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Cherokeewind 03-30-2010 09:55 AM

Changing filter cartridge
My tank is newly fully cycled and I was wondering if I need to change my filter cartridge(it is a Penguin carbon cartridge)? My filter has a bio-wheel, but don't the bacteria also live on the cartridge? When it is time to change the cartridge, how should I go about doing that? I don't want my tank to go through a mini-cycle and am unsure of what I need to do about changing the cartridge.

eileen 03-30-2010 10:13 AM

In a new tank this is what I do. I use this stuff called Cycle when starting a tank and keep this up for the first 6 months for a new tank. The first month I leave the cartridge in and don't change it the next month so leave it in the 2nd month. If your filter has more then 1 cartridge I alternate the cartridges. My 55 gal. has 4 cartridges. I put 2 new ones in the back and move the old cartridges in the front. If your filter has 2 cartridges I would change one and leave one in. The following month remove the older cartridge and replace that with a new one. I always leave the bio-sponge in the front and never really rinse it unless it gets really gunky with treated water.When I rinse out the bio-sponge I just lightly rinse it as you do not want to get rid of all the bio on the sponge. This is done when I do 1/4 water changes once a week and test my water with a API dropper test kit at the same time. If your filter does not have a bio-sponge you can buy one and cut it to fit in the front of your filter overflow to your tank. I have done this to some nano canister filters that did not have a bio-sponge. Alternating filter cartridges saves money and as long as you check your water with a test kit once a week and do the water changes you should be fine. I also sometimes make my own filter cartridge by using quilting batting the crib size that I get at Walmart and making a pattern and sewing up the sides and just buy the carbon to put inside. It all depends on how the filter cartridges are. Some have the plastic frames that I save and just make a pocket with the batting to slip onto the frame and then add carbon.

BCSparkyGirl 03-30-2010 10:35 AM

from what I understand, the carbon neutralizes the cycle, and thereby making it methinks you may be wasting money. I used to do the same, now I do not use carbon. Nor do I use cycle anymore. I just change the filter, and throw in a splash of pimafix and melafix......and a touch of salt, badda bing. Happy tank.

karjean 03-30-2010 04:53 PM

Is your tank planted?

beetlebz 03-30-2010 06:30 PM

ok where to begin... to my knowledge, carbon wont do anything super detrimental to the cycle, but that doesnt mean its super useful either. The only time I use carbon is to remove some of the stain from my 110g tank, and removing medications after the dosing is done.

on top of that, the filter cartridges themselves dont need to be disposed of. The penguin filters use the biowheel for bacterial colonization, not to mention the bacteria grow on every surface in the aquarium.. so changing the pad isnt the end of the world, BUT you dont need to.

since the carbon isnt doing anything super fantastic for you, there is no need to renew it unless you medicate or something. When the filter pad becomes clogged, wait until you do a water change, then swish the pad around in the old tank water, vigorously, too. that will remove all the muck from the pad, then you just pop it back in. My last filter cartridge in my penguin 200 lasted almost a year before it started to fall apart.

the disposable cartridges are just one more way for the companies to make the moolah...

eileen 03-30-2010 07:01 PM

Thanks! That's good to know. This information will save all of us alot of money on chemicals like Cycle and filter carbon and pads.

beetlebz 03-30-2010 10:49 PM

noone can really agree if cycle is really as good as its supposed to be, what I CAN tell you is I have used it and it doesnt hurt anything. Carbon... I keep what comes with the filter pads just in case, never bought any.. and pads? Ive bought only a small handful of filter pads in all the billions of gallons ive filtered over the years lol

rinse your pads, throw the carbon in the drawer. done :)

Cherokeewind 04-03-2010 11:06 AM

I'm still new at this and am a bit confused. This is what I am wondering if I need to change:

My filter only has one slot for one of the above cartridges, and then my bio-wheel is on the spillway of my filter. Is there something I should add instead of the above cartridge?Is the filter pad another name for the cartridge? Should I also add the sponge, if I have the bio-wheel? Oh and Karjean, my tank is not planted.

iamntbatman 04-04-2010 02:58 AM

You're probably fine just using one of those cartridges, especially if you've got the bio-wheel. As long as your bio-wheel is working correctly, most of the bacteria should be living there rather than in the cartridge, but just to be on the safe side I would only replace the cartridge when it starts to fall apart. A gentle rinse in used tank water is all it needs when it gets clogged up.

karjean 04-05-2010 02:31 PM

Since your tank is not planted, you might want to stay with the carbon filter. Once you will introduce some plant, just remove the carbon out of the filter.

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