Sorry if this question is silly, but I am new to this. I purchased a 2.5 gallon Aqueon mini bow about 6 weeks ago. It was a kit that comes with the tank, light hood, and a power filter. My cycle seems to be near complete.
I have a male betta and a yellow mystery snail in the tank. The Aqueon power filter that comes with the kit uses these replacable pads. They have some sort of white fabric to catch debris on the outside of the pad and what feels like carbon in the middle. They recommend replacing the pads every 4-6 weeks. I've had the same pad in there now for 6 weeks. Im afraid if I change it, I will lose all the beneficial bacteria that had developed on the weeks. The filter doesn't have a bio wheel.
Could I add some sponge filter material on top of the aqueon filter cartridges? If so, would bacteria grow on it? Or should I just replace the filter cartridge with sponge material all together?
At six weeks, I would not be too worried about replacing the cartridge if you choose to continue using them.
I would remove the old cartridge and squeeze what I could from the old cartridge into the area where you put the new cartridge.
Bacteria gathers on everything in the aquarium,the glass,the decorations,the gravel, wood,plants,etc. I don't think you would have a problem replacing the cartridge ,but would monitor the water for a day or two to be sure no ammonia or nitrite spikes occur.
With only the betta and snail in there, you might be able to get more than six weeks out of the cartridge. It's the the company's advantage to say they have to be changed more often than they do, so that they sell more. You can use your judgement. Does the cartridge look dirty after six weeks? Is it still doing its job? Or is it visibly covered in grossness and slowing the water that covers through it?
To be honest, I know some people who wash their cartridges in buckets of tank water during water changes, and then reuse them for a little while. I do that now and again (usually out of necessity when I need to get more filter catridges), but I always worry that something bad will happen. It hasn't yet.
Just thought I'd throw some other perspectives in there.
Actually it looks pretty clean. There is a little discoloration. The white material that strains out the dirt has a little ting of brown to it, but there aren't any holes or anything. It looks ok to me. I think most of the discoloration comes from the pieces of uneaten algae wafers that I drop in for the snail.
I guess I can try to rinse the filter off with tank water when I do my next water change and monitor the tank over the next couple of days to make sure nothing changes drastically. I was considering adding a cory to the tank to help clean up the bits of food, but from what I read, they do better in groups, and my tank probably couldn't support 4 or 5 cory's being only 2.5 gallons.
Maybe try an amano shrimp. My research has put them on the low end of bioloads. And they do beneficial work. My betta hasn't bothered the one I have now.
As far as filters go... that's a preference. I know people who rinse them at water changes and keep using them until they notice changes in their water conditions. I have a 55 gallon with redundant filter cartridges in each of the filters and I've only rinsed them twice. They're about two months old and have been there for the duration of my cycle process. I'll probably change half the filters soon then the other half a few weeks later. Like someone else said, the time frame on them is usually more for the company's benefit that your tank's. Keep an eye on it and at least wait until you are fully cycled.
I saw at Petco they sell this floss material and boxes of carbon. You cut the material to fit your filter pour in a layer of carbon, then top it off with another layer of material. Supposed to last quite long. And seems cheaper in the long run. Anyone have experience with making their own filter as described aboved?
Well, don't let me decide for you, but personally I don't use carbon in any of my tanks except in certain situations. You're absolutely right; if you let the carbon just sit there it eventually "stops working" and really just serves as more biomedia. To do what it's supposed to do, it needs to be replaced regularly (every week or two, really). However, I think there is little to no benefit to using activated carbon in a freshwater tank and I think it can be detrimental in a planted tank (as it absorbs materials your plants could be using).
I encourage you to do some research on the topic before making the decision for yourself as there are strong arguments on both sides of the debate, but personally I see activated carbon (again, I'm only talking about freshwater) as a big waste of money. It is nice for removing medications from your water, though, so I always keep some handy for that purpose but I don't keep any in my filters on a regular basis.
So yes, basically I only have mechanical/biological filter media in my tanks (filter floss, sponges, cartridges, etc.).
I will definitely read up more on in. You seem much more experienced, so I'll keep the same filter for a while and see how things go. As my tank becomes more established, the water seems to get clearer, even with a 6 week old filter :-).
I wonder how a layer of sponge between two pieces of floss would work?
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I fully agree with iamntbatman's post.
To answer your latest question, the filter floss and sponge serve two purposes: to remove suspended particulate matter from the water (keeping it "clear") and providing a media for nitrification bacteria to colonize (keeping the water "clean" more or less). Many filters come with white pads that serve this purpose; the advantage of uysing those is that they are made to fit the filter compartment, and it is important that the water is forced to flow through the media and not around it. But cutting the media to fit is fine, I've done it. As it gets dirty, rinse it out, then put it back. This keeps the water flow constant; the water has to get through it, and as it gets more clogged the water flow is impeded. The media only needs replacing when it literally falls apart, which means it no longer does its job and the water can get around it.
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