Filter Media Question

mollyk

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Hi, there. I'm a newbie to posting here, but I've been reading threads since setting up our 5 gallon Betta tank a month ago. Water testing shows we are in good shape with our nitrogen cycle, but we do have the dreaded brown algae problem. I don't mind just keeping up with vacuuming, wiping down, and water changes, as prior posts on this site suggest it will die out eventually, but I am not sure what I do about our filter media. We have the Petsmart brand Top Fin five gallon aquarium (the Fluval look-a-like), and the filter material is looking gross and brown. I have tried swishing it around in removed tank water, but it doesn't really change the appearance. Is this normal or is it related to our brown algae? (I am totally new to this, so I have no idea if that is normal!) I see that the interior of the pump's water output spout is also lined with brown.

Along with this, I have a related question -- should I be using some other media instead of the kit media? I know not to just change things out since it will mess up the cycle, but the instructions with the kit say to replace the cartridge every 3 to 4 weeks. I don't even know what is in the cartridge - carbon - ? Do I need to phase in a new media item?

Thanks in advance for your input! Molly
 

Zachhubb

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Are the cartridges for a HOB? If so I would just replace it with a sponge that fits the container. Also the brown on the filter components could be a build up of bacteria. That's what happened to me when I first set up my 30 gallon. As for the brown alge, if it is diatoms big water changes with scrubbing could make it worse because they require silicates to survive. Silicates can be found in some tap water, so when you do a big water change yoy just feed the alge. And when you scrub them you just spred the alge around the tank.

Also yes changing your media too soon after your tank cycles, or anytime for that matter, can cause an over cycle which can lead to bacterial blooms in your water.
 
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Zachhubb

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You want course mechanical which is a large pore size sponge. Top with a smaller size for polishing you water and tons of bio balls for biological filtration.
I think dedicated biological filtration is a scam. A sponge provides more than enough surface area for bacteria, along with all the other surface area in the tank.
 

Pescado_Verde

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Yeah, it's a 5 gallon Betta tank, I don't think there's any reason to go crazy with the filtration.

If the filter cartridge is out of sight then I don't see any reason to do anything other than rinse it in tank water and keep on trucking.
 

ETNsilverstar

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I have the 10 gallon kit and it comes with the same filter. It was recommended to me to cut up the current filter and put it in a media bag. I did that as well as adding some bio rings for extra media, and my cycle is still fine. You can also get a sponge pre-filter for the intake (the fluval brand one fits), and it will help keep out a little bit of the gunk since it will stick to the sponge instead of being pulled into the filter. It makes a nice snail buffet if you wanted to add a snail buddy for your betta.
 

Zachhubb

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Yeah, it's a 5 gallon Betta tank, I don't think there's any reason to go crazy with the filtration.

If the filter cartridge is out of sight then I don't see any reason to do anything other than rinse it in tank water and keep on trucking.
As long as your tests keep coming up clean you are perfect!!
 
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mollyk

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Sorry -- was away from internet. Thank you for all of the replies! This is helpful. This is not a HOB filter, and it is out of sight. Tests are coming out clean, but substrate on the bottom and plants are looking gross with the brown growth. Trying to vacuum and wipe off (not back into water) what I can. ETNsilverstar, when you say you cut up the filter, do you mean literally cut it up and put all pieces in the media bag? (Sorry, I am totally new to this!) Do you have a snail in your tank? I am considering one, but don't want to overcomplicate things since I am already on a learning curve! I thought I remember reading somewhere that if you have a carbon filter, it really does need to be changed after a few weeks or else it becomes toxic. Now I can't find where I saw that, and I don't even know if this filter is a carbon one. Thanks for the help. Sounds like I may tweak things a bit but basically keep trucking!
 

ETNsilverstar

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Sorry -- was away from internet. Thank you for all of the replies! This is helpful. This is not a HOB filter, and it is out of sight. Tests are coming out clean, but substrate on the bottom and plants are looking gross with the brown growth. Trying to vacuum and wipe off (not back into water) what I can. ETNsilverstar, when you say you cut up the filter, do you mean literally cut it up and put all pieces in the media bag? (Sorry, I am totally new to this!) Do you have a snail in your tank? I am considering one, but don't want to overcomplicate things since I am already on a learning curve! I thought I remember reading somewhere that if you have a carbon filter, it really does need to be changed after a few weeks or else it becomes toxic. Now I can't find where I saw that, and I don't even know if this filter is a carbon one. Thanks for the help. Sounds like I may tweak things a bit but basically keep trucking!
Yup, that's exactly what I did! It was kinda messy because of the carbon, but it's great now that it's in the bag. And I haven't heard of carbon becoming toxic, but it does stop doing what it was put there to do.
 
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