My filter cartridge is NASTY!!

Ssnaaiil

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My filter cartridge/media gets NASTY (see picture below) within 1.5-2 weeks... What can I do to keep it from getting so nasty so fast? It's gets all plugged up and my filter slows down and fills with water, I'm scared one of these times it's gona overflow and make a mess....I can't afford to change the cartridge every 2 weeks....suggestions?? Posted a picture of the kind of filter I have too
 

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kallililly1973

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Adding a prefilter sponge can help also. But be sure to have a net under it when u pull it off tour intake or all the stuff it’s holding will float right back into the water column
 

yinoma2001

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Yeah, those cartridge filters are meant for you to keep on spending $ in two primary ways.

1. buying more filters.
2. messing up your nitrogen cycle when you replace filters and thereby spending more $ to keep on restarting the cycle.

As linked above, I would find go with alternative ways. I ditched the cartridge filter a long time ago as it was a waste of money and not effective.
 

A201

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Phase out the cartridge and replace with a foam sponge. Stuff a fluval replacement sponge into the media box. Squeeze it out every three weeks, then reuse it. Never buy a cartridge again.
Most HOB filters are designed with emergency overflow channels. Locate those & keep them clean using a wire aquarium brush.
 
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Ssnaaiil

Ssnaaiil

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A201 said:
Phase out the cartridge and replace with a foam sponge. Stuff a fluval replacement sponge into the media box. Squeeze it out every three weeks, then reuse it. Never buy a cartridge again.
Most HOB filters are designed with emergency overflow channels. Locate those & keep them clean using a wire aquarium brush.
Just use the sponge in my filter? Nothing else?
 

A201

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A sponge is all you really need. It will end up accommodating a far larger benificial bacteria colony than the disposable cartridge. You can include some ceramic media in a mesh filter bag as well if space allows. No need for activated carbon.
 

yinoma2001

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A201 said:
A sponge is all you really need. It will end up accommodating a far larger benificial bacteria colony than the disposable cartridge. You can include some ceramic media in a mesh filter bag as well if space allows. No need for activated carbon.
100%. The key is sustainability and cost. It's ridiculous how much $ buying disposable filter cartridges are, and how negatively it affects your nitrogen cycle. It's downright sad (but understandable from a business perspective) that many beginning fishkeepers are conned into this.
 

mattgirl

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When you switch over to sponge, cut that gross fiber off the plastic frame of the cartridge. Toss the frame and the carbon inside it. Put that piece of fiber in the filter with the new sponge and it will seed the sponge. Leave the fiber in there for about a month. After that toss it and you will be done with cartridges.
 
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Ssnaaiil

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mattgirl said:
When you switch over to sponge, cut that gross fiber off the plastic frame of the cartridge. Toss the frame and the carbon inside it. Put that piece of fiber in the filter with the new sponge and it will seed the sponge. Leave the fiber in there for about a month. After that toss it and you will be done with cartridges.
okay thanks for all this info, every time I change my cartridge I put some of the old one in with it to seed the new one
 

e_watson09

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I just wanted to chime in. I completely agree switching to just a sponge is going to help.

I did have a concern over how quickly this is happening. To me it looks like a couple possibilities,#1 the filter is too small to handle the fish you have or #2 you're over feeding and its getting sucked into the filter. This is a lot of gunk for only 1.5-2 weeks. Switching to a straight sponge filter will help with the cost but not help with it getting gunked up soo fast. Depending on your answers it may be a good idea to look into adding a second filter to the tank to help.

Can you give us more information about the tank? Size, stocking, water parameters, etc? How often do you feed and how much?
 
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Ssnaaiil

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e_watson09 said:
I just wanted to chime in. I completely agree switching to just a sponge is going to help.

I did have a concern over how quickly this is happening. To me it looks like a couple possibilities,#1 the filter is too small to handle the fish you have or #2 you're over feeding and its getting sucked into the filter. This is a lot of gunk for only 1.5-2 weeks. Switching to a straight sponge filter will help with the cost but not help with it getting gunked up soo fast. Depending on your answers it may be a good idea to look into adding a second filter to the tank to help.

Can you give us more information about the tank? Size, stocking, water parameters, etc? How often do you feed and how much?


