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I currently use a Marineland Penguin 350B filter for my 29 gallon tank. I've recently done the first filter media change. I changed one side first, then two weeks later, the other side (this is how it was explained to us by the original tank owners). Anyways, I'm a little worried because each time I remove one of the media to be changed, a film-like tan substance enters the tank and I have no idea what that is. Now, it doesn't seem to affect the fish and ammonia and nitrite levels are still at 0, but next time I change it, I'd like to avoid that entering the tank. Is there a way to stop that, without removing the entire Penguin filter from the tank? Is it safe to remove the filter from the tank to begin with (even if it is only for a couple of minutes)?

Edit: I should add, that whatever that is, disappears quite quickly. Usually within the hour even. I know it isn't because the fish eat it, they tend to nib at it once and then ignore it.
 

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I believe you did not rinse the filter cartridge before placing it in the filter. If so, then it will release black charcoal dust, which will be picked up by the filter in a couple of hours. No harm to tank inhabitants, but rinse first.

And you can change them at the same time. There is so much bio bacteria in the Bio-Wheels, and in your substrate, and on the decor, the tiny loss of the bacteria in the cartridges is negligible. The new cartridges will be manned by bacteria in a few hours, due to the amount in the Bio-Wheels and in the rest of the tank.
 

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Once again, Mark13 hits the nail on the head. You described carbon dust distribution in your aquarium, and there's a 99.9999% chance it's from not rinsing the filter cartridges first. They tend to be quite loaded with carbon dust, since they actually have a measurable amount of carbon inside them (unlike Whisper cartridges, which have a pittance of carbon inside them).

If you ever do have to take your filter apart to clean it or whatnot (and honestly, you should be doing this once every other month or so; take it all apart and clean the slime out of it, especially the motor assembly), take the biowheels and wrap them in clean paper towel, then soak it with aquarium water and place in a plastic bag while you do the cleaning. The water-soaked paper towel will help keep the biowheel damp and the bacteria alive. Should you ever have to clean the biowheels (it's rare, but sometimes it's necessary), just give them a good shake inside a bucket full of tank water to dislodge any mulm caught up in them.

Also, take care to clean the little channels the pins on the sides of the biowheels sit in. Gunk builds up in there over time and causes the biowheel to stop turning, limiting its efficiency.
 

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Very interesting topic and one I have been pondering regarding my Aqueon cartridges...

Indeed, it seems that what the OP was experiencing was carbon dust -- the carts should be rinsed under cold water before entering their slots within the filter...

But here's my question, based on what's been suggested here: Is it really okay to change both cartridges at the same time when replacing with brand new ones? There's no substantial loss of bacteria? My Aqueon takes two cartridges -- so it's okay to replace both simultaneously?
 

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But here's my question, based on what's been suggested here: Is it really okay to change both cartridges at the same time when replacing with brand new ones? There's no substantial loss of bacteria? My Aqueon takes two cartridges -- so it's okay to replace both simultaneously?
Note that we were speaking of the Penguin filter, which has biowheels. The biowheels contain a metric ton of beneficial bacteria in them, so there's little risk to changing both of the cartridges at the same time. In a filter such as the Aqueon, I wouldn't do them both at the same time. Granted the rest of your aquarium if rife with bacteria, but why take the chance?
 

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Note that we were speaking of the Penguin filter, which has biowheels. The biowheels contain a metric ton of beneficial bacteria in them, so there's little risk to changing both of the cartridges at the same time. In a filter such as the Aqueon, I wouldn't do them both at the same time. Granted the rest of your aquarium if rife with bacteria, but why take the chance?
Yes, I understand the Penguins have the biowheels -- but you guys also discussed there being plenty of bacteria on the substrate, decorations and such...plus, I do have a second filter, a big AquaClear 110, on this tank as well, so there's bacteria in there too...would it really be too much of a risk to change both cartridges on the Aqueon together? This filter also boasts "biogrids" and bio bars that house bacteria as well -- wouldn't I be okay changing out both carts?

At any rate, when do you suggest I could change the second one then -- wait longer than a week?
 

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I currently use a Marineland Penguin 350B filter for my 29 gallon tank. I've recently done the first filter media change. I changed one side first, then two weeks later, the other side (this is how it was explained to us by the original tank owners). Anyways, I'm a little worried because each time I remove one of the media to be changed, a film-like tan substance enters the tank and I have no idea what that is. Now, it doesn't seem to affect the fish and ammonia and nitrite levels are still at 0, but next time I change it, I'd like to avoid that entering the tank. Is there a way to stop that, without removing the entire Penguin filter from the tank? Is it safe to remove the filter from the tank to begin with (even if it is only for a couple of minutes)?

Edit: I should add, that whatever that is, disappears quite quickly. Usually within the hour even. I know it isn't because the fish eat it, they tend to nib at it once and then ignore it.
From what you describe it is when you remove the old media, not after you replace with new, correct? If that is correct, then it is just old food and debris that the filter has collected. The flow of the water pushes it to your media but it is still loose in your filter housing. If you owned an AC filter you'd see there is very little to do to aviod if you keep the filter running on the change.

