Need Help Getting This Filter Thing Right!

River Gray

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Mods you can move this to wherever it should be if this is the wrong place for it because I'm not sure and I'm just hoping I get some quick answers to figure this out!
So I have 2 penguin biowheel HOBs, one on each of my two smaller tanks, and a different brand HOB on my bigger tank.
Now before I got here and got learned up a little I used to toss my media filter bags monthly like they say and put a fresh clean one in, but I learned quickly that's not good to do with the bb and NO2 cycle and whatnot... Anyways since then I've been leaving the same filters in there for quite some time but after a certain amount of time eventually they just completely start to disintegrate on me. To prevent that from effecting my water and bb etc too much I've been putting a new filter into the slot and then shoving the old one back behind the new one as much as possible (sometimes the other order due to just how degraded the old media bag is... One literally was spilling all its charcoal out by the time I took it out of the tank it had disintegrated that much, tho I'm not certain how good that is for the tank or fish either honestly) and leaving it with the double filters fora week or usually two and then throwing the old one away. This has seemed to work with relative success until recently.

Then this happened: (skip to end if you don't care why I'm asking now but just want the "what" part of it)
When I doubled up the filters of my 5gal tank it seemed like it was just not keeping the water conditions very steady so I tried changing how they were in there and instead of forcing it all the way in I had the old one half in and half out of the water but still ticked behind the new one and I had the filter cover which of course wouldn't go back on with a filter sticking up a few inches higher than it was meant to but I got it to balance between the filter groove and the flat hood lid on the tank so that the biowheel and all but the top of the old filter was covered. I tested the water the other day, not sure exactly when could be a week ago but I don't think it was much more than that and the water came up fine except the pH was registering a bit low for guppies but I had my suspicions that a piece of driftwood I had added into the tank was the cause as it is what I used to keep the pH a little lower in my shrimp tank which they seem to like although I thought I read they liked higher somewhere but my shrimp must all be oddballs. That particular piece has been in my tanks and the stores before that for so long that it doesn't even tint the water at all at this point, but all the same I took it out and added prime and blamed the bad conditions of the lfs' Al as a combo in the death of twomale guppies from their one a week after the other and water checked after each death without much of an answer on why or what besides that the pH was being stubborn about normalizing... Ok water got good then the old filter really was on its last days and I thought I'd be able to take it out any day now so was going to when I cleaned the tank this weekend. But my female guppy surprised me and had her fry earlier than I expected so she never went into the breeding cage except for about ten minutes but by then as I found the third surprise guppy near the gravel and she hadn't added any into the box while there I figured she was likely already done and so no point having her there cause it would just stress her out most likely so she got a reprieve of sorts and I got to hunt down 9 or 10 little fry in total. Things seemed fine and everybody was doing good but then today as my husband was feeding that tank the female came up to the surface one time like she was going for food and then went straight back nose down and twirling belly up onto the bottom literally took her last breath right then! I of course tested the water and holy makers and swimming down stream salmon were the results gone bad! I'm actually more stunned that she has been and hopefully will be the only casualty! Everything except low pH again and Nitrates at around 20 (bad I know but tomorrow is cleaning as well as water change day and this week has just been hectic losing power and the deaths that caused (mostly shrimp but an Otto or two unless one is hiding really well in the 30 gal cross my fingers) and the unexpected guppy fry not to mention human life with a broken crown and replacement temp and stud breakage and... Ya just excuses but least I'll own up to it! Plus the other parameters had been just fine before so I had no reason to suspect such a drastic change was happening! Anyways I have no idea what could cause what seems like a horribly bad restart of the nitrogen cycle besides the filter swapping... If you read this and have other ideas let me know. (It wasn't the extra bioload added by the guppy fry because the tank only has some MTSs had two adult guppies and two Glo danios which are fine, so it isn't overloaded while the guppies are still small and in a floating breed box, once they are a little bigger yes they will be moving boys to the 30 girls staying put or going to trusted fish keepers or the one store I trust to care for them... )

So the only other conclusion I can think of is my double filter didn't work and so I lost toomuch of my bioload somehow. I'm guessing that when I had to have only half in the tank that probably killed a lot but it just is hard to keep the HOBs working right when there's twice the filtration they are designed for stuffed into them. So you please how do any of you who use HOBs (canister is not an option at the moment.... Even "mini" ones.) how often do you replace the media and how exactly do you do it while maintaining your bb and the best functionality of the filter?!?!??? Also in the two with a "biowheel" in them do those which you never change unless it gets damaged, is it the wheel that actually keeps enough good bb that you can just pop a new clean filter in once a month or everyother etc?!?
 

Goitalone

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You shouldn't be depending on those replaceable filter cartridges for biological filtration. They are used to mechanically and chemically filter your water and should be changed or rinsed out when they become clogged up. AYour bacteria should be living mostly on your bio wheel or in other hob filters they will have a bio plate that does not get changed
 
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River Gray

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Goitalone said:
You shouldn't be depending on those replaceable filter cartridges for biological filtration. They are used to mechanically and chemically filter your water and should be changed or rinsed out when they become clogged up. AYour bacteria should be living mostly on your bio wheel or in other hob filters they will have a bio plate that does not get changed
So it does all live on the biowheels then? That's great to know. I hated leaving them in their all slimy and gross while the next filter was building up a transferred bio-load in the new one was always such a big (not to mention gross!!!:grumpy::hungover frustrating, thing to deal with. Now I'll be changing those up much more often and skip they double up process I had been following. Crazy that you can get just as much bad advice as good when you don't know enough to know what to trust and what not to. I'm not sure if my 30gal has a biowheel... I think it has this comb like plastic thing that actually works as surface area and nutrient base for the necessary bio-load to grow on as that part you don't change or touch unless it becomes obviously damaged...The same thing that they say about the biowheels... I wish I'd connected those dots sooner lol!
 
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