Tank is 35 gallons

3 fancy goldfish
5 female bettas
4 mystery snails
1 nerite snail

I do know I’m overstocked

I do a 10-15 gallon water change every 5-7 days

I feed the fish once a day and they eat all the food I give them (about 1/2 tsp of food)
And I feed my snails at night with either snail jello or blanched veggies
 

yinoma2001

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Whoa, you have a ticking time bomb with the goldfish and how big they will become. But bettas/goldfish are not temperature compatible. How does that work out?
 
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Ssnaaiil

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yinoma2001 said:
Whoa, you have a ticking time bomb with the goldfish and how big they will become. But bettas/goldfish are not temperature compatible. How does that work out?
The goldfish are only about 1.5 inches right now. I have my tank heated at 76 and haven’t had any issues
 

e_watson09

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Unfortunately, your issue is pretty clear with the over stocking. Goldfish and Mystery snails both have notoriously large bio loads. At the very least I'd move the bettas out into their own tank (they need temps about 78-80 degrees were goldfish need colder water), I'd take the nerite snail with them. Put them in at least a 20 gallon tank on their own. That's really pushing it too to be honest.

The goldfish and mysteries will be a constant uphill battle. I'd add a second filter (bigger than this one, maybe a canister filter made for 55 gallon or larger tanks?) and do bi-weekly water changes until you're ready to upgrade them. Depending on the type of "fancy" goldfish you're going to end up needing likely 75 gallon or larger. Some fancies don't get as big and you can get away with a 55 gallon but most need larger. You'll want the water temp on this tank 68-74 degrees. [I'm actually not sure how the mysteries will handle that temp to be honest, hopefully someone else can chime in]

Have you been tracking your water parameters? I feel like this kind of gunk build up that quick also likely is causing issues with your tank's cycle.
 
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Ssnaaiil

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e_watson09 said:
Unfortunately, your issue is pretty clear with the over stocking. Goldfish and Mystery snails both have notoriously large bio loads. At the very least I'd move the bettas out into their own tank (they need temps about 78-80 degrees were goldfish need colder water), I'd take the nerite snail with them. Put them in at least a 20 gallon tank on their own. That's really pushing it too to be honest.

The goldfish and mysteries will be a constant uphill battle. I'd add a second filter (bigger than this one, maybe a canister filter made for 55 gallon or larger tanks?) and do bi-weekly water changes until you're ready to upgrade them. Depending on the type of "fancy" goldfish you're going to end up needing likely 75 gallon or larger. Some fancies don't get as big and you can get away with a 55 gallon but most need larger. You'll want the water temp on this tank 68-74 degrees. [I'm actually not sure how the mysteries will handle that temp to be honest, hopefully someone else can chime in]

Have you been tracking your water parameters? I feel like this kind of gunk build up that quick also likely is causing issues with your tank's cycle.
I’m most likely going to be getting rid of the goldies in the next few months :( I don’t have the space for a bigger tank... I just have to get myself to actually do it (rehome them) my 5 year old son picked them out and I didn’t realize how difficult goldfish would be to take care of
 

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Ssnaaiil said:
I’m most likely going to be getting rid of the goldies in the next few months :( I don’t have the space for a bigger tank... I just have to get myself to actually do it (rehome them) my 5 year old son picked them out and I didn’t realize how difficult goldfish would be to take care of
Awe I know how that goes! My kids pick out the craziest things too! What about trading them for some gold colored platy? They would stay small and fit in the tank much better and still give the idea of goldfish without the bioload of them
 

mattgirl

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Ssnaaiil said:
Tank is 35 gallons

3 fancy goldfish
5 female bettas
4 mystery snails
1 nerite snail

I do know I’m overstocked

I do a 10-15 gallon water change every 5-7 days

I feed the fish once a day and they eat all the food I give them (about 1/2 tsp of food)
And I feed my snails at night with either snail jello or blanched veggies
Along with switching to more sustainable media you really need to be doing much bigger water changes. Everyone seems to be doing alright for now but it is just a matter of time before things start going downhill. Goldfish are considered messy fish (lots of poop) and kinda explains why your filter media gets so bad so quickly. I suspect once you switch over to sponge from the cartridge the sponge is going to have to be cleaned weekly

I know a lot of folks frown on goldfish and betta's together in the same tank. I don't get into that area since I've never had any kind of goldfish. Maybe the fancy's can handle the higher temps and there is a happy medium that both betta's and fancy's can be comfortable with.

