So far so good but afraid to change the filter

  • Thread starter

H20girl

Valued Member
Messages
51
Reaction score
2
Points
101
Experience
Just started
My tank has been running for almost 2 months. It cycled after about a month. I started with 5 platies and added TSS at week 2 or 3.

Last week I re-homed 2 of the males and most of the babies that appeared the first week. I added 3 small false julii cories. So now the tank is stocked with 3 female platies, 3 or 4 tiny babies, and 3 cories.

I've been having trouble keeping nitrates under 20. The best I've been able to do is under 30, but sometimes it tests somewhere between 40-80. Some of this is likely due to our tap water having about 10ppm. I also have large gravel which seems to trap some waste... I've been doing light gravel vacs with occasional deeper vacs in different areas of the tank. I'd love to really vaccuum the whole thing, but am afraid of causing the cycle to crash.

I've been changing 30% of the water at least 1x week, sometimes 2-3x per week (when nitrates were 40-80).

The filter cartridge for my Aqueon 20 filter is a gross brown color. Not sure if the brown is waste, algae, or beneficial bacteria - probably it's all 3. Water flow still seems good. I tried rinsing the filter in tank water but it still looks gross.

The Aqueon directions say to replace the filter, leaving the "bioholster" intact. Still, it makes me nervous to count on that plastic thing to maintain the bacteria.

I bought a filter sponge intended for another filter and plan to put in the side compartment of my filter as an "extra" place for bacteria.

Do you think that after the sponge has been in there for a few days it will be "safe" to change out the filter? Another option would be to cut open the filter and remove or replace the carbon. It just looks gross though (the filter bag made out of floss-type material).

Thanks in advance for any advice, and for the stellar help that's been provided thus far. I am SO hapy that my tank is 2 months old and all the fish have thrived and look incredibly healthy (much better than when I got them).
 

LyndaB

Fishlore Legend
Messages
12,429
Reaction score
172
Points
383
Experience
More than 10 years
I can't exactly answer your question. We've always avoided this issue by having two filter cartridges running simultaneously. I'll let someone with a single filter respond to that part.

As to the gravel vac, you really do need to get that waste out of there. It will not disrupt your tank, insofar as being cycled. Although there is some bb in the gravel, you won't remove enough of it to cause a problem.

Since you know you have a nitrate issue, you may want to increase your water changes to 50% to keep that in check.
 

Shawnie

Fishlore Legend
Messages
22,717
Reaction score
187
Points
308
Experience
More than 10 years
its safe to do a deep gravel vac with the nitrates over 40.....keep your sponges in there for a good 2-3 weeks, then you can get rid of the old cartridge....in the meantime, you can rinse it in tank water removed on water change day...just so all the extra waste is removed and its still able to filter.....always when we mess with the filters, keeping a close eye on things is best ....
 

jerilovesfrogs

Fishlore VIP
Messages
6,424
Reaction score
65
Points
293
Experience
5 to 10 years
so you've had the original cartridge in there for 2 months? i'd say it's time for the carbon to come out. it should be replaced after 3-4 weeks. though i've cut mine out, or just not replaced it, and added more sponges/biomax. i'd recommend throwing some bio max in there as well.

i have that aqueon 20 filter, i use it for my qt. i know what plastic thing you're talking about. there's def room in there for some biomax pellets.
 
  • Moderator

jdhef

Moderator
Messages
14,279
Reaction score
3,408
Points
583
Experience
More than 10 years
My tap water contains 10ppm nitrate also, and I was having a hard time keeping my nitrates down . So I switched to Amquel+ as my water conditioner since it removes nitrates.

It's been all smooth sailing every since. But note that Amquel+ was giving me a false positive for ammonia with my API test kit (It is a known incompality documented on Kardon's website). I think if there is enough time (however much that is...) between dosing and testing it will read properly. But I went to Kardon's website and bought their powder based test kit.

I bought a 25 gallon tank that came with an Aqueon 20 filter. The media turned brown just like yours. I wasn't real happy with it because it doesn't really contain much room for additional filter media. So I went out and bought an AquaClear 50. I really like the AquaClear because like my cannister filter it contains seperate sponge, carbon and ceramic rings. So I can easily clean the sponge and replace the carbon without fear of crashing the cycle, since most of the bacteria lives in the ceramic rings.

I didn't throw away the aqueon, I have them both running. I took the carbon out of the Aqueon and keep the floss in as extra media just in case I need some seeded media.
 

ccb04

Well Known Member
Messages
902
Reaction score
18
Points
113
Experience
5 years
The high nitrates could be your filter cartridge itself. It of course traps and holds debris ... some of which will not rinse off. If you've had it in the tank for 2 months, that's likely atleast part of the problem ... as waste is decomposing on the cartridge. Additionally, the cartridge contains carbon which needs to be changed every 2-4 weeks.

I own a couple of Aqueon filters and like them quite a bit. I like the aeration grid ... internal self-priming pump, etc.

What I did in my Aqueon filters is use Marineland blue-bonded filter pad in place of the cartridge. You can rinse and re-use them multiple times and they don't clog as easily as some cartridges. The slots that the Aqueon cartridge slides into holds the blue-bonded pad in place nicely. Simply use the Aqueon cartridge or the bio-holster as an outline to cut the blue-bonded pad to size.

Beneficial bacteria will colonize the plastic grids in the Aqueon. While more porous bio-media is better ... beneficial bacteria will colonize on decor, in substrate, etc. That said, I always feel the more bio-media the better. You can use additional sponges as you intend to (be careful not to over stuff the filter or it will activate the bypass) ... or you can put an AquaClear biomax insert in front of the cartridge (or blue-bonded pad). I've also used Seachem Matrix bio-media in a bag instead of the biomax.
 

catsma_97504

Fishlore VIP
Messages
9,982
Reaction score
185
Points
308
Good information above. As you have high nitrates in your water source, you may need to think about using RO water.

In the meantime, I would suggest that you do a 25% water change daily until your nitrates consistently stay under 20 PPM; and clean up to 1/2 the gravel bed. Also, as your filter cartridge does include carbon, and you've stated that it has been in use for 2 months, it needs immediate attention. If you are not comfortable with replacing the cartridge, at the very least you should remove the carbon within.

Instead of filtering, the exhausted carbon is adding to the current problem. Carbon should be replaced at least once a month; otherwise, it actually releases toxins that were previously trapped. For example, carbon is notorious for releasing phosphates when left in the tank too long. This is in addition to the trapped debris that ccb mentioned.
 
  • Thread starter

H20girl

Valued Member
Messages
51
Reaction score
2
Points
101
Experience
Just started
Thank you all for the helpful advice, I really appreciate it.

ccb04 - that's kind of what I was thinking about the filter pad. I'm glad you've found a solution for the Aqueon...

Last night I changed some water, added a sponge,and gave the filter pad an aggressive shaking in old tank water.

Tonight I will cut the carbon out and do another water change.

I'll keep doing water changes, gravel vacs (on diff parts of the tank) as needed...

Next week I'll change out my filter cartridge for the Marineland blue-bonded filter pad and maybe try to fit some other stuff in there.

Hopefully that will work!

Thanks, again.
 
Toggle Sidebar

New Threads

Similar Threads

Aquarium Calculator

Aquarium Photo Contests

Follow FishLore!

FishLore on Social Media





Top Bottom