View Full Version : How often to change Filter Media?

11-24-2008, 4:08 PM
Hi, I have a Fluval 405 and I was just wondering, how often you should change the bio rings? I was told never to clean them completely as they contain very important bio for my health of my fish. Lately, my take was very cloudy, probably from my over feeding and over crowding my tank. However, in the last 9 yrs. I have kept the same bio rings in and cleaned them fairly good. Yesterday, I actually got rid of them and put in new rings...Today, my tank is crystal clear!!! also, very amonia free....

11-24-2008, 4:11 PM
I had a fluval 405 on my Pacu tank. I changed/cleaned the media every 6 months. I monitored the water by checking ammonia and nitrate on a monthly basis. I also monitored their behavior. If they were breathing heavy, I would test the water. If the water changes didn't bring the levels down, then I changed the media.

11-24-2008, 4:43 PM
Hmmm interesting.

Basically you should be reading 0 for ammonia at all times in a cycled tank. If not something is not right.

Nitrates are removed by a weekly water change of no less than 20% but whatever is necessary to maintain below 40 ppm max; i personally prefer 20 ppm or less.

Filter media should just be swished around in the tank water and rinsed off/squeezed out say once a month again.

If you are doing all this and not seeing nitrates reduce in the manner expected following the weekly water change, my suspicion would be perhaps inadequate gravel vac or nitrates in the tap water.

11-24-2008, 6:35 PM
yeah bio balls and bio rings usually will last longer than you or me, but 9 yrs is a long time thou, and you said you cleaned them periodically so i wouldnt assume it was the bio media the problem, did you do something else different and when you changed the bio rings out were they full of goop and gunk, cleaning canister filters is recommended once a month adding or recharging media is encouraged as well along with cleaning sponges, i have fun cleaning mine NOT i have 3 canisters i change/clean all once a month, like coler said are you doing gravel vac's as well and how often are you changing water and at what percentage, bio balls and bio rings colonize good bacteria and will help your biological needs for this setup and shouldnt impact a huge difference with what your seeing unless they were full of goop or gunk on your switch out..

hmmm i am curious aye.. what size tank and inhabitants, whats your water perimeters like, take care my friend..

11-24-2008, 7:05 PM
Bio rings start out with a high surface area for bacteria to colonize. It is recommended to replace them every six months to a year. The reason this is recommended is because they can clog with dead bacteria cultures. Cleaning the rings won't help and they will eventually have a very small surface area for live bacteria to grow. They can almost completly clog with dead bacteria. I think the problem was yours may likely did not have the surface area they once had.

The best way to change the media is not all at once. Replace slowly. I would recommend sponges or pot scrubbers as an alternative to the expensive rings. A lot of people swear by the rings I believe they are a waste of money.

11-24-2008, 7:13 PM
you know what mostly i didnt even think about the ceramic rings that way and it makes sense coolness aye..

11-24-2008, 7:40 PM
Ok, for starters, I have a 54 corner bow all-glass aquarium. I currently have about 20 assorted cichlids. From Jack Dempsy's, convicts, red zebra, electric blue, red parrot, jewl, yellow libido, johani's. Just to name a few...lol...Coler and Pitbull have seen it on the web before, and I am going to clean up that website a bit, when I get time and not working all the time...but for now, this is what I have going on now...


11-24-2008, 9:20 PM
What are your parameters normally like?

I agree with coler that ammonia should always be zero...if not I'd suspect overstocking is the problem here.

A complete clean out of all media is not a good idea and could lead to a mini-cycle.

11-25-2008, 10:21 AM
Opps! too late...I did this on Sunday. I cleaned my whole filter out, put in new bio rings and new charcole. My Amonia level is 0, my PH is about 7.8-8.0.

11-25-2008, 12:43 PM
Opps! too late...I did this on Sunday. I cleaned my whole filter out, put in new bio rings and new charcole. My Amonia level is 0, my PH is about 7.8-8.0.
What are your nitrite and nitrate levels?
What test kit are you using?
I would say you are having water quality problems because of how badly overstocked your tank is (you have enough fish to fill two 125g tanks).
As you have changed all of your filter media i would keep a very close eye on your water parameters and be prepared to do a lot of water changes over the next few week.

11-25-2008, 1:14 PM
I will do that...thanks!

11-26-2008, 11:54 PM
can i be perfectly honest here?? i am sure the nitrates may be high from that number of fish.... but do the fish look ok??? is the tank cloudy??? doesn't seem so to me. nitrates, although less is better, don't really affect fw fish as much as sw. normally only see a problem when adding new fish. (shock of changed parameters)
but to answer your question, i dont know that there is a specific timeframe to change the bio media. and changing it all at once probably didn't hurt a thing. there is enough bacteria in the gravel, on the plants/deco/glass and everything else in the tank to keep it stable and re seed your bio rings. just my 2cents

11-27-2008, 3:55 AM
sounds good....so far everything is wonderful!! all the fish are normal..even seeing some of the ones I don't normally see..when I feed them....

