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FAQs on Cleaning Filter Cartridges & Socks

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Remember: Cleanliness is not sterility. Many organisms need a modicum of "gunk". A Zoanthid colony in HI.

Filter Cartridge Cleaning... righteous fear of bleach  - 02/19/09 Hey guys and gals, <Victor> It's Victor here again tonight. Hope you all are well. Want to thank you first off for the detailed (quick, too) response to my questions the other evening. The advice was great and since I have planted about a dozen new Vallisneria. Anyways, I've another burning question. The recommended cleaning procedure for my Magnum 250 micron cartridge is overnight soak in 1:3 solution of bleach and water, then rinse clean. The bleach thing just scares the u know what out of me. Is this safe? <Yes... but I would add two things to your stated protocol... The further soaking in new water (outside the system) with a dechloraminator in good strength, AND the addition (your buying) another cartridge for air-drying/storing while the other is in use... Having two will save you money and more... as this routine greatly extends the service life...> Is there any alternative to bleach? Perhaps full strength hydrogen peroxide? <Mmm, yes... can be used... though not nearly as effective, fast...> If bleach truly is a necessity for cleaning this cartridge what would be the safest procedure to Dechlor it afterwards? <Ah yes> I have Seachem Prime and API StressCoat on hand for dechlorination . Thanks so much for the great website and fantastic advice. Yours Truly, Victor <Please read here re: http://wetwebmedia.com/clncarta.htm Our old service co.s' Action Plan for this activity. Bob Fenner>

Question about sponge filters and copper treatment   8/12/07 Hello all! <Jonathan> I must say that I love this site. So much that I went out and purchased Bob's book "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" (which is an equally as great tool and read). <Oh boy! Another 28 cent royalty! Cha-ching!!!> While I messed up tons in the beginning due to not knowing enough and not knowing about this site, it's kind of fascinating/sad/funny reading back on how many things I did wrong in the beginning by listening to my LFS guys. <Mmm... is a hard route...> Now, I have a problem with ich. I've read everything on it (well, almost -- at least as much as I could) and I've been keeping the fish (Regal Blue Tang, 3 False Percula Clowns, and a Flame Hawk) in a quarantine tank set-up with a bare bottom. The Tang is a small juvenile now and the clowns are as well, so I'd assume that a 10g tank (which I luckily had in my basement ready to go) would be a fine set-up. I've been using Coppersafe to treat their ich with a lowered salinity (around 1.10 was the last measurement) and a temperature of about 87 degrees. <Hopefully you have been monitoring, measuring the copper concentration at least daily...> My main question is this: I have a sponge filter in there that was seeded in the display aquarium (90G tank with 100LBs of live rock) for a while (again, after reading the site I found out about that -- before my ich outbreak). How do I clean the sponge filter of the copper once I remove the fish from quarantine? <Can be just rinsed and squeezed in hot water to remove most... Chemical filtration otherwise: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/curemovalfaqs.htm> They've been in there for a week now and the copper seems to be doing its job (and my daily vacuuming as well). But I'd like to re-use the sponge filter in the main aquarium if possible after the quarantine is over (I'm giving them a month and a half - two months). Is there any way to save the sponge filter by cleaning it so I don't ruin my live rock / live sand? <Oh, yes. Please see the above citation, and the linked files above. Bob Fenner> - Jonathan

Cleaning Filter Sock 3/14/07 Hello WetWeb Media, <Hi> I m writing you to find out if the sock filter I have in my sump can be taken out and rinsed with saltwater from the tank when you do a water change. <Absolutely, but does not need to be done in saltwater, you don't want it to be biologically alive.> Is this a good practice to use? <Yes>  And if so when should it be done and how often? <The more often the better, will allow better flow and remove detritus.> One more thing should I let the tank cycle first and leave it running for a couple of weeks after the cycle before I would do this if it is needed? <Clean it whenever you do a water change, regardless of the cycle.> Please let me know I am stumped on this because I was told you can do this by a LFS but you know how some of those can be. Not all of them are giving the right info. But I don't believe they do this on purpose either they just don't know. You give excellent advice and I have yet to find a web site that is as good as yours. Thanks for all of your help so far.    Jeff <Welcome> <Chris>

Re: Filter Sponge 3/19/07 Hi WetWeb, <Hello> In reference to that question I had about the sock filter in my sump that Chris answered for me. Well I also have a black sponge that separates the water coming from the tank to the water going back into the tank where the pump is. Should that black sponge also be cleaned when the sock is sprayed off or does that need to be biologically alive? <Should be cleaned often, you want your rock to do your bio-filtration for you.>  I have looked and tried to read on this but could not find a straight answer.   Jeff <Chris>

Filter sock/cleaning again   1/20/06 Greetings & Salutations, <Adlai> Thanks again for all your help so far. I have been making great strides in my quest for a little bit of the sea at but I have another question - I have been spending a small fortune on filter socks and really could not get them clean by soaking in water with a little bleach and then spray washing with water.  Every time I was tempted to use one of not-so-clean   socks I decided to buy a new one. I currently have about 15 micron socks. Today, in frustration I dumped all my socks in a washing machine, without detergent and used a double rinse cycle. My intention is to then further rinse the socks by hand in water with a little bleach and then dry the socks. I read some comment by Steve Pro that some people wash their socks in the washing machine and have no problems. <Yes... just need to make sure that all soaps, detergents have been removed> Do I need to do anything else to the socks before using them or have I contaminated it with leftover soap residue and need to suck it up and buy some more socks? <I would lightly bleach water soak them for a day, then rinse, air-dry...> Finally, I have an overflow box with U tubes ( I tried to get my tank drilled with no luck) is there anyway I can prevent fish like wrasses and snails from entering the overflow box (which is clear)? <Screening material. Bob Fenner>> Thanks in advance Washing a filter sock in the machine? Hi all, I was curious if I could use a washing machine with bleach to clean my filter sock? It is the felt kind that is used at the drain line in the sump to catch detritus and bubbles. I currently use a hose to spray it off but, would love to take the lazy way out and just drop it in the washing machine with bleach. Is there any reason why I shouldn't do that? Thanks, Ryan <I would NOT do this... too much chance of residual detergent making its way back into your system. I do know of folks in the trade who use a dedicated washing machine to wash their many sponge filters... but never use soaps/saponifiers in these machines. Bob Fenner>

Cartridge cleaning question Hi to all, I just read through the section on filter cartridge cleaning and maintenance.  I have two questions.  If I bleach the cartridge and then rinse thoroughly and then air dry for a week do I need to do the thing with the dechlorinating tablets? <Nope. Can skip>   Second question.  Can I mark the plastic part of the filter with a permanent magic marker so I can keep track of how long they last? <Yep> I am going to have three, 1 in use, 1 ready to use, and one drying and am going to change once a week.  It is a 55 gal main, 20 gal sump, and magnum 350 filter FOWLR <Good plan. This scenario will save you in cartridge wear/replacement and cleaning intervals... big time. Bob Fenner> Thanks for any input.
Bryan Flanigan 

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