2nd Hand Filter Media - Risk?

Von Bronze

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Hi there,

I was wondering if I could get some filter advice.
I purchased a second hand Eheim Pro3 350t and it came with media.

It'll be used on a planted tank (150 Litre) w/Co2 and potentially down the line I'll add fish/shrimp once established. I'm using JBL aquasoil/volcano as the planting substrate.

The tank it was used on previously contained a single knife fish, plants, but was very heavily overgrown with algae. I'm going to replace the coarse sponge filter. Internally it was much cleaner than when I first viewed it so I suspect it has been washed through with tap water. It has since been dried as I needed to store it until ready.

I've laid out the media in the order they were stacked. (left = bottom, right = top)
It looks like 3 types of eheim media:
Substrat Pro 2
BioMech
Mech Pro

A few questions:
  1. Would it be better to:
    • Reuse as is - useful bacteria still present?
    • Boil the media to neutralise it?
    • Replace all?

  2. Is this an adequate stacking order/media choice for the aquarium contents?
    It came with quite a lot of new fine sponges so I could substitute out the mech pro for instance.
    I also have a carbon sponge which I could run it with temporarily.

  3. Is it worth adding a liquid starter bacteria?

Would be keen to reuse if possible but not sure how to proceed with this - any advice would be amazing!

filter media 2.jpg
filter meda.jpg
 

Nuno Gomes

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If it has been dried I don't think there will be any dangers of any sort of disease or contamination, but I would get rid of the black plastic media and replace it with something decent, like Seachem Matrix or Biohome ultimate.

If you add Seachem stability you will considerably shorten your cicle duration.

As for the sponges you should use, keep the coarse sponge in the top tray then use fine media at the bottom of the bottom tray, then fill everything else with biological media. That way water will go through coarse media first, then fine, then biological media.
 
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That media looks to be in pretty good condition. If you are still worried you could help sterilise it in some water with Hydrogen Peroxide. Agreed about the plastic media, I’d use something else as well.
 

Zeus.

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Would it be better to:
  • Reuse as is - useful bacteria still present?
  • Boil the media to neutralise it?
  • Replace all?
non I would soak it dilute (cheap bleach) or miltons solution overnight rinse and treat with prime - done and ready to use
Is this an adequate stacking order/media choice for the aquarium contents?
It came with quite a lot of new fine sponges so I could substitute out the mech pro for instance.
I also have a carbon sponge which I could run it with temporarily.
I would go for course and medium sponge only ( pick up cheap from LFS or Ebay cut to size its not rocket science) as you will get better flow though the filter so more O2 so better filtering esp if you are going for a planted tank, if lots of fish then thats another story

Is it worth adding a liquid starter bacteria?
No waste of money - just pull up a few weeds from garden and dump the roots in the tank for 24hrs done or add non
 

alto

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That media looks basically unused so I’d not worry - damp and check for odour (this depends very much on your sense of smell), if you smell Cyanobacteria at all, treat with peroxide, then Excel if the peroxide doesn’t completely remove any residual odour (I can’t stand that Cyanobacteria smell)

Those black coils do what Eheim intended but I find them annoying, so while they’re still present in one filter I use their older mech rings elsewhere
The sponge looks done so I’d replace that - it’s been bleached and that messes with its structure (I did the same) - likely someone just ran some dilute bleach through the filter to get everything clean (or didn't use the other media)
Note there should be space in each media tray, so only fill about half way with the various shapes

I use Eheim fine filter pads in my filters - it works fine and can run for months before there’s noticeable flow reduction
Obviously if you have significant melt or various debris, then clean your filter sooner rather than later - even if the flow is fine, that deteriorating muck has no benefits (I know of)

Not into adding soil bacteria et al to my aquarium so I don’t pull up a plant from my City garden (though I’d like to see the reference papers on that), some old fashioned companies are still marketing sewage plant bacteria :)oops: I mean water treatment plant bacteria :D) or you can go with newer tech products such as Seachem Stability (locally available so I’m familiar with that brand but there are other decent mixes available) but these products are intended to be used with fish addition, I suspect they wouldn’t do all that well with the much higher ammonia release associated with ADA Amazonia (though depending upon the production run and 90% daily water changes, ammonia might remain under 1ppm)

(note the addition of products such as Hagen Cycle did facilitate the appearance of more useful bacteria/microorganisms so it has some value ;))

