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Old 03-02-2010, 11:52 PM   #1
Citizen Snips
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Exclamation How long can an established tank go without a filter?

I need help.

My tank's filter (aqueon 30 gal) just crapped out. The propellar inside doesn't stay on when submerged in water so it isn't pumping correctly. I took it apart and cleaned it and flicked the fan and it started goin again but once it hits the water level the whole thing gurgles loudly and stops again. I had it goin for about 45 seconds and thought I had fixed it but no dice!

Now I can't swap out for a new filter for about another 24 hours because of my work schedule, will eveything be alright? The tank is fully planted and has 7 neon tetras 3 platys and a bristlenose pleco.
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Old 03-03-2010, 12:13 AM   #2
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low bioload and lots of plants give you a good shot of making it for quite a while, don't feed the tank at all. If you have an air-pump, crank up the bubbles. Change water when the fish start acting uncomfortable. or when you read high ammonia or nitrite.

Really you can keep fish indefinitely (and even feed them) in a tank with no filter if you are willing to do frequent, massive water changes.

Take another look at the impeller (the propeller thing) and see if the shaft is straight. The ones with a metal pin can get bent and you can sometimes bend them back with a pliers. Make sure nothing is in the hole where the impeller goes, clean the hole with a brush. Make sure the intake siphon is in the right place. Pour water in the filter and let it gurgle. Often if the impeller moves at all, the motor is fine and a new impeller might fix it. But I have had some filters with a hidden break in the power supply that go on and off if you wiggle the cord.

Last edited by emc7; 03-03-2010 at 12:15 AM.
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Old 03-03-2010, 09:32 AM   #3
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I seemed to have fixed it this morning! After messing with it all last night with no success I was unaware I could actually pull the impeller out of the motor itself. After rinsing it off and running cold water through the thing (and priming the filter correctly) it was perfect again!

Now let's see if it holds up through the day or if I have to go buy a brand new one. -_-
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Old 03-03-2010, 10:02 AM   #4
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Big Als had a Aquaclear 70 for $19.99 the other day. I think somebody posted about it recently. They might still have them if you do need a new filter.
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Old 03-03-2010, 10:05 AM   #5
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Just in case something goes wrong again, I have a similar setup, and a couple of weeks ago, due to a power surge, my tank was without its filter for about 12 hours. Everything was fine, but some of the fish were starting to hang out at the top, so I think things were starting to go downhill. Glad to see you got it working again tho. Those AquaClears are great, but I almost always have to take mine apart and clean to get it to run right after unplugging it.
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Old 03-03-2010, 05:08 PM   #6
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it is always a good idea to keep a spare filter and heater in the back of the fish stand in case of emergencies.
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Old 03-03-2010, 07:13 PM   #7
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How long can an established tank go without a filter?
quite frankly, if done properly, your tank can go forever without a filter. and it doesn't even have to be fully planted or any of that.

but i digress.

if your filter craps out on you, take all the media (filter cartridges, sponges, bio-media, or whatever the case may be depending on your specific filter) and place it directly in the tank.
yes, it will look like crap
and yes, it will likely get cloudy because of the waste being added back to the display...

but... more importantly, you will not lose any of your beneficial bacteria, and your tank will continue to process the ammonia produced by your fish. remember, all surfaces of your tank, decor, and substrate are capable of housing bacteria, so by adding the media directly to the tank, essentially, the tank becomes the filter.

this however leaves the problem of aeration. this can be achieved by a simple air filter and airstone. the surface agitation produced by the bubbles will keep your tank aerated.
this can also be done manually in a pinch, but thats a lot of work. lol/
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