One of the most common mistakes new fish keepers make is when cleaning their aquarium filter.
The misconception that rinsing the filter sponges in tap water to ensure they are thoroughly washed causes more harm than good. Whilst washing under tap water will remove detritus trapped mechanically, it will also kill the good bacteria that provides biological filtration. It is these good bacteria colonies that convert harmful fish waste, ammonia and nitrite into less toxic nitrate. The best practice for cleaning a filter:
- Remove filter sponges and clean in a bucket of aquarium water (or collected rain water, when not too cold or in tap water that has been treated with Tap Water Safe). Cleaning is usually squeezing the sponges under the water to remove the trapped dirt. Sometimes, when the sponge is particularly clogged, it may take two separate washes to remove all detritus.
- Mechanical filter media (filter wool / pre-filter cartridges) can be rinsed under tap water. They serve no biological activity and need to be as clean as possible.
- Chemical media (Activated Carbon and Phosphate Remover) can be rinsed if particularly dirty. These medias usually have a short active lifespan and so are usually replaced before spoiled.
After cleaning your filter, the addition of Filter Starter will help to ‘kick-start’ your filter. Filter Starter is filled with beneficial bacteria including Bacillus megaterium, B. pumilis, B. licheniformis, Paenbacillius polymyxa, Nitrosomonas spp., Nitrobacter spp., and Nitrospira spp.
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