Filter Change Advice - specifically Aqueon

  • #1
I’m new to the forum and am glad to have found this site! I have a question for the experts since I’m seeing so much conflicting (and confusing) information out there regarding filter changes. I have a 36 gallon bow front aquarium with two fancy goldfish (relatively small right now, both less than 2 inches long). When we purchased the tank, we filled it, let it cycle (actually, for about a month or so…never got around to adding fish) and then changed some (30%) water and the filter (again, before the fish). Several weeks later, we added the two goldfish and have been monitoring the water regularly. No ammonia spikes, the nitrites are fine, Ph is fine, nitrates were up a little (around 20 ppm, went up to around 40 ppm before the gravel vacuum and water changes) but water changes and conditioning seem to help. We did a 25-30% water change after two weeks with the fish and the numbers were still good. We just did another water change last night, about two weeks after the first, and as of right now everything seems good and my little guys (or girls, or mix, lol) seem happy. My question is – I have an Aqueon filter and media – how often should the media be changed since it’s that single unit cartridge? And, when I do change it, how should it be done? I’ve read that you should rinse the filter every water change with the dirty aquarium water (doing that) but when it does come time to change the filter, whenever that is, what should I do? Should I just remove the old cartridge and put in the new one (and if so, do I let the tank cycle by using Aqua Safe), should I rinse the new one with aquarium water, any suggestions? I’ve read everything from putting the new media in the old filter, to adding a piece of the old media’s “felt” to the new media in the filter, to adding a second filter. Any advice would be appreciated!

  • #2
Sounds like things are going well so far so congrats. Your dilemma is the reason I switched from a hob filter to a canister filter...lack of media.

Rinsing the pads in tank water is good to do to get the longest life out of your filter pad and keep your bacteria. But like you understand there will come a time that it can not be rinsed any more and will need to be changed.

There are a couple of ways to go about this. One that I use to do is to buy a bag of ceramic filter media like for the aqua clear filters. It comes in a bag and you can just drop it into your filter and leave it. Then when it comes time to change your filter pad you will have plenty of bacteria on the media and losing the bacteria on the pad will not hurt you.

You could also place your new pad into the filter for about a month prior to changing the old to give it time to seed. I don't really like this method because by the time you start using your new pad it already is pretty dirty.

You could also purchase another small hob filter or a sponge filter that way you have two sources of bacteria and you can stagger the changing/cleaning of the filters so one is always old and containing plenty of bacteria.

  • #3
Good advice above. Something to note is that because your filter holds most of your bacteria, you want to wait as long as possible before doing the switcheroo- so basically, the media only needs to be thrown away once it's literally falling apart, not every month or whatever it says on the box. And do make sure you've seeded more media as mentioned above before throwing your current away, because you don't want to get a minicycle.

Also, did you say you do water changes every two weeks? You should consider doing it every week, because it is my understanding that goldfish are very messy.
  • Thread Starter
  • #4
First, a huge thanks to jwhorner6 and Mmbrown for the advice – very helpful! Yes, I am/was doing water changes every two weeks. I wasn’t sure whether every week or two weeks was the right thing to do (again, conflicting and confusing information!), and the numbers were coming back ok so I left it go to two weeks initially. When I cleaned a portion of the gravel the first time, it was so dirty that it wound up being a larger water change than expected (25 – 30%) and I still hadn’t cleaned all the gravel…but I also understood that I didn’t want to clean 100% of the gravel anyway. I was a little uneasy about removing that much water but was careful when changing to make sure the temp was ok, water was conditioned, etc. and everything seemed fine. So, with two weeks working, I thought that would be okay. I can definitely do the once a week, though – I’m assuming the change % would be more in the 10-20% range then?
I thought I was doing fine until I started getting worried about the filter change and then I was wondering if it was just a case that I was succeeding in spite of myself

Thanks again!
  • #5
50% water change weekly

You have a large bioload, that's why the 50%. Don't be shy about changing out this much water. Your fish will love you for it.

Also, if you don't mind, could you please use more than one paragraph. It gets hard to read all that text smooshed together. Thanks!
  • #6
I have an Aqueon filter tht came with my Goldfish Tank. But as you noticed, filter maintenance becomes a bit of a pain. Carbon is only good for about 4 weeks then it get saturated with impurities and stops working. So it need to be changed every 4 weeks IF you chose to use carbon. So you will need to cut a slit in your cartridge and dump the carbon out, You can then either add lose carbon back in, or just not use carbon.

While the advice about adding ceramic media in your filter box is good advice, for you, it's bad advice since the aqueon filters do not have very much room for adding additional media. But as mentioned, since the bacteria that keeps your tank cycled lives in the floss media, you never want to follow the directions that come with the filter and replace the cartridge. If you do, you're back to being uncycled.

So what I did was add an AquaClear filter to my tank (and use both filters, but consider the AQ my primary filter.) The AquaClears have separate sponge, carbon and ceramic media (like a canister filter) and allow you to easily clean the sponge, and replace the carbon. The ceramic media (where the bulk of the bacteria lives) is very easily rinsed with old tank water as well.

But with a 36 gallon tank with goldfish, you may want to consider getting a canister filter.

As far as water changes, you want to keep nitrates under 20ppm (assuming your tap water has 0ppm). So you want to do large enough and frequent enough water changes to keep the nitrates under 20ppm. So you will probably be looking at a 50% water change every week.
  • Thread Starter
  • #7
First, I’m sorry about the postings – I was typing them in Word first and then copying/pasting. I’ll be more careful to add paragraphs!

It looks as though the 50% water change per week is the thing to do, and I’ll begin that next week. The nitrates have still been hovering around 20ppm after a change so I need to get that down, definitely.

I’ll also be paying a visit to the local PetSmart to look for filters with separate media…if I can’t find it there I’ll find a wet pets store. Based on all the great info I’ve gotten this morning it’s going to be so much easier if I can just change out the carbon without slitting the existing filter and fussing with dumping out old carbon/adding new.

Again, thanks to everyone who is helping me through this – I’m sure I will have other questions as I get closer to the filter change because I’m nervous about it. I love the fish I have and don’t want to lose them!

Similar Aquarium Threads

  • Locked
  • Locked
Top Bottom