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Keeping Quarantine Tank Filter Media in a Planted Tank
Since we don't get new fish all that often, we normally don't have an active quarantine tank. We have a 29 g tank in storage
that we use when the need arises but it needs a filter seeded with bacteria to
function. My plan was to keep a bag of Eheim media (Ehfistuffofsomekind) in the
sump of a trickle filter. When needed, the media would be put in a 2213 canister
to run the quarantine tank.
We tried that recently and it didn't seem to work. After two days, we noticed
ammonia building up in the quarantine tank. We've resorted to frequent emergency
water changes and replaced the media with bioballs from one of the trickle
filters. Luckily, the quarantinees are doing fine but our self-image of "expert
aquarists" has taken a beating.
I'm wondering if anyone has a hypothesis for why this didn't appear to work.
1) The trickle filter biomedia is so efficient that no ammonium or nitrite gets
to the sump, starving any bacteria that were in the biomedia. I would find this
hard to believe.
2) The plants consume all the ammonium generated and the "biofilter" is actually
not doing anything to start with. I would discount this since nitrates build up
in this tank. If the plants were using all the ammonium, I wouldn't see much in
the way pf nitrates.
3) The water flow in the sump is very slow and it cannot easily penetrate the
biomedia in the bag. The inner biomedia has gone anaerobic and the bacteria in
the biomedia have changed into denitrifying bacteria. That would be nice to help
manage nitrates but not much use in the quarantine tank.
4) The bacteria are very sensitive to temperature change (76 F -> 85 F) or pH
change (7.0 -> 6.5) and expired.
5) Our ammonia test kit is old (true) and the readings are bogus. Between
regular tank cleaning this weekend, completely replanting an existing 100 g tank
for the new fish and doing emergency water changes, I haven't had a chance to
Has anyone had a similar experience?
George Booth in Ft. Collins, Colorado (booth at frii_com)