Replacing or cleaning filters

Discussion in 'Cleaning and Maintenance' started by itfcgadgetboy, Jan 10, 2013.

  1. itfcgadgetboyNew MemberMember

    Hi guys

    I have been looking and gaining so much guidance from the site since I purchased my first ever tank 4 weeks ago it has been invaluable, and an eye opener !

    I have gone through some major stress over the past few weeks and have been given some terrible advice from pet stores it has caused me a lot of grief. So much for the ease of keeping tropical fish lol.

    I have a juwel vision 180 bow tank and I love it, it has fish in it (dont have a go at me , got some poor advice in the beginning (safestart and amount of stock) but I am keeping the many fish (gourami, rams, guppys) happy, no deaths, and the community is very calm, ammonia <o.25, saw my first nitrites today and I am getting used to the daily water change.....hind site is a wonderful thing I wish I understood the nitrogen cycle 3 weeks ago like I do now, i would definitely go fishless cycling next time lol).

    Due to now starting to see nitrites, the first set of bacteria are obviously starting to reproduce and populate the filters and substrate etc. I am changing the white wool filter weekly..... Sorry for the background history but now for the questions....

    In my filter I have course sponges, fine sponges, cirax, nitrax and carbon ones, that all need replacing at different periods during the year (according to the juwel website). If all of my good bacteria is within the sponges, what happens when i remove them and dispose of them? will i have to cycle the tank again? I read some people clean them and put them back, but surely this will also get rid of the good bacteria? i know i dont need to worry about this just yet but i am trying to get my brain sorted before the stress sneaks up on me lol.

    Thanks for your help

  2. Orion5Well Known MemberMember

    Hi! :)

    In short, you shouldn't replace and discard all of your filter media at once.; in fact with sponges and other biological media you don't even have to replace them at all (unless they're falling apart... lol!) If you do change it, you're right: you will have to start the cycle all over again. When people "clean" them, it means that they've generally just rinsed them gently in old aquarium water that you've taken out during a water change. That's pretty much it. I've kept sponges without replacing them for years.

    Think of your cycled filter as you would a garden full of plants. If you rip everything out of the garden (i.e. replace all the media) it suffers and takes time to grow back, and can cause all kinds of problems. But if you harvest it lightly (i.e. only gentle shake out your old sponges) everything remains intact and grows back nicely and quickly. :) Your bacterial culture in your filter is one of the most important things you must maintain for a healthy tank.

    However-- the carbon and other things besides sponges and any other biomedia (ceramic cylinders, etc.) in the filter will need to be replaced regularly if you want to keep them.

    When you say you're changing the white wool filter, is that a prefilter of some sort?

    Hope this helps! :)

    Last edited: Jan 10, 2013
  3. RPPhotoNew MemberMember

    well i have a bit of a diff setup ...

    2 Canister Filters....

    #1 is setup for 100% Biological Filter, its houses only Fluval Biomax Ceramic Rings ... this Can is opened maybe 1 or 2 times a year to light rinse when flow rate is effected...

    #2 is setup as chemical, uses (from bottom to top) 1 Tray - Filter Sponge / 1 Tray -Activated Charcoal / 2 Tray - Zeolite Crystals .. this canister filter has a built in UV and is opened apporx a month at a time to change media and rinse sponge...

    and i also have a Penguin 350 HOB is there strictly to help clone the tank and new filter media when canister is in its maintenance cycle

    edit: mind you i have a 55gallon tank

  4. SiggiWell Known MemberMember

    Totally agree.
    Just let me straighten this out: carbon should be changed/replaced regularly, 'other biomedia' should NOT.

    Wrong! Every cannister filter should have a mechanical prefiltering section, to avoid larger particles from reaching (and clogging) the biological filter media.
    BTW - Ceramic rings are a VERY good option, when it comes to choosing biological filtration medium.
  5. RPPhotoNew MemberMember

    yah i agree, each tray has a small white sponge pad that came with the canister that i did not include on the list ... my bad
  6. SiggiWell Known MemberMember

    That white pad is not a pre-filter... It's for clearing the water in the end of the filtration - should be inserted on top.
    In the bottom you should have a clear space, so that the water always can enter the cannister unobstructed. Then a few inches of corse mechanical filtration media. Then you can/should fill as much biological filtermedia (ceramic rings, lava balls...) as you can.
  7. SiggiWell Known MemberMember

    If you follow the setup I outlined in the previous post, you'll have a good filter.
    While cycling, you should not change out anything from the filter. Don't mess with the sponges. If you have any space left in the cannister, after taking out the white pads, add ceramic rings, as much as possible - that is the filtration medium which usually has the largest surface per liter medium, so it will also have the largest surface for colonization of beneficial bacteria.

    When the nitrites are consistently at zero, and only then, gradually take out all but one of the sponges and fill with more ceramic rings. I leave one sponge to divide mechanical from biological media. That makes it easier to take out the bottom (mechanical) media for washing out trash.
  8. JayseeFishlore LegendMember

    The white pad could easily be the mechanical media for the filter. My sunsuns all have white pads for mechanical. They come one in each tray, but I put them all in one tray. Polishing pads also tend to be white, so I can understand the confusion, if they are in fact the regular mechanical and not the polishing.

    I agree though, that every filter should have mechanical media before biomedia.
  9. SiggiWell Known MemberMember

    Yes, the colour of the pad is irrelevant - what matters is the coarseness; wheather it is a woven fine polishing pad or a sponge-like mesh to use in the middle of the filtration...

    But the most important to retain is NOT to 'clean' the media while cycling the filter - the bb need time and quiet to settle in.
    When that is done, I think it wise to add more biological filtermedium.
  10. JayseeFishlore LegendMember

    Some regular mechanical medias are woven, not sponge.

    The point trying to be made is that media should be arraigned from coarsest to finest - I agree.
  11. itfcgadgetboyNew MemberMember

    Thanks everyone for your advice. As usual, very useful and helpful

    Looks like I don't need to worry as much as I was expecting, plus I'm gonna save lots of money in the process.
  12. fishlover123456New MemberMember

    wash the pads out every mounth and replace them a week after that
  13. JayseeFishlore LegendMember

    Why bother washing the filter pad if you are just going to replace it a week later?

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