We have an Askoll tank - which has suggests a monthly maintenance schedule. The tank came with a kit for the first month's maintainance (which is approaching) here which are quite pricy.
Am happy to pay if that is what is required. But also want to ask what is actually necessary so I am not using "kit" unnecessarily - or buying branded stuff when actually I could get bog-standard stuff for 1/4 of the price. I also do not want to be doing unnecessary/over cleaning our tank so that I upset the bacterial balance/water quality unnecessarily. The booklet that cam with the tank is not hugely useful imho.
So 1) How often should I be doing bigger cleany bits? (not weekly water changes/glass-algae scrubbing) 2) What should these bigger bits include? 3) Do I need to change the sponge once a month or just wash it in tank water? The monthly kit contains a 1 filtration sponge (mechanical and biological). Is this important to change or are they just trying to sell more? 4) Do I need to change the "active carbon sponge for mechanical, biological and adsorbing filtration" - I think this is the cloth bag of black gritty stuff 5) Do I need to change the ceramic balls? Wash them? There is nothing in the monthly kit for these - so do I just ignore them/leave them alone? 6) Finally are there points when I need to pull out the entire filter/heater column and give it a good clean/scrub? Is this a monthly one or only when "x" happens (if so what is x? Cloudy water? Something else?
Sorry for the huge list of questions. After our questionable start I don't want to cock anything else up!
What Marne said. The aim is for water to be able to flow through the sponges easily. They don't have to be sparkling clean, just free from big bits of crap. I did my big filter once a month when I had my big tank, but my small filter needs cleaning once a fortnight.
I've never bothered with carbon but it's good to have some handy in case you need to remove pollutants or medication from the water.
if you do replace any filter media, do it gradually rather than all at once, otherwise you'll lose too much of the good bacteria in one go.
Urk, I didn't spot that! Well spotted! Yes, never use tap water to clean your filter media. Although tbf, sometimes I type 'tap water' when I was actually thinking 'tank water'. I have the same problem with several other fish-related words which has led me to ask if somebody's pimp was functioning properly.
I didn't say I washed them in tap water did I? , I never wash my sponges in tap water, always rinse in tank water ( must have been a typo if that's what I said ), I do wash the filter casing in tap water once emptied, I do this once every couple of months.