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I added a sponge pre-filter to my HOB to prevent shrimp from entering the filter. This is the one I have: http://www.americanaquariumproducts.com/PreFilter.html

The shrimp seem to love grazing on the sponge. Should I just allow that to be the only "cleaning" the sponge receives, or should I shake it around in some tank water during a water change, and if so, about how often? I know not to clean it off using hot or cold water as this thing is a bacteria condo.
 

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I would clean when you start to notice a decrease in the flow from your HOB filter. It depends on how much plant material and mulm (dirt,, poop, whatever) is stuck to it. Just squeeze it out in a bucket of tank water. You will be suprised how much gunk builds up in them. Be sure to turn your filter off for a minute while doing this so you don't suck up any shrimplets while the prefilter is off on the intake.
 

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I have to clean mine every water change (that is every Sunday). I just squeeze it into one of the buckets I collect the tank water in. Also, when turning off your filter....make sure the intake is still not in the water. The shrimp will make their way up the open tube if allowed too. Trust me, I found that out recently and the result was tons of cherries in my canister filter. LOL Looks like a preggo cherry made her way up the tube and she had her babies in the filter = tons of cherries emptying out during canister cleaning. :)
 

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From my experience, I never had to clean the sponge pre-filters on the intakes. The shrimps in both tanks seem to do a very good job cleaning it off.
 
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