Interesting proposal

Bruce Leyland-Jones

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Our water usually makes a serious journey from source to tap and, apparently, every point is open to bacterial contamination. It is also accepted that bacteria are increasingly resilient to antibiotics and other treatments, so chlorine/chloramine is used to kill any bacteria.
Not just bruise it, bash it about, or give it a good telling off, but to kill it.
Stone dead.

I'd then struggle to understand how this treatment would not kill a portion of our beneficial bacteria and I would need to see valid scientific evidence that it does not, before I subject my own BB to unconditioned tap water.
I'd also be aware that our tap water still contains contaminants other than bacteria, such as heavy metals and so on. Rinsing filter sponges in unconditioned tap water would contaminate them in these trace elements, (which would accumulate over time), whereas this wouldn't become an issue when washing the filter in already-treated aquarium waters.
 

seangee

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I only have sponge in all 4 of my tanks' filters. I rinse these under the tap at every water change.
I have plants and substrate so the filters only exist for circulation and mechanical filtration. Makes perfect sense to me that you would want to get rid of whatever was mechanically filtered out.

It makes sense to preserve BB at all costs in an immature or newly cycled tank but once established there is really no need.
 
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Guyb93

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Our water usually makes a serious journey from source to tap and, apparently, every point is open to bacterial contamination. It is also accepted that bacteria are increasingly resilient to antibiotics and other treatments, so chlorine/chloramine is used to kill any bacteria.
Not just bruise it, bash it about, or give it a good telling off, but to kill it.
Stone dead.

I'd then struggle to understand how this treatment would not kill a portion of our beneficial bacteria and I would need to see valid scientific evidence that it does not, before I subject my own BB to unconditioned tap water.
I'd also be aware that our tap water still contains contaminants other than bacteria, such as heavy metals and so on. Rinsing filter sponges in unconditioned tap water would contaminate them in these trace elements, (which would accumulate over time), whereas this wouldn't become an issue when washing the filter in already-treated aquarium waters.
I’m with you the whole idea seems ludicrous, I’m never one to argue with a more experienced mind about water. Parameters, it was just there concept of if things are done correctly and not rushed you can cut corners , they didn’t recommend this process just explaining how they don’t always conform to what’s traditional in the hobby
 
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Guyb93

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I only have sponge in all 4 of my tanks' filters. I rinse these under the tap at every water change.
I have plants and substrate so the filters only exist for circulation and mechanical filtration. Makes perfect sense to me that you would want to get rid of whatever was mechanically filtered out.

It makes sense to preserve BB at all costs in an immature or newly cycled tank but once established there is really no need.
Basically what they were saying word for word , a tank that’s been running over a year has enough bb between the 5 prices of glass to support the tank with out the bb in the filter
 

Naughts

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I read here that experienced members were rinsing sponges in tap water without issue. Both members have heavily planted tanks BTW, I assume that has relevance.
I know that new tanks have the vast majority of their BB in the filter, and I know that tanks are meant to be mature/ established at 6 months. At this point there are more BB around the tank (substrate, glass etc) so there are enough BB regardless of any lost through washing sponges. So having a tank that had been running for more than 6 months so I tried rinsing the sponges under the tap. After each occasion the tank got cloudy water.
However after the tank was 1 year old I have never had the cloudy water problem so now always use the tap to rinse filter sponges.
I would always recommend on here that tank water is used, as posters and readers often have new tanks but for my established tanks I prefer to use the tap as it is more efficient.

BTW, what is the podcast called?
 

