need to replace filter in established tank--HELP
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Old 03-03-2013, 03:25 PM   #1
ndbyers23
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need to replace filter in established tank--HELP


Hi,

I have a 55 gallon tank that has areas that are densely planted and other areas with the substrate visible.

I was cleaning my filter (HOB Marineland Penguin 350) and when I put it back together it wouldn't run. I am in the process of getting a new canister filter but it's hasn't happened yet.

I have checked all the parts and it looks like I need a new impeller.(I have already spoken with a customer service rep at the company and tried suggestions, but no go)

But it will take a week or more to get it delivered.

I am thinking of purchasing a new filter. (good to have a back up in any case)

The question I have is: should I put some of the media from the old filter into the new filter so I don't lose the colony of good bacteria??

What happens to all the good bacteria? I am really confused on how this process works.

I certainly don't want to subject my delicate fish to the cycling process!!


What should I do? Any suggestions are vastly appreciated.
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Old 03-03-2013, 04:08 PM   #2
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Did you start the filter dry? Maybe sand is jammed in the motor housing? When its on pul the housing up and down til it starts, it should start. Mine sometimes cease to work from time to time when i shut them off, but sliding the motor housing up and down fixes it everytime. You can examine the impeller too, is theres lots of grooves worn into it from like sand?

Yeah i'd toss all the old media in the new filter, but there still needs some seeding time for the filter housing itself. I use sponge, pillow stuffing ceramic rings, and matrix in my HOB's. Great seeders for new filters Population of bacteria will be down of course during the transition, but using the old media should prevent a actual cycle. You may see a rise in ammonia, nitrite, or nitrates. Just monitor it.
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Old 03-03-2013, 04:41 PM   #3
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Thanks for your reply CrypticLifeStyle

No the filter was not started dry. I did try the fiddling with the impeller housing like you suggested and no go.

I need a new impeller. The impeller will not turn completely in either direction. It will only go about halfway. It has serious grooves in it. Obviously I did not clean it often enough. The tank has only been running for 9 months.

And of course I can't get an impeller locally so I have to order it online. The tank has been without a filter for 3 days already but the filter media is still in aquarium water. I am starting to freak out about my fish.

So I will stuff the new filter with as much old media as possible and by the time I get the canister filter, I will then have a back up filter. (Silver lining ) Actually 2 back ups!

By the way--how do you keep a back up filter ready to use? Do you need to keep it running in a spare tank?

And one more question--as far as monitoring should I do extra water changes to keep any ammonia/nitrite/nitrate spikes from getting out of hand?

Thanks again!!

Nanci
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Old 03-03-2013, 05:28 PM   #4
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Just put some used media in your backup if and when you need it.

If you have a good amount of plants that will help your current filter-less situation. They will take up some of the waste that your filter usually does. Maybe do more water changes than usual and you should be good. But as a precaution do regular water tests to make sure something doesn't go way out of wack.
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Old 03-03-2013, 08:57 PM   #5
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You could pack a media bag with your substrate and media from the old filter and put it in the new filter. Substrate has tons of bacteria.
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Old 03-03-2013, 11:25 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ndbyers23 View Post
Thanks for your reply CrypticLifeStyle

No the filter was not started dry. I did try the fiddling with the impeller housing like you suggested and no go.

I need a new impeller. The impeller will not turn completely in either direction. It will only go about halfway. It has serious grooves in it. Obviously I did not clean it often enough. The tank has only been running for 9 months.

And of course I can't get an impeller locally so I have to order it online. The tank has been without a filter for 3 days already but the filter media is still in aquarium water. I am starting to freak out about my fish.

So I will stuff the new filter with as much old media as possible and by the time I get the canister filter, I will then have a back up filter. (Silver lining ) Actually 2 back ups!

By the way--how do you keep a back up filter ready to use? Do you need to keep it running in a spare tank?

And one more question--as far as monitoring should I do extra water changes to keep any ammonia/nitrite/nitrate spikes from getting out of hand?

Thanks again!!

Nanci
Well I always over kill on filtering so I run extra filters on tanks that have the space. Its saved me a ton of times. As far as water changes go I'd just stick with a normal weekly routine unless you show high levels of ammonia nitrites or nitrates. If they happen if say come back here and post on this thread to get custom advice since each situation is different. I think til you get a filter going you should do a 20% water change per day til you have one running.
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Old 03-06-2013, 01:11 PM   #7
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I finally got a new filter (Fluval Aquaclear 110 made for 60-110 gallon tanks) and it is very strong. It pumps 500gph which with a 55 gallon I should only need 220gph (4x--based on several website recommendations. But I prefer to overfilter as I have a distressing desire to overstock.

My problem is it that the current is rather overwhelming to the fish (and some of my plants). Although now that it has been a few days, my fish seem to be playing in the current even though they struggle at times.

Is there any way to reduce the current without jeopardizing the oxygen levels for the fish? I was thinking of a sponge inside the uptake valve.

Or since the fish seem to be enjoying themselves (or why would they swim around in that part of the tank so often) should I just let it be?

Thanks again for helping a newbie figure out how to keep my fish happy when equipment disasters strike.


Cheers,

Nanci
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Old 03-06-2013, 01:22 PM   #8
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I think you can control the flow on them. I havnt used one in ages, but there should be a flow control somewhere on it. 4x 6x 10x 12x is almost a imaginary #, but with fish id say your on the good side of gph flow. I always go for around 8-12x depending on tank size, and fish size and thats over kill a lot fo the time.

