the fish produce. Basically, I change my filter when I need to and don't worry about it. That is because the sponge filter on the intake has bacteria and so does my substrate. I never clean everything all at once so as not to disturb the balance. When it needs it, I will clean the sponge on the intake but not at the same water change that I clean my filter media (when it needs it) or when I do a huge substrate cleaning.
Sometimes there is an additional sponge media within the filter canister. If that's the case, it rarely, if ever gets changed, and then, not when the others are cleaned.
So the answer to your question is no. It is not necessary to pretreat your filter cartridge once your tank has cycled (built up the beneficial bacteria that eat the ammonia your fish and other critters give off.) Just rinse it well with some tank water (into your sink) when you deem it necessary to change. And unless the old one is breaking down, you can rinse that one out the same way and use it longer.
The best way to know if what you're doing is working is to get an API test kit (not the strips) and find out what your tank's parameters are. By testing and getting reading before and the day after you do a water change, you'll then get the feel for how often and how much attention your fish need. This will change as you add fish, live plants, or anything else.
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