AbbeysDad

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Many hobbyists have become convinced that beneficial bacteria only lives in the filter and of course only lives in commercial bio-media, be it ceramic, plastic, or rock - nonsense dosed with marketing genius.
Now a filter is a generally a good place for bacteria since food and oxygen is routinely delivered but it's well known that bacteria colonizes all hard surfaces in the aquarium, especially on and in the substrate. But this is far greater in the established (6 months and longer) aquarium. In the new setup, bacteria may first colonize the filter.
On the subject of filters let me point out that The Very Best Aquarium Filter doesn't come in a box. And let me also point out that magical, mystical, commercial bio-media is mostly marketing hype. Since ANY solid surface will support biological colonization, it comes down merely to surface area. And the saying "there's no such thing as too much filtration" should more appropriately apply to filtration surface area NOT faster water flow. As a matter of fact, faster water flow actually reduces the effectiveness of bio-filtration as much of the food (ammonia and nitrites) just whizzes on by. ALL of my filters are completely filled with sponge material. Sponge material for bio-filtration can't really be debated when so many large fishrooms rely solely on air driven sponge filters!
---
So back to the question of whether or not to clean filter media sponges in tap water, the answer is simply that it depends. As already mentioned, if you have a well managed, established aquarium with plants and a light bio-load, thoroughly cleaning a filter in tap water would likely not cause an ammonia spike. Then again if it's a fairly new setup, no plants, and several fish - it could spell disaster!!!
---
On the subject of filter cleaning, I've had a change of heart in more recent years. I used to think that detritus trapped in the filter decomposes and pollutes the water so we should clean the filter routinely to get the crud out. More recently, (much like not disturbing the sand bed so as not to upset the biological layers), I've decided that the biological colony in the filter matures to it's most effectiveness when undisturbed. So these days, I don't clean filters until I notice a significant reduction in water flow, and then I only clean enough to restore flow.
Our objective is to achieve and maintain crystal clear water through filtration and routine partial water changes.
For a deep dive check out Filtration and Water Quality. :)
 
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Guyb93

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Many hobbyists have become convinced that beneficial bacteria only lives in the filter and of course only lives in commercial bio-media, be it ceramic, plastic, or rock - nonsense dosed with marketing genius.
Now a filter is a generally a good place for bacteria since food and oxygen is routinely delivered but it's well known that bacteria colonizes all hard surfaces in the aquarium, especially on and in the substrate. But this is far greater in the established (6 months and longer) aquarium. In the new setup, bacteria may first colonize the filter.
On the subject of filters let me point out that The Very Best Aquarium Filter doesn't come in a box. And let me also point out that magical, mystical, commercial bio-media is mostly marketing hype. Since ANY solid surface will support biological colonization, it comes down merely to surface area. And the saying "there's no such thing as too much filtration" should more appropriately apply to filtration surface area NOT faster water flow. As a matter of fact, faster water flow actually reduces the effectiveness of bio-filtration as much of the food (ammonia and nitrites) just whizzes on by. ALL of my filters are completely filled with sponge material. Sponge material for bio-filtration can't really be debated when so many large fishrooms rely solely on air driven sponge filters!
---
So back to the question of whether or not to clean filter media sponges in tap water, the answer is simply that it depends. As already mentioned, if you have a well managed, established aquarium with plants and a light bio-load, thoroughly cleaning a filter in tap water would likely not cause an ammonia spike. Then again if it's a fairly new setup, no plants, and several fish - it could spell disaster!!!
---
On the subject of filter cleaning, I've had a change of heart in more recent years. I used to think that detritus trapped in the filter decomposes and pollutes the water so we should clean the filter routinely to get the crud out. More recently, (much like not disturbing the sand bed so as not to upset the biological layers), I've decided that the biological colony in the filter matures to it's most effectiveness when undisturbed. So these days, I don't clean filters until I notice a significant reduction in water flow, and then I only clean enough to restore flow.
Our objective is to achieve and maintain crystal clear water through filtration and routine partial water changes.
For a deep dive check out Filtration and Water Quality. :)
I don’t delve too much into the world of bb I just know I need it and how not to kill it but I also hear lots of different things about bb like mature bb isn’t no where near as effect as young growing bb , but for well over a year when I was younger I used to think that the sludge in the filter was priceless and shouldn’t be cleaned , I still here that to this day ohh the sludge is good but I don’t know a lot of the older guys per say have hard heads and refuse to change something that worked for them for decades are they wrong to continue doing out dated methods or is the practice in the method and if it’s working is it wrong ? I don’t know lol stuff like bb preservation is completely different per tank and what could world for me could kill others tanks right off , is that why there’s a text book routine to avoid things like that
 

