Filter maintenance questions
I have questions about filter maintenance in my new tanks.
Filter on the first tank
The filter on one tank (35 litre) has the water going in one side through a chamber of "bio-balls", then another chamber with a bag of carbon wrapped in filter material, then a chamber of "bio-rings". The water goees in one side and comes out the other.
The instructions that came with the aquarium says to replace the carbon and filter material every month and just to rinse the bio balls and bio-rings in tank water and rinse all of the pipes under the tap.
Filter on the second tank
The filter on the other tank (75 litre) has a grid, then a sponge on top, then some "ceramic noodles" (basically the same thing they call "bio-rings in the other one) then a cartridge which has carbon and filter material sealed up together in a plastic frame. The water comes out of a tube with holes (they call it a spray bar) over the top through the filter material and into the tank. The instructions for this tank say to rinse the sponges in tank water, rinse the carbon cartridges under the tap every week, and to replace the carbon cartridges every 6-8 weeks.
From what I've read, I thought it was a good idea to keep your filter material until it doesn't work properly any more, because that's where a lot of the good bacteria are.
If I replace the filter material and cartridges every month or 6-8 weeks as per the instructions, won't I be losing the good bacteria? Or is there enough on the sponge and ceramic noodles to make it ok to throw out the filter material every month?
Should I follow these instructions, or do something differently?
Is there any reason that in the second tank I couldn't put some carbon in a bag and put a loose layer of filter material on top (I have a big sheet of it) instead of buying the manufactured cartridges?
I'd appreciate any advice. Thanks.
You're exactly right; if you replace the cartridges you're throwing good bacteria out with them. You really only need to replace filter media once it starts physically falling apart (basically ceramic rings will last forever but things like sponges eventually start to fall apart). If media gets gunked up you can rinse it in old tank water or dechlorinated water. Mainly, I think they just want people to keep buying cartridges for their filters.
Are your tanks planted? If so, I would recommend to stop using carbon entirely. I also don't believe it has any real benefit even in non-planted tanks so I personally don't use it at all other than for specific applications like removing medications from the tank water. There's an ongoing debate on the subject and many aquarists are strongly pro-carbon so I suggest reading up on the topic before deciding whether or not to use carbon. If you do use it, though, be aware that its effects wane after a week or two of use so it needs to be changed regularly. But yes, either way, just buying bulk carbon and doing the media yourself is probably a lot cheaper than using manufactured cartridges.
Most manufacturers will recommend replacing the carbon filter cartridges but this is just their way to get you to spend more money on their products and frankly those cartridges can be expensive. You can just clean them in tank water and reuse them until they are falling apart and then replace them. You have the right idea by just using the loose filter material which can be purchased in bulk and will be a lot cheaper than the cartridges. That is what I do also. Actually, I use polyfiber batting material and cut it to size to fit into my filter baskets. Yes, there will probably be a small amount of BB on your floss and carbon filters but should not be enough to cause too much problem with water parameters if you regularly clean them. The bio-rings and ceramic noodles are designed to promote colonization of BB and this is where most will be (as well as on other surfaces in the tank such as in the substrate, decorations, plants, etc.). This is the same concept with the bio-wheels in my Penguin and Emperor filters. I clean the floss each week but I don't touch the bio-wheels.
Using carbon in your filters is a personal preference and many people do not even use it except to remove medications or discoloration from tannins. I personally only run carbon after I've treated with meds and need to remove any residual after treatment is completed.
Ha! Ninja'd by batman!
Thanks for the replies. I'm going to keep my filter material until it gets gungy. I'll use the cartridges until they get gungy, just rinsing in tank water and when they need replacing I'll use my own filter material. I'll do some reading about carbon, but I'll probably continue with what I've started with unless I read that it's completely useless. I don't have planted tanks so that's not an issue for me.
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