Is it really necessary ... - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-20-2017, 03:36 AM Thread Starter
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Is it really necessary ...

To keep biobeads confined inside of the mesh bags? What's wrong with letting them sit loose inside the filter box? I find they tend to bunch up inside of those bags and they don't always lay flat. Why not just let the beads themselves sit on top of the foam? I've done this a few times, and they don't fall out through the waterfall opening. In fact, they don't move at all when the water flows over them. So, why bother with the bags? Maybe it's easier when rinsing the media to grab the bags than handfuls of loose beads, but I don't particularly care. Personally, I think they rinse better outside of the bags, as debris and other yuk tends to stick to the mesh.

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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-20-2017, 08:58 AM
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I don't use bags (ok, only for purigen I have one). With baskets from my eheim I just take a basket with everything in it out, rinse it with some water (from the tank!) and put it back in the filter. Most people think it's easier with bags, I just don't.
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-21-2017, 02:47 AM
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I agree with Nel. Also, I think it's just for convenience, if you don't feel you need the bag, let them loose. I will say, I never rinse mine, I usually just put them in the tank and let the shrimp and snails clean them, then put it back.
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-21-2017, 04:18 AM
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Bio-beads? ... I only use sponge and bio-sponge in my filters.

I used to buy into the marketing hype that we had to have ceramic or pumice or ?? for bio-filtration, then I came to realize that sponge material was every bit as good, inexpensive and lasts nearly forever.

Bags might make handling/cleaning the beads easier, but if you don't feel you need them, go bagless.

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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-21-2017, 04:44 AM
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I actually only started using ceramic media a few months ago, and I really have to say they work as advertised.
I use simple box filters and arrange the ceramic cylinders in a strawlike fashion with only a bit of floss on top.
About 4 or five rows deep is enough for most tanks. In a simple adaptation to this, I simply added a peat moss layer on top of the floss to enable my glowlight tetras to breed successfully in my hard water.

What I like about it is, they stay clean, and I can rinse or replace the floss bit without too much thought about the bacteria culture.
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-21-2017, 02:34 PM
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To me, this is a simple question with different answers, depending how we each work. I don't favor bags as they tend to disrupt the water flow in ways I don't like but then I use them on some filters because I don't want to chase individual pieces around. The hard media in Eheim 2217 is one that I don't want to let the small parts get away so they go into the sink trap to clog it. I used a bag for some time but now find I can cut down small plastic buckets that fit tight in the canister. In this way, I now have the older style "Classis" filters but with media baskets. I feel I get the advantage of good flow but don't have to chase the loose parts. When using HOB filters, I left the hard media loose as the bags took more of the space than I was willing to lose. HOB have small media volume at best. Those, it was simple to just dump them into a kitchen strainer.
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-21-2017, 10:26 PM Thread Starter
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I don't think it makes one iota's worth of difference as far as the effectiveness of filtration is concerned, whether the beads are in bags or not. I have found that stuff sticks to the mesh when I try to rinse the beads, and it's hard to get it off. I like the kitchen strainer idea for loose beads. One has to remove the filter basket, anyway, when cleaning the media, so why not just dump the beads into the strainer and jiggle it in the bucket of tank water to loosen debris from the beads, themselves? Great idea! Afterward, the empty strainer can be rinsed, dried and stored.

Yeah, I'm tired of hassling with the bags. Eventually, they rot and have to be replaced, which is just another expense. And they DO hamper the flow sometimes if they aren't placed just right into the filter box.

Since it doesn't seem to be dangerous in any way, I'm just going to go with loose beads from now on. Seems I can get more of them into the box that way, and create more surface for beneficial bacteria to grow on.

One can also use a large aquarium net to capture loose beads. Just scoop them into the net and lower it into the bucket, shake it around vigorously, and dump the beads back into the filter basket.

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Last edited by Darkblade48; 01-22-2017 at 05:46 AM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-21-2017, 11:54 PM
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Cleaning media is one of those things that we all need to find the right way for each of us.
When looking at the drudge type work, I try to combine as many as practical so this is my main method since I have several tanks and I like to cut the duty down as much as possible.

I keep a five gallon bucket and have built a "strainer" of sorts to just line the bucket. Using 1/4 inch hardware cloth, it was pretty easy to fit and tie together.

