Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Filter Profile - Marineland Penguin 200 Bio-Wheel

The following article shows the breakdown, cleaning and reassembly of my Marineland Penguin Bio-Wheel 200 filter system... one of my many filter systems.

Manufacturer's description:

Noise-Reducing Vented Cover For quieter operation

Two-Piece Filter Hood For flip-top filter cartridge access

Adjustable Mid-Level Intake attaches to the Intake Extension Tube to provide increased water circulation.Extra Media Slots (Penguin 200 and 350) for an additional Rite-Size Filter Cartridge or Penguin Refillable Media Cartridge for enhanced chemical filtration.Plus...
Leak Proof, Easy-Care Design.

One-piece tank and motor assembly means no O-rings to fail.

Single moving part removes easily for cleaning.

No oiling or motor maintenance required.

Automatic Self-Starting Feature Restarts automatically.

No messy siphons or valves.

Worry-Free, Safety Engineering.

UL listed; cUL or CSA listed.

Epoxy-sealed, moisture-proof motor ensures safe operation.
Penguin 100 - 100gph (up to 20G tropical or as additional filter on goldfish tank)

Penguin 150 - 150gph (up to 30G tropical or as additional filter on goldfish tank)

Penguin 200 - 200gph (up to 50G tropical or as additional filter on goldfish tank)

Penguin 350 - 350gph (up to 75G tropical or 35G goldfish tank)

The following photos will also show the filter cartridge modifaction that I made to remove the carbon and also how I add extra polypad filter media for increased filtration between the bi-weekly cleanings. The reservoir on this filter is not very large so it does not have a lot of room for very much media but it could hold a small media bag full of some type of bio-media. I just prefer to use extra polypad media which provides both mechanical and biological filtration.

Here is the filter on the tank with the two covers in place. There is a top slotted-cover over the filter reservoir and a separate front cover over the Bio-Wheel, so as it spins, the spray drips back down into the waterfall and tank.

Here is the filter with the two covers removed.

Since this cleaning was going to take longer because of the photographs, I removed the Bio-Wheel and had it floating in the tank, so that it would not dry out and kill the nitrifying bacteria. Usually, I set it in the removed front cover while I'm cleaning the filter. Anytime the fliter is turned off for any length of time (e.g. during transport or a power outtage), the Bio-Wheel should be floated in the tank to keep it from drying out, keep the nitrifying bacteria alive and to help continue "cycling" the ammonia in your tank.

Here is the filter sitting next to the sink, ready to be cleaned.

I first removed the intake tube and impellor assembly. I run water through the tube to flush out any large debris and occasionally I clean it with a bottle brush and clean the impellor housing as well.

Here is the filter cartridge and the extra polypad filter media. I use bulk polypad filter media comprised of blue (coarse) and white (fine) polypad material and cut the large sheet into the sizes I need for my various filter systems. A package of this polypad media is inexpensive.

This shows a top view of the filter and reservoir. I use the "dirty"
extra polypad to clean off the buildup on the waterfall outlet and any other buildup, before I clean the polypad material. If needed, I clean the Bio-Wheel holders with a toothpick to remove any buildup that might slow down the spinning of the Bio-Wheel.

Here are the filter cartridge and extra polypad filter after cleaning under dechlored tap water from my PUR faucet filter. This keeps some of the N-Bacteria alive. I have two filters for this tank and clean one every other week to minimize disruption of the biological filter. If I only have one filter system on a tank, then I only squeeze/swoosh the filter media in removed tank water so I do not kill off any of the good nitrifying bacteria.

Here is the other side of the filter cartridge and polypad filter media.
The blue and white polypad material is a combination coarse/fine mechanical filter media, which also provides additional surface area for growing good nitrifying bacteria.

This shows how I used a razor knife to slice open the black slotted plastic on the back of the filter cartridge so I could dump out the carbon and re-use the filter cartridge over and over and over. Basically, I cut an "H" along the sides and across the middle but a "U" or inverted "U"
could also be done. I thought the "H" would leave the frame structure intact. I do frequent 25% PWC's (partial water changes) so I do not run carbon in all of my filters. I do keep bulk carbon on hand for when I need it and use filter media bags to hold the carbon. This is still the original filter cartridge that came with the system two years ago.

Here is another picture showing the "surgery" I did to the filter cartridge to remove the old carbon, yet allow me to reuse the filter cartridge.

Here is the filter Cartridge and extra polypad media replaced in the reservoir. Note how I have the extra polypad sticking up about an inch above the filter cartridge. I then fold this over the top of the cartridge so that when the filters start to get dirty and the water fills up more in the reservoir, it will eventually overflow the polypads but still get partially filtered by this extra inch of polypad.

This shows the extra inch folded over the top of the filter cartridge.

Here is the filter sytem cleaned and back on the tank. That white buildup is the calcium/mineral buildup from the evaporated hard tap water that I have. I would normally just use a little white vinegar on a paper towel to easily wipe that off.

BTW... that 1/2 filled 10G tank in the background is an H-tank where I have one of my goldfish right now. He's not feeling well and has a fin-tear/rot issue so I have him in the H-tank with a bubble filter so he doesn't have to deal with the over-filtration in the main tank. I'm treating him with MelaFix/PimaFix cocktail and anti-bacterial food for the past three days. He's doing much better but will stay in the H-tank till he's back to his perky self!

