Reestablishing your filter bacteria - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-25-2011, 10:58 PM Thread Starter
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Reestablishing your filter bacteria

Two nights ago I washed my sponge filter on the intake because it was looking really dirty and a blue-green algae started growing around the top of it.

I used about a quart or less of tank water to rinse the filter in. It took about two minutes if that and the water was coal black. While I was cleaning the intake tube (also using tank water) I let the filter stay in the dirty tank water .

Then I reassembled the tube & sponge (w/o rinsing the sponge again) and restarted the filter (Aquaclear #30). After cleaning the tank water to get the algae out of it using folded cheesecloth, the water was still somewhat black so I put the (quart) water back in the tank as close to the filter as possible and some in the filter.

Earlier today I did a water test (API kit) only to find that the ammonia & nitrites were slightly above zero and the nitrates were headed towards 50 ppm. Usually the ammonia & nitrites is "0" ppm and about 5 ppm of nitrates.

I immediately did a 50% water changed and now the water tests out ok.

Is there a possibility of having rinsed all of my bacteria colony out of the sponge?

And can the bacteria be reestablished quickly or do I have to do a version of "cycling" the tank again?



Thanks,

Martin
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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-25-2011, 11:45 PM
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Not sure I quite understand exactly what you did. From what I read, it seems like your tank was "dirty" in the first place. Is that correct ? When you say you let the filter stay in the dirty tank water, do you mean in the tank itself, not in the water you took out to rinse the intake tube pre-filter sponge ?
And all you did was rinse the small pre-filter sponge - correct ? Not the other media in the filter itself ?
If all you did was rinse the hell out of the pre-filter sponge, then no real harm done. That certainly wouldn't have destroyed all your BB - just perhaps what was in that small sponge - no doubt there remained a lot of BB everywhere else in your tank.
And why, if I may ask, did you put the black water that you rinsed the prefilter sponge in (that you had taken out of the tank) back into the tank ? That certainly wouldn't have helped your water quality.
Anyway, you did your WC and your parameters are fine. Check it a few more times over the next few days, but I'm fairly certain you'll be ok.
But I think you might need to adopt a more frequent, and more effective cleansing routine for your tank, if you'll pardon my saying so.
Iuse pre-filters sponges on my filter intakes, and rinse them well every 3rd or 4th day, and the water still comes out quite dirty brown each time I do that.
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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-26-2011, 12:06 AM
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If yourt nitrates are climbing quickly, then you must have plenty of bacteria. You just disturbed muck, allowing it to be accessed more thoroughly and decompose more quickly.
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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-26-2011, 01:14 AM
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Ditto Sharkfood: Rising NO3 means the bacteria that remove ammonia and nitrite are doing their job.
Small blips in the ammonia and nitrite levels suggests more ammonia than the bacteria can handle. ie: Disturb the muck, and it decomposes faster, releasing more ammonia than normal.

You can do any or all of the following:
~Stop feeding the fish for a few days. Less food means less nitrogen.
~Water change. Definitely do this. The rising nitrate is getting too high.
~clean the filter and the intake more frequently so there is not so much muck each time.
Frequent vacuuming. In a planted tank this means barely touching the substrate where you can reach it, and shaking the plants a bit to shake loose whatever debris might be caught near the bottom.

You did right to clean the filter and the intake in used tank water. Well established bacteria cling very well to these materials, and gently squeezing the sponges, and sloshing the other materials in water will not dislodge them. Only in the first few weeks, maybe a month are the bacteria still getting established, would I suggest more gentle cleaning of these materials.
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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-26-2011, 01:28 AM
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Plant Types?

How heavily planted is your tank? For how long?

Bacteria also thrive on plant roots and surrounding substrate.
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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-26-2011, 01:35 AM Thread Starter
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Hi DP,


I used a round plastic tupperware bowl thats never been used for anything except aquarium stuff. I've never had chemicals in it nor dish detergent.

