How to Change Your Aquarium Filter Without Losing Bacteria?

A typical aquarium environment is a fascinating place. It provides a home to your favorite fish or other aquatic creatures. It is also home to bacteria and other organisms that you may not see with your naked eyes. Beneficial bacteria are critical for the elimination of waste from the aquarium. Think of it much like a self-cleaning system that breaks down harmful waste, resulting in a healthy ecosystem.

In our article below, we will look at everything you need to know about biological filtration systems, and why you need them. Let’s dive into it.

Biological filtration is the process through which good or beneficial bacteria break down and transform toxic ammonia and nitrates into compound nitrates. The latter is less toxic, resulting in a healthy aquatic environment. It is critical to remove ammonia because it is toxic, builds up quickly, and is a major threat to your fish.

Biological filtration occurs due to Nitrosomonas and Nitrobacter bacteria that thrive on oxygen. They are naturally occurring, and you do not need to add any to the tank. There are, however, ways that you can increase their levels for a healthy biological balance. 

Importance of Beneficial Bacteria and a Proper Filtration System

Beneficial bacteria keep ammonia and nitrate levels at a safe level by feeding on the waste. Biological filtration or nitrogen cycle moves harmful waste through the filter, and allows the beneficial bacteria to break down toxic components into less toxic products.

How to Change Aquarium Filter without Losing Bacteria

You must maintain a healthy biological balance in the aquarium. Cleaning your filter without paying due attention can result in the loss of healthy bacteria. Replacing old water all at once will also interfere with the biological balance. It is, therefore, important that you learn how to change the aquarium filter without losing bacteria. Take one of the following steps.

Incorporate the Old and New Filter

One of the ways you can avoid the disaster of killing biological bacteria is to leave it in the old filter when putting in the new one. Let the old one stay in for at least one month or permanently, if it is in good condition. You get to take advantage of the old bacteria, which will get new habitats in the new filters. 

Use the Old Media to Colonize the New Filter

The main concentration of beneficial bacteria is in the media. Taking the old one and fitting it on the new one will give you a ready bacteria colony. Make sure the new filter is the same size as the old one; otherwise it may not fit. Ensure it stays in for at least one month to give the new filter time to develop bacteria colonies.

Steps to Follow When Cleaning Your Aquarium and Biological Filters

Take note of the following:

Be careful about how much debris and rotting material you remove. You may end up killing beneficial bacteria

Do not remove everything from the tank when cleaning, including the fish. Beneficial bacteria cling to surfaces, and you will kill them if you interfere too much when cleaning.

Remove only 10 to 15% of the water. Replace it with de-chlorinated water.

Use a vacuum or siphon to remove gunk from gravel and aquarium decorations.

Do not replace all the filter components in one go. Doing this will remove the bacteria colonies, requiring you to go through the colonization process afresh.

Do not use hot water, bleach or soap, as they will damage the biological filtration

Unplug any electrical components before cleaning

Keep the filter media wet when cleaning, so you do not dry and kill the beneficial bacteria

Use a soft brush to clean the hoses, canisters and other smaller parts

Use an algae scraper or scrubber to remove algae. 

Frequently Asked Questions about Biological Filtration 

How can I increase beneficial bacteria in the aquarium

You can Increase beneficial bacteria using an ammonia source, as well as running the filter constantly. This creates a constant supply of oxygen, which is the key to the flourishing of bacteria.

Will aquarium salt kill beneficial bacteria

No, it will not, but you need to be careful about usage and measurement. Too much of it will dehydrate the bacteria leading to death. You get to kill parasites. It also helps the fish manage to avoid infections and heal quickly from injuries.

Where do beneficial bacteria live in an aquarium?

You will find beneficial bacteria everywhere in the aquarium, including the filter media and other solid surfaces.

How will I know if I have beneficial bacteria in my aquarium?

You will know you have beneficial bacteria if your aquarium remains crystal clear and has no smell. Most importantly, you will have a healthy aquatic life and will not have to deal with sick fish.

How often should I change my aquarium filter

To ensure that the water inside your tank is clean, the filter should always work at its optimum potential. A poorly functioning filter will leave the water murky, dirty, and ultimately toxic to any aquatic life within the aquarium. It is advisable to replace your filter as soon as you notice it is underperforming or not functioning at all.

How can I check my aquarium water for healthy bacteria

Check for Ammonia, PH, and nitrate levels using relevant tester kits. Ammonia should never exceed 0.0ppm, nitrate levels below 40ppm, and the PH range from 6.5 to 7.5. Saltwater fish can, however, do well in PH levels of 8 and above. 

What is the disaster of killing biological bacteria

Beneficial bacteria develop within the biological section of the filter, breaking down harmful fish waste. Without bacteria and a sound filtration system, life in the aquarium would be unsustainable. It is, therefore, of critical importance to understand how to change aquarium filters without losing bacteria.

Final Thoughts

You need a healthy biological environment for fish and other aquatic life to thrive in your aquarium. Biological filters provide an effective way of introducing and maintaining the beneficial bacteria. Use the information above to create a healthy biological environment and to change the aquarium filter without losing bacteria. 

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