How to clean cartridge without losing BB - Page 2 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #16 of 34 (permalink) Old 08-17-2018, 07:41 PM
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Originally Posted by AbbeysDad View Post
Although I have little regard for cartridge type filters, the statement is fundamentally incorrect. I have found that sponge material makes both an excellent mechanical filter as well as a perfect platform for biological filtration. Specialized bio-media, like the filter cartridges, is really another commercial cash cow.

I have several Aquaclear HOB filters totally filled with sponges, making them HOB sponge filters.

Additionally, there are many large, successful fishrooms (including breeding operations) that rely totally on air driven sponge filters. They just work, clean easily, and last nearly forever!
You want to make one of your sponges a biological and the other sponge a mechanical--- more power to you. There is no right or wrong in the choice of media for each ( I certainly would argue that materials do matter in terms of what each is doing, but I wont here). The fundamental idea is that they are kept separate so one can be cleaned at least once a week or as frequently as needed to maintain optimum flow to filter. The gist of my remark is that keeping it as both mechanical and biological is not utilizing a filter correctly.: whether HOB, canister, or otherwise.
Breeders dont use sponge filters in the same way you are implying. With discus breeders, they use them purely for biological purposes-- they themselves are the mechanical-- changing large volumes of water frequently to remove organics. Or, for some breeders, they have 3 -6 low-organic fish that are temporarily housed or growing fry. Water changes are done frequently. Or, the fish house, where the sponge filter does provide some biological and some mechanical, but all tanks are on a central automated water changing system and the sponges are cleaned frequently, fish come and out of tank quickly, etc... But a sponge filter alone providing all one needs for a planted aquarium or a fish tank with medium to high bio-load-- not gonna cut it. With a low-bio load or lightly planted tank, sure, try it, I think you will find that, in the long -term, you will not be able to keep your tank clean, unless you are cleaning that sponge every few days and you are doing weekly water changes.

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post #17 of 34 (permalink) Old 08-17-2018, 10:59 PM Thread Starter
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All "dirt" is not created equal. The detritus that comes out of a filter is largely decomposed organic matter not unlike humus. Once fully decomposed, it has some nutrient value but is no longer generating nitrates. So much/most of what we rinse out is relatively inert material that we incorrectly perceive as "bad". As to BB, sure, some BB will be lost in any media cleanings. But this is not typically a problem in most aquariums. Remember that BB lives on any hard surfaces and especially in the substrate. And if there are plants, especially fast growing floating plants, the BB in the filter becomes even less important.
Since this is a new, cycling, tank w/ammonia, there should be little/no detritus anyway, but I would leave the filter alone until the cycle is complete...then clean as needed.
Also, you mentioned 'cartridge'. Cartridge filters are marketing genius, but I wouldn't use one. I much prefer sponge material. Matter of fact, I use sponge material exclusively as I've found that it not only provides excellent mechanical filtration, but also provides an excellent platform for beneficial biology...as good or better than rings, balls, pumice stone, etc....
Thank you for the helpful information!

But well, the reason I asked about excess detritus is because I really did have a lot. I did a dsm for 6 weeks and when I transitioned my plants from emerged to submerged, there was a bit of melt, but none that I could manually remove as it was a carpet and the melted leaves were very intertwined with the healthy ones. So I had to leave it as it was and in addition to that, I had my filter cycling for 8 weeks now with only two rinses in the last couple weeks so it seems as if there's a lot of build up. And my cycle was not going as expected so I ended up having to rely on a bacterial supplement (TSS+) and I was not supposed to change my water for 2 weeks. But after just one week, detritus worms started popping up everywhere (they now regularly are spewed out from my filter) and I started growing lots of algae, and I'm sure the excess nitrates weren't helping But my cycle did indeed complete last week and I had been testing for an additional week just to make sure my BB were stable, and everything seemed great for 7 days but when I decided to do a water change and clean out my filter media, I saw a dip in the cycle.

Like you said, as I am getting more knowledge regarding filter media I am not too happy about how my cartridge has been working out for me. But I believe a large part of my BB lives on the cartridge and I would most likely lose my cycle if I were to throw it away. But I did add a bag of biorings in addition to the cartridge because I felt that the cartridge wasn't doing enough on its own. Fortunately, I think the biorings helped me finish my unending cycle but for now, I'm a bit hesitant to touch anything else because it seems like everything is so fragile. At least it has been so far in my experience.

