General maintenance advice please....

Discussion in 'Filters, Filtration and Pumps' started by Mr Bee, 9 Sep 2008.

  1. Mr Bee

    Mr Bee Member

    Messages:
    62
    Location:
    Wakefield, West Yorkshire
    Hi,

    I have a 60L tank with a Fluval 2+ internal, and just want to ask a few questions about general maintenance.

    Question 1 - So the white corse foam blocks (2 of them) are the bits where the good bacteria colonise and keep the tank cycled and mature right? - I've read different reports on wether to and how often to replace these. I always thought as these were your colony homes, you shouldn't change them.......what is everyones thoughts on this??

    Leave them? Rinse them every week? Change them one at a time? - If so, how often?


    Question 2 - The filter also came with a 'poly-pad' and a carbon pad, which you can sandwich in between the 2 bio-foam blocks. I gather the poly pad acts like a fine particle filter. I have so far cut them in half, and put half of each in at a time; so that there is half a poly pad, and half a carbon pad in together.

    Is this a good idea?, and again I'd like to ask how often these should be changed. I know carbon generally lasts about a month before losing its activity, would half a pad still last a month?

    Does the poly filter need changing (how often?) or just rinsing out every week or 2?


    And finally, just wondered what sort of volumes every else changes at weekly water change time - I tend to do a 20 - 25% change - does this sound good?


    Sorry for the big question, but we all gotta learn somewhere by asking those that know!!! :oops:
     
  2. Ed Seeley

    Ed Seeley Member

    Messages:
    3,262
    Location:
    Nottingham
    I assume the polyfilter is a fine polishing pad? When this gets blocked it'll probably need chucking as will the carbon pad. I wouldn't bother with carbon unless you get tannins (discolouration) in the water and you'll only need the polishing pad if there are bits your foam isn't picking up.

    Wash the foam in tank water and the bacterial colonies won't be too harmed by the cleaning. The biofilm that builds up are actually very resilient and soon bounce back once established, but best to play it safe and use tank water to clean them.

    20-25% will be fine each week, unless you;re adding lots of ferts, the tank is new or you're over-stocked, in which case 50% would be better. I wouldn't go over 50% except in some emergency as it's a large change in watrer parameters.
     
  3. teg1203

    teg1203 Member

    Messages:
    62
    Location:
    Mid-Wales, Powys
    I know this is a bit of an aside and going off thread but, when you say clean filters using tank water is this so that no chlorine and other tap water nasties kill the good bacteria. Does this still apply if you are using untreated well water or is there a possibility there are wrong bacteria in this. Is well water considered safe for immediate introduction to tanks.

    Sorry if I'm appearing a bit 'fick :oops: but I have asked these type of questions before and no-one has given me any definitive answers. :? Is it good or bad to use well water?

    And as "mr Bee" asked - how often do people clean their filters?
     
  4. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    8,952
    Location:
    Chicago, USA
    Hi,
    Bacteria live everywhere in your filter. In fact they live everywhere in your tank. They are in the water, on the surface of the plants, the glass, rocks and decoration and there is a huge bacterial colony living in the substrate whose population size rivals that living in the filter. If you want to save money you can just rinse the poly-pads as well as the foam blocks and reuse them because bacteria live there as well. I don't have much chlorination in my tap so I just use this but if you are worried about it then use tank water as Ed says. The reasons that we rinse any of this stuff is so that the gunk buildup doesn't cripple the throughput of your filter and so that the ammonia released by their decay doesn't infiltrate the tank. The cleaning frequency just depends on how much junk they accumulate. If you are seeing a lot of residue in the filter box then double your frequency. If it doesn't look too bad then halve the frequency. Discoloration is different than buildup though. When I used foam blocks I'd completely squeeze and thoroughly clean only half the blocks because they will get repopulated in no time flat.

    Assuming this is a CO2 injected tank I'd change as much water as I could as frequently as I could. I take as much water out until the fish have difficulty swimming. The root of all evil in a tank is dirt. Everybody freaks out about water parameter change and I just think this is paranoia. Dirt kills more fish than parameter changes. Tropical fish don't like wide temperature margins in the negative direction so you'd want to keep the new water within 3-4 degrees of the nominal. In nature fish swim from one body of water to the next and each body of water can be radically different in terms of parameters. When it rains in the tropical rain forest chemicals leach from the leaf litter and soil into the water causing a parameter change. This is no big deal. What natural systems don't experience is organic waste buildup as seen in tanks because the volumes of water are huge. You'll see improvements in fish and plant health and you'll see less algae if you get rid of as much dirty water as you can.

    The question of well water has only to do with what's in the well water. If the well water is untreated then it won't have chlorine so just add it or use it in any way you see fit. Having well water doesn't guarantee anything though because it depends what has leeched into the water from natural sources on it's way to the well so it could be high in metals or salts, and it can be high in bacteria as well. I've had well water whose source was granite filtered and was pristine and I've had well water from agricultural zones which was putrid. So there is nothing magic about well water. It is subject to the same influences of nature that public water supply is subject to, except that it is untreated, but this could be good or bad.


    Cheers,
     
  5. Mr Bee

    Mr Bee Member

    Messages:
    62
    Location:
    Wakefield, West Yorkshire
    Thanks for replies guys,

    I do always rinse biofoam in tank water, to stop chlorine in tap water killing too many off. I remove water for a water change using a syphon/gravel vac, which lets me suck some detritus up and clean gravel a bit at same time, then rinse the filter foams in this removed tank water.

    I didn't notice too much gunk in the foams when I did my w.c. on monday (there was just a bit in the outflow end), and I think its been about a month since I did them last. They were quite brown in colour though, but I assume that could just be the bacterial biofilm coating that makes it that colour.
    So if I rinse them every month, but stagger the sides - i.e. rinse side 1; 2 weeks later rinse side 2; 2 weeks later rinse side 1 again etc. does that sound like a good plan?

    Trying to get a good balance between keeping foams unclogged, and minimising any loss or detriment to the filter colonies.


    As for the poly pad, the packaging just says its a "fine filter for removing fine particles" so it could be a water polishing type thing. I did notice this had a fair bit of crud trapped in it, so it must be capturing something, again it was all really at the outflow end of the pad. I think this had been in around 2 weeks, and must be picking some fine bits up that are flowing through the foams. I'm thinking now maybe rinse poly pad every 2 weeks, but change it every month for a fresh one, to maintain fine filtering and reduce any excessive build up of trapped crap.


    I tend to have the carbon in mostly as a precautinary measure to mop up any unexpected chimcals, and also doesn't it keep water clear?? ....or so I've heard.
     

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