May have killed bio filter - what to do? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-29-2012, 09:03 PM Thread Starter
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May have killed bio filter - what to do?

This past week I was away on vacation for the first time since setting up my tank, at some point my intake pipe got completely clogged and no water was making it to the canister filter. The filter itself was also devoid of water - I'm guessing the CO2 pressure in my reactor played a role in that meaning filter media was in a CO2 rich environment.

After fixing the issue with the filter the tank ran ~24 hours with no other changes then next day I did a 2/3rds water change. Before this I wasn't even thinking about damage to the biofilter until I saw the ammonia levels after the water change were at .25 to .5 (previously always zero), nitrite 0, nitrates ~20ppm.

If the tank is no longer cycled what are some alternatives to speed it up or how long should I give it to see if it will reestablish on its own? Found one article that suggested doing small (~10%) water changes daily till tank gets cycled again.

I'm counting my blessings at this point as I haven't lost any life stock yet (including CRS) and the filter still works even after running dry for unknown period of time +1 to Eheim.

Any suggestions on what to do next would be great (and yes have already fixed intake pipe so this won't happen again).

17.5 gallon, dual T5HO 24w , pressurized C02 w/reactor, liquid ferts
8 resbora espie, 10 CRS, 2 ottos
rotala indica, HC, dwarf hairgrass
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-29-2012, 11:19 PM
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As long as the filter media stayed moist you should be ok after a few days to a week. Just keep doing water changes.

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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-30-2012, 12:58 AM
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Instant cycle:
Go buy a bottle of Dr. Tim's One and Only, or Tetra Safe Start or Microbe Lift's Nite Out II.
There may be other products, read the label. Look for Nitrospira species of bacteria. Do not waste your money on anything else.

Fish-in cycle:
Do as many and as large water changes as you need to to keep the ammonia under .25 ppm and the nitrite under 1 ppm. (Half these values for fry)
When nitrite shows add 1 teaspoon of salt (sodium chloride) per 20 gallons of tank water.
Sometimes the bacteria make a pretty fast recovery, so you might be doing these large frequent water changes for only a week. Other times the bacteria in the filter is really truly dead, and the amount of bacteria in the tank is too small to help out much. Then this fish-in cycle can get hairy indeed.

Other ways to help:
Add as much fast growing plants as you can. Something like Anacharis would be good. Add a lot, and make sure it has good light. A lot = so much you cannot see the back of the tank.

Use a good dechlor that locks up ammonia and nitrite. Prime does this, and others. Read the label. There may be special dosing instructions, and you may also be instructed to increase the water movement to be sure there is plenty of oxygen in the water.

Feed lightly. Less protein entering the water means less ammonia. If your fish will eat vegetables these are lower protein than meat based foods.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-30-2012, 01:43 AM
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Just monitor the parameters and do water changes as necessary. There's really no way to know how much bacteria died, how much is left, or how long it will take to get back up where you need it for your bioload.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-30-2012, 04:06 AM
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Every thing in the tank is coated with that same bacteria, the plants, the surface of the substrate, the hardscape, the filter tubes, etc. So, losing the bacteria in the filter media is just a temporary reduction in total bacteria colony in the tank system. You don't need to start over, and you don't need to seed it - the tank is already well seeded. These bacteria are a natural thing, not something we have to go buy in a store and lovingly grow in the tank. We all have the bacteria in our tanks whether we want it or not. We may not have a balance of bacteria vs the ammonia load from the fish, but that happens when we remove a lot of plants, clean rocks, clean hardscape and mechanical parts, etc. and we rarely if ever are even aware of it.

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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-30-2012, 04:21 AM
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^^what he said. If your tank is mature, bacteria should also be well established on everything in the tank. Theres a chance where you have nothing to worry about. I would just monitor your tanks water and you should be fine.
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-30-2012, 04:16 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the info guys - checked things last night after work and appears things have recovered on their own ~72 hours after situation was found/corrected, ammonia back to zero, nitrite zero, nitrate about the same.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-30-2012, 04:17 PM
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Sounds like there was plenty of bacteria around to make the recovery, then. That is good!
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-30-2012, 04:20 PM
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Just an FYI for Diana, seachem stability can be added to your list, I used it once and have been cycled since.

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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-30-2012, 04:56 PM
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Probably at the most some of the water that was trapped in your filter died. That probably was the source of your ammonia etc. and when you cleared it out it just washed it into your aquarium. If your tank has been up long enough it should have enough bacteria in the tank itself to sustain and process chemicals till your filter rebuilds if the any of the bacteria did die. Just a water change and monitoring the levels should be fine. As long as your levels don't get too high I wouldn't keep doing water changes daily as you can basically remove all or a majority of your cultured water and effectively restart your cycle again. Sometimes to many water changes can be counter productive as it dosnt allow your bacterial growth to catch up. Remember the water bound bacteria and the bacteria on the surfaces of your tank, gravel, plants, filter process that ammonia etc. so you want to keep as much as possible to keep from restarting your cycle. Like as a general rule I do my water changes and filter cleanings at opposing times. Like water change now and then filter cleaning in two weeks and keep rotating.
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-31-2012, 03:21 AM
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Quote:
...remove all or a majority of your cultured water and effectively restart your cycle again...
Actually, there is not a big bacteria population drifting free in the water. Some, yes, and if the tank is not fully cycled there may be a few more bacteria, searching out homes. But if the choice is throwing away a few bacteria with a water change, or omitting that water change and allowing the ammonia or nitrite to get too high, I would rather keep the fish healthy, even if it delays the cycle a bit.
If you are treating the water ahead of time to match the tank, preparing for a water change, and you cannot prepare more water right away that is a bit of a dilemma. Do a water change with water that is not right, or allow the ammonia or nitrite to continue to build up.
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