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Originally Posted by tamsin View Post
It sounds like you have a mix of media in your filter? Ideally you want the water to go through a sponge and then the bio rings. That way the sponge traps all the goo. You give the sponge a really good squeeze/rinse in old tank water and you'll get loads of goo out. Just keep squeezing until it's clean, no need to be gentle.

If your biorings are mixed with goo, just give them a rinse in tank water. You can also replace a few at a time if you think they need it.

It quite normal for a bit of goo to shoot out into the tank when you turn the filter back on - don't worry it will make it back into the filter or your can syphon it out with your water change if you do that afterwards.
Yes, I have a HOB filter that came with a standard filter cartridge and I didn't know any better so I began the cycling process with the cartridge. However, my cycle was a difficult process and I did many things to try and help it along, including adding a bag of biorings next to the cartridge. And now that you mention it, you're completely right. Right now, I have the biorings first and the cartridge after, but I'll need to swap the order so that the cartridge can pick up all the debris first. But thank you for assuring me that the goo shooting back into the water is normal!
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post #18 of 34 (permalink) Old 08-17-2018, 11:13 PM Thread Starter
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I don't clean my filters before a tank is finished cycling because some of the BB will die off, they live and feed on the detritus too. Wait until a few days after your tank is finished cycling. When you're doing a fishless cycle there's nothing to feed on the biofilm either so it's not a permanent issue.

Once the cycle is finished, the amount of BB that die off when you rinse the cartridge in tank water will be negligible because there are also BB in the water column, any plants/decor, and the tank walls so while the population will initially dip, it will also recover in a couple of days. Because of that I never do a water change within a few days of rinsing filter media.

If you are seeing large pieces of detritus after rinsing you might want to consider replacing your filter cartridge with different filter media, like a mesh bag with the bio rings and some sponge material and filter floss. Then you can open the mesh bag and rinse the media thoroughly.
Yes, I resisted from cleaning my filter during cycling due to fear of losing BB. However, my cycle did complete and was stable for 7 days of additional testing and I was mostly just feeding the BB and waiting until I could pick up my livestock. I did need to do a water change because my nitrates were very high from all the dosing and when I saw all the detritus stirring up I decided to clean out the filter media as well and afterwards saw a dip in the cycle

Hopefully after my tank is more established, I won't have to worry about it though. After a while of struggling, I finally got my cycle to finish and it had only been a week since it completed so I'll keep an eye on it! Although I'm worried about replacing my cartridge because it was the only media during the cycle for 6 weeks and I only added the biorings in later and they've only been there for 2 weeks now. But doing a water change and filter clean on different days is a good idea! I'll try to do that from now on!

Thank you for your advice!
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post #19 of 34 (permalink) Old 08-18-2018, 02:06 AM
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So the discussion of how and where the good bacteria has come down to two lines of thought? One is based on what we have all known and thought for years, the other is new info from a reputable source which has the equipment, time and knowledge to do a deep study of the issue.
So when faced with a new idea versus what all the hobby sorts think and "know", I'm willing to go with considering the new info as I certainly can not even begin to see the good bacteria, let alone ID one from another!
The point about discus tanks having a spike if we removed the bacteria in the water is missing the bacteria which is still on the tank walls, floor and filter. That's where I find it too easy to look at something and still totally miss the main points.
My favorite point of reference when this sort of issue comes around is the old reliable story about "laudable pus". Every doctor in the world was certain that pus was a necessary part of healing--- until we learned how it actually worked! Since the medical field is willing to admit they are still "practicing" medicine, I am willing to say that we are still practicing how to treat our good bacteria!
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post #20 of 34 (permalink) Old 08-18-2018, 02:39 AM
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So the discussion of how and where the good bacteria has come down to two lines of thought? One is based on what we have all known and thought for years, the other is new info from a reputable source which has the equipment, time and knowledge to do a deep study of the issue.
So when faced with a new idea versus what all the hobby sorts think and "know", I'm willing to go with considering the new info as I certainly can not even begin to see the good bacteria, let alone ID one from another!
The point about discus tanks having a spike if we removed the bacteria in the water is missing the bacteria which is still on the tank walls, floor and filter. That's where I find it too easy to look at something and still totally miss the main points.
My favorite point of reference when this sort of issue comes around is the old reliable story about "laudable pus". Every doctor in the world was certain that pus was a necessary part of healing--- until we learned how it actually worked! Since the medical field is willing to admit they are still "practicing" medicine, I am willing to say that we are still practicing how to treat our good bacteria!
100%. These applies to a lot more than bacteria too. There is nothing in aquatics that is 100% except the very, very basics.
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post #21 of 34 (permalink) Old 08-18-2018, 03:22 AM
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... But a sponge filter alone providing all one needs for a planted aquarium or a fish tank with medium to high bio-load-- not gonna cut it. With a low-bio load or lightly planted tank, sure, try it, I think you will find that, in the long -term, you will not be able to keep your tank clean, unless you are cleaning that sponge every few days and you are doing weekly water changes.
Define "long term" - my 60g has been running sponge only in the filters for about the last 8 years...and the sponges only require rinsing every 3-4 weeks.
Leveraging factors:
> PFS substrate with Corys and MTS cleanup crews
> High quality fish food (NOT fish meal/grain based) promotes health, growth, and far less fish waste
> Fast growing floating plants help purify water
> 20g (33%) weekly water change
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post #22 of 34 (permalink) Old 08-18-2018, 03:43 AM
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Originally Posted by AbbeysDad View Post
Define "long term" - my 60g has been running sponge only in the filters for about the last 8 years...and the sponges only require rinsing every 3-4 weeks.
Leveraging factors:
> PFS substrate with Corys and MTS cleanup crews
> High quality fish food (NOT fish meal/grain based) promotes health, growth, and far less fish waste
> Fast growing floating plants help purify water
> 20g (33%) weekly water change
Oh, brother-- can anyone miss the point more than this. Ive typed enough for today.

Ill gprovide examples because words are not working:

This is a sponge filter
https://www.amazon.com/Aquaneat-Aqua...54550358&psc=1

These are the sponge-like ( and not the only option, but only an example of one of the many types) materials that you put in your filter.

https://www.amazon.com/Biochemical-A...=filter+sponge


You keep your sponges in your filter for three months and dont lose flow. Great! When you do need to clean because the three months are over -- how do you clean these sponges that are both your mechanical as well as biological media?clean all at the same time? Or do you take out a couple, clean, and then clean the others the next time?

180 g. low tech w/ wild South American cichlids, corydoras eques, and African Congo riverine tetras.
60 g. low tech w/ F1 Alenquer pair /Stendker "Tefe" discus and wild Altum Angels
30 g. low tech w/ Wild Tucano tetras
30 g. low-tech African Biotope

Last edited by Discusluv; 08-18-2018 at 03:59 AM. Reason: edit
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post #23 of 34 (permalink) Old 08-18-2018, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by AbbeysDad View Post
Define "long term" - my 60g has been running sponge only in the filters for about the last 8 years...and the sponges only require rinsing every 3-4 weeks.
Leveraging factors:
> PFS substrate with Corys and MTS cleanup crews
> High quality fish food (NOT fish meal/grain based) promotes health, growth, and far less fish waste
> Fast growing floating plants help purify water
> 20g (33%) weekly water change
It often comes down to how we each define the terms. This is what I would call a very lightly stocked tank as there are no large fish and very few showing of any size. so this tank will work when a fully stocked one might not.
But the whole idea is that we each have to find what works for the way we want to run our tanks as we will all be different and have different tanks with different fish as well as different results.
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post #24 of 34 (permalink) Old 08-18-2018, 03:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Discusluv View Post
You keep your sponges in your filter for three months and dont lose flow. Great! When you do need to clean because the three months are over -- how do you clean these sponges that are both your mechanical as well as biological media?clean all at the same time? Or do you take out a couple, clean, and then clean the others the next time?

"Oh, brother-- can anyone miss the point more than this." ...


3-4 weeks is one week less than/or 1 month, not 3 months!

I rinse all the filter sponges in one filter one week, then the other the next week or so as needed. Although on occasion I have cleaned both at the same time. In a well established planted tank, BB in the filter is nearly unnecessary (substrate, hardscape, and ammonia hungry plants).



What I think you may not be understanding is that with proper high quality food/feeding and the excellent cleanup crew, there is very little waste going into the filter. Any that does is trapped in the initial sponges/layers and BB lives further within the labyrinth of additional bio-sponge material (which collectively provides a vast amount of surface area for the BB colony).



With commercial "bio-medias" (like ceramics, lava rock/pumice, etc.) they promise increased surface area due to micro pores...that will eventually clog with detritus. Manufacturers recommend that portions get periodically replaced with new media....a never ending cash cow (not unlike the filter cartridge). (Even though these medias could likely be cleaned with bleach in a process similar to cleaning Seachem's Purigen).
With bio-sponges, a simple rinse and squeeze a few times and it's back in business...and lasts nearly forever.