11-27-2008, 9:57 PM
i agree riftlake..

11-29-2008, 3:52 AM
I still think it's terribly overstocked....

11-29-2008, 9:20 AM
Opps! too late...I did this on Sunday. I cleaned my whole filter out, put in new bio rings and new charcole. My Amonia level is 0, my PH is about 7.8-8.0.
This, combined with a heavy fish-load, has probably caused a mini-cycle. In the future, rinse your filter media in tank water when needed. When you go to replace it, make sure you either: A. have enough bio-material to handle the load while bacteria colonizes the new media, or B. change half of the media at a time.
I'd agree with others that your stocklist will cause you problems down the road. For starters, you are using shell in the tank decor, which will cause your water to harden, making it inappropriate for many South American fish. Also, the mix of African Mbunas with New World cichlids and even other Africans such as Haplochromines and Peacocks isn't a good idea, because their dietery needs are different. Not to mention that the New World cichlids will be no match for breeding Mbuna, especially the Blood Parrots. It will be impossible to get the non-Mbuna enough protein without giving the Mbuna enough to cause Bloat. You're going to be very overstocked in the near future, with some very aggressive fish.
A 54 gallon would be good for: a pair of Blood Parrots, Nicaragua Cichlids (Hypsophrys nicaraguensis ), or Jack Dempseys ( these last 2 are debateable, perhaps too small yet ). You could easily do Africans in this tank size, and since you've already got more of them than New World fish, you should consider rehoming a few fish. Problems like the one you're experiencing now will be far less likely with the proper stock.

11-29-2008, 10:57 AM
Thanks for your input. I know I am overstocked, but in the past, I have had more than 30 fish in my tank. Call me lucky or what ever, but my water has always been very clear. I have never had Amonia in my tank, and I only did an almost 100% water change, leaving only enough water in the bottom of the tank to to just cover my gravel about an inch. I never lost any fish from this. I just recently added about 10 new fish to my tank a few weeks ago. Yeah, maybe some of them won't and don't mix, but I'll take my chances..

I only posted this post, cause when I cleaned my filter, I found a lot of brown gunk all over my filter and media. Too much to try to clean, so I just got rid of them and was wondering how often you were supposed to get rid of them and put in new bio rings..

In doing so, I now have a crystal clear tank again. Ok, maybe in a few weeks it might turn, but Before I cleaned my water, I put my filter back together and took tank water and put it in filter. I ran filter for a while then I drained 1/2 of my tank and replaced it. Till now, I have no issues or problems. My Ph is perfect, 7.0-8.0 range, and the amonia level is 0.

11-29-2008, 11:09 AM
It's really not a matter of survival. Sure, you could stick 10 cats and 10 dogs in a closet and chances are, they'll survive so long as they're fed, but does that make it okay?

11-29-2008, 6:51 PM
Great analogy afro..

11-29-2008, 7:26 PM
i am sure, although apparently frowned on by some of the more precise fish keepers, u will have no problem. nice tank btw, i like to see a lot of fish. and if they work for u, go with it. i dont think there is an exact time frame for changing bio media.

11-29-2008, 8:19 PM
As for me i have 5 setups 3 of those being Tanganyika setups and the other two, 1 is a albino bristelnose pleco breeding program setup and the other is a checker board barb setup, this is what makes me happy and what i like, its all about what most hobbyist like, i have seen many tanks in my time and i would say wow how is that possible, where there is a will theres a way, is it natural probably not, does it work most likely yes, some hobbyist frown apon such setups thinking well the fish are going to be the ones who pay the price for such a setup most likely so, will this setup that homeuser is currently keeping work well it might and or may not he may come home to a crash and the whole tank wiped out well so could i with my setups, i know certain species require diets that specialize to just them and the longivity of a fish could be in geopardy with a wrong diet not fit for the species being kept, so if this is what a hobbyist wants to do than a taylored diet will have to come into play with multiple species from different classes in mind, so a rethought process will need to be implemented as to avoid health issues later down the road, if this means buying 5 different canisters of foods and mixing them together and or target feeding this is what needs to happen, with the high bioload of multiple fishes a weekly 50% water change will need to be followed strictly as with the maintenance of filters, i have always in the past changed all media in my canisters with no ill effects but i dont take out the bio balls or ceramic rings and scrub them clean either, i do however completely change filter pads, ammo chips and charcoal out when maintenance insues of filters..

And this is the question at hand does one believe that different classifications of species from different continents to be cruel if the answer is no than continue on if the answer is yes than a rethought stocking plan would need to insue..

Take care all and i leave you with this thought - do fish deserve our utmost care?
I believe if you search inside you will find the answer to this question!!