Bruce Leyland-Jones

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Whilst I'm more than happy to believe that my BB lives elsewhere than the filter, I've grown to view it as valuable resource, not to be squandered.
Who knows what may happen to my tank in the future, possibly damaging my BB population?
The more established BB I have to hand, the 'safer' I feel.

It also means I have the stuff to spare if I want to set up another tank, or a hospital or quarantine tank.
 

AbbeysDad

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I don’t delve too much into the world of bb I just know I need it and how not to kill it but I also hear lots of different things about bb like mature bb isn’t no where near as effect as young growing bb , but for well over a year when I was younger I used to think that the sludge in the filter was priceless and shouldn’t be cleaned ,......
As one example, consider for a moment Charles Clapsaddle of Goliad Farms in South Texas. He's a breeder in greenhouses with 55g and 300g vats. The water is filtered ONLY by plants (lots and large) and he doesn't do water changes, just well water top offs. His vats have several inches of mulm that he's convinced is full of beneficial bacteria and paramecium that feeds small fry. Since he breeds, grows out, and sells hundreds of fish, clearly it works for him.
 

wasmewasntit

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I think it really depends on your own personal choice....if you have mature aquaria, then rinse in tap water or if your aquaria is relatively new, then use the old water.

As long as you are fully aware of all potential pitfalls and have a plan/equipment in place to use should the worst happen then people should do whatever they feel is appropriate for their own set up and aquatic ability......no two aquaria are the same so one size will not fit all.

I made a conscious choice to use old water cos it worked for my dad and it works for me and my fish and I tend to prefer the low risk route.
 
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Guyb93

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I’m glad everyone has mixed views on this my initial response was baffled and didn’t realise that people did that even after 10+ years of trying to keep fish I learn things aren’t always wrong and right and do what’s works for you , I won’t be cleaning with tap water personally just too cautious with the biological side I much prefer to adventure with improbable stocking and discovering the nature of fish rather than what they need to live .the topic just really intrigued me with it being against the grain of things
 

malfunction

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Funnily enough, I was watching a Prime Time Aquatics video on this a few months ago. Apparently, he washes his filters under tap water too. He acknowledges that this may kill some of his bacteria, but because he runs multiple filters simultaneously, there’s always enough bacteria to recolonise the filter media without it impacting his water quality. In addition, his tanks do also have lots of decorations (live plants, wood, rocks etc), which could also house beneficial bacteria. I think he also did another video where he went through the amount of time filter media would need to be saturated in tap water before it killed most of the bacteria (from memory, I think it was about an hour)



As well as being a keen hobbyist,he’s a microbiology professor, so I’m inclined to believe his argument that the bacteria are more resilient than we usually think. However, most of the time I still use either old tank water or dechlorinated tap water to clean my filters. It’s one of those habits I’m reluctant to break even though science says I can do otherwise.
 

Byron

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To your initial question in post #1...the points you cite from the programme are definitely true. There is no harm in cleaning filter media under the tap, provided the tank is established (and understand established is different from cycled), and assuming you have a substrate of sand or fine gravel. If there are fast-growing live plants then you do not even need a biological filter, so it is even safer. Again, assuming the tank is established and biologically balanced.

There are several myths about filtration, I know @AbbeysDad has often written about these, as I have, and others. Some members in this present thread have provided insight, so I won't repeat.

My article on bacteria may provide some background, it is on AbbeysDad's blog here:

The science is clear, and I'd be happy to explain further if asked.
 

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