Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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burnsbabe 10-03-2010 04:39 AM

Finicky Filter
Hey gang. I've been up late tonight and was just drifting off to bed when my paranoid sense told me my room was too quiet. I thought, "nah, the filter on the tank is fine" but got up to check anyway. Good thing too. It wasn't running. :shock:

This is my 29g SE Asian tank. It's running a standard HOB, Aquaclear 50 without the carbon that comes in the box because the tank is moderately planted. The tank's been running about 4 months now and I've had only one problem (which I have an answer to now thanks to you kind people).

Obviously I freaked out. I grabbed the filter instructions (thank god I saved those!) and checked the troubleshooting, did some googling etc, and finally decided that step one was to do a deep clean on the filter. At 2:15am. :frustrated: I popped the motor off, took out the impeller, and rinsed everything down thoroughly. There was some gunk, but nothing I'd call outrageous. Never the less, the filter is working again after this procedure. So, a couple of questions.

One, was it really the gunk? I mean, it wasn't hard so I can do a deep clean on this guy every couple months rather than just changing filter media etc, but I wasn't expecting it to gum up so quickly.

Two, the filter was definitely running this morning when I left for work, and was probably (memory, who needs it?) running when I fed everybody again this evening around 10pm. Worst case scenario the fish went without filtration for 12 hours or so. I suspect more like 3-4. Can I expect any problems as a result? Everybody seems fine so far. Just a water change perhaps to rid the system of any extra nitrates etc.? Water change day is Monday anyway.

What do you suggest? Also, is this filter a PoS? I'm starting to think it is, and not just from this.

tanker 10-03-2010 06:24 AM

I couldn't relax if my filter(s) had suddenly stopped like that. Have you room to add another filter? That's what I'd do, or I'd change it for a new one. Otherwise, I'd be checking it all the time and that wouldn't be any fun.

Yes, I'd do another water change in case anything has gone awry because of the filter being stopped.

Redknee 10-03-2010 07:45 AM

Simple water change and maybe a water test.
Filters should not stop like that with no good reason but they can...
Also changing the filter or filter media means a tank restart unless you have a second filter that you leave "online" while changing the other filter or the media in the other filter.
Filters and media need to cycle and yours is already cicled, new ones mean new cycle and that could strike a few deaths in your fish stock.
What you should do is buy a new filter, leave the old one to do it's work, put the new one in, let it do it's cycle for a month or so and only then you can remove the old one.
You can also speed up the cycle of the new filter by putting some gunk inside it from the old one(just take some media out of the old one and "wash" it in the new filter so that you jump start the bacteria colony inside the new one).
My 2c

burnsbabe 10-03-2010 12:56 PM

Well, yes. Of course I can't remove all the filter media at once.

I would just get a different filter and start from there, but I'm low on cash. We'll see what happens.

Byron 10-03-2010 07:42 PM

I would not expect any issues from what you describe.

First, many aquarists live under the mistaken idea that most or all of the nitrifying bacteria live in the filter. This is certainly not the case in a tank with live plants. Bacteria colonize every surface covered by water, and there are more outside the filter than in it; every grain of substrate, plant leaf, wood, rock, tank walls, etc. support bacteria. When I "clean" my canisters, all the media, baskets and the canister itself in rinsed/washed in warm tap water which obviously would kill any bacteria. In an established tank, especially one with plants, this will cause no problems.

Second, you would not see higher nitrates. Your plants are using most of the ammonia as ammonium for their source of nitrogen, so less gets to any bacteria. This is why nitrates are always low or even zero in planted tanks.

The filter is only there to move the water around and remove suspended particulate matter to keep it clear. If you had fish in the tank requiring water movement, loss of the filter for several hours could pose a problem for those fish. But only the white clouds in your 30g list are even close to this need; the rasbora, dwarf loaches and gourami would be fine with no water movement at all.


burnsbabe 10-04-2010 12:03 AM

Thanks Byron. It's 24 hours after give or take and everybody seems happy. Like I said, tomorrow is water change day so I believe this has been a non-issue. Thanks for the responses.

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