Canister filter get really dirty if you don't clean them in a while. - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-17-2016, 11:20 AM Thread Starter
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Canister filter get really dirty if you don't clean them in a while.

Ok, I was under the impression that canister filters could go a while without cleaning.

When If first got my canister filter, I open it a few weeks in and it was relatively clean. I went on a few week vacation came back and it was clean.

I felt that since those HOB filters take a while to get dirty and a canister filter had like 50 times the filter media, then it would last 50 times as long.

So I went like 5 months without cleaning my filter on an overstocked tank and today, holly molly, that thing was as black as black could be. I could not even tell what I was looking at it was so dirty!!! It was so black that I think it was sucking in surrounding light like a black hole in outer space.

I am never going to wait that long again. In fact, I am going to add a second filter to the tank. I just wanted to warn everyone to clean their canister filter often.

What is the normal amount of time you are suppose to wait until changing a canister filter?

Thanks.

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post #2 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-17-2016, 12:20 PM
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Depends on the filter and the tank.
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post #3 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-17-2016, 12:36 PM
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Yeah, there are too many variables to predict when you need to clean the canister. 5 months is a long time however. I clean my rena xpl on my big tank every 10 weeks but my Eheim 2013 on my 20 gallon gets cleaned maybe every 5 months. That tank has low flow and low stocking level.
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post #4 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-17-2016, 01:32 PM
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Once a month for me using eheim pro 4 on an overstocked 75g tank.


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post #5 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-17-2016, 01:34 PM
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The really odd thing is that some think the filter is removing detritus so the tank is clean. In fact, all it's doing is sweeping the crud under the rug so to speak...out of sight out of mind. In fact, all that waste continues to break down into nitrogenous compounds that ultimately creates nitrates. Now in a heavily planted tank, this can be a good thing as in theory, the filter creates organic fertilizer for the plants. Still, in a well stocked tank, it needs to be monitored so as not to cause an unwanted imbalance.
Just my nickel, but I'd say regardless of the filter size, tank size and bio-load, filters should be checked/cleaned at least every month and more often if/when it's found to be very dirty after the month.
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post #6 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-17-2016, 02:03 PM
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Not cleaning your canister filter for long periods of time, also leads to higher phosphates Levels, because of all the uneaten fish food, Gets trapped in your canister. Last thing you want in a high lighted plant tank is elevated phosphates levels.
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post #7 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-17-2016, 02:03 PM
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Filters get exponentially dirty, and this applies to any kind of filter (car, house, fish tank). They are designed to catch undesirable things, and as more collected, stuff that would normally have gone through will now get caught.

So really, filters get more effective as they do their job, and actually you don't want to clean too frequently. But you also don't want to wait to long either

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post #8 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-17-2016, 02:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob in (ca) View Post
Not cleaning your canister filter for long periods of time, also leads to higher phosphates Levels, because of all the uneaten fish food, Gets trapped in your canister. Last thing you want in a high lighted plant tank is elevated phosphates levels.
Noooo, you want somewhat elevated phosphate levels in a planted tank.
I clean mine once a month.

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post #9 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-17-2016, 02:24 PM
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Maybe a bit off topic, maybe. How do you know when to change oil in your car?

Some years back, US Army tried to outsource R&D to answer that question. If you have the answer, they have some $$$ for you. Just think how much money just-in-time oil change can save, not to mention how green it would be.

I believe the same applies to aquarium filters - a simple question with many faucets and variables.
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post #10 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-17-2016, 02:47 PM
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Interesting questino

Quote:
Originally Posted by SpaceLord View Post
Ok, I was under the impression that canister filters could go a while without cleaning.

When If first got my canister filter, I open it a few weeks in and it was relatively clean. I went on a few week vacation came back and it was clean.

I felt that since those HOB filters take a while to get dirty and a canister filter had like 50 times the filter media, then it would last 50 times as long.

So I went like 5 months without cleaning my filter on an overstocked tank and today, holly molly, that thing was as black as black could be. I could not even tell what I was looking at it was so dirty!!! It was so black that I think it was sucking in surrounding light like a black hole in outer space.

I am never going to wait that long again. In fact, I am going to add a second filter to the tank. I just wanted to warn everyone to clean their canister filter often.

What is the normal amount of time you are suppose to wait until changing a canister filter?

Thanks.
You've asked an interesting question and one that provokes very strong views, on both sides of the debate.

