Important Question !!!

Discussion in 'Filters and Filtration' started by Isabella, May 4, 2006.

  1. Isabella

    IsabellaFishlore VIPMember

    Hello everyone :) I have a question most likely for Butterfly or Gunnie, however if anyone knows the answer please share it with me. Or I should rather state that it's more of an advice that I am seeking.

    I have 11 angelfish fry in my 10 gallon tank. They're about 2 months old and almost an inch in length (those largest ones, that is; because some are smaller than that). I've had an established filter in that tank long before the angels hatched, so when they hatched they had perfect water. The water is still good, as I do a lot of water changes, et cetera.

    I have Whisper Tetra filter in that tank (for a 10G tank of course). The problem is that the bio-bag in the filter has been there for a long time (I'd say for 5-6 months) - I've been just rinsing it and keeping all the good bacteria for as long as I could. Especially with baby angels I didn't want to throw the bag out, as even a mini-cycle could be dangerous for baby fish.

    Now, the bio-bag is so old that it's literally statring to tear apart. I want to replace it with a new one but I am afraid that if I do this, there will be a mini-cycle that will hurt my baby angels. But this bag seriously needs to be replaced because soon it won't even be able to filter the water from its debris. So my question is, what is the safest way to replace a bio-bag in a tank with 2-month old baby angels?

    I know I can take a piece of the established bio-bag and put it in the filter together with the new bio-bag so that the beneficial bacteria colonize the filter faster. However, even with that there will most likely be a mini-cycle, right?

    Any comments will be greatly appreciated :)
  2. fish_r_friend

    fish_r_friendWell Known MemberMember

    you could put the new filter floss in front of the old floss for a week or 2 then change the floss on the filter frame putting some of the old floss in to the new floss
  3. vin

    vinWell Known MemberMember

    Change the BioBag altogether....The activated carbon in the BioBag is long past expired. The AC in the biobag is what filters the chemical impurities out of the water (waste, gasses, excess nitrates, etc) and loses it's useful life after a while....Whisper recommends changing the BioBag once a month or when the water stops flowing through the filter.

    The black sponge material in the filter is what houses the bacteria....All your doing is retaining extra waste materials and recycling the impurities in the water as the AC can no longer absorb them......So you're not really doing your angels any good anyway.

    I've just gotten through doing a ton of research on this very subject and everything I've read says to replace these filter cartridges at least once a month just for the sake of refreshing the activated carbon alone.

    You may experience a bacteria bloom, (I did last month) but a couple of water changes will help to clear that up. I did 3 - one every other day in my 15g and the water was crystal clear within a couple of days.
  4. fish_r_friend

    fish_r_friendWell Known MemberMember

    vin the thing is she has baby angelfish that need the best water quality they can have and she cant afford to go threw a bacteria bloom
  5. Butterfly

    ButterflyModeratorModerator Member

    Isabella is there room to put a new filter bag in with the old ? if their is just do that for a couple of days. If there isn't just put a new one in and put as large a piece of the old one as possible in with the new one. I think you should be ok.
  6. vin

    vinWell Known MemberMember

    What's worse? Bacteria bloom or toxic chemicals being reintroduced to the water??? As it is the filter bag is doing nothing right now....There is nothing removing the chemicals that the fish waste produces, nothing to keep the excessive nitrates in check and all it is doing is letting the harmful stuff in the water recirculate....

