whisper power filter 20??

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hopesmom

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I got mine used and they gave me a box of bio bags, but I'm wondering if it is supposed to have another black sponge in there too? Some of what I've read in the forum mentions this, and my last bio bag is really dirty now, even though I swish it in tank water when I'm doing my water changes. So i've got to buy another box of bio bags...but what is this black sponge ya'll mention?
Is my filter missing something? I tried to figure this out by looking on the Tetra web site, but I still don't know..plus, they are in the business of making money and I only can afford to get the essentials right now...am I making sense? ???
thanks,
Denise
 

Isabella

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Hopesmom, I have a Tetra Whisper filter in my 10 gallon tank. What goes into the filter is a white bio-bag with activated carbon inside, and a black sponge next to the white bio-bag. If you want to change the bio-bag, you always KEEP the black sponge as it contains the beneficial bacteria. Only rinse the black sponge gently and put it next to the new bio-bag. In my opinion the sponge is very small and perhaps does not contain so many bacteria as to deal with the entire tank when you change the bio-bag. I believe the bio-bag itself has many bacteria. The way I change my bio-bag in my Tetra Whisper power filter is this: I put the new bio-bag in, I put the old sponge in (rinse it gently as mentioned above), AND I cut a significant piece of the old bio-bag and put it in between the black sponge and the new bio-bag. This way the new bio-bag gets seeded faster with the beneficial bacteria and you avoid a mini cycle. I remove the cut-out piece of the old bio-bag with the next filter media rinsing. So don't throw out the black sponge - just rinse it gently to remove debris, but keep it because it contains the bacteria you need to keep your tank cycled.

P.S. You don't have to change the bio-bag every month. Keep it until it starts to tear apart - that's what I do. As long as it is in one piece and does not let the debris through, it is good. And of course, as long as it doesn't have any debris rotting inside of it! The longer you keep it, the more beneficial bacteria it has and the more balanced your tank is in terms of the cycle. Activated carbon is good only for a week or so, so you can throw out the carbon after 2-3 weeks and put a new one in, if you want. In the beginning I used a.c. in my tanks and changed filter media every month. I don't do that anymore. I just change the bio-bag when the old one starts to fall apart, and I never throw out the black sponge. If you perform regular water changes and your nitrate is low, your water is fine. It is always the bacteria that matter, not a.c. - well, a.c. is good for removing coloration and perhaps certain chemicals from the water, especially if you don't perform the necessary water changes. But for the beneficial bacteria all you need is a sponge or even the bio-bag itself (without the carbon) - and that is all you need to keep the tank cycled.
 
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hopesmom

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THANK YOU SOOO MUCH!
I am so dense sometimes! I read a bunch of old forums about filters and bacteria, and old and new, and just got dazed and confused lol and you speak really clear and simple - just how I need it! Thank you!!!! I will do just as you do, because I don't want to start the cycle all over again...my poor fishies have been thru so much already...and some aren't feeling well as it is.. you know, this is such a great hobby - I love it - but I don't have a single family member or friend that keeps fish! Maybe they will see mine and start up? who knows? anyway, I really appreciate that you all share your experiences and advice with me.
Denise
 

Isabella

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You're welcome I love this hobby too, you don't even know how much In fact, I've only been keeping fish for 2 years. Most of the things that I have learned about the hobby are from THIS very website - and thanks to so many wonderful people here, especially Butterfly and Gunnie. The rest I have learned from research, readings, and my own (though very short as of now) experience. I hope I can share whatever I have learned with the rest of the Fish Lore members
 

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One more thing: when I said "keep the bio-bag in for as long as you can", I didn't mean "don't rinse it". You should be rinsing the sponge and the bio-bag regularly in tank water to get rid of accumulated debris and to prevent them from starting to rot inside the bio-bag and sponge.
 
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hopesmom

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ok! now about cleaning the actual filter tubes/box itself...do we do that? Take it apart etc.. how often?
thanks,

Denise
 

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I clean my filter (speaking just about the box, not the filter media) and tubes when I see the filter starting to get slime over it. Then I rinse the slime off, or if it won't come off, I scrape it with a brush. I do it with tap water and when the filter is clean I towel dry it inside out, so that no chlorine is left inside after cleaning. NEVER use any chemicals to clean the inside of the filter and the tubes! Now, some people would say: rinse the filter's inside only with tank water - and that's a very good way to clean it. The reason I do it with tap water is because while the beneficial bacteria are also on the walls of the inside of the filter, there are enough of the bacteria in the bio-bag and the sponge to keep the tank cycled. And I just don't like the slime, and I'd need A LOT of tank water to get the slime out of the filter. You just remove the bio-bag and sponge, and clean the inside of the filter (either with tank or tap water - if with tap water, make sure you completely dry it so that no chlorine is left). Then you put the bio-bag and sponge back in the filter. As for the filter tubes, I clean them with either tank or tap water using a flexible brush that goes inside the tubes.

Every once in a while you need to clean the filter's propeller - I do it about every 3 months. If you have the box in which your filter came, it should explain where the propeller is and how to open it and clean it.
 