Some folks think that the waste accumulating in a canister is bad for water quality; others disagree. Personally, I don't think the waste causes problems, because I think one removes any excess nitrates and phosphates by frequent water changes. After all, the nitrates and phosphates are soluble. But I've never seen any scientific studies that examine this directly. I do think Dr. Tanner's article on filtration, and mattenfilters, suggest that cleaning a filter is not necessary as long as the flow is fine.

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post #11 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-17-2016, 04:08 PM
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Very axiomatic title, just like beer gets warm if you leave it in the sun a while.
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpaceLord View Post
What is the normal amount of time you are suppose to wait until changing a canister filter?
To answer your question strictly, most people wait until the pump fails or the housing breaks down. Some find out that they need to upgrade and then they change their filter. If you have an Eheim this can be several years or decades. However, you should clean it before it stops dead. Just open it and wash the media in a bucket filled with aquarium water. Cleaning canister filters has been found to help with the flow as well as reducing organics in the aquarium.

I see most people here refer to how often one should clean the filter media and have covered the subject pretty well. After you disturbed the substrate , clean your filter. When you see BBA bloom out of nowhere, clean your filter.


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Some folks think that the waste accumulating in a canister is bad for water quality; others disagree. Personally, I don't think the waste causes problems, because I think one removes any excess nitrates and phosphates by frequent water changes. After all, the nitrates and phosphates are soluble.
Most of the aquarists, myself included, start with fish and then add plants. Hence the first things we learn about apply to fish aquariums. It can be quite hard to change some of these believes. When you have fish-only tanks you have nightmares about high NO3, high PO4 etc.

High NO3 and high PO4 alone do not cause algae. In aquariums with high light, good CO2 and fast growing plants you will run out of PO4 and NO3, if you rely only on fish food. Once you run out you will have problems with the plants and algae.

Why did fish keepers associate high NO3 with algae ? Why can we add NO3 to the aquarium and not get algae ? Is there an attempt to fool us ?

Think about it, they do not add inorganic NO3, so all the NO3 comes from the breaking down of NO2, which comes from NH4 - which comes from many other molecules- which come from the gunk in your filter or substrate. It is these upstream molecules that induce algae germination. NH4 and even before that are the stuff you want to remove/reduce from your aquarium. This issue becomes a little less critical when you have lots of healthy fast growing plants which are able to take up some of the NH4. Another way can reduce this substance by cleaning the filter, cleaning damaged plants, the substrate etc.

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post #12 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-17-2016, 04:34 PM
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Originally Posted by dukydaf View Post
....

..Think about it, they do not add inorganic NO3, so all the NO3 comes from the breaking down of NO2, which comes from NH4 - which comes from many other molecules- which come from the gunk in your filter or substrate. It is these upstream molecules that induce algae germination. NH4 and even before that are the stuff you want to remove/reduce from your aquarium. This issue becomes a little less critical when you have lots of healthy fast growing plants which are able to take up some of the NH4. Another way can reduce this substance by cleaning the filter, cleaning damaged plants, the substrate etc.
Exactly. That's why it's always better to add NO3, then rely on NO3 from organic breakdown in your tank. When you do this with water changes and other organic removal processes your will have far less algae problems regardless of plant mass, fish load.
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post #13 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-17-2016, 06:04 PM
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I add NO3 and PO4 to my tank. I like to live dangerously

I've gone as long as 6 months and as short as a week between cleanings. Running at maintenance for the 6 months, substrate change & huge amount of plant melt during the 1 week. I generally leave it alone unless flow starts slowing down.
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post #14 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-17-2016, 06:49 PM
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When the waving of the plants slows down a bit I'm in the canister.
Sometimes this is 2 weeks if I cleanup and trim.
Sometimes 3 months if I let it go wild.

We all need our own indicator from within our tank IMO.
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Growing is not that difficult.
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post #15 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-17-2016, 06:58 PM
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I see them as crap teabags, no point doing a water change if you are just going to run it through a dirty filter again.
I think most people make the mistake of trying to "clean" a filter. I just run some water from the tank into a bucket, then squeeze out filter material, it should only take some seconds to get most of the visible stuff off. Then do the rest of the water change.

How long your filter can go has lots to do with bioload too. My favourite tank in terms of heavy load, as an Millenium hob on, I added a large sponge to the intake. The filter material inside almost doesn't even change colour anymore. There is just way too much better places to grow. Especially if I take into account it also has a plastic grid through which it blows bubbles.

There is just never a good enough reason not to do a quick cleaning of the filter if you are working on the tank anyway. My fish are a big investment, so I try to stay ahead of their needs rather than waiting on tests and visible cues.
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