Planted Tank Guru
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Contra Costa CA
Clean when the flow slows just a bit.
My set up is, following the path of the water:
Coarse sponge over the intake (in the tank)
Inside the filter:
Blue and white bonded pad
Chemical media (varies: Soft water tanks have peat moss, hard water tanks have coral sand)
Fine floss (quilt batting)
All media gets rinsed in old tank water and reused.
The quilt batting can get rinsed 3-4 times before it starts to mat together, the blue and white media lasts about twice as long.
Sponges seem to last forever (they don't- I threw one away last year!)
Bio media lasts forever, but I have heard of bleaching a small amount of it to clean out all the pores that cannot come clean with rinsing. The theory is that by rotating, doing no more than 25% of the bio media at any one time there is plenty of bacteria to grow into the cleaned media, and the better water flow improves the conditions so the bacteria grow better. I do not do this. Just slosh the media around in old tank water like all the other media.