Questions about some media + some plans for my filter

Discussion in 'Filters, Pumps, etc..' started by unSERtain, May 24, 2018.

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  1. unSERtain

    unSERtain Plankton

    Jan 9, 2017
    Sorry for the long explanation (the dashed parts are the plans/questions if you really wanted to skip ahead) (also I'm not sure if this should be in here or in the water chem forum...)

    I've got a 55 gallon with some issues. I've only had one fish in this tank (which didn't last very long). It was a smaller pink damsel from a meh pet store and it was cheap so I guess it's ok. But anyways, a few months, maybe even a year, after the disappearance of the fishy, the nitrates spiked REALLY high, and has been consistently like that since then; red on my API master test kit, which is the highest. The tank's been running since April 2015, and the only two/three live things in it were that fish and a chunk of real-reef rock (or a piece of live rock that looks very much like that), and I guess, if you want to count it, the sand. I've used RO/DI water since the beginning, too. Running my skimmer (Reef Octopus BH100 I believe?) didn't seem to help, either.

    I'm going to start by changing the RO/DI cartridges and resin. Then, I'll tear apart the filter, which is a SunSun Hw302 canister filter (I know, it's a weird brand, but it works). Originally I had a HOB filter, but switched it about 2 years ago to this, using old bio media, Don't know if that could have made it worse. The new filter came with some pre-filled media bags for the various levels. It being a "random" brand, the replacement sponges/pads online aren't the right fit for the filter, so I have to resort to cutting my own out of other pads. Someone online elsewhere said you could use quilt batting for the same purposes, so I looked some up.

    - The quilt batting says it's 3/8 to 1/2" thick, though it says its bonding process involves a thin layer of resin. If this is safe and effective enough (I could double layer if needed), I could end up paying around the same price for this as 6x less of an aquarium-specific product. Anyone done this before/think this is a good idea? Or should I just stick with actual aquarium products, and if so what are your favorites?

    - The next thing is the carbon. I've seen multiple people both for and against it, but I think I'm going with it, especially with my levels the way they are now. The canister came with pelleted carbon, and I am now wondering actually how effective that was at filtering vs. granulated carbon. I've also heard someone recommend someone else Seachem's matrix carbon, which also seems good. But I'd like to know the differences and what you'd recommend to me personally.

    - Lastly, I suppose, is the bio media. The canister came with both the plastic bio balls and ceramic rings. The older bio media went into this basket and I stuffed a few extra tiny pieces of base rock I had into the baskets too. Do you think I need more bio media? I know the rock in the tank itself also acts as a sort of bio media, but maybe something's just off. I'll be washing the media in RO/DI, since I don't have any fish currently, so I can afford another cycle (and the rock is probably enough to maintain the cycle, but who knows). But I'd imagine the rock absorbed some of the nitrates, so should I rinse them also? Do you think making the cycle start again would be a good idea with the nitrates I have now?

    I've been at college for the last 2 years, coming back for breaks. Maybe the assigned caretaker hasn't been doing all they should while I've been away. I feel like this problem's been happening for longer, though, so maybe not. I'll be doing a water change pre-filter cleaning, give the "new" media a chance at fresher water.
    Thanks in advance for any help you can give + for reading it all :2thumbsup: