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Rinsing filters question

1169 Views 9 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  brandon429
OK so you pretty much read everywhere to rinse the things off in "used" tank water.

At first I just said ok...cause what do I know.

But now I'm wondering why exactly...I mean all the Beneficial Bacteria is "sticky" and water changes to not really impact it because the BBs are not in the water column. It all really gathers in the nooks and crannies like sponge filters because that's where the rest of the crap also collects.

And again I understand we want to wash off said crap without ruining the BB growing there...but if we are doing water changes among other to things help "freshen" the environment why would we not also wash the filters in that same treated water?

More I think about it the analogy I have is peeing on a dirty toilet bowl.

Ok maybe not the best analogy...but really...why use dirty water instead of clean treated to rinse sponge filters?
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There are many species of microorganisms that live on ammonia.
Different organisms thrive at different levels of ammonia.
The species that thrive in a sewage treatment plant or in the muck and mud of a feed lot are different from the ones that thrive in our aquariums.

Optimum level of ammonia to grow the bacteria, for them to reproduce at the fastest rate is anywhere from about 1-5ppm.
Lower than that and the food is too infrequent, so the bacteria do not reproduce so fast. They live just fine, though. Higher than 5 ppm and they do not grow as fast. I do not know at what level they start dying, though. Just that other species are more prevalent when the ammonia level is higher. The other species are better at reproducing when the ammonia level is higher.

The beneficial bacteria live on the surfaces, in a biofilm, a material they and other microorganisms make. It is a complex channel that allows the water to flow through and around the organisms. A quick rinse in chlorinated (chloramine or chlorine) probably will not kill the organisms- the water with the chlorine comes and goes so fast that very little of the chlorine contacts the beneficial organisms. As noted above, though, a beginner might do all sorts of things that could kill the bacteria from longer exposure to the temperature change issue, or adding soap and probably many more things. Safest to say 'Clean the filter media in water removed from the tank for a water change'.
Then you know the water is at the same temperature and water chemistry that the bacteria are already used to, so won't be killed.
It is probably just fine to give the media a quick rinse in tap water, hot (as long as you can still touch it, and handle the media) or cold. I generally find such a quick rinse is not enough to properly clean the media, though.
It is entirely safe to rinse the media in water you have prepared for the water change. Such water should be the right temperature, and close enough to the water parameters in the tank that it will cause no problems for the bacteria. But then I am throwing away perfectly good water that could have gone into the tank. I would have to prepare extra water, knowing I was going to throw away a few gallons.
Best is to clean the media in used aquarium water, then use that water in the garden. Gets the filter media as clean as it needs to be.
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