    Now, I don't know if baby angels can handle the bacteria bloom or not, but by sword tail fry handled it just fine....If all of the other parameters are within range, I would think that suspended bacteria wouldn't matter since they are not toxic to the fish in the first place.
  7. fish_r_friend

    fish_r_friendWell Known MemberMember

  8. vin

    vinWell Known MemberMember

    That's fine, but I still don't think that non toxic bacteria will harm them.....If the continually leaching chemicals that are being bypassed by the activated carbon haven't done anything to them by now, I don't see how the 'potential' bacterial bloom would.........At 2 months old? I wouldn't think so anyway.....
  9. Butterfly

    ButterflyModeratorModerator Member

    If the filter is changed completely without seeding there may be an ammonia spike. Even at two months angel fish fins are still developing. The spike can burn the fins and cause them to be deformed. Thats the reason for such frequent water changes for angel fry. Isabella is right on the money trying to be so careful.
  10. 0morrokh

    0morrokhFishlore VIPMember

    I think Isabella has the same filter as I do, and I have tried sticking in the old media behind the new stuff but it just cloggs up the filter. So what I do is cut a piece of the old media (about 1/2 of one side of the bag) and put that behind it. I have never had any problems with ammonia spikes.
  11. OP

    IsabellaFishlore VIPMember

    Thank you all for suggestions.

    Vin: while I understand what you're trying to say, I have to disagree with you. If I didn't have baby angels I'd be changing the media as often as I wanted. However, that's the whole point: you can't do that when you have baby angels. If I changed the filter media as I pleased, they'd be dead long ago (because, naturally, all the beneficial bacterial population would be removed). And there are no toxic chemicals in my tank nor in my filter Vin, because I change 50% of that water every single day and rinse the filter thoroughly every couple of days. Therefore it's impossible for chemicals to be in that water. If there were any chemicals in that water, at any point, baby angels would get sick and die. They're still alive. Vin, it is the bacteria that are the cornerstone of any filtration system -  you cannot be "regularly" removing them from a fry tank. Carbon or charcoal are in fact not even necessary - they expire as soon as a couple of days (not exceeding one week even). What expired carbon can provide at most is more surface area for the beneficial bacteria to colonize. In regular circumstances, yes, you'd need to change the bio-bag more often, because you don't do 50% daily water changes in a regular tank. BUT, baby fish tanks are a completely different story. With so many water changes, they're far safer even without carbon, than regular fish tanks with mature fish. My water doesn't even have any nitrate. So, I think I did them only good by holding on to my old bio-bag for as long as I could. Lastly, Vin, the bio-bag provides more surface area for bacteria to colonize than does the small piece of sponge. And one more thing, Vin (lol, sorry, I talk too much!), it's actually not necessary to be changing filter media every month, "as the manufacturer recommends". They recommend it because if people change media less often, they will make less money since no one will be buying their filter media. Changing filter media often is not exactly beneficial to fish since by doing this one removes all the beneficial bacteria - which are what is most necessary for filtration. With frequent water changes and good bottom cleaning as well as frequent filter rinsing - no chemicals will accumulate and water will be very clean and safe.

    Carol, Omorrorh, and Fish_r_friend: I will replace the old bio-bag then, since it is tearing apart (if it were not, I'd still keep it). And I will put (together with the new bio-bag) as large a piece of the old one as I can. I'll put the largest piece possible that will still allow for a reasonable water flow. So, Carol, with a large piece of the old bio-bag and with bacteria on tank walls and on tank bottom, will there still be a spike? You see, that's what I am afraid of. I don't want my babies to get burned or hurt in any way. I will not do anything until you have confirmed that what I am about to do is safe and will not hurt my fish.

    Thank you all once again - I really appreciate your help.
  12. 0morrokh

    0morrokhFishlore VIPMember

    I know the question wasn't for me but I don't think there will be a problem with ammonia. The tank is established and has lots of bacteria in places besides the filter media. Plus you are putting a piece of old media in to start the colony. But I know if those were my baby Angels I'd be very worried about it. Remember you can always do a nice big water change if you are getting any hint of ammonia readings. And keep up the good work! I don't know how you can manage daily 50% water changes. Your Angels will be so beautiful! :)
  13. OP

    IsabellaFishlore VIPMember

    Thank you Omorrokh. I'll definitely do huge water changes if I detect any ammonia or nitrite (though I hope I won't detect anything of the sort!).