So when I siphon, I add a bunch to the bucket, take the whole mess to the garage and when I want to rinse any media, I drop it in the strainer lined bucket and pick the strainer up to toss it around. The hardware cloth strainer is stiff enough that it makes it easy to pour any loose media back into place. In this way I can do both the loose stuff and the pads. When done, I can then take the bucket to the flowers, etc. to dump.
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-22-2017, 01:25 AM Thread Starter
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The thought has just occurred to me that a colander would also do the trick. Fitting the edges of the colander over the rim of the bucket and dumping the loose beads into it, then siphoning tank water over them to force the debris out through the holes of the colander, leaving cleaner biobeads to reinsert into the filter basket could work very well. Perhaps by "kitchen strainer", you meant colander? Some have handles, some don't. I would have to find one wide enough to fit over the top of the bucket I use.

Yep, we come up with creative ways to make the job easier and still get it done.
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-22-2017, 05:32 PM
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I just started using bags a couple of months ago and I'm a fan. My canister filter is tall and narrow, and occasionally during filter maintanence a bead or two would fall out of its media compartment and make reassably an absolute pain. It's very helpful to have them all bunched together. Was not aware of the potential for media bag rot before reading this thread, however. I suppose I have that to look forward to.

I also use bags to hold reserve media in sumps, for later use.
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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-22-2017, 06:27 PM
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I saw a while ago they invented netting that doesn't get covered in algae.
It is a major pain in the but if you raise fish in net cages to keep them brushed clean.
Would be petty neat to have bags made out of that, I think it contains copper though.

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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-22-2017, 06:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aquamom View Post
The thought has just occurred to me that a colander would also do the trick. Fitting the edges of the colander over the rim of the bucket and dumping the loose beads into it, then siphoning tank water over them to force the debris out through the holes of the colander, leaving cleaner biobeads to reinsert into the filter basket could work very well. Perhaps by "kitchen strainer", you meant colander? Some have handles, some don't. I would have to find one wide enough to fit over the top of the bucket I use.

Yep, we come up with creative ways to make the job easier and still get it done.
You nailed it! I'm not the culinary person so it looks like a strainer to me!

I like a big area to pour the hard stuff into but for a quickie way to make a small one fit a larger bucket, I might DIY. A strip of wood like a screen bead or even a wooden ruler to lay across the bucket? Does your colander have the metal "prongs that stick out to rest it on dishes, etc. while draining pasta? The ones I see would make it easy to drive a couple screws down into a wooden strip so that both hands are free to pour shake and do all the other stuff?
I give mty tanks/filters time to get fully established on the bacteria front and then I always rinse all the media when I do open the can. My cans all have the barrel shaped hard media where smaller bits of leaf, etc. collect before it goes on to the sponge. I would not feel like I did a complete job if I didn't rinse those bits out of the barrels.
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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-22-2017, 10:21 PM Thread Starter
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With my Aquaclear 110, the biobeads are solid like little ceramic cubes. They get some build-up on them inside of the bags, as well as the mesh getting gunk on it. Trying to rinse them inside their bags doesn't always get that gunk off. I think it would be much more successful with the loose beads, and discard the mesh. These beads last a long time, despite the marketeers who tell you to replace them every few months. You really don't have to, unless they have broken down seriously, or have such a thick slimy film on them that they can't be cleaned, anymore. Eventually, they do have to gradually be replaced, but not for a long, long time.

With a canister filter, it might be more difficult to keep individual beads from falling out of their compartments, but the way the Aquaclear HOBs are designed, that wouldn't happen unless there was a violent sweeping of them from the filter box. And then they would only go into the tank through the waterfall opening, and there's no way they can get into the filter's motor housing. The side vents are too small, and the housing is sealed off.

So, if actual filtration isn't going to be adversely affected, I'm emptying the beads from all of those mesh bags and letting them lay loose inside the filter basket. I think I can cram more biobeads into the basket that way, and have even better bio-filtration.

Beneficial bacteria grows on everything within the tank, not just inside of the filter. So if a bead or two fell into the tank, it wouldn't hurt anything. They're too large for any of my fish to swallow.

Thanks for the tips on fixing the colander to make it hands-free, if it doesn't fit over the top of the bucket. I've read a lot of good tips in this thread. It seems that more and more of you folks are preferring to go bag-free with the beads, so it must not be causing any harm to do so.

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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-24-2017, 12:25 AM
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With my ac110s & sumps, I use medical/restaurant hair nets to confine my media. The netting provides more flow cuz they're not as tight a weave as your typical bio bags. They conform to the compartment of the ac110s so I fill it to the max and don't have to tie it. Come cleaning time, they lift right out and a few dunks in the bucket from water change is all that's needed. In my sumps, I'd loosely tie the netting and put as many bundles as I need.

They're just nylon net bags with a big opening. Durable and inexpensive...few cents each. I have yet to have one tear on me in over a year's time and if they do, cheap replacement.
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