Cleaning & Reusing Floss Cartridges

  • Get the NEW AquariaCentral iOS app --> http://itunes.apple.com/app/id1227181058 // Android version will be out soon!

Kaskade10729

AC Members
Jun 16, 2013
361
10
18
Can the common floss-surrounding-carbon filter cartridges as seen on models from Aqueon, Top Fin, Tetra, Marineland, et al be rinsed and reused like, say, the foam media found in AquaClears?

I know the carbon in the cartridges will eventually exhaust, but I am not concerned with that being that I'm not really worried about chemical filtration (I usually use packets of Purigen in my AC110 anyway), though there have been rumors of exhausted carbon leeching toxins back into the tank...

Anyway, in getting back to my question, I have an Aqueon QuietFlow LED PRO 75 and AquaClear 110 on my 60 gallon goldfish tank, and when cleaning my Aqueon, I have been just removing the stock cartridges from time to time and dunking them in removed tank water, which is the way I clean my foam in the 110. I have read that when you throw away these cartridges and replace them, you're throwing away beneficial bacteria, so I have been dunking and swooshing them around in removed water during water changes. Is this okay? The cartridges have a "stained" look to them, whether from debris collected or BB, and the gentle swooshing in the bucket doesn't really "remove" any of this discoloration, so maybe it's just bacteria.

Can cartridge media like this be reused the way I'm doing -- at least to the point that the floss isn't falling apart -- without worrying about toxins getting back into the water column? I never see a reduced flow rate from the Aqueon, so I assumed the cartridges weren't completely clogged up...
 

dougall

...
Mar 29, 2005
3,264
831
120
It can be rinsed, most people do.

The carbon likely is if little benefit after a couple of weeks and it's ok to remove some of it each time of you like(to force the bacteria elsewhere)

I don't know the specific filter, you you can often get it cut poret foam to size to fit in and use that instead
 

Kaskade10729

AC Members
Jun 16, 2013
361
10
18
It can be rinsed, most people do.

The carbon likely is if little benefit after a couple of weeks and it's ok to remove some of it each time of you like(to force the bacteria elsewhere)

I don't know the specific filter, you you can often get it cut poret foam to size to fit in and use that instead
Thanks Doug; I appreciate the quick response!

Indeed, I know the carbon will be useless after a couple of weeks; I'm more concerned, though, that the exhausted carbon would start leeching bad stuff back into the tank...or is this just an old wives tale?

Of course, there would have to BE toxins in the water to absorb in the first place, I suppose, in order for the carbon to leech stuff back in, but my fish have been thriving and growing just fine since the cycling period, so something must be right with the parameters...

I realize I can customize the media for the Aqueon basket, but I have already added a small sack of BioMax balls for extra bio filtration as well as a chunk of Fluval foam for some additional mechanical pickup, and, to be honest, I don't have an issue with the factory Aqueon cartridges. This is why I wanted to know if they can be kind of swooshed around in removed tank water like the media in filters from Hagen/Fluval (the AquaClears in particular).
 

fishorama

AC Members
Jun 28, 2006
11,374
1,785
200
SF Bay area, CA
Since you have 2 filters you can rinse & squeeze the cartridge under running tap water...but not a good idea to clean both filters the same week. The floss type doesn't last nearly as long as foam & it kind of stretches out of shape. The carbon adds to the stretchiness, it settles down to the bottom even if you're careful.

I would gradually quit using the carbon & save the packets for when you might need them (I have many! carbon pkgs). I take the floss sleeve off it's frame, rinse & slide it back on. It's good for 10? rinsings or so, less with carbon &/or aggressive squeezing & rubbing. It doesn't have to get perfectly white but try to get the dark spots out.

I believe the carbon "leeching" toxins back into the water is a myth. It just quits adsorbing & becomes just another place for beneficial bacteria to grow. It really only works a short time, like maybe a week or so at most. I use carbon mostly to remove meds along with water changes. I change the carbon every few days when doing that.
 

dougall

...
Mar 29, 2005
3,264
831
120
Firstly, I think that the carbon will potentially release stuff back into the water, but so slowly it should make no difference if you are performing regular water changes.

As for stopping using the charcoal, another property of it is that it is really porous and will hold a lot of beneficial bacteria. So if you decide to ditch it all one day, all the bacteria on it is gone too, and if that coincides with replacing the cartridge/floss you have lost a lot of bacteria potentially in one shot which could potentially be a bad thing. So removibg it all gradually or at once I would just suggest to do it at a time other whan when you replace the cartridge if possible. If not, test water to make sure there is no ammonia spike or a reason to slow down feeding ..

But most likely it should be fine.

Aa for rinsing in old tank water, we honestly use the chlorinated tap water without problem. But have built up to being comfortable doing so. I wouldn't say there is no risk, but chances are you would be fine.. especially with rotating cleaning between different filters.
 

fishorama

AC Members
Jun 28, 2006
11,374
1,785
200
SF Bay area, CA
dougall, not trying to pick a fight, but if the tank is healthy what could be released back into the tank? Nitrates is my best guess from gunked up media...but that can happen, if unlikely, in other tanks. Regular water changes "should" fix that...shouldn't they? You know I'm a lame tester...
 

dougall

...
Mar 29, 2005
3,264
831
120
Basically anything the carbon might have adsorbed.

If there were nothing, there would be no reason for it in the first place, so I am assuming it may release something, toxic or otherwise.

Honestly I would expect nothing bad. But there is potential. It should be slow enough to not be noticable as long as regular water changes take place.. water changes won't make any difference to whatever is in the carbon unless it is changed too.. in which case don't replace it.

Or just ditch the whole thing and feed less for a couple of days in case of a mini cycle.
 

NoahLikesFish

AC Members
Dec 1, 2020
440
49
31
15
Indiana
Real Name
Noah
I wouldn’t rinse it if it was primary filter and use tank water there is no concern really like dougal said about carbon WAIT OMG BEST IDEA EVER BLACKWATER CARBON SLOW RELEASE TANNIN BLOCKS
 

dougall

...
Mar 29, 2005
3,264
831
120
I wouldn’t rinse it if it was primary filter and use tank water there is no concern really like dougal said about carbon WAIT OMG BEST IDEA EVER BLACKWATER CARBON SLOW RELEASE TANNIN BLOCKS
you can just drop botanical stuff to slow release blackwater stuff.. no need to overcomplicate things... nor hijack anyone else's thread.
 
zoomed.com
hikariusa.com
aqaimports.com
Store