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Changing A Sponge On A Sponge Filter.

LyraGuppi

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How do I switch out a sponge on a sponge filter? I don't want to destroy my colony of bacteria. Would like to know beforehand, just in case.
 

Byron

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I just change it.  I will assume this is an established tank, so there will be bacteria everywhere.  And if you have plants, certainly no issues.  I wash my sponge filters under the tap every week during the water change (which is much the same thing, bacteria-wise).
 
Byron.
 

Gvilleguy

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But if you are not certain of the spread of your bacteria throughout the tank, and want to be more conservative, you could cut the sponge in half and swap out half each time. No harm in being safe.
 

TwoTankAmin

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I normally place the old sponge ina part of the tank as far from filter outputs as I can and leave it for about two weeks after swapping it out for a new one. But I have as many tanks with no plants as with them. In fact now I think it is fewer planted than not.
 

eaglesaquarium

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I second Gville's recommendation.  I am a much more conservative aquarist.  Byron is correct in established tanks, the bacteria is everywhere...
 
but just the same, I also change out the media no more than 50% at a time.  
 
 
I also only ever rinse my media in old tank water.  A bit of a rinse in tap water isn't actually dangerous to established colonies, but again, I always err on the side of caution.   Back in my younger days, I didn't rinse the media much, but when I did it was under the tap, with the hottest water I could stand...
 I always wiped out my bacteria and wondered why my fish would start getting sick after that, etc. (Oh, I have learned so much over the last 20 years!)  SO... I am a little more conservative now.  I rinse only in old tank water, and I change no more than 50% of the media at a time.
 

the_lock_man

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Byron said:
I just change it.  I will assume this is an established tank, so there will be bacteria everywhere.  And if you have plants, certainly no issues.  I wash my sponge filters under the tap every week during the water change (which is much the same thing, bacteria-wise).
 
Byron.
 
Just to be absolutely clear, if you have a new tank (ie anything where the full nitrite cycle has been established for less than 6 months or so) washing any filter material under chlorinated water is a bad idea.
 

Akasha72

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I'd never wash sponges under the tap!! 
 I'm actually horrified that anyone would! It's incredibly brave 

 
I'd also second swapping 50% at a time - or seeing if you can cram bits of the old sponge somewhere - but I know that's not always an option depending on filter design
 

fishmanphil

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my Juwel filter has 2 sponges and what I have done in the past is change 1 filter then 2-3 weeks later change the other, never been a problem. The ones I have in now are 2 years old and still going strong. I have heard of one chap who has 10 year old sponges!
 
A quick rinse in old tank water every couple of weeks does the trick.
 

Byron

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Akasha72 said:
I'd never wash sponges under the tap!! 
 I'm actually horrified that anyone would! It's incredibly brave 

 
I'd also second swapping 50% at a time - or seeing if you can cram bits of the old sponge somewhere - but I know that's not always an option depending on filter design
 
I recall a professional microbiologist on another site telling me privately that she always rinsed her filter media under the tap, as I have done for 25+ years with no harm, even though her advice to new folks is to play it safe.  Which is fine.  Everything has to be taken in context.
 

baker360360

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Mine are well over a year old and I only clean them in tank water when the output flow slows down. I would only change them if they were falling apart like my filter wool/floss.
 

TwoTankAmin

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Chlorine and chloramine in ones tap will not kill of the nitrifying bacteria. i just posted all this in another thread. here si some of the science to support this, if anybody has science which indicates the contrary, please provide some links. Here it is again.
 
Again this is more myth than fact. The odds are rinsing your filter media out under tap will kill almost none of the nitrifying bacteria. The reason is twofold. First, the levels of chlorine or chloramine in ones tap are fairly low. Second, the biofilm in which the bacteria are living protects them, Cloramine doesn't kill, it just "puts them to sleep" and when they wake up because the chloramine has broken down, the ammonia present gives them a jolt and they are right back to working again. Chlorine might kill them except it penetrates the biofilm at about 1/39th to 1/49th the speed of chloramine, So before chlorine can do an real damage it will be diluted and neutralized by the dechlor in the tank or because it evaporates.
 
