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I'm staying at my sister's house for a few days to take care of her animals, which includes her 56 (?) gallon tank. It doesn't look too overly stocked to me, but I know she's pretty slack with water changes/cleaning it. She's also a MAJOR over feeder, so I know that's a problem. It has a few live plants (some unidentified stem plants, some aponogetons, and java moss goring on a piece of rotting bamboo), but mostly fake ones and decorations. Gravel substrate (she also has 5 Panda Corys, and doesn't believe me that no, their mouths should NOT looks like that.)
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Anyways, out of morbid curiosity, I decided to check out the insides of her HOB cartridge filter.

Oh. My. God.

It's so filthy it has like this slimey algae something covering the entire thing and growing on it. It's blocked the foam pad so much that the water just goes over it instead of through it. Words can't even describe how filthy it is.

Is there a way to safely clean this without causing some kind of repercussions? I mean it's nasty. I'm afraid of sending the tank out of balance and possibly into a mini cycle.

I don't have my test kit with me, I really should have brought it. I'll probably wait to clean it until I get my kit, just to keep an eye on it.
 

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I just ran mine through the dishwasher with NO SOAP, just the hot water .. It works wonders.
Just sit the pad in some tank water and put back in the filter once it is washed.
I have 2 of the same filters and what I do is keep one clean so when the one on the tank gets nasty I just switch it out, and transfer all the media to the clean one.
 

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For my HOBs I turn them off, stick a jug with tank water in under the output and pull the sponge out into the jug to clean it, keeping the jug under the output, otherwise when you pull out the sponge gunk tends to shoot out into the tank :shock:
 

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HOB filters that use cartridges tend to have pads that do not last long at all. They are designed to have that cartridge thrown in the trash and a new one put in monthly.

When I use to have HOBs on my 10g and 20g I instead bought the large sheets of filter media and cut my own pads to size, and they lasted much longer. This is an example:

But yes, you just have to rinse it out. If this is an old established tank you can safely just use tap water (or throw it away and buy new) without disrupting the cycle. In established tanks, the bacteria is mostly on the substrate, decorations, and walls of the aquarium rather than solely in the filter.
 

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Geo is correct - established tanks have as much, or much more beneficial biology in the substrate as in the filter. Take the filter off for a good scrubbing and if the cartridge can't be rinsed reasonably clean, replace it. Tell your sister "bad sister, bad, bad, bad!" ;-)
 
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I just ran mine through the dishwasher with NO SOAP, just the hot water .. It works wonders.
Just sit the pad in some tank water and put back in the filter once it is washed.
I have 2 of the same filters and what I do is keep one clean so when the one on the tank gets nasty I just switch it out, and transfer all the media to the clean one.

+1
 

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.... and java moss goring on a piece of rotting bamboo

Oh. My. God.

It's covering the entire thing.

Words can't even describe... I mean it's nasty. I'm afraid.

I really should keep an eye on it.
OK, I'm just having a little out of context fun here. This is Jen's post and all I did was work off the first typo... "goring" (think bull fight) instead of "growing" and only removed words from the rest and changed the punctuation a bit.

I think it's funny....

Jeff.
 

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First off, Jeff, omg. I almost destroyed my laptop, I was taking a drink when I read that and just about spit it out I was laughing so hard. Best typo ever.

I also need to get my tubing out here so I can do a WC on it using the sink instead of buckets. Who knows how long it's been...

I'll take a look and see if I can find some replacement media. I'll try and get pics of that filter pad. It's gnarly.

Geo- I only saw the first pic at first, and I was like...."It's just a black filter pad, it doesn't look too bad." ....and then I was O.O
 
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