Cleaning of Filter Media

Discussion in 'Filters, Filtration and Pumps' started by Dolly Sprint 16v, 16 Apr 2009.

  1. Dolly Sprint 16v

    Dolly Sprint 16v Member

    Messages:
    1,611
    Location:
    Cheshire
    Gang@Ukaps

    Following my thread regarding "Planting a High Tech Tanks" got me thinking today. viewtopic.php?f=38&t=5712#p63343

    It was brought to attention yesterday that old tank water is not what you wont within an aquarium when trying to mature a new set, this is due to toxins and algae spores etc. so - why is it recommended that the filter media from a mature set up is washed out or cleaned in old aquarium water - obviously the toxins / algae spore etc are present within the water whether it is from a mature set up or a new set up, so why is it advisable to wash out matured filter media in old tank water surely you are going to imported these particles or substances into the filter media. A better method would be to washed out the media in de-chlorinated water or would it.

    Regards

    Paul.
     
  2. Ed Seeley

    Ed Seeley Member

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    3,262
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    Nottingham
    I'm sorry Paul but I think you've kinda got the wrong end of the stick here.

    It's not that you don't 'want' old water in a tank it's just that you don't need to retain old water. (However I still do retain at least 50% old water when changing a tank so the fish aren't subjected to water changes of more than 50%) The benefits of new water are as I and others detailed in the thread you linked to above.

    The reason for washing dirty filter media in tank water is that it does not contain chlorine and chloramine which are bactericides and will kill off the bacteria living on the filter media. Bear in mind the filter media will be constantly straining the tank water so will contain large amounts of whatever dirt os in the tank's water. To use new dechlorinated water is pointless unless your tank water is so filthy that it makes the media even dirtier! If this is the case then you need to do more water changes to remove all that dirt!
     
  3. nry

    nry Member

    Messages:
    1,239
    Location:
    Cumbria, UK
    I'm inclined to agree unless someone can say definitively otherwise.

    I'd not bother with old tank water for a new tank but I would use old filter media to start a new filter off.

    Old tank water for washing filter media is pretty much the same as using dechlorinated water - you don't want to use tap water as it'll contain chlorine/chloramine which will kill off some of the filter bacteria.

    I always thought that you changed 50% once a week with EI to maintain a consistent nutrient level but it seems I might be wrong there...you can do 1/2 EI and do 25% a week...so the 50% change can't be down to clearing toxins otherwise you'd still have to do 50% a week surely?

    At the end of the day, ammonia triggers algae - what any fertilisation method aims to achieve (EI included) is enough plant growth to ensure the plants absorb any excess ammonia before the algae get a chance to use much of it. Plants take up ammonia before any other nitrogen source.
     
  4. Dolly Sprint 16v

    Dolly Sprint 16v Member

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Cheshire
    Ed

    let me re-phase the thread.

    It was brought to attention yesterday that keeping or retaining old tank water is not what you wont within an aquarium when trying to mature a new setregular water changes - may be every day or every other day is required until the filter media matures , this is due to toxins and algae spores etc. so - why is it recommended that the filter media from a mature set up is washed out or cleaned in old aquarium water that has just been removed- obviously the toxins / algae spore etc are present within this water whether it is from a mature set up or a new set up, so why is it advisable to wash out matured filter media in old retained tank water surely you are going to imported these particles or substances back into the the filter media when you are trying or have removed them by carrying out a 50% water change. A better method would be to washed out the media in de-chlorinated water or would it.

    Regards

    Paul.[/quote]
     
  5. TLH

    TLH Member

    Messages:
    186
    Location:
    Northants
    You simply can't get rid of the spores and toxins in either new or old water. Washing the media in old water is just handier as you're throwing it away anyway. By washing the media you are removing more stuff than you are putting back in the tank had you left it dirty. Washing the media in new dechlorinated water would do nothing for your algae spore count unless you changed all the water and washed the gravel/substrate and scrubbed the glass every time you did it. Even then there would be more than enough new spores settled in from the air each day to put you back at step one in no time at all.
     
  6. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Chicago, USA
    Paul, don't get too wrapped around the axle with this. As Ed points out, washing the media out with water, any water, gets rid of muck and dirt right now. This muck blocks the filter and reduces the overall effectiveness of the bacteria in the media. When we're washing out the filter the priority is to remove the muck. We don't really care about spores, which, in this case is no where near as important in number as the damage created by muck clogging the media.

    Some people's tap water is highly chlorinated, so as Ed says, there is a risk that the chlorine will kill some bacteria as it's making contact with the media. What you say is absolutely true in principle. Clean, dechlorinated water is theoretically ideal as it would have no spores, no muck and no chlorine to contaminate the media. In practice though, the amount of trouble necessary to collect this water just so you can clean filter media just isn't worth it. At least that's what 99% of people feel. Life is complicated enough. Filter cleaning and water changing is a major drag in my book. Most really hate it (at least I do). So we want to simplify and minimize the tedium as much as possible. Some people in high chlorinated regions fret about chlorine so they just pull some water from the tank, wash and drain the media and chuck the water away. For these folks, whatever minimal algae spores get trapped in the media (if they even consider it) is much less important than the confidence that they haven't killed their precious bacteria and that they have gotten rid of all that muck, so it's a matter of relative importance.

    For the rest of us, even doing that is too much trouble. I just take my media trays out, place them on the lawn, spray with my garden hose and call it good.

    There is a basic concept that the more complicated something is, the less likely you are to keep doing it. Only an anorak would set aside dechlorinated water just for the purpose of media cleaning and the benefit, in terms of algae control or bacterial management would hardly be noticeable.

    Hope this clarifies.

    Cheers,
     

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