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Hello from Westchester County


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Hello fellow fishkeepers!

I'm new to the aquarium hobby and I'm excited to find this forum.

My 8-year-old daughter decided she definitely wanted a tank, but it has somehow hooked me a lot more deeply than I initially expected. My current tank is a 10 Gallon Aqueon LED that I am currently cycling without any fish -- because they died about two weeks ago when I tried to cycle the tank with them inside it. 😞

So, seeing them die despite water changes, etc. really pushed me to get into the chemistry behind the hobby to NOT have that ever happen again.

I've got my API Test set and am hoping to get my nitrogen cycle going. I take readings every day, log them and yesterday.... magic when I got home.

Wife and daughter told me in dire terms that there was algae forming on the underwater driftwood. But to me, this was great: LIVING THINGS CAN GROW IN MY TANK. Never thought I'd be so happy. Then, on top of that, after two weeks of testing, adding bacteria, I saw evidence of nitrites in the sampled water. Never thought I'd be so excited about bacteria, lol.

So anyway, now I'm going to keep testing, wait to see the second form of bacteria form, will continue to ghost feed the tank. I am wondering what I should do about the HOB filter that came with the tank -- since most of the bacteria I'm trying to develop 'live' in the filter media I'm leery of changing it. I have read that the bacteria exist on any biofilms on tank items, but unsure how to change the filter without disturbing the biofilter. I bought extra filters weeks ago, but I don't want to interrupt the cycle by changing the media before the tank is cycled.

Does anyone here have any advice on how/when to swap out the replaceable filter media on one of these kinds of tanks? There are no fish in the tank, and won't be for weeks until my tank is cycled. So how do I change the filter without really destroying my biofilter?

Here's a picture of my-- my daughter's -- aquarium. Ok, so ... yeah, the rainbow gravel is a concession. This is probably what the riverbed of Willy Wonka's Chocolate River looks like, with Nerd candies as gravel, but I had to bend somewhere. Any tips or suggestions are very welcome.

Excited to read the forums, any advice would be greatly appreciated!


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Welcome!  I love the Opus avatar.

Personally we decided not to use hang on back filters or anything that has replaceable filters and stick with sponge filters.   You can use the sponge pretty much infinitely and it can just be cleaned now again if needed.   It also seems to really do well harboring the good bacteria you need. 

I'm told that the sponge filters don't get the waters as visibly clear as a hang on back can, but I haven't had a problem with that so far.

Good luck!

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Thanks for the video and the responses! Ok, so the water flow is still good on it, so I'll hang tight on changing it until after I've cycled the tank.

DaveO: Ok, thanks for clarifying that. So when I've verified my nitrogen cycle I can change (well, now hotrod) my existing filter and I won't be undoing the work of the bacteria.

I'm sure there has to be a video out there for my particular HOB filter, love the fact that people 'hotrod' these filters to improve them and save money.

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If you have space you can leave the disposable cartridge in the filter for a while after you add the piece of coarse sponge. Even though it is supposed to be disposable the cartridge actually harbors lots of good beneficial bacteria. After a week or so your  new sponge will be colonized with the bacteria and you can throw out the cartridge if you want.

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3 minutes ago, Ceej said:

PatrickG: Thanks, that's what I'll do. The reason I'm so gun shy is that when I was attempting a fish-in cycle I vacuumed my gravel and later learned that was inadvisable while cycling.

I know! It’s a hobby with so much confusing and contradictory advice. It’s hard figure out what the right thing to do is. 

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