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  1. You got it on both counts. Yes, change the media bags too. No sense in taking chances with something so cheap to replace.
  2. Not knowing what kind of canister you have, most have 3 levels. First is mechanical, as in some type of filter floss. Second would usually be carbon, with the third some kind of biological such as porcelin media
  3. My tank was saltwater for 6 years before I recently converted it to fresh. I can't say this strong enough, USE NOTHING THAT WAS USED IN THE SALT! Throw the old media out! It's not as hard to go from salt to fresh as many would have you believe, it's just few are willing to do the proper work. The few little things you miss, mostly calcium buildup, won't hurt if the majority is clean. Letting it sit empty so long should have taken care of things. Just make sure you don't have any leaks from the silicone drying out!
  4. The only way to know for sure is to purchase some type of ph test unit (liguid, strips, or stick on monitor. Wood can cause ph to go down. I have cypress knees in my tank, which I offset by having crushed coral in my sump (coral buffers ph). A 2/3 water change should have raised the ph, depending on the ph of the water you are using to fill with. I would test both the water now in the tank and the water you fill with. Good idea taking some gravel out. Substrate should never be more than an inch deep. I wouldn't judge my tank conditions by that 'feeder fish' you put in. They are often half dead when you get them. Testing is the only way to know for sure!
  5. I'm jealous. They are so hard to find here!
  6. This was how I started after cycling! This is where I am now! The cypress knees are real. I cut them in the swamp. They were boiled, bark removed, allowed to dry, screwed to a piece of slate, then submerged in fresh water to make them sink again. There is no background as the tank is a room divider, viewable from both sides.
  7. The plant you show growing above the water is called Pickerelweed. You can read about it here; http://aquaplant.tamu.edu/plant-identification/alphabetical-index/pickerelweed/
  8. Taking lessons learned from years of saltwater keeping, I made my sump, and you can too! Not only does it, IMO, provide superior filtration, but it also increases water volume. My 90 gallon tank actually runs approx. 125 gallons of water. The larger the water volume, the longer it takes to get dirty! Materials needed: A tank (duh) size is your choice. Of course bigger is always better, but stick with what you can fit into your setup. My main tank is 90 gallons, my sump is 35. quarter inch plexiglass plastic creating (as used in flower arranging) with half inch square holes clear silicone Depending on the size of your tank, you can make it with three compartments like I did, or make only two for smaller tanks. Cut plexiglass to fit side to side of your sump. For three compartment setups you will need 2 pieces six inches wide, and 2 pieces 9 inches wide. Of course for two compartment setups you will only need 1 of each. Cut the plastic creating also long enough to touch side to side and 2 inches wide. 2 pieces for 3 compartment setups, 1 piece for 2 compartments. Measure your sump tank, dividing it into 3 equal sections, making small marks on the glass with a permanent marker. (remember, this is a hidden tank, so neatness does not count) Now on each inital mark, make longer marks 2 inches on each side of each mark. (this will create 4 inch openings for the water to flow). Starting from the left working toward the right, on the first mark put in a 6 inch piece of plexiglass, silicone it in on all 3 sides touching the tank. On the second mark, put in the precut piece of plastic create, silicone it on 3 sides touching tank, creating a one inch opening. Now put a 9 inch plexiglass piece on top of the create and silicone it in. Repeat on second set of marks, short piece first. You have now created a flow channel, over, under, over, under. As you can see, the first compartment is where the main tank water empties into the sump. It then goes over the first short partition, then down through filter floss. To do this properly you will need to cut a piece of the plastic creating 4 inches wide for the filter floss to lay on. You need to raise it off the tank bottom. To do this, take a piece of 1 inch pvc pipe cut into 2 four inch lengths, one on each end, using zip ties to attach each. Now your platform should be at the top of the opening. Why the open compartment? Should any fry be hatched in the main tank and be caught up by the filter, they become trapped in this compartment and are then able to be moved alive. The second compartment contains my protein skimmer. Not something currently common in freshwater use, but coming into it's own in certain applications. Not only does it provide another form of mechanical filtration, but by it's action, infuses air directly into the water, providing better oxygen levels, especially at night when oxygen levels tend to drop. Between the next over and under is a good place to put a media bag filled with charcoal or whatever purifying media you use. The last compartment serves double duty. It's where your water return pump is located. This is also where you can put bio balls or, as is my choice, lava rocks. I prefer lava rocks as the porous surfaces give more places for bacteria to grow. Sorry for the sideways picture. I turned it in photobucket but it's still showing this way. As you can see, instead of putting my media in a sack, I use a media reactor. Again, just a personnel choice. My return line has a T with a valve so I can divert some return water through the reactor. Last but not least, you see a float valve in the first compartment. I made an automatic topoff system. I took a 5 gallon wastecan, drilled a hole in the side near the bottom and put in a brass barbed outlet. Attaching a tube, ran it down to the float valve installed in the higher first divider. As water evaporates and the level drops, the valve allows water to trickle in. I can go for over a week without needing to top off the tank! If you have a 2 compartment sump, you can eliminate the middle section. If you want to use a protein skimmer, put it in the first compartment. 2 forms of mechanical and 2 forms of biological filtration, oxygen levels raised, increased water volume, and auto top off. I love my sump!
  9. Thanks for the article. I have always wanted a lionhead and plan on getting one as soon as I find a color I like.
  10. Got to love the fins on that fish! Great pic.
  11. Another great article. Although not one of my favorites and I don't plan on having one, it's still fun to learn about the different types!
  12. Great article! So many varieties, so little tank room.
  13. Fantastic "indoor pond" you have!
  14. Can't make up my mind if Cora or Pinto is my favorite! I also have that same 90 that I am just setting up.
  15. Love the fantail with the black streaks in the tail
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