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Question on how to Hot Rod my HOB. I have seen a lot of videos on YouTube about optimizing the  HOB filter. My filter came with the standard cartridge with activated carbon and a little blue plastic piece that is supposed to grow BB. I also added some seeded media from my LFS and a Bio Ball to help establish the BB colony with my fish in cycle(bad advice from big box fish store). My tank has been running with the original fish in there for about three weeks and I think based on what the cartridge says it needs to be replaced every month. I wanted to change everything out to use a coarse sponge for mechanical filtration(Aqua Clear), a pre filter sponge, fine filter floss for water polishing and add a bag of bio media(Aqua Clear). What I planned on doing was purchasing the new sponge and bio media and do my regular weekly water change. Rinse both the sponge and bio media in the tank water. Remove the existing cartridge and seeded filter and place the new sponge in the bottom and but as much of the old filter media on top, cutting the carbon filter media off the plastic holder and removing the carbon. Take the bag of bio media and place it in the bottom of the tank next to the filter intake for a week. This way I don't loose what BB I have but also give time for the new bio media to grow. I will also add some Aquavitro seed when I do this to help with any bacteria that was lost. Then after a week at my next water change remove the old used filter media from the LFS and the cartridge filter media place a new piece of filter floss on top of the sponge and place the bio media on top. 

Is there any risk in doing this or am I going about this the right way. Also with that plastic piece that is in there should I try and leave that in after all the modifications are done or once I have the new filter media and bio media will that not be needed. I can assume that more surface for BB to grow is better but is too much bad?

Also what media is better Aqua Clear of the Seachem Matrix?

Thanks In Advance

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37 minutes ago, RyanU said:

Question on how to Hot Rod my HOB. I have seen a lot of videos on YouTube about optimizing the  HOB filter. My filter came with the standard cartridge with activated carbon and a little blue plastic piece that is supposed to grow BB. I also added some seeded media from my LFS and a Bio Ball to help establish the BB colony with my fish in cycle(bad advice from big box fish store). My tank has been running with the original fish in there for about three weeks and I think based on what the cartridge says it needs to be replaced every month. I wanted to change everything out to use a coarse sponge for mechanical filtration(Aqua Clear), a pre filter sponge, fine filter floss for water polishing and add a bag of bio media(Aqua Clear). What I planned on doing was purchasing the new sponge and bio media and do my regular weekly water change. Rinse both the sponge and bio media in the tank water. Remove the existing cartridge and seeded filter and place the new sponge in the bottom and but as much of the old filter media on top, cutting the carbon filter media off the plastic holder and removing the carbon. Take the bag of bio media and place it in the bottom of the tank next to the filter intake for a week. This way I don't loose what BB I have but also give time for the new bio media to grow. I will also add some Aquavitro seed when I do this to help with any bacteria that was lost. Then after a week at my next water change remove the old used filter media from the LFS and the cartridge filter media place a new piece of filter floss on top of the sponge and place the bio media on top. 

Is there any risk in doing this or am I going about this the right way. Also with that plastic piece that is in there should I try and leave that in after all the modifications are done or once I have the new filter media and bio media will that not be needed. I can assume that more surface for BB to grow is better but is too much bad?

Also what media is better Aqua Clear of the Seachem Matrix?

Thanks In Advance

I had a hard time following your exact steps, but I think I get the idea of what your trying to achieve. So forgive me if I just repeat what you already said.

I personally would keep that cartridge in there, place your pre-filter on the intake. Any new media you plan to use to replace the cartridge, place in the tank or in the HOB with the cartridge if space allows. Don't try to squeeze sponges in there if water cannot flow easily through them. Keep it this way till your test readings show your cycle has completed. 

If your cartridge seems to get clogged before cycle finishes, try washing in tank water removed during water change.

And for the blue plastic, if it's the one right near the outflow, I keep that and put my filter floss in there. If it's the one that holds the carbon cartridges, I removed it.