Read here in a doctoral thesis- Development and Use of Microelectrodes to Evaluate Nitrification within Chloraminated Drinking Water System Biofilms, and the Effects of Phosphate as a Corrosion Inhibitor on Nitrifying Biofilm and you will see:
Quote
 
Monochloramine penetrated fully into nitrifying biofilms within 24 hours when fed at a 4:1 Cl2:N ratio, showing a cessation of aerobic activity via DO penetration following application of monochloramine. However, monochloramine penetration did not necessarily equate to a loss in viability, and the presence of excess ammonia in the water system prevented microbial inactivation. Biofilm recovery occurred when disinfection stopped. Monochloramine showed greater penetration compared to chlorine. Monochloramine penetrated into the biofilm surface layer 49 times faster than chlorine within the nitrifying biofilm and 39 times faster in the multi-species biofilm than did chlorine. Phosphate was found to act positively on biofilm development and nitrification in the long term. Phosphate microprofiles showed that phosphate contents in the biofilm was independent on the nitrifying activity.
from https://etd.ohiolink...58489526/inline
 
And read here- Effect of free ammonia concentration on monochloramine penetration within a nitrifying biofilm and its effect on activity, viability, and recovery where you will read this:
Quote
 
Under both monochloramine application conditions, monochloramine fully penetrated into the nitrifying biofilm within 24 h. Despite this complete monochloramine penetration, complete viability loss did not occur, and both biofilm samples subsequently recovered aerobic activity when fed only free ammonia.
from http://www.ncbi.nlm....pubmed/22192761
 
That said, in general it is better to be safe than sorry. But your fish and shrimp are more at risk from chlorine and chloramine than your bacteria.
 
OP
LyraGuppi

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I just swish my sponges (Hydro-Sponge) in the old tank water and rub them a bit to get any detritus off, then put them back on.
 
Thanks guys!
 

Byron

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baker360360 said:
Mine are well over a year old and I only clean them in tank water when the output flow slows down. I would only change them if they were falling apart like my filter wool/floss.
 
The danger in doing this (which I used to do, that is, waiting until I saw a decrease in flow) is that the fish are being affected.  This was driven home to me one time when I was sitting in front of my largest aquarium, and I noticed that the cories were respirating more laboured than normal.  First instinct of course is to assume some problem with the water, but before I pulled out the test kits I noticed that the filter return current was less than usual.  To cut to the end of the story, cleaning out the filter restored the flow and within minutes the cories were back to normal respiration.
 
Each aquarium/filter design will be different, and some filters may need cleaning more frequently.  But it seems preferable to ascertain the normal period that can go between cleanings and devise a schedule.  I now do the canisters every three months, and I've not had issues.  There is no benefit to allowing anything to deteriorate sufficiently for fish to be affected, and given the close physiological connection between fish and water, this puts considerable stress on the fish even though it may be unobserved by the aquarist.

 
Byron.
 

TwoTankAmin

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I find myself disagreeing with Byron on this. I used to have the same opinion but that was changed by a Ph.D. who is way more expert than I am. It is why I am changing over many of my filters. Let me offer you the following form one of his articles:
 
What does that mean for aquarium biofiltration?
 
Water filtration is teamwork by the members of the substrate microbial community from all domains of life. This is an important conclusion, both for freshwater and marine habitats. The different players form a food web, where most organisms cannot exist alone but are interdependent. The microbial community varies greatly depending on the availability of foods, pore sizes, and substrates. Soil biofiltration is therefore very plastic, meaning it can cope with a variety of conditions. However, one feature is common. Natural layers of biofiltration are usually undisturbed for longer periods of time (many weeks and months). In nature, no one squeezes out the debris or rinses the media on a weekly schedule. Occasionally, seasonal floods or rains may “wash” a gravel bed but regular rinsing of the filter media is not happening. The microorganisms eat the debris and the sludge is completely broken down into gases and soluble products that then escape the pore space. Soil biofilters are almost maintenance-free. The released substances are either getting into the atmosphere or are taken up by plants.
 
For aquarium biofiltration to be most effective, filters should be running undisturbed for as long as possible. Filter media that remain passable and have a variety of pore sizes are best. Given that we like to influence the water parameters depending on the species we keep, and thus make water soft, hard, etc, the filter media should be chemically inert, so that it does not affect the water chemistry by itself.
Author © Stephan M. Tanner, PhD
 
from http://www.swisstropicals.com/library/aquarium-biofiltration/
 
The above processes will only work for so long depending on the bio-media being used. The better the design and the greater the quantity in use with the proper glow rate, the longer the media will be doing its job.
 
The author has similar credentials as Dr. Hovanec. Read his Bio here http://www.swisstropicals.com/about-us/
 
post script- I clean my canisters twice a year or half as often as Byron. One of the canisters is on a 75 gal tank that holds 20 zebra plecos. It has two sponged powerheads as well. I have not lost a zebra in this tank so far. It began with only 17 but I added another offspring and then a couple of adult males from a trade went in about 6 weeks ago. I will admit I rinse the powerhead sponges weekly. Yhe tank is bare bottom and contain no [ants.
 
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