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How to Transition from Your Old Aquarium Filter to the New One

Updated on February 9, 2016

Mixing the old filter media with the new

Mixing the old filter media with the new. I cut out a portion of the old sponge and placed it with the new.
Mixing the old filter media with the new. I cut out a portion of the old sponge and placed it with the new.

Why your existing filter media is invaluable

The point is many novice aquarium enthusiasts are in a hurry to do away with their old existing filters,when they upgrade themselves to that new filter they always wanted. In their eagerness to have the new filter installed and running,they miss out on one critical thing.

What's that? Well,they threw out the baby with the bathwater (not literally).What they did miss out was all the crucial nitro-bacter that had colonized in the old filter media was thrown out and the new filter with it's brand new filter media installed instead.

So,what you get is crystal clear water and some days later some fish floating upside down - dead. What went wrong over here? Well, you crashed the ammonia cycle...that's what happened.

The old filter was in fact the heart of the aquarium ecosystem,with all the nitro-bacteria in it,breaking down the ammonia,converting nitrite to nitrates...so when that 'old' filter was removed,the most useful part of the ecosystem was removed with it and the ammonia cycle went out of control in just a few days with almost no bacteria to break down the ammonia build up,the ammonia & nitrite levels peaked...leading to fatalities.

So,how does one avoid this? Simple.

  1. Remove the existing filter media (Sponge,Ceramic rings,etc) from the existing filter
  2. Place some part of it along with the new filter media to help colonize the new filter
  3. Let both filters run in parallel for at least 1 week before you remove the old filter.

This gives the bacteria enough time to colonize in the new filter.

So,that's why you shouldn't throw out your old filter when you get a new one!



Mixing the old ceramic rings with the new

Mixing the old ceramic rings with the new
Mixing the old ceramic rings with the new

The new setup

The new JBL e1500 filter and the new tank. I was replacing a 2 ft aquarium with a top filter with this new setup.
The new JBL e1500 filter and the new tank. I was replacing a 2 ft aquarium with a top filter with this new setup.
The newly setup aquarium a few weeks later...no fatalities. Thanks to the filter media 'transfer' from the old filter to the new one.
The newly setup aquarium a few weeks later...no fatalities. Thanks to the filter media 'transfer' from the old filter to the new one.

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      the newbie 14 months ago

      So what do you do if you are changing filters because the old one is broken? Am I out of luck because I can not run them simultaneously?

    • TropiCoaqua profile image
      Author

      Amar Salvi 3 years ago from India

      Also,remember that the UV filter is actually meant to kill all bacteria, so its important that you add some 'muck' or part of the old media in to the new one to 'kick-start' the new filter.

    • profile image

      TropiCo Aqua 3 years ago

      Run both filters in parallel for a week. That will help the bacteria colonize the new filter, you can move on to the new filter completely after about 10 days.

    • profile image

      Angelo 3 years ago

      I'm upgrading filter systems from Aqueon Quiet Flow filter system to a Aquatop UV filter system. This is a significant upgrade. How can I switch out without harming the fish? Thank you

    • TropiCoaqua profile image
      Author

      Amar Salvi 5 years ago from India

      Yup,mate! Thanks for dropping by.Glad to see you have signed up. Will be posting about my experiences breeding tropical fish soon.

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      Sai Sandeep 5 years ago

      I really like science. i am the guy who frequently posts on ur wall in facebook.

    • TropiCoaqua profile image
      Author

      Amar Salvi 5 years ago from India

      @sweeaun...thanks for the feedback.Couldn't agree more.I am amazed at the number of budding hobbyists who continue to learn this the hard way,literally taking the tank to the cleaners only to have a squeaky clean aquarium...and a few fish upside down.The more we let an aquarium mature,the more stable it will be.

    • sweeaun profile image

      sweeaun 5 years ago from Malaysia

      Good post. Everyone should get educated on nitrogen cycles before embarking on this hobby. We'll have less fish fatality then.