Looking for pictures of used/bacterially healthy aquarium filter media
July 4, 2021 5:06 PM   Subscribe

I'm wondering what good, healthy, well-used aquarium filter media full of beneficial bacteria looks like, but I can't find any photos of filter media except new-looking stuff. Anybody got some good photos showing green/brown slime that is definitely the good stuff? Thanks!
posted by amtho to Science & Nature (2 answers total)
What kind of media do you have?

Generally, it shouldn't look that different. My Biomax media just looks a little browner compared to the bright white of when it is fresh. It's also slicker to the touch. If it were visibly covered in slime I would be concerned (and suspect light is getting into the filter area.)

The easier way to tell is by smell. It should have a pleasantly earthy, pond smell and you should only really smell it when you are working in the tank or have your nose right in there.

Are you testing the water? If your tank is going through the nitrogen cycle then your biological media must be doing its thing.
posted by forbiddencabinet at 5:26 PM on July 4, 2021 [2 favorites]

It doesn't look like anything. White filter media (fiber or ceramic) will be forever stained a pondy color, but it shouldn't be slimy or claggy.

You need to rinse the sludge out - use water that's just come out of the tank, in a bucket, to swish and squeeze it clean, and then get it back in the biosphere quickly. Don't let it dry out. Don't rinse with tap water, and in an emergency at least use water that's been treated with conditioner (I ONLY use Seachem Prime, which smells like farts, but two tiny drops will treat a gallon of water).

You really can't see it. There is the pleasant earthy smell, and there's the water test, but your filters and plants, decor, rocks etc should not be stringy or green or slimy.

I'm really now team "the more the better" so even for a modest 20L I use one of these big sponge filters and one good hang-on-back with ceramic, sponge, and sheet filter media, just so I've always got multiple pieces of colonized media (also makes it easier to fire up a new tank or a hospital tank quickly by borrowing the sponge filter) going at one time. I never clean them both at the same time, but I do aim to clean them both often enough that swishing/squeezing only gets me a minor cloud of gunk and not a bucket of black stank.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:08 PM on July 4, 2021

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