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Old 08-01-2011, 09:24 AM   #1 
tlyons01
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Talking Yet another cycling question about filter media

New tank, all ready, about to add ammonia. Before I do that, can anyone tell me their opinion of what I should have in my filter? I have the Aquaclear 20 the 3 stage filtration system. I intend to put live plants in, so I have determined it is best NOT to have the charcoal bag. In its place, can I shift the bio bag down? If I do that, it will not be filled to the top, and will this effect the performance of the filter? I added a sponge to my existing cycled tank about a week ago, and I am aware that I can add that to the empty area in the filter, should I place this on the media side and allow it to replace the space where I removed the carbon bag and does it matter what order I have the sponges in? Sponge, bio bag, sponge? Or what... Sorry for so many ???'s but I am new to cycling this way and I just bought the filter yesterday so I am not familiar with all of this.. Thanks in advance for your advice!!!
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Old 08-01-2011, 10:15 AM   #2 
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I think that would be fine. I don't see a problem with it. :)
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Old 08-01-2011, 10:57 AM   #3 
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Originally Posted by tlyons01 View Post
New tank, all ready, about to add ammonia. Before I do that, can anyone tell me their opinion of what I should have in my filter? I have the Aquaclear 20 the 3 stage filtration system. I intend to put live plants in, so I have determined it is best NOT to have the charcoal bag. In its place, can I shift the bio bag down? If I do that, it will not be filled to the top, and will this effect the performance of the filter? I added a sponge to my existing cycled tank about a week ago, and I am aware that I can add that to the empty area in the filter, should I place this on the media side and allow it to replace the space where I removed the carbon bag and does it matter what order I have the sponges in? Sponge, bio bag, sponge? Or what... Sorry for so many ???'s but I am new to cycling this way and I just bought the filter yesterday so I am not familiar with all of this.. Thanks in advance for your advice!!!
It is often best to have some mechanical filtration before your biological filtration media so that debri does not take up surface area reserved for your beneficial bacteria. Otherwise it does not typically matter what goes where. The more filtration you add the better. If you have extra room in your filter you might think about adding zeolite granules in a little baggy behind your bio media. That way any ammonia that your filtration could not convert will be absorbed. I find that in my aquariums this helps to keep all traces of ammonia out. Also, the best budget bio filtration media that I have found is dollar store nylon or plastic kitchen scrubbies. They come in multi packs and offer about 300-400sq. ft./cu. ft. of surface area, which simply put is a lot of room for you beneficial bacteria to grow! If you have a spare buck and room for one or two in your filter you might think of using these instead of filter floss.
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Old 08-01-2011, 11:41 AM   #4 
tlyons01
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Thank you both for your responses. I currently put the sponge that was sitting in my other tank on the top, then the biomax bag and then the other sponge filter. I had to take it apart anyway cause it was not very quiet and I had to fix that too. Also, if I have the bacteria in my top sponge, how long do I have to get ammonia in the tank before they die off? I found that my bottle is not pure and I can't get out to search for any until later today
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Old 08-01-2011, 01:31 PM   #5 
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Thank you both for your responses. I currently put the sponge that was sitting in my other tank on the top, then the biomax bag and then the other sponge filter. I had to take it apart anyway cause it was not very quiet and I had to fix that too. Also, if I have the bacteria in my top sponge, how long do I have to get ammonia in the tank before they die off? I found that my bottle is not pure and I can't get out to search for any until later today
I can't personally cite any studies that have been done on nitrifying bacteria lifespan in aquarium habitats. The best way to test the efficiency of your biological filtration system is to test and track the production of nitrates in your water. A healthy bio filtration system will add a constant and steady amount of nitrate to water over time. Your aquarium should experience a linear increase in nitrate. Without a steady supply of ammonia your bacteria will eventually die off and need to be reestablished, I don’t however know how long this may take.

It is nice to have pre-colonized filter media that you can add to jumpstart a new aquarium. I often start new filters in an existing aquarium sometime before setting up a new one so that my filter media is already mature when I add the first fish to my new tank. I keep the “starter filter/media” in the old tank though until I am ready to add fish to the new one so that the beneficial bacteria continue to have a steady supply of nutrients. If you want to seed your new aquarium I would add your fish and seeded media/filter at the same time. It sounds like you have already added the media to your new aquarium though. How long will it be before you add fish to the aquarium? That would help a lot in determining what you should do with your filter.

In addition, when it is time to add fish to your aquarium it would help to have chemical filter media on hand to use for the first few weeks while your tank is adjusting to your new fish. I personally recommend Nitrazorb or Zeolite granules as these coupled with regular water changes will help make up for any lack of filtration from your biological media. It is important to place these at the back of your filtration system so that they will not absorb all of the nutrients and starve your beneficial bacteria colony. I keep a small amount of each on hand always. I especially like Nitrazorb as it can be recharged by placing it in a saltwater (regular non iodine table salt is fine) soak, and removes NH3,NO3 and NO4. I use nylon stocking or filter media bags to contain these media. I use these as temporary supplements to my filtration systems rather than permanent solutions.

Water tests for ammonia/nitrite/nitrate will help you determine what your filtration needs are at any given time in a particular system. Hope this helps!
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Old 08-01-2011, 04:52 PM   #6 
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Thank you, yes it does help. I did already add the filter media, I am not sure that it housed much bacteria as it was only in the other filter for about a week. I just located the ammonia needed to do the cycling and have a test going right now to get that part finished. I intend to use a sockfull or some netting to put some seed gravel in and hope that gets things going too. Thanks again!
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