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post #25 of 34 (permalink) Old 08-18-2018, 06:31 PM
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We know its true, based on so many users experiencing this. Attaching inapplicable studies mean very little in home aquaria. A large number of people use aqua soil. Aqua soil if you follow instructions require massive water changes during the startup phase and it does not delay the cycle. The water column BB is even less of a factor in planed tanks becuase you have the added benefit of the plants hosting bacteria as well.

The perfect case study is thousands upon thousands of tanks not experiencing what your stating. The amount of BB in the water column has proven to be extremely insignificant whether you are starting up or maintaining an established aquarium. I know if I remove my filter and substrate the tank will have issues, but if I do a 90% water change there is no issue.
Nowhere did the OP attest to using Aqua Soil so I don't see how that is relevant. Provide a study backing up your claims or they're meaningless. If you don't understand the difference between personal anecdotes and well-designed scientific studies then I can't put any stock in what you're saying.

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post #26 of 34 (permalink) Old 08-18-2018, 08:24 PM
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Nowhere did the OP attest to using Aqua Soil so I don't see how that is relevant. Provide a study backing up your claims or they're meaningless. If you don't understand the difference between personal anecdotes and well-designed scientific studies then I can't put any stock in what you're saying.
It's not the Aqua soil per say, it's the FACT that those setups identify tanks that require alot of water changes at startup and the cycle isn't affected so it's completely relevant.

LOL, this is a hobbyist forum. If your looking for well-designed scientific studies your in the wrong place. The reason people come here is to get user experience. This trumps inapplicable scientific studies from nature, labs, farms, etc any day of the week.
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post #27 of 34 (permalink) Old 08-18-2018, 08:29 PM
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It's not the Aqua soil per say, it's the FACT that those setups identify tanks that require alot of water changes at startup and the cycle isn't affected so it's completely relevant.
Does it also require rinsing the filter with those water changes?

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post #28 of 34 (permalink) Old 08-19-2018, 09:18 PM
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I used to be afraid of losing my beneficial bacteria when cleaning out my filters, but now I regularly rinse them out with untreated tap water and haven't noticed any problems even in my neocaridina shrimp tanks that run single filters. I thoroughly wash out my the mechanical sponge filters until the water is clear, and just lightly rinse off the detritus that accumulates on my biological filter. I exclusively use the Seachem Biostars as my biological filter though, so I'm probably not washing out enough of the BB in those to make a difference. For my larger tanks, since I run double canisters, I only wash one of the canisters at a time.
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post #29 of 34 (permalink) Old 08-19-2018, 09:29 PM
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[QUOTE=ced281;11107811]I used to be afraid of losing my beneficial bacteria when cleaning out my filters, but now I regularly rinse them out with untreated tap water and haven't noticed any problems even in my neocaridina shrimp tanks that run single filters. I thoroughly wash out my the mechanical sponge filters until the water is clear, and just lightly rinse off the detritus that accumulates on my biological filter. I exclusively use the Seachem Biostars as my biological filter though, so I'm probably not washing out enough of the BB in those to make a difference. For my larger tanks, since I run double canisters, I only wash one of the canisters at a time.[/QUOTE


+1. Obviously, you get it.



Edit: Not for you @ced281, you have already learned this; but, for others who still need to learn the basics of mechanical, biological, and chemical media.
https://www.advancedplantedtank.com/filter-media.html

180 g. low tech w/ wild South American cichlids, corydoras eques, and African Congo riverine tetras.
60 g. low tech w/ F1 Alenquer pair /Stendker "Tefe" discus and wild Altum Angels
30 g. low tech w/ Wild Tucano tetras
30 g. low-tech African Biotope

Last edited by Discusluv; 08-19-2018 at 09:47 PM. Reason: edit
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post #30 of 34 (permalink) Old 08-20-2018, 02:20 AM
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....Edit: Not for you @ced281, you have already learned this; but, for others who still need to learn the basics of mechanical, biological, and chemical media.
https://www.advancedplantedtank.com/filter-media.html

@Discusluv - I've been in the hobby for 50+ years and merely try to share what I've learned. I too once bought into the marketing hype that we needed commercial bio-media to culture beneficial bacteria. For over 10 years I tried several different types. I even spent 2 years experimenting with a separate dedicated filter filled with Matrix and DeNitrate in a failed attempt to culture anaerobic as well as aerobic bacteria.

In the end I determined that bio-sponge is every bit as effective not only at mechanical filtration but also as biological filtration, it cleans easily, and lasts forever and a day.


Disbelief is your choice. You can lead a horse to drink, but you can't make him water. :-)

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