Correct Filter Setup

Trekmann

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Hello, I've had my aquarium for a couple of months now. Since finding this forum, I've taken it more serious and wondering whether I have my filter setup correctly. I use a Penn Plax Cascade 1000. It came with two floss pads, carbon bag and a bio-sponge so that's all I've been using. After reading a couple post I see mention of bio-rings and wonder if I should add to my filter.

Tank Details
75 gallon
Fish: African Cichlids (4), lobster (2), pleco(1), catfish (2)
Decoration: Driftwood (large), Stone

Appreciate all advise. Thanks
 

Heron

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Ceramic rings are very good for biological filtration but are best used after some form of mechanical filtration. You could replace your sponge with ceramic rings if you need more bacterial activity. If your existing filter is not having problems then I wouldn't bother changing. If your nitrites and ammonia readings are 0 and your tank is cycled OK then your existing biological filter is fine. If you do replace the media do it 1/2 at a time to transfer the bacteria onto your new media. Make sure the water goes through the floss before the ceramic.
 

Heron

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Does your filter have any unused space in it? I wouldn't get rid of the carbon completely but you could reduce it to a little bag the size of a teabag. You might be able to squeeze this into a small space elsewhere in the filter then put the rings where the carbon was. It only takes a little carbon to polish the water. You will just have to change the carbon more often.
 

Donthemon

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So that filter has 3 trays. The bottom I would have the black sponge that came with it .
Next tray bio rings and floss/ filter pad on top o the rings. Top tray bio rings and floss /polishing pad on top of them. Ditch the carbon unless you are trying to remove medication.
 
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Trekmann

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Thanks for all the good advise. The fish "appear" to be thriving with the current setup but it's time to clean the filter. I'm out of carbon, so I'm try Donthemon suggestion:

bottom tray - black sponge only
middle tray and top tray - bio-floss on top of bio-rings

When changing the media in the filter should I do a 25% or 50% water change?

Lately the Nitrate reading has been high (red-orangish) the 80ppm-160ppm range when I use my API Master Test Kit. However, when I used the strips the readings show 0.

Oh, by the way I failed chemistry twice in college.....

Brent
 

JayH

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The filter you have is rated at 265 GPH. Those ratings are usually under ideal/unrealistic conditions (no media in filter, extremely short hoses, zero lift for the pump), so you can generally figure a real life flow of about half that. So you're likely getting maybe 150 GPH. You generally want to see four to five times the tank volume turn over every hour. While your bioload doesn't seem at all excessive for a 75g, African cichlids are generally considered heavy polluters, so you should be on the high side as far as flow. You should have an actual flow of 375 GPH, which would be a manufacturer rated flow of 750 GPH.

That aside, the quickest way to lower the nitrates is water changes. You'll have to find a schedule that works best for you and your fish. I'd start with 25% and see what that does to the nitrates. Don't think you have to fix this overnight. Get it headed in the right direction and then keep doing that until it's where you want it. You should test your tap water to be sure that's not where the nitrates are coming from. If the tap water is lower, then water changes should lower the nitrate level in the tank.

Personal preference here, but I would do all the mechanical filtration before the biological. You want as much of the muck as possible out of the water before it hits the biological media. If any muck gets past the mechanical stage, you don't want further mechanical filtration to trap it in with the bio media and start clogging it up. Let it flow back to the tank and catch it next time around.
 

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