If you add any pot plants from aquatic display tanks, they’ll likely have nice water bacteria
If pot plants from hydroponic style setup, they’ll have somewhat different bacteria profiles
All are good as “starter” mix
Only tIssue culture kits are “sterile” and guaranteed free of anything that may impact shrimp, rinse away the nutrient rich liquid media or gel
(any plants pots, bunches etc that are imported from various markets in Asia may have been exposed to various pesticides etc before transport)

If you plant, then wait 4-6 weeks before adding fish, the “cycle” should be well on its way - even with large water changes - just add fish in small amounts (loads of tiny fish is equivalent to one large fish), sticking with one shop is often beneficial, if possible find a shop that has a separate quarantine area (not any of my lfs so I have a quarantine tank at home)
Always spend some time observing any fish before buying, they should be active and free of any spots, blemishes, ragged fin edges (often a sign of internal infection)

If you’ve little fish experience, the Manual of Fish Health, Adrian Exell, Chris Andrews, and Neville Carrington is worth every penny!

ETA in the first photo the sponge looks OK, may just be photo effect in the second photo series
 

Von Bronze

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Great stuff, thank you everyone!

I'll swap the sponge and plastic tubes, and just give the rest a light soak in dilute bleach/rinse.

Nuno Gomes, Zeus: thanks for the information on the stacking order, I'll move the fine sponge to the very bottom and obtain a medium if there is any impact on the flow.

Alto: Many thanks for so much extra information and details. That's very helpful indeed.
It is surprising how clean the media is, the tank and filter when I saw it was really gunged up. (I didn't see the media just the coarse sponge top layer when you open it). You might be right about the bleach or maybe the previous owner had the fine sponge in the tray below the course one and that's kept them clean. Anyway sounds like it's good now - there isn't any odour. I'll take a look at that book, I've got some fish experience from many moons ago but plants, Co2, special substrates, media is all new to me. Complexity is certainly higher.

Cheers, Andy
 

alto

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and just give the rest a light soak in dilute bleach/rinse.
running filter is more efficient and more effective :D

Eheim designs the sponge at top as it’s then first in water flow, trapping large particles without impeding flow
Then water goes to bottom of filter and up through the layers
Those plastic bits spin about freely (there’s an Eheim talk about them somewhere) and don’t impede flow even as much as a coarse sponge might

Obviously set your filter up any way you like:)
But don't assume that Eheim has not done extensive research & testing on their filters (I think Green Aqua showed a bit on their tour) - it’s one of the reasons I’m a long standing Eheim fan ;)

I’ll bet you anything you like that media was not used in gunked up filter - even after cleaning and light bleach, it doesn’t look that “just like new”
(or maybe I need to hire that guy to clean my filters :D)

Adding inline heaters and CO2 reactors etc, impede pump flow much more than using Eheim fine filter pads :cool:
Any narrowing down of the filter tubing for connections significantly increases flow resistance and back pressure to pumps

I’m on the Green Aqua team re supporting your water home with lots of potential bacteria etc “homes” (I’ll pay for media that is designed with lots of surface area and oxygenation potential)
And in case of a sudden and dramatic “Melt” such as Jurijs mit JS experienced in this aquarium I feel confident about my livestock health
 

alto

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JBL aquasoil
Nothing against this product, but it’s a bit trickier to plant in than some others

If shop has their display tanks with this soil, they should know if it’s best planted dry, damp (slightly to quite), or wet
 
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Eheim designs the sponge at top as it’s then first in water flow, trapping large particles without impeding flow
Then water goes to bottom of filter and up through the layers
Those plastic bits spin about freely (there’s an Eheim talk about them somewhere) and don’t impede flow even as much as a coarse sponge might

Obviously set your filter up any way you like:)
But don't assume that Eheim has not done extensive research & testing on their filters (I think Green Aqua showed a bit on their tour) - it’s one of the reasons I’m a long standing Eheim fan ;)
Eheim certainly seem to make more different media than anyone else. I’m looking forward to seeing how the SubstratPro that came with my filter works out.
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
I’m looking forward to seeing how the SubstratPro that came with my filter works out.
With the proviso that there isn't a major difference from "Biohome", "Matrix", "Alfagrog", "Siporax" etc. <"Eheim "Coco-pops"> are my media of choice, if some-one else is buying it. I like the fact that it is pretty resistant to wear and self cleaning to some degree.

cheers Darrel
 
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I would have used the cheapest of those you mentioned Darrel except the Biohome which is a bit large for modest sized canister filters in my opinion. I know the Biohome can be snapped in half but that sounds like a chore! I’m also aware they sell “gravel”, perversely by weight!? :lol:
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
I would have used the cheapest of those you mentioned Darrel
Cheap is good, physically stable is even better. I would suspect that I will never need to replace the "Substrat Pro" I have now.

