Can an old air pump make water DIRTIER?

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Nells250

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HI folks, first post!

I am new at fish-keeping (unless you count the goldfish we had when I was in elementary school). I have two betta fish, an adult female and a juvenile that is SUPPOSED to be a male but we now think is female.

Both are in their own smallish unfiltered tanks, due to a lack of space and $$ for anything better. I keep up on their water changes and they are both happy.

I remembered that many years ago I had bought an all-in-one tank but never used it, and took the air pump out to see if it still worked, and sure enough it did. So I bought new hose and a replacement filter cartridge made by Aqueon to see what would happen when using just it (and not the entire little filter/decoration) in a glass vase with water and my spare plants.

YES, tiny budget...

Anyhoo, I ran my test twice, and both times the water actually got DIRTIER! All this "stuff" was floating around, almost looked like "dust strings". Not many bubbles came out, but they did come out, so air was getting through. The second time I made sure I left the pump on overnight, and it didn't matter, the water was still filled with odd, light colored "stuff". My two little tanks are WAY cleaner with just plain unfiltered water!

Is it possible the pump is too old, and perhaps something inside broke down through the years in storage, even though it was never even turned on? It is too old to find info about, but it is an AQT 3001.

What could the "stuff" that ended up in the water have been?

(SEE PICS... you can't see the floaty stuff very well)
 

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An old pump could send some oil or diaphragm/filter debris into the tank but I doubt that is what you are seeing. Most likely (luckily) the diaphragm is probably cracked or brittle. A fully functioning pump would create a maelstrom given the small volume of water in that bowl. Your Betta would not like that. Personally, I not chase good money after bad on the pump and would spend my money on a larger tank for your Betta.
 
For the record, there are no fish in that glass vase. It is just an old vase that I have spare plants in.

Sounds like that old pump isn't worth keeping. Maybe for fun I'll open it up and see what it looks like in there. If I break something, so be it!
 
What happens if you run the pump with a hose, but do not connect it to the cartridge? Does it pump out particles? If not, then the cartridge is the problem.
 
What happens if you run the pump with a hose, but do not connect it to the cartridge? Does it pump out particles? If not, then the cartridge is the problem.

Well now THAT makes sense!! (dopeslap)

I'm going to try that right now! STAY TUNED!!!
 
OK, so I put a tube from the pump directly into the vase, and was getting LOTS of bubbles. THEN I put the check valve back and now the bubbles are super weak! I know I have the valve going the right way because when I tried turning it around, no air came out.

Do check valves cut down on the air pressure as well? I thought they ONLY acted as safety against back-siphoning.

Too soon to check water for "floaties" yet.
 
OK, so I put a tube from the pump directly into the vase, and was getting LOTS of bubbles. THEN I put the check valve back and now the bubbles are super weak! I know I have the valve going the right way because when I tried turning it around, no air came out.

Do check valves cut down on the air pressure as well? I thought they ONLY acted as safety against back-siphoning.

Too soon to check water for "floaties" yet.
I think you have a defective valve.
 
OK kids, here's the deal...

LONG STORY SHORT, after reading reviews about the brand valve I have, I took a toothpick and slid it through the middle of the rubber thingy inside, and PRESTO!!! I have bubbles!

TOO MANY bubbles, actually, so I remembered I had picked up a control valve as well, and installed it. It is a low tech one, but the bubbles are nice and gentle now. (well, gentle-ish)

I can now answer TNG's question: NO debris with just air tubing... NO debris with tubing and check valve... and NOW the little filter cartridge has been bubbling away in the test vase for about 3 hours. Other than some stuff on the plant leaves, I see NO mystery floaties!

And so this brings up the question: was a lack of air flow through the check valve somehow causing the mystery shmoo?? Was the pump working too hard or something?

We may never know....................... 🤪
 

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