    Carol, I forgot to add something to my previous post. I will try to put the whole old bag with the new one inside the filter. However, Carol, I am afraid the filter won't be able to get a good water flow with so much material inside of it. So, if it does not work, then I will cut a large piece off the bag and put it together with the new bag. How long after putting the new bag in, can I remove the old piece from the filter?
  14. ncje

    ncjeValued MemberMember

    Personally for a fry tank ..... I have had many... I will only ever use sponge filters. They are by far the best option in fry tank filtration. I successfully raised over 1000 discus fry, another 200 various mbuna fry, not to mention uncountable hartwegi and bifasciatum fry just using these. Ok but that doesnt solve your problem.... what I would do is place the old media in the end of a stocking to keep it together and tie it off and just pop it back in after a mild tank water rinse.
  15. Butterfly

    ButterflyModeratorModerator Member

    Isabella it will be fine just putting in the piece of old filter media when you install the new one. You are doing such a good job!!! But the babies are growing up and we the extended family need to see some new pics ;)
  16. OP

    IsabellaFishlore VIPMember

    Ncje, you're 100% right. The reason I have a Whisper Tetra filter in my fry tank is that the babies were completely unexpected and I was totally unprepared. All I had was the extra 10G tank, airpump and heater, and this very filter which was already established (because I was keeping the 10G tank cycled at all times just in case I'd need it for example for sick fish). Since I didn't expect to have these babies, I never had any sponge filter ready. The Whisper Tetra was an only option at that time. What I did was I put a piece of stocking over the intake tube and decreased the water flow to gentle. And the babies made it :) But I agree, sponge filters are the best for fry tanks. If I ever raise another batch of angels again, I'll get a sponge filter for sure. They're just much safer.

    Carol, I am afraid 2 bio-bags (old and new one) will not fit inside the filter box. So what I will do is I'll cut a piece of the old bio-bag the largest size possible that will cover the front of the new bio-bag (I don't know if I am expressing myself clearly - let me know if you're confused about what I'm trying to explain, lol). This cutout piece will be placed between the sponge and the new bio-bag (if you know how a Whisper Tetra filter looks like, you'll know what I'm talking about). So, Carol, it will be safe to do, right? As for the pictures, I'll try to take some new ones for you :)
  17. chickadee

    chickadeeFishlore VIPMember

    Have you tried putting your old bio-bag into a piece of nylon stocking or something to hold it together and see if you can make it last a little longer until the babies are a little older? Maybe this is a silly suggestion, but I thought it might work. If you don't think the water would flow through that well you could cut a small piece out and let it just hold the edges together.

  18. vin

    vinWell Known MemberMember


    I won't debate you on the life of carbon, but would rather direct you to all of the research done by experts that I have provided that prove your very statements incorrect......I would refer you to the "filtration questions" thread and the therad that asks about cycling with or without activated carbon and changing the filter media and why it's done....There are links to articles that relate directly to that subject alone.....

    In fact, the carbon you have in there may not allow toxic chemicals that show up on routine tests, but will in fact allow other bacteria and chemicals to leach back into your water that can cause long term organ damage to your fish through a process called re-adsorbtion....without you even knowing it.

    I completely understand you have fry.....I also completely understand where the beneficial bacteria live.....And since those bacteria are not toxic to fish......Part of the reason you are changing 50% of your water daily is without a doubt because your mechanical filtration is not working properly in addition to the desire to maintain water quality.....The filter media other than the biobag should have enough beneficial bacteria in it to support the colony itself which is another reason why it is safe to change the biobag.........The biobag and the clogged AC that is in it has without a doubt more waste in it than you can imagine.........These companies do actually research this stuff....It's not made up on a whim.

    Unfortunately, the biobag has been left in there for so long, you're in a very precarious situation...One that may in fact be a no win situation......Rotting material is because of DECAY....Any time something decays it is not beneficial to have that in your tank.

