29 Gallon Tank Brown Sludge After Mechanical Filter

MiMo

Not an emergency, but I thought I’d do the emergency form (might be some information there that I’m not considering):

Tank
What is the water volume of the tank?25 Gallon
How long has the tank been running?Little less than a year
Does it have a filter?Marineland Magniflow 360
Does it have a heater?Fluval E300 Heater
What is the water temperature?76F
What is the entire stocking of this tank? (Please list all fish and inverts.)(8x) Cory Cats
(8x) Penguin Tetra
(2x) Nerite Snails


Maintenance
How often do you change the water?50% change every Sunday
How much of the water do you change?50%
What do you use to treat your water?RO/DI Water
Just a Hint of Prime
Seachem Replenish 10mL
Do you vacuum the substrate or just the water?Use a small tube to vacuum up poop twice a week


*Parameters - Very Important
Did you cycle your tank before adding fish?Yes
What do you use to test the water?API Master Freshwater Test Kit
What are your parameters? We need to know the exact numbers, not just “fine” or “safe”.Ammonia: 0ppm
Nitrite
: 0ppm
Nitrate
: 5-10ppm
pH
: 7.6


Feeding

How often do you feed your fish?Twice: Once in the morning and once at night/after lights out
How much do you feed your fish?VERY little: as much as the Tetras can eat in a 15 to 20 seconds in the morning. At lights out, I throw in a few sinking wafers or sinking shrimp pellets (cories only come out at night—just trying to make sure they get theirs, too).
What brand of food do you feed your fish?For the Tetras: TetraMin Tropical Fish Flakes, Hikari Micro Pellets;
For the Cory Cats: Hikari sinking wafers, Shrimp Pellets
Do you feed frozen?When they’ve been good (usually after a water change, I’ll treat ‘em to some frozen blood worms. Even the Cory Cats come out for that)
Do you feed freeze-dried foods?No





The Situation:
Tried searching around for some answers on this but I haven’t been able to find anything. My canister filter setup, from the bottom to top:
  • Tray 1:
    • Extra Course Foam
    • Course Foam
  • Tray 2:
    • Medium Foam
    • Fine Foam
  • Tray 3:
  • Tray 4:
    • Fluval BioMax ceramic things
    • Layer of fine water polisher
    • Layer of super fine water polisher
The problem:
When I open the canister up to clean it, the two water polishing pads are caked in this brown sludge. When I continue down the canister, the foam pads are not too bad: they get just a bit more dirty as I move down into the course filters.

I clean the canister about every month. It’s a big filter for the biomass/tank size, so I’m not totally surprised that the mechanical/foam filters are not so dirty. But, lately, the top filterfloss/water polishing pads have been caked in a dark brown sludge. It becomes an issue because, after a month, the brown sludge will start to cling/build up on the intake and outtake tubes as well as the heater. I don’t mind changing out the polishing pads every two to three weeks but I also wouldn’t be upset if I did not have to change them out every two to three weeks.

Has anyone else had an issue with this? Or might know what this brown sludge is? Is there anything to worry about with this sludge (my parameters have been fine)?

Some things I’ve considered:

-Is it a problem that the filterfloss/water polishing pads are touching the bio media? Is it possible that the bacteria would decide it likes living on the pads more than it likes living on the ceramic pieces?

-The tubes are… well, okay, look, here’s the thing: I made one of those Rex Grigg CO2 reactors and everything (the tubes, the intake/output, the CO2 reactor, all of it) is screwed to the wall with pipe hangers. So the tubes are a little dirty. They are a little—a lot—difficult to clean. I brushed them out one time in the 5 months that I’ve had the canister filter (so, about two months ago). But, I dunno, it seems like any gunk coming out of the tubes would get filtered out when the water is recirculated back into the canister (these are excuses, but I’m putting all my cards on the table).

-Am I just wrong in thinking that changing out the filterfloss/water polishing pads every two to three weeks is too frequent? My hope was that the polishing pads would catch whatever the four foam pads had missed and that I wouldn’t need to change them so frequently

Anyways, the fish are happy, I’m happy, so there isn’t so much of a problem here. I’m just trying to figure out why there would be so much bio waste *after* the mechanical filters.

Thanks for the help!
 

Demeter

The brown sludge is just the organics the filter is taking out of the water column, so it is doing its job well. I notice in my planted tanks with driftwood the sludge builds up more quickly, I always rinse the media in those tanks every water change. I rarely change the media, a good rinse in the water change bucket does the job just fine. In my canister filter all the media is the same as when I bought it, all but the polishing pads which were switched out for filter floss. When I do change the media it is just the filter floss, never the coarse sponges or other biological media, this media does not really break down so rinse and reuse as needed. So long as the water is flowing through the biological media it will continue to do it's job so no worries there.

The gunk in the tubes is basically a thick bio film, I also have a hard time cleaning the tubes and don't usually bother to do it. No point in keeping the filter pristine, no tank will be a sanitary, pristine environment so I don't see a point in trying to make it as such. Just clean the impellers every now and then and rinse the media every few water changes or when it clogs up. Every so often I'll take apart the entire filter to give it a scrub and remove snail shells but that's about it.
 
Upvote 0

BlackOsprey

It's probably just decomposing organic matter- dead plant bits, particles of dirt, fish poop. Mulm. I've found that it accumulates fast in tanks with lots of live things or when products that contain aloe vera (like stress coat) is used a lot. It's harmless as long as it doesn't clog your filter. Just rinse and wring out your filter media in old tank water during a water change every now and then.
 
Upvote 0

MiMo

The brown sludge is just the organics the filter is taking out of the water column, so it is doing its job well. I notice in my planted tanks with driftwood the sludge builds up more quickly, I always rinse the media in those tanks every water change. I rarely change the media, a good rinse in the water change bucket does the job just fine. In my canister filter all the media is the same as when I bought it, all but the polishing pads which were switched out for filter floss. When I do change the media it is just the filter floss, never the coarse sponges or other biological media, this media does not really break down so rinse and reuse as needed. So long as the water is flowing through the biological media it will continue to do it's job so no worries there.

The gunk in the tubes is basically a thick bio film, I also have a hard time cleaning the tubes and don't usually bother to do it. No point in keeping the filter pristine, no tank will be a sanitary, pristine environment so I don't see a point in trying to make it as such. Just clean the impellers every now and then and rinse the media every few water changes or when it clogs up. Every so often I'll take apart the entire filter to give it a scrub and remove snail shells but that's about it.
I'm thinking, "No point in keeping the filter pristine," might be my problem. After getting the tank cycled, over-planting and dealing with a bad hair algae outbreak, and, finally, cyanobacteria, the tank has been running just fine for the last four months (still in the first year of having it). I think I'm looking for problems where there are none, haha. Thanks for the help!
 
Upvote 0

StarGirl

I believe your tray set up should be different. I have always seen and read this order the water goes through. I have always heard you want the bio media as the cleanest part of the filter.
1st sponges
2nd Floss
3rd chemical
4th bio media.
 
Upvote 0

jtjgg

the polisher pads are technically mechanical filters and should go right after the foam pads.

fyi, polyfil can replace the fine, extra fine foam, and the polishing pads.
 
Upvote 0

Similar Aquarium Threads

Replies
2
Views
108
DTurner
  • Question
Replies
2
Views
120
BigManAquatics
Replies
18
Views
268
Cody
  • Question
Replies
3
Views
103
CatBird580
  • Question
Replies
11
Views
235
GlennO

Random Great Thread

New Aquarium Filter Threads

Latest Aquarium Threads

Top Bottom