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hopesmom

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hi again! don't you wish I'd "get this" filter stuff??? lol
me too. I am really trying! okay, here's what I did: I did a 50% water change yesterday. Several of my fish now have shiny white or silver spots so I'm gonna go with the assumption they have ich...I have read and read about all the diseases and looked at all the photos on different sites and none of them exactly look like my fish, but it is closer than the other disease descriptions/pics...
So, I took out the old Bio bag and cut it in half, rinsed it off, and put it and the thin black sponge next to the new Bio bag in the filter. I did not add the little package of carbon to the Bio bag. The water flow is not real strong, but there is a large air stone going. I added Ick Guard at half strength (because I have tetras). I have raised the water temperature. The water didn't stay blue/green. Should I take that black sponge out? Does it have anything to do with carbon, or is it just a sponge that happens to be black in color?
Thank you!
Denise
 

Isabella

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If you're medicating your tank, it's good that you didn't put the carbon in because new carbon can remove the medication from the water before it ever has the chance to cure your fish. You should not take the black sponge out because it contains the bacteria necessary to keep your tank cycled. Because the black sponge is not very large, I recommend taking a significant piece of old bio-bag and putting it together with the new bio-bag - that is, between the new bio-bag and the black sponge (you don't change the black sponge, just the white bio-bag). After about 2 weeks it should be safe to remove the old piece of the old bio-bag. If your medication destroys beneficial bacteria then you really have no option here, because: (1) if you leave the black sponge in, the medication will kill the bacteria in it, and (2) if you take it out of the filter, the bacteria will die as well. I presume your medication does not kill the beneficial bacteria in the filter. So you SHOULD keep the black sponge in, together with the piece of the old bio-bag to help seed the new bio-bag with the nitrifying bacteria.

Do you have a test kit? If yes, what are your ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels? I am asking because I wonder how your fish got sick. If your parameters are fine and your fish got sick after a 50% water change, maybe they experienced a pH or a temperature shock? What is the pH of your tank water and your tap water (or whichever the water that you use for water changes)?
 
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hopesmom

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I have a new white bio bag (no carbon in it) next to a large piece of the old bio bag next to the black sponge all squished into my filter. Prior to changing out my media my tests were ammonia - 0, nitrite-0, nitrate 10.....NOW my ammonia is .50, nitrite -0, nitrate- between 5-10ppm. My ph is 7.8 thanks for your help!
Denise
 

Isabella

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Your fish are sick because your ammonia is 0.5, which is not good. Looks like your tank went into a mini-cycle after you changed the filter media. That CAN happen. However, it hasn't happened for me so far, and I have the same type of filter. I just take the old bio-bag out, put the new one in, put the old black sponge in, and put a large piece of the old bio-bag between the new bio-bag and the black sponge. Somehow the tank stays safely cycled. I wonder why it went into a mini-cycle for you. What is your fish load (and what kinds of fish) and what is the size of your tank? Is it the 20 gallon that is in your signature? If so, what are the sizes of the fish you have listed? If the pleco is a real pleco, it will grow too big for a 20 gallon tank (if it's not too big already - what is its size?). If you have too many large fish, perhaps removing the old bio-bag took out too many bacteria than what is necessary to deal with large amount of fish wastes. Anyway, what you want to be doing now is continue monitoring your water everyday until ammonia = 0 (nitrite should be 0 as well). Perform large daily water changes until ammonia disappears. As long as you have ammonia or nitrite in your water, the fish won't get well.
 
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hopesmom

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ok will do large daily water changes and test daily...and keep on putting ich med daily till spots are gone. I do have too many fish.
That's why I bought a used 90 gallon - but I didn't realize when I bought it that the black plastic trim is so important (it is missing the piece that goes along one of the short sides of the rectangle). I'm trying to get the 90 gallon fixed up and cycled to move the pleco (he is about 4 or 5 inches long) and some of the others into before they die or get stunted.
thanks for your patience, Isabella...you are an angel!
Denise
 

Isabella

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You're welcome Denise. A 90 gallon tank will be great for your pleco (as well as for the rest of your fish). Yes, the trim is very important, especially in large tanks. Make sure you have the trim fixed before you fill the tank - you don't want any disaster!

P.S. If I were you, I'd read the label of the medication you're adding to your tank to see whether it does not interfere with the biological filtration.
 
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today I did a water change of maybe 40-45% and tested again. all the same...ammonia still 0.5...will do again tommorrow...nobody died yet, so I guess that's good...still worried...Denise
 
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Am I supposed to wait any certain amount of time after doing a water change to test the water? I didn't know, so I waited about 2 hours after the water change to do the tests. Thank you,
Denise
 

Isabella

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If your ammonia is still present, do at least 50% daily water changes to be continuously removing it. I don't know how much different your tap pH is from your tank pH. If it is the same, do even larger water changes. You don't want any ammonia whatsoever in your water.

When I do a large water change in my tank and I want to test my water afterwards, I wait a few hours. BUT ... I don't know whether one is supposed to wait at all, or to wait a few hours, or perhaps a day. Sorry, maybe someone else will know ???
 

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I usually wait several hours to the next day. The water needs to mix to get an accurate reading.
Carol
 
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okay will wait several hours to test...I will also see if my tank and tap ph are the same. thanks guys, Denise
 
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hopesmom

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my tank and tap ph are the same. Did my testing this morning, and ammonia is down to .25 everthing else looks good. Have run out of declorinator stuff, so have to go to lps before I can do another water change. I did a huge water change yesterday, and the water has never looked so clear and pretty...unfortunately the ammonia is still present. BUMMER. Fish are all alive still. Tetras still have a few silver flecks on them. The warm water hasn't killed my frog yet, either, so I guess everything is ok. Thought I was getting the hang of syphoning until yesterday when I got tank water in my mouth, and then a few minutes later the end that I thought was in the bucket was quietly watering the livingroom carpet. lol
 

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HAHAHAHAHAHA Welcome to the world of fish keeping. I have done both of those Just wait until somebody distracts you and you let the bucket run over
CArol
 
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