A sponge in the intank might stress the motor, and wear it out faster.
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Old 03-06-2013, 01:30 PM   #9
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Yea you should have a flow control knob on the top of the aquaclear. It should be over to the left side where there is a cutout for it in the top of the cover (provided the 110 looks like the 50) moving that over toward the right should cut down on your flow.

Also if you have Prime on hand you can use it to detoxify the ammonia and nitrites if you get a small spike which you probably will.
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Old 03-06-2013, 02:18 PM   #10
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An AC 110 on a 55 gallon, at full output, is not overfiltering and should not provide too much flow for that size tank. Give the 110 some time and the flow rate will slow down a bit as the filter settles in.
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Old 03-08-2013, 02:08 AM   #11
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Thanks for the comments. I have tried adjusting the flow but I really can't see a difference when I move the switch from left to right. (same thing with my aquaclear 40? )

but the fish seem to do fine--they actually spend a lot of time on that side of the tank--I would assume if it bothered them they would go elsewhere.

I do wish the tank had more depth from front to back, though-- then the current would have more room to spread out.

Thanks again!
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Old 03-08-2013, 02:14 AM   #12
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Hmm if it's just like the smaller Aquaclears have you tried making sure the u shaped part of the intake tube that leads into the filter is seated completely down? ie the bottom part of the tube is flush against the intake on the left hand side where the filter intake is?

If its not completely down then moving the flow adjust won't have the effect it should. I had a Aquaclear 50 and it was very noticeable when the flow was at full rate and then at a reduced rate.
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Old 03-08-2013, 01:57 PM   #13
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Worry not about the flow rate, as long as the entire tank isn't turbulent.

I have some fish that love high currents, like the unchanneled outputfrom my 160 gph power head, and others that avoid the current altogether. I am running two HOB filters, plus a canister filter, plus the powerhead with a sprinkler riser up to a 1.5" 90* elbow stuffed with floss. As you can imagine, my tank has LOTS of water flow. No problems from any of the fishes.
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Old 03-08-2013, 06:45 PM   #14
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@Kudaria I bet that your suggestion about seating the intake tube directional against the bottom is the problem. I will have to mess with it.

And gSTiTcH it sounds like your tank is a fun ride for your fish. I am relieved to know that there are many ways to filter/aerate tanks. I will have to do more research about all the different options you mentioned.

Cheers!
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Old 03-09-2013, 01:11 AM   #15
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In answer to the original question, here are some pointers about the nitrifying bacteria:

They need high oxygen. When a filter quits, remove the media, rinse it gently, and let it float, or put it in a mesh bag and keep it in the aquarium wherever there is water movement (air bubbler, power head...)

They need ammonia, but can go several days without. However, your 'overstocked tank' will need the ammonia removal. If there is any way at all to keep the bacteria in contact with the aquarium water, do it.

They do not need to be under water, but do thrive in high humidity, and of course the moving water is bringing them the oxygen and ammonia they need. If you need to store the media away from the tank, I would put it in a bucket so there is a larger volume of air, and just a little water to keep the humidity up. Another way to store it is to dump the media into a bucket of water, add a bubbler or small pump, and add a few drops of ammonia to feed the bacteria. They can be kept alive indefinitely this way. (See the fishless cycle that I have posted quite often for more details)

These bacteria grow on surfaces in a complex layer called a bio film. There are many species of microorganisms in the bio film. It takes several weeks to get a good start, and a couple of months for this complex web of organisms to get fully established. You want to protect this in all possible ways.

Specifically the nitrifying bacteria: They reproduce slowly, and colonize new media slowly. So if you have a dead filter, and the media is not compatible with the new filter you will need to keep using the old media until the new media has a good population of nitrifying bacteria. One of the more conservative ways of doing this is to put the cycled media into several mesh bags in the tank and remove one bag per week for a month or so. This stretches out the loss of the bacteria so there is not too great a loss at any one time. Meanwhile the new filter is growing a good sized population of all the beneficial organisms.

The filter holds roughly 50% of the bacteria that is in the system. The rest of the bacteria live all over the rest of the system: on the substrate, on the plants, on the driftwood, on the ceramic merpeople... depending on which surfaces meet their needs best. In the substrate, for example, there is poor water movement deep in the substrate, not a lot of ammonia or oxygen. So the bacteria live mostly on the upper layer of substrate, but on the bottom of each granule, since they do not like the light.

If you need an emergency source of these bacteria, there are really only 2 sources:
A healthy, cycled aquarium.
Bottled bacteria.

A healthy, cycled aquarium can donate up to 25% of its filter media, and not show an ammonia spike. I have taken 25% of the media from several tanks and combined it in one filter and the new tank is pretty close to fully cycled immediately. Taking more than 25% of the filter media is too much, without also removing some fish.
Bottled bacteria: Make sure the ingredients include Nitrospira species of bacteria. This is actually the bacteria that remove the nitrite, turning it into nitrate. A company that bottles that species of bacteria will also have the proper species of ammonia removing bacteria, too. Do not waste money on any product that does not specify Nitrospira. These are delicate bacteria, and do not enter a dormant or hibernating stage. The bottle must not be overheated or frozen, and must not sit on the store shelf too long. If you buy it online, make sure it is shipped with a hot or cold pack, depending on the season.
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