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Seeding a filter


blinky000

I was recently asked what filter seeding is and how to do it. As luck would have it, I was just about to seed a filter myself that evening so I took a series of photos to explain the process. Seeding is a method by which beneficial bacteria is transferred from one place to another, for instance, in the case of a new aquarium or when upgrading filters. It creates an instantly safe environment for the fish if done properly, preventing new tank syndrome and related deaths due to waste build up.

This is my method of seeding, I'm sure other people do it differently but this has always worked perfectly for me.

You will need:

Old filter media

New filter

A bucket

1. Put the old sponges in the bucket.

2. Fill the bucket with water from the tank. Using plain tap water may kill the bacteria.

DSCF2407.jpg

3. Squeeze like you've never squeezed before! Get as much of the beneficial bacteria out of those sponges as you can! If you're only borrowing the sponges from another tank, try not to take more than about 30% (and make sure the tank is free from pathogens!).

4. Take the sponges out. Your water will probably look a bit grubby by now but that's exactly what you want to see.

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5. Stick the new filter in the bucket, make sure it's submerged and flick it on.

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6. Leave the filter on for about an hour or until the water is clear with the majority of the gunk on the bottom having been sucked into the filter (mine only has sand left)

DSCF2414.jpg

7. Put the new filter in the tank and you're done! It's always advisable to put some Nutrafin Cycle or equivalent in there too, just to give the bacteria a bit of a helping hand. If you've just been borrowing the sponges from another tank, put a dash in that tank too.

I don't think seeding is talked about enough in this hobby, yet it's such a simple and potentially lifesaving procedure for your fish. And it saves you the stress of cycling too!


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  • Regular Member

I would not have thought to do it this way! Thanks for sharing. When I've seeded filters in the past I have just taken some media from the established filter and put it in the new one (along with new media). Is there a reason why you would do it this way over just sticking the old media in with the new?

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  • Regular Member

In the case of swapping an old filter for a new one, the filters tend to get smaller and smaller as time goes on. The sponges in the photos actually came out of a filter about 5 times the size of the new one, both built for the same size tank. There's no way you could fit all those sponges in. So instead of putting a small amount of sponge in with a small amount of bacteria, you can put almost all the bacteria in in one go. Why waste the rest of it if you don't have to? Also, putting extra media in the filter can put too much of a strain on the motors in some filters. It just made so much more sense to do it this way :)

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  • Regular Member

This was educational. I'll do it this way next time. I tried to seed too large a tank with too small a filter, I'm afraid, and it didn't work out very well for me. No lost fish (except for the one I took back) but it's still been kind of a nightmare.

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  • Regular Member

That is an awesome idea!! I also usually just put the old media in the new, but as you said, sometimes this just won't work. I'll have to try it this way next time. Thanks :)

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  • Regular Member

I never thought to do it that way. I may try it with the 55 since it's taking a long time to cycle with the small amount of borrowed media I used. Thanks for sharing!

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  • Regular Member

Nice idea! I usually just use media from the established filters and it works fine. I may be overdoing the cleaning, but I usually clean my media before it makes the water this gunky during cleaning :rofl

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  • Regular Member

Good idea! I had never thought of it this way - we have always just moved media across (Usually we just move the bio beads over when upgrading and squeeze what we can directly onto the new sponges) but this seems like the best solution to the sponge issue! and definitely much easier than trying to cut old media to fit a new filter >_<

Edited by Lucerne
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  • Regular Member

I have a question.... while i was treating my tank with the ich cure ( blue) u have to remove the filter media that has the activated charcoal in it,, I did , & put it n a bucket with tank water & covered it,,, do u think it is ok to put back n & my beneficial bacteria remained on it?

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  • Regular Member

How long has it been? If there hasn't been any "food" for the beneficial bacteria, they will likely have perished by now.

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  • Regular Member

a total of 5 days & Yes i sprinkled food in it every other day so 2 - 3 times, I rinsed it n the tank water & put it back n, was just wondering if i got lucky LOL if not its ok as i had filter media n the filter during treatment just removed the 1 with the charcoal

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  • Regular Member

Although I think it's probably fine, I think that to be safe, may be it's better to play it safe and just chuck it. Also, charcoal cartridges only last for a month before changing anyway :)

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  • Regular Member

ok Thanks... I rinsed it again just a few minutes ago in tank water I done a 40 % change & vac Im amazed of what i get up with the bottom almost bare with those marble rocks... I CAN ONLY Imagine what was acually left behind in all that gravel !!!

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  • Regular Member

I need an opinion. I have a 10 gallon tank that I'm thinking of borrowing some BB and seeding my 56 gallon aquarium. I have dealt with ich before in the 10 gallon and am worried about transferring some hitch hikers (fish seem to be fine now). I'm thinking that I should go ahead with the seeding, crank up the heat, and turn on the UV sterilizer for a few days before introducing any fish. What do you think?

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  • Regular Member

Although some people think that low levels of ich can persist in a tank, it's my understand that this cannot be the case. Once you've eradicated ich, it's gone from that tank, unless you add new fish carrying ich.

So, I think you are safe to steal some media. Just be careful not to damage the 10 gallon's cycle.

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