    Sorry if I sound rude and I realize I am relatively new to this hobby, but I have been doing TONS of research on the importance of water quality and how to acheive it and maintain it............As a result, I personally change my biobag every month and have had only one small bacteria bloom which went away in a couple of days.

    I hope you don't lose any fish over this. I know you're working hard to make sure that doesn't happen.
  19. OP

    IsabellaFishlore VIPMember

    You don't sound rude at all Vin, lol! As I have said, any comments and advice are greatly appreciated. I thank you for your trying to help :) Once again, I understand what you're saying and I agree. But how can there be chemicals and dirt in my old bio-bag when I rinse it VERY OFTEN precisely to make sure there is nothing in there except the beneficial bacteria. The reason for 50% daily water changes is also to keep the water free of chemicals and clean. A fry tank is not the same as a regular fish tank. In a regular fish tank some chemicals and even high concentrations of nitrate won't hurt adult fish - while these two would outright kill baby angels. I don't believe I have any toxic chemicals in my water or in my filter. If it were so, my angels wouldn't grow healthy and they would be dead long ago. I have actually learned that AC or charcoal are not that effective for a very long time here on Fish Lore, and I trust this website. It is also here that I have learned that one does not need to change filter media every month as "the manufacturer advises". I may be wrong since I am not a scientist and you most definitely know more about these matters than I do. Therefore I wouldn't want to assert something that I am not fluent in. Yet I have to say, I don't think AC or charcoal are that important IF YOU DO 50% DAILY water changes. AC or charcoal may be very helpful if one doesn't do a lot of water changes. But then again, from what i have read on Fish Lore also, is that AC or charcoal expire very fast - so that means one would have to change the bio-bag every week! That would ensure the killing of fish such as baby angels, lol, since they're sensitive even to tiniest amounts of chemicals or nitrate (not to mention ammonia or nitrite!). Anyway, I'd like to know what Carol thinks about this. This is not to say I doubt your judgment Vin :) I'm just curious what Carol or Gunnie think, because this is a matter concerning a fry tank, not a regular fish tank. Anyway, enough already! LOL

    Rose, I'd try to wrap the old bio-bag in some stocking, but it's really so old and it needs to be changed already. However, if it is by far safer to do than changing the bio-bag altogether, then maybe I should still keep the old bio-bag? Carol? What do you think?

    SORRY everyone for all of my questions! I know I am a pain in ... oops ;) LOL

    P.S. One last thing! VIN: You mentioned "leaching chemicals" - I really doubt my filter is leaching any chemicals into the water. Even if it were, I change 50% of water daily, so there is no chance my baby angels will be hurt. And Lastly, I actually think, Vin, that the worse thing is to thow out a bio-bag full of beneficial bacteria rather than not having effective AC or charcoal.
  20. vin

    vinWell Known MemberMember

    Isabella....Clogged carbon - no matter how much you rinse it will still retain the chemicals and impurities it once trapped.....what happens is the pores in the carbon get so clogged that the water no longer flows through them, but over them....despite the rinsing. Which is why they tell you to change it rather than rinse it....

    I was only relaying information based on the many articles and reports I have been reading up on. Not one says to reuse the mechanical filtration media. They all say to change it because of the possibility of leaching harmful chemicals and bacteria - the kind that don't show on tests - back into your water.

    Polishing your water can only be done effectively by properly filtering the water. If you are using a mechanical filter that incorporates a floss and AC material, the best way to acheive clean, chemical free water is to change it as recommended. I forget where I read it, but one article said that everything can be fine one time, but the next time POOF! Everything you worked hard to acheive can be thrown completely off track because you didn't follow up on routine maintenance in addition to the water changes.

    I will agree that this is enough on the topic, but with all due respect to those on these boards - would strongly encourage you to read outside the articles I've posted in the other topics. They will without a doubt open your eyes and perhaps clear up a lot of misconceptions.