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I like your description.
Using de-chlorinated water, rinse the macaroni and the cocoa puffs, rinse the sponge, replace and restart. Eheim recommends replacing about 20% of the cocoa puffs at each cleaning. (I rinse mine using tap water. A drop of Prime in the filter seems to work for me.)

There are other options for refilling. Eheim is now selling foam rounds for the classic series. For my relatively recent 2217, I got the usual ceramics and foam. The newer 2217s ship with (I think) six blue pads and three or four white ones.

If your substrat is old, consider replacing it with foam pads or dollar store scrubbies.

I just realized this is my 2000 post, and it's actually advice, not a comment. Yea!
 
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