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I have a 10 gallon cycled tank, and I do a 50% water change once a week. I have to turn the filter off when the water gets too low, and I was wondering how long it is safe to leave off before the bacteria starts dying.

Also, I've read some controversy over using a sponge as a baffle. Is there anything wrong with it?
 

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You can leave the filter off for the amount of time it takes to do a water change without harming your cycle, the bacteria can't die that fast, it would take a dried up filter/a few hours to kill them, but I'm guessing your water change takes about 15-20 minutes, maybe 30 minutes max, so you're fine.

I use AQ sponges for baffles and have had no problems thus far xD
 
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