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Re: Keeping Quarantine Tank Filter Media in a Planted Tank

Mr. Booth said this :

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.

To which I say:


How long did you keep the Ehfisubstrat (??) in the sump of the trickle
filter?  Assuming that you added it after the tank was cycled and processing
ammonia into nitrates, I would imagine the bacteria is pretty much in
balance with the waste being produced.  That being said, my understanding of
how that balance is played out is this:

Once the bacteria colony is the right size for the amount of waste being
produced, the amount of bacteria that dies and the amount that grows back to
replace it (assuming they are not immortal) should be about the same, taking
into account the fluctuations for when the fish eat (and thus excrete) a lot
or when they eat less.  If you are to "seed" this new media with bacteria,
and you simply place it in the sump in a bag, most of the contact area will
be between the bottom of the bag and the glass in the sump where small
amounts of bacteria may be.  The rest of the contact area will be water,
where you hope that free floating bacteria "colonies" will land on the
ehfi-stuff and grow into a sizable bacterial colony you can transfer to your
quarantine tank.  However, if your bacteria is in balance with your waste
production, the process may be very slow because there is no excess "food"
for the bacteria to feed on and rapidly multiply to populate the media bag.

You'd have to rely on the relatively slow process of the bacteria spreading
out (bio-diffusing, if you will) to cover every available surface, but you'd
have to wait for it to do it at the rate at which bacteria die and are
replaced, because just adding surface area does not mean you get more
bacteria (I think).  This is compounded by the fact that sitting in the
sump, there's no generally readily available source of bacteria to multiply
into the waiting filter media besides what incidentally "passes by".


1.  Place some used filter media in with the bag, thereby seeding the media
with close-proximity bacteria to speed up the spreading process.

2.  Possibly remove some of the existing bio-media from your working filter.
Once you have a sizable colony, the bacteria can reproduce to fill the
nutrient gap with extreme speed, so by removing some, you are forcing a
quicker "spread" of bacteria.

If you do both these, you may force the media bag to "mature" much faster.
Then, you can add back the media you took out after the bag is "matured" and
allow everything to fall into equilibrium.

These are just thoughts, and could possibly be deeply flawed.  They should
be taken with large grains of (solar) salt. I am not a scientist,
biochemist, nor indian guru.  If these suggestions maim your pet llama, I am
not to be held responsible.

Neil from So. Cal
- Whose pet llama was maimed in an unfortunate hair algae incident.