Using Old Filter Media For New Tank

trinity28

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Hello! I am pretty new to the hobby and have a question about using filter media from an established tank to help cycle a new one. I currently have an established 10 Gallon with guppies and a honey GouramI in it. Sometimes I still find tank cycling confusing, so I was researching and saw someone place an extra sponge filter in one of their established tanks so that if and when they got a new tank, they could remove that extra sponge filter and put it in the new one to jump-start the cycling. They said they always have at least one tank with an extra filter in it so that they can use it whenever they get a new tank. This was a YouTube video, unfortunately I forget whose it was.

I just purchased a new 20 Gallon tank and got a new sponge filter to go with it. If I place this new sponge filter in my established 10 Gallon tank, how long might it take for it to grow the bacteria necessary for me to use it as “established filter media” and put it in my new tank? Should I consider this at all, or would it not really work any faster than the traditional method of cycling the tank from scratch? Thanks!
 

mattgirl

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It would take almost as long to seed the new sponge filter as it would to cycle the new tank without using seeded media. I would want to run the new sponge filter for at least a month before I would depend on it having enough bacteria on it to jump start a new tanks cycle.

It would be easier to seed the sponge in the cycled tank than starting the cycle in the new tank though. All you would have to do in install it in the cycled tank and let the bacteria grow. Whereas if you choose to cycle the new tank from scratch there will be the job of adding ammonia, testing and water changes as necessary.
 

mattgirl

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I keep 2 dual sponge filters running in my 55 gallon fully stocked (some would say over stocked) tank all the time. When I need to set up another tank I just pull one of those well seeded sponges out and can instantly cycle another tank.

The amount of bacteria on the sponges will depend on the bio-load in the tank the sponges are in. If the bio-load in the tank the sponge comes from is fairly low you may not get an instant cycle but there should be enough bacteria to give the new tank a head start on the cycling process and can cut the cycling time down to a much shorter length of time.
 

GlennO

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I agree with the above, I'd give it a month minimum. It's the easiest method, but there is an advantage to starting a fishless cycle which is that you have control over the amount of ammonia and therefore the quantity of BB that you establish. If you place a sponge filter in a tank with an existing filter it will only attract a small amount of BB so when you transfer it to the new tank you'll need to start with a light stock load.
 
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trinity28

trinity28

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GlennO said:
I agree with the above, I'd give it a month minimum. It's the easiest method, but there is an advantage to starting a fishless cycle which is that you have control over the amount of ammonia and therefore the quantity of BB that you establish. If you place a sponge filter in a tank with an existing filter it will only attract a small amount of BB so when you transfer it to the new tank you'll need to start with a light stock load.
Okay, that makes sense :)
 

Blondeath

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GlennO said:
I agree with the above, I'd give it a month minimum. It's the easiest method, but there is an advantage to starting a fishless cycle which is that you have control over the amount of ammonia and therefore the quantity of BB that you establish. If you place a sponge filter in a tank with an existing filter it will only attract a small amount of BB so when you transfer it to the new tank you'll need to start with a light stock load.
Couldn’t you add the sponge filter with the BB to the tank and add ammonia to the tank to get more BB? That way it’d be sort of a jump start since there’s some bacteria to start processing things?
 

Truckjohn

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I would talk with the owner of a local fish store. They can probably get you a piece of used fish tank filter to stick in your unit.
 

GlennO

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Blondeath said:
Couldn’t you add the sponge filter with the BB to the tank and add ammonia to the tank to get more BB? That way it’d be sort of a jump start since there’s some bacteria to start processing things?
You could but then you'd have to wait another few weeks for the new/boosted cycle to complete.
 

mattgirl

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The one advantage of seeding the sponge in the cycled tank is it should save a month of adding ammonia, testing and water changes as needed. The seeded sponge should shorten the cycling process in the new tank to maybe a couple of weeks.

That will mean it will only be a couple of weeks of adding ammonia to increase the amount of bacteria instead of the normal 4 to 6 weeks it takes to cycle a tank from scratch.
 

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