I put roughly a quart of water in it from the tank, then put the sponge in it. After I got the bluish-green algae algae off of it using in part a paper towel, then I squeezed the sponge in the water to get any dirt out.

To clean the intake tube I used a paper towel wet from tank water, then reassembled and put it back in the tank.

Before I put the water back I filtered it through sterile gauze pads that looked exactly like cheescloth. The gauze filtered out alot to where the remaining water looked more like it had tannins in it then being as black as it was right after cleaning the sponge.

The reason I put the water back was to help the sponge reclaim some of its bacteria. Whether or not this was a good idea I don't know, however, this is the first filter unit I've used with a sponge as a filter element AND had one as a pre-filter to keep fry out. The HOB filter had the charcoal replaced just shy of a month, all else rinsed lightly in tank water (out of the tank). The end of this month it gets cleaned again (the HOB).

This isn't the first time I've cleaned the sponge filter but last time it didn't have the algae on it, and it didn't "look" dirty, plus the water it was cleaned in wasn't nearly as dirty. The algae is why I cleaned it rather than wait until I did the main filter. I was worried that the algae would somehow strangle or affect the good bacteria.

Before I pulled the filter out to clean it, the water was very clear and the substrate (black Eco-complete) was clean. While moving the sponge I did disturb things a little and once up and running again the filter had the water looking good again in a short time.

Another thing, I did a water test before removing the sponge and everything was fine. When I did a test this afternoon and I saw the results I did an immediate water change. About 2 1/2 to 3 hours later the test results were ok.
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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-26-2011, 04:48 AM
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I would say the grungy water you poured back in is likely where the ammonia came from.
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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-26-2011, 04:57 AM
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Smile

Using the old tank water would not start a mini cycle at all.

At every water and filter cleaning I was in old tank water.

I add a standard dose of Seachem Stability for the water change and a double dose for the filter cleaning.

Keith
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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-26-2011, 01:50 PM
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If the ammonia spike was temporary it could be that your water contains chloramines and your water conditioner broke that clorine/ammonia bond, leaving free ammonia in the tank. Sometimes it can take a bit of time for this ammonia to get processed by the bio filter.
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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-26-2011, 02:30 PM
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Didnt your AC30 come with a bag of Biomedia (noodles)?

Higher nitrate is good, it means ammonia and nitrite is getting processed. The stuff you definitely dont want.
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post #11 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-26-2011, 02:49 PM
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Nitrate is safe in smaller quantities but high levels of it are deadly.
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post #12 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-26-2011, 03:40 PM
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From what I've learned, cleaning your filter in tank water is not going to destroy your bacteria in your filters/media. You would have been fine to place the cleaned filter, minus the old and dirty tank water, back into your tank. My guess is that this is where your spike came from. Try rinsing in tank water and dont dump the dirty water back into the tank. The only reason you would need to do that would be if you rinsed in tap water or replaced the filter/media. Then you would need the muck to get a good colony going again. There are still plenty of good bacteria in the cleaned filter.


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post #13 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-26-2011, 10:04 PM
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If the tank is established, you can wash your filter media in boiling water and it won't make a difference. I wash my filter in hot tap water every week, because the sink sprayer does an awesome job of removing gunk.
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post #14 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-26-2011, 11:22 PM
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I wash my filter out in hot tap water as well, but only in my godlfish tank as they are very hardy fish and not so picky with water params. This is probably why you can do this with that particular tank. It is a little different for people keeping more sensitive fish and shrimp. For these people they need to be careful how their water gets changed. And that includes washing their filters/media in tank water and leaving the beneficial bacteria in tact.

In some setups, the loss of this bacteria can take out an entire community due to a spike in ammonia when the bacteria aren't able to "take care" of the new bioload.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Miira View Post
If the tank is established, you can wash your filter media in boiling water and it won't make a difference. I wash my filter in hot tap water every week, because the sink sprayer does an awesome job of removing gunk.


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post #15 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-26-2011, 11:25 PM
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While we're on the biofilter topic. Here's an interesting article.

http://www.oscarfish.com/article-hom...manifesto.html
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