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JaredL my tank has finished the cycle. I was going to install the pre filter sponge and put the new sponge filter in the bottom of the HOB. Because I have the cartridges i cannot have both in there as they were designed to hang vertically. I was going to place the new sponge on the bottom. Cut the filter media off the plastic hanging bracket, place that and  the  filter media from the LFS on top of that and place the new Bio media in the tank next to the intake. After washing all the new stuff in my old tank water from a water change. The blue plastic piece is separate from the filter cartridge. I was going to keep that in there as well just to be on the safe side. Plus I like the fact that it hides the sponges and media in the filter

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29 minutes ago, RyanU said:

JaredL my tank has finished the cycle. I was going to install the pre filter sponge and put the new sponge filter in the bottom of the HOB. Because I have the cartridges i cannot have both in there as they were designed to hang vertically. I was going to place the new sponge on the bottom. Cut the filter media off the plastic hanging bracket, place that and  the  filter media from the LFS on top of that and place the new Bio media in the tank next to the intake. After washing all the new stuff in my old tank water from a water change. The blue plastic piece is separate from the filter cartridge. I was going to keep that in there as well just to be on the safe side. Plus I like the fact that it hides the sponges and media in the filter

Sounds like a good plan. Generally I like to overlap usage of the old media with new for about a week, just to make sure I'm not removing to much beneficial bacteria from my tank. The bacteria will be forming on many surfaces in your tank, not just the filter, but the amount can vary due to many different factors so it's just safer to use what you know is already working as you transition to new. That's why I suggested just throwing whatever media you can't fit with the cartridge in your tank for a week(I know it looks ugly, but temporary). Not knowing all the factors of your pre-seeded media.

Also you mentioned washing all new media in old tank water. Just wanted to make sure you're aware that it takes longer exposure to the water than a quick wash for the bacteria to establish in the new media.

Sorry if I'm missing something or telling you something you already know. Just want to help out and cover all the bases.

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I wanted to wash it in the tank water to get debris out. i didnt want to wash it in the sink with tap water for fear that some of the chlorine or chloramines would be on a wet sponge and inadvertently kill the Bacteria in my tank. I wasnt trying to seed the media prior just trying to limit dangers to young established BB

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You didnt miss anything and i will take any advice i can get. being new to the hobby i am trying to take in as much information as i can as fast as i can because of the bad information i received from the big box store. I want to be able to do the right thing for the fish that i have. I just want to make sure that what i have read and watched i am understanding. I may be being a little to cautious but this is a huge learning curve and with the bad advice i received i fell like i am standing at the bottom of a verticle wall looking up.  

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There is a misconception passed on from fishkeeper to fishkeeper that beneficial biology only lives, or primarily lives in the filter and you need specialized bio-media to support it. Although BB may initially develop in the filter (after all food is regularly delivered) once the tank begins to establish, BB will populate any hard surface in the tank, especially in the substrate where there is far more surface area than in any filter. We've also been conditioned and peer pressured into believing that we must have specialized bio-media in our filters. But here again, we really don't. I've found that bio-sponge is the very best platform for BB, better than ceramics, plastics, and rocks. 🙂

As to cartridge filters, they are a cash cow for manufacturers giving the advice that they should be replaced every month or more. You've got to wonder how many newer hobbyists fell for that?

So either cut the activated carbon out of the cartridge and clean it regularly and use it until it nearly falls apart, OR replace it with foam...and I would NOT bother to add ceramics, plastic, or rocks as the sponge is both mechanical and biological (consider all the large fishrooms out there that rely solely on air driven sponge filters!) 🙂

 

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MJV thanks for the information. Can I ask another question. How often should I vacuum the Gravel. I have some plants in my tank and i am planning on adding some Cory's for the cleanup crew. Would I still need to vacuum every week with the water change or no because the Cory's will do some of that for me, and only gravel vac every other week. Or am I totally wrong and should gavel vac with every water change. 

Thank You in Advance

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7 minutes ago, RyanU said:

How often should I vacuum the Gravel.

That really depends on several things. Really coarse gravel easily allows uneaten food and waste to get down under, while fine gravel not so much. I use pool filter sand so nothing gets down under and I haven't touched it in about 10 years!

It also depends on how thorough a job you do each time you vacuum. So you might vacuum lightly every week, or do a more thorough job every other week.

Tip: consider sand and never touch the substrate again.  🙂

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34 minutes ago, RyanU said:

Thank you again for the info. There is tons of it out there. Lets say I wanted to go with the sand substrate. I Like how that looks. 🙂Any specific brand and should I do the filter mods previously stated before I change substrate?

There's always a risk changing too much at once as there may be a reduction in necessary BB to process ammonia and nitrites. I'd do one or the other, then wait a week or more before doing the other. Bear in mind that changing the substrate most likely means tearing the system totally down to add sand, then refill (use a small clean trash bag over the sand so adding water doesn't stir things up.

Now I like pool filter sand, but other swear by regular play sand. But you don't want a really fine sand as it packs too tightly.

Good luck and keep posting. 🙂

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