It is all smoke and mirrors with biological filter media. If you have a planted tank then all the talk about <"pores space and anaerobic denitrification just isn't relevant">. You get these heated discussions, youtube videos, advertising blurb etc about their <"relative merits">, but they never talk about the most important parameter, which is dissolved oxygen. You are always going to have enough space for nitrification to occur.

It is a bit like a discussion of the merits of different cars which focuses entirely <"on their colour">, and totally ignores everything else.

I've never seen any scientific research from any of the manufacturing companies. If they wanted to prove that their media was more efficient (than their competitors) there are now techniques available using <"AmoA gene markers etc." which would do that.

There is scientific research, from commercial aquaculture, on complete nitrification: <"A nitrogen removal system to limit water exchange for recirculating freshwater aquarium using DHS–USB reactor">, but there is a physical separation between the processes (aerobic = down-flow hanging sponge (DHS), anaerobic = an up-flow sludge blanket (USB)).

Additionally having both aerobic nitrification and anaerobic denitrification in your canister filter is such a bad idea, I'm not even going to go there.

cheers Darrel
 
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From a flow point of view the Siporax looks good to me but the SubstratPro looks fine, I doubt I’ll replace it unless it gets really clogged.
 

Millns84

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I used to get hung up on the expensive bio media being superior but as time went on, I realised that everything actually works... And I mean everything, pot scrubbers are popular on some sites, but literally anything non-toxic will support aerobic bacteria.

I found a supplier on Ebay for ceramic rings - 2kg for £12 or something, and they're absolutely perfect and very porous. Even better for value is Alfagrog, which I've seen going for £20 for a 15kg bag!

I run a mix of mainly Substrat Pro, JBL Micromec, Biomech and Biohome but if I was buying again, I'd just go with Alfagrog, which is mainly what my mum uses (as well as those cheap rings mentioned above) in her immaculate Roma 240.

On the subject of Biomech though, it does tend to slow the flow and might be worth replacing. I purposely use it in my Resun 2700 as the flow is insane and was digging up the gravel at the front of the tank until I added Biomech and a wider outlet!
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
I used to get hung up on the expensive bio media being superior but as time went on, I realised that everything actually works... And I mean everything, pot scrubbers are popular on some sites, but literally anything non-toxic will support aerobic bacteria.

I found a supplier on Ebay for ceramic rings - 2kg for £12 or something, and they're absolutely perfect and very porous. Even better for value is Alfagrog, which I've seen going for £20 for a 15kg bag!
That is really the heart of it.

When I was looking earlier I noticed that there were a lot of pot scubber advocates on <"Monster Fish Keepers">. They tend to have big messy fish in tanks without any plants, so oxygen (flow through the filter really) is key for them.
Siporax looks good to me but the SubstratPro looks fine, I doubt I’ll replace it unless it gets really clogged.
You never need to dispose of sintered glass (or pumice) filter media.

You can <"micro-wave">, or pressure cook, them even if they get really gungy.

cheers Darrel
 

alto

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my media of choice, if some-one else is buying it.
I must admit mine all came with filter purchases, and as Eheim just tosses in the prepacks, I’ve enough media for several more tanks than I have filters :wideyed:
 

alto

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My vote goes to these,
:wideyed:
for the cost of several of those, I can just buy Eheim media ;)
(except my lfs no longer carries Eheim :( - they got tired of waiting for Eheim’s promised NA rep to materialize)

Note that any kitchen sponge which promises to “resist odours” may have have anti-mould etc agents
 

Von Bronze

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I’ll bet you anything you like that media was not used in gunked up filter - even after cleaning and light bleach, it doesn’t look that “just like new”
You might be right, I don't have a point of reference for how this stuff looks after a year. He was getting rid of a whole set-up and everything was laid out and open to offers. Including the extra filter sponges. Maybe the seller had some spare that he didn't mention. Or is a cleaning wizard.

Nothing against this product, but it’s a bit trickier to plant in than some others
I've committed so I'll have to bite the bullet, and let you know. Just a correction it's JBL plantsoil not aquasoil as I'd written. I was going round in circles trying to pick a substrate. ADA is very dear for a first timer. Fluval stratum looks visually good but is apparently very light for planting. This seemed like a happy medium and I can get it locally if I need to add more. I was planning to plant it dry. I'll find out what's best. I'm hoping to leave it in the tank dry for a few weeks (no plants) whilst I get the remaining components and and play around with the hardscape. I'm assuming there is no issue with leaving substrate in the open air for a while. Have you used it Alto? If so, did you pre-rinse?
 

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