Two methods I'd recommend in your routine: you could try powering down the filter before you change and then replacing the media before you power back up. The other is removing the filter. And yes, you can remove the filter for periods of time with no problem. This is the best method for not letting loose debris trapped in your filter container back into your tank.
 

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Y
At any rate, when do you suggest I could change the second one then -- wait longer than a week?

With the set up you have you should be okay changing both at once.

I myself only change them when they are falling apart. I rinse mine in tank water, scrub lightly with my fingers removing any built up stuff, then I lick my fingers off real good so I don't get any of that nasty stuff on me. *r2

Actually I wear hospital gloves.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thank you all! Yes, this was when I removed the old ones and not placed the new ones. In any case, I'll be rinsing the cartridges, we're new to the aquarium hobby and the people who had this tank gave us very few instructions (including that water changes weren't necessary, so I took all of their instructions with a grain of salt). And the cartridge boxes themselves do not mention rinsing the cartridges before being placed in the filter.

P.S. We do water changes, that was one of the basic Aquatica 101 I knew before we were given this tank.
 

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Rinsing things before placing them in your tank is a VERY COMMON PRACTICE. Everything needs to be rinsed. I'm sorry if I sound rude here but it is a common practice you must observe.
 

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Yes, I understand the Penguins have the biowheels -- but you guys also discussed there being plenty of bacteria on the substrate, decorations and such...plus, I do have a second filter, a big AquaClear 110, on this tank as well, so there's bacteria in there too...would it really be too much of a risk to change both cartridges on the Aqueon together? This filter also boasts "biogrids" and bio bars that house bacteria as well -- wouldn't I be okay changing out both carts?

At any rate, when do you suggest I could change the second one then -- wait longer than a week?
I'm not saying that changing both cartridges at once will immediately destroy your tank, but it's force of habit to tell people to not change them both at the same time. I'm aware that Aqueon filters have biological areas to facilitate bacterial growth. I'm sure you'd be fine, but someone using another brand of filter may be asking for trouble. If you do decide to stagger cartridge changes, you wouldn't need to wait more than a week to put in the next one, in my opinion.
 

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Rinsing things before placing them in your tank is a VERY COMMON PRACTICE. Everything needs to be rinsed. I'm sorry if I sound rude here but it is a common practice you must observe.
+ 400 billion. You never know what's on stuff you're putting in your aquarium, so rinsing it is cheap insurance.
 

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With the set up you have you should be okay changing both at once.
Do you feel this way because of the dual filter system I'm running?

I just changed the second cartridge yesterday anyway...:)

I myself only change them when they are falling apart. I rinse mine in tank water, scrub lightly with my fingers removing any built up stuff, then I lick my fingers off real good so I don't get any of that nasty stuff on me. *r2

Actually I wear hospital gloves.
What kind of filter do you run? And they take cartridges?

I did do the scrub off method as you described above here when I did the last water change, but I just feel better knowing I have fresh, clean carts with new carbon so I can control odors and other stuff...
 

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I'm not saying that changing both cartridges at once will immediately destroy your tank, but it's force of habit to tell people to not change them both at the same time.
Okay; I was just asking because it seemed like that's what you were suggesting would happen should I have done so. I just wanted to clearly explain my particular situation with regard to having two filters running on a 60 gallon -- one being the powerful AquaClear 110 -- and additionally wanted to point out the comments you guys were making about bacteria already living on substrate, decor, plants and the secondary filter...

I'm aware that Aqueon filters have biological areas to facilitate bacterial growth.
Okay...I didn't know you did...

I'm sure you'd be fine, but someone using another brand of filter may be asking for trouble.
I specifically pointed out and cited my Aqueon -- but what brand of filter, specifically, would suggest a bacteria crash if cartridges are changed simultaneously?

I know with the AquaClears, you're not supposed to change out the sponge, carbon and rings all at once ever...

If you do decide to stagger cartridge changes, you wouldn't need to wait more than a week to put in the next one, in my opinion.
Thanks; I actually already dropped the new one in -- it's been about three or so days.
 

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Do you feel this way because of the dual filter system I'm running?

Yes. You have an AC 110 which should have a lot of bacteria in it

I just changed the second cartridge yesterday anyway...:)



What kind of filter do you run? And they take cartridges?

I have a Tetra AFS 30-60, Whisper 30-60, Penguin 200B, Aquatech 20-40 and a Topfin 20. These all use carts.

I did do the scrub off method as you described above here when I did the last water change, but I just feel better knowing I have fresh, clean carts with new carbon so I can control odors and other stuff...
Sounds good.
 

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Hello,

You can do it any way you would like. I'm just stating what works for me. It also saves me a few bucks.

My filters that use carts are listed in my previous post, in the quote section.
 
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