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Old 03-23-2010, 02:25 AM   #1 
hawkeyz799
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Keeping a tank cycled with Penn Plax Small World Filter?

I have a 5 gallon tank with one betta fish, a couple of fake plants, and gravel that I managed to get cycled with the penn plax small world filter. I just had a couple of questions:

1) How do I keep it cycled when I have to change out the filter cartridge (recommended every 2-4 weeks apparently)? Will the bacteria that is built up on the gravel be sufficient enough to hold the tank over until the bacteria begins to grow on the sponge in the new cartridge?

2)Also, how do I go about solving the problem with the zeolite in the cartridges (which absorb ammonia, which to my knowledge I thought is the bacteria's food source), so would I end up killing off the entire cycle every filter swap?

THANKS!
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Old 03-23-2010, 01:15 PM   #2 
Oldfishlady
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I am not a fan of the ammonia absorbing products, to me they are a cover up or excuse for proper water changes, they do have their place in some cases though.....the trash....lol......all kidding aside, they do have some useful applications......

On your filer media, you can cause a mini cycle if you throw it out or change it, I only replace my filter media 1-2 times a year when I used it and only when it is falling apart, yes, the package direction tell you to change them every 3-4 weeks, but IMO/E you don't need to do this and it is their way to make money...I don't know about you but I want my money in my pocket...lol.....

If you do want to keep using the packaged filter media and it is time to change it, cut some of the old filter media away and place this behind the new filter media for a week or two to help seed the new media and then toss the old piece out....or just give the old filter media a good swish in old tank water with one of the weekly water changes and keep using it, you want it to look dirty that is the good bacteria, I only swish/rinse in old tank water when the flow is slowed or it has lots of big pieces of gunk on it

I no longer even buy filter media, I use polyfill that I get in big bags at the craft department, the only thing I want in my filter is something to grab the big stuff and for the good bacteria to grow on, regardless of filtration you still have to make regular water changes for the health of the fish and over all well being of the tank in general.

Most of the charcoal that is in the filter media is of low quality and only active for a week or two a month at the most, so it is useless, I never use carbon unless I need to clean tannins out and in the rare case that I use medications to remove them, but I mostly just make a water change...seem to do a better job and the fish like it......
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Old 03-24-2010, 01:29 AM   #3 
doubleatheman
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We have been using the Penn SMW filter for about 9 years now. (Well on and off during that period of time.)

I then refill it with fresh carbon or ammo-carb, and clean off the filter/sponge and put the sponge back in, put a rubber band around it and your good to go. (Use 2 rubber bands, I had one break and carbon went all over the tank)

I used to replace the sponge/filter stuffing every time, but now I know better :)

Basically I attack the old filters with a small flat screwdriver, and pry the back off. It took me a few tries, the first few filters shattered into many pieces, you have to slowly work at the glue in each corner. In the long run its much much cheaper this way.

On either side of the scredriver set is a filter, one I made from my own materials, one is an original. They look and work the same. 8)

So replace the carbon, don't replace the sponge, until it is falling apart.





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Old 03-24-2010, 03:34 PM   #4 
kelly528
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I have to stick with oldfishlady on this one... not a fan of carbon here. Apart from the fact that it hogs ammonia from nitrifying bacteria, replacing carbon monthly can also get expensive. Further to that, carbon usually becomes 'saturated' with ammonia, odors and other junk within a few days meaning it gets so 'full' it cannot absorb them anymore. So unless you are replacing your carbon at least weekly there is no real benefit to it.

A simple solution would be to pop the filter open as doubleatheman did, take the carbon out and stuff the whole thing with sponge or filter floss.
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Old 03-24-2010, 04:19 PM   #5 
Chicklet
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I have a bunch of those here and like doubleathema I removed the back,

First thing I did was remove all the black crap and put it in the trash.

You got two options,
1. fill it back with media, any type, floss, sponge whatever works for you,

Some of mine have sponge in them, Those I cut in half, Give or take a month remove half of the sponge and clean it or swosh it in the old filtered water.

Floss, same thing, swish half of it in water or totally clean it and return it,

The benefit of only doing half at a time, is sometimes when you swish the whole sponge/floss in old water, you can accidentally clean a little to much and cause a mini cycle, By only doing half per month you pretty much eliminate that from happening and your cycle continues UN interrupted.

Last edited by Chicklet; 03-24-2010 at 04:28 PM.
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Old 03-27-2010, 02:13 AM   #6 
soleilvie
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I don't meant to take over this thread or anything but I have a similar question regarding changing the filter/affecting the cycle. My tank uses these and also says to replace every 2-4 weeks. So it really doesn't need to be changed that often? Whenever I do change it, how much of the old filter should I put with the new one?

kelly528, does this filter contain the carbon you mentioned? It looks like it is specific to the tank (my filter is in the hood) so I guess I'm out of luck for getting different filter media?
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Old 03-27-2010, 11:40 AM   #7 
Oldfishlady
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On those type of filters, I cut a small slit in them and dump out the charcoal and save it for later if I need it, I also stuff more polyfill inside of them.
As far as changing, I would dump the carbon and only change it out when it is falling apart and only rinsing/swishing in removed tank water every couple of weeks or when the water flow slows. When you have to change them out just cut the blue pad off and when you dump the carbon in the new one stuff the old filter media inside.
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Old 03-27-2010, 06:46 PM   #8 
doubleatheman
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oldfishlady View Post
On those type of filters, I cut a small slit in them and dump out the charcoal and save it for later if I need it, I also stuff more polyfill inside of them.
As far as changing, I would dump the carbon and only change it out when it is falling apart and only rinsing/swishing in removed tank water every couple of weeks or when the water flow slows. When you have to change them out just cut the blue pad off and when you dump the carbon in the new one stuff the old filter media inside.

That's what we did with our eclipse 12.
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Old 03-29-2010, 03:20 AM   #9 
hawkeyz799
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Allright, so, I popped the back cover off like was recommended and replaced the carbon/ammonia chips with another sponge i had from another filter cartridge laying around, essentially turning it into one big sponge filter. Now with two sponges I can wash the filter out, 1 at a time, ensuring the bacteria is on at least one sponge. The cycle seems to be holding steady! Thanks guys!

Cheers
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Old 04-14-2010, 07:27 AM   #10 
steven444
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nice informative post
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