But with both very messy goldfish and messy mystery snails I would be changing out at least 75% of the water every week. I would also look into a bigger filter for this tank if at all possible.
 
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Ssnaaiil

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e_watson09 said:
Awe I know how that goes! My kids pick out the craziest things too! What about trading them for some gold colored platy? They would stay small and fit in the tank much better and still give the idea of goldfish without the bioload of them
The only good pet store around me is petco and they don't do trade ins. The only thing they will do is take unwanted fish without giving store credit or anything. So I might just try selling them locally or just thinking them, once I get the heart to do it
 
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Ssnaaiil

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mattgirl said:
Along with switching to more sustainable media you really need to be doing much bigger water changes. Everyone seems to be doing alright for now but it is just a matter of time before things start going downhill. Goldfish are considered messy fish (lots of poop) and kinda explains why your filter media gets so bad so quickly. I suspect once you switch over to sponge from the cartridge the sponge is going to have to be cleaned weekly

I know a lot of folks frown on goldfish and betta's together in the same tank. I don't get into that area since I've never had any kind of goldfish. Maybe the fancy's can handle the higher temps and there is a happy medium that both betta's and fancy's can be comfortable with.

But with both very messy goldfish and messy mystery snails I would be changing out at least 75% of the water every week. I would also look into a bigger filter for this tank if at all possible.
a larger water change like that won't effect the fish like shock them or anything?
 

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Ssnaaiil said:
a larger water change like that won't effect the fish like shock them or anything?
Not at all as long as you temp match and dechlorinate the water before pouring it in there. They should be used to your source water so there should be nothing there to shock them. It isn't unusual at all for me to do water changes that big on my smaller tanks. The only reason I don't do them on my biggest tank (55 gallon) is because I do it with buckets. 50% is about the most I can handle each time in that one.
Ssnaaiil said:
Also how often should I be vacuuming the gravel??
With every water change. The more mulm you pull out of there the less will have to go through your filter.

50% weekly water changes may be enough with a light gravel vac each time but at least once a month change out at least 75% and deep clean your gravel with that one.
 
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Ssnaaiil

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I just did about a 30% water change 2 days ago when should I start the 75% water changes?
 

mattgirl

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Ssnaaiil said:
I just did about a 30% water change 2 days ago when should I start the 75% water changes?
You can do it anytime. In my humble opinion in most cases one can't change out too much water or do it too often. Fresh clean water is the very best way to keep fish healthy. I chalk up the fact that I've never dealt with any of the many diseases I read about on an almost daily basis here on the forum to doing large water changes.
 

e_watson09

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I agree, changing too much water won't hurt the fish as long as you're putting the same temp water back in. I average 50% weekly water changes on all of my tanks and most of them are lightly stocked. I have been known to take it down to just a few inches of water relatively often as well. I take it down just enough not to stress the fish.

I've been keeping fish going on 20 years now and I've never had an issue with that.
 

Mike999

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I've used Aquaclear sponges in any brand HOB filter I've had.
I'll cut to fit a few sponges and just rinse them in my water change bucket, when it's time for a water change.

Over the years, eventually they degrade to the point of literally falling apart - that's the only time I replace.
But that could be anywhere from ~ 6-8+ years, I don't recall.
Yet, each HOB has multiple sponges so even when I do eventually replace one, it's just one - not 3 at once in order to retain as much beneficial bacteria as I can.

I've also used those Seachem biothingamabobs and I think they're fine and don't recall why I stopped using them. Perhaps because the little bags broke over time and I figured sponges were much quicker to rinse and 'good enough'.
 

Islandvic

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@sana, I suggest to read over the thread that 2 or 3 of the members posted links to, regarding using DIY media in your filter.

At a minimum, I would also suggest to supplement your filtration with either a second HOB filter and/or a large sponge filter driven by a decent air pump.

Water changes can be made easier if you get a fitting adapter that can screw on to the threaded part of your sink's faucet, where the aerator screws on/off. The adapter fitting allows you to screw on a garden hose. That way you can fill your tank after a large water change directly from the faucet.

The temperature can be matched +- 1° this way as well, by holding your tank's thermometer over the output and adjusting the faucet accordingly.
 

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