Lenny Vasbinder aka GoldLenny in forums


  1. Lenny,

    If you go to Marineland's website they will show that the filter is installed with the black side (charcoal) facing the bio wheel and the blue side (filter) facing the back of the unit. I called marine land to confirm this. It's also shown on their pdf file.

    However what you have here is a great idea! Really should cut down costs by 1/2! Thanks Lenny!

  2. Is it possible to reuse an old filter cartridge? Not permanently, but as a substitute until a new one is found... how many days do you think that would last before it adversely affects the fish?

  3. Hmmmm.. not sure how I missed this comment two years ago, but I'll answer it now so any new readers will have the answer.

    Yes, it's not only possible but practical to keep using and reusing filter cartridges. I still have most of my original filter cartridges and other filter media for many years now. I simply "clean" the filter media once a week or so, depending on the tank's bioload, by rinsing the filter media in removed tank water. If I have multiple filter systems on a tank or if a filter system holds multiple cartridges or stages of filtration, I might tank one stage of filtration and over clean it from time to time but I ONLY do one stage at a time and then wait several weeks before considering doing another stage, just to make sure I do not kill off too many of my good nitrifying baacteria at one time. Marineland's Dr. Tim Hovenac invented the Bio-Wheel as a way of growing nitrifying bacteria on the bio-wheel so folks could change out filter cartridges every few weeks without causing major harm to the nitrifying bacteria colonies but it's still not necessary to trash these perfectly good cartridges when they can be cleaned and reused. Read my article on proper "Filter Maintenance And Cleaning..." for more details.

  4. Lenny,
    Hi, I'm new to all of this but I'm a quick study and I soak up all the info I can. I have two of these Penguin 200B filters on a 36 gallon bow front aquarium that I set up a month or so ago. I am interested in cleaning and reusing these filters as you have done.

    I cut open one of the filters last night, dumped the carbon, rinsed out the filter in my well water (no chlorine) and put it back in. All is great up to this point. Now I want to continue to use activated carbon. I bought some carbon and some media bags (fine mesh). Do I just put some carbon in the bag and drop it in the back of the filter? Or should I put it between the two surgically modified/decarbonated Penguin filters? What do yo suggest?

  5. NoSuperstitions,

    I would put a sponge pad or filter floss pad inside the former carbon area and put new carbon in a separate media bag. That way, every few weeks when you may need to change out your carbon, you won't have to fool with the filter as much... also, if you ever have to medicate your tank, you can just pull out the carbon media bag without fooling with your filter so you will be less likely to harm your nitrifying bacteria growing in your filter pad/sponge area and possibly create a mini-cycle issue... which might just further stress the sick fish you might be medicating.

  6. Greetings Friends,
    I have a question that I would HIGHLY appreciate answered! I purchased a brand new 37 gallon bow front with cabinet in August of 2010 and added a Marineland Penguin Bio-Wheel 200 filter system. I know I should have waited and not added fish so quickly, but I got over excited and jumped the gun! Anyway, I have NEVER had so much trouble trying to get my water to turn crystal clean! I live on well water and switched to bottled jug water from Safeway/Giant/etc because the test strips were always reading way off the charts! The water went crystal clear and then boom...I had a case of Ick. I medicated using the correct amount ad even called the company as in if this product would hurt the water condition. They told me no, however the water turned cloudy almost immediately afterwards. After awhile, and many weekly partial water changes the water returned to a stunning crystal clean and the test strips were perfect. Then like a dummy I cleaned the filters (both) under the tap water and bought a gravel cleaner. Now I cannot seem to get the water condition right!!! HELP PLEASE! Should I use the gravel cleaner each and every time I do a partial water change. I say this because the water got so BAD looking, but the test strips read fine that I literally did a 75% water change thinking that would get rid of all the yuk. The water looked good for about two days and then slowly turned but to a cloudy tank! Someone told me that I should NOT clean the gravel each and every time I do a water change and ONLY do a small 10 to 20 water change or I will loose good bacteria. I have not touched the tank in 14 days (as in partial water change). The test strips read fine. Will this problem ever go away so I can enjoy a crystal clear tank. HELP!!!

    P.S. Last two questions please: How often do I do partial water changes?, and second, since I have two filter cartridges and a bio-wheel, do I only clean one filter in fish tank water and not the second, or do I just leave them alone PERIOD so I do not disturb the good bacterial growth , or do I clean both filters in the fish water that I am getting rid of during a partial water change? Thanks!

    Thanking you in advance.


  7. Hi Ronnie,

    Well, you have a lot of issues going on... the same mistakes that many of us make/made as beginners, so you will be able to get through this.

    First, you need to quit worrying about getting your water crystal clear right now. When first setting up a tank, there will be lots of biological activity happening that will cause your water to get cloudy. Just be patient and let things settle into place. DO NOT get into the quick fixes of using this chemical or that chemical as those only turn your aquarium into a toxic wasted dump. Let nature takes its course.

    Give me details though when giving information...

    What medication are you using or did you use for the treatment of Ich? In the future, if you should ever get Ich again, there is no need to buy medication. Regular table salt would have worked just fine and been less harmful to your fish and the rest of the ecology of your aquarium... unless you have delicate plants but most other plants can tolerate the salt levels needed to kill the Ich parasite. I won't go into details now since I'm not even sure if you still have an Ich problem.

    You also need to quit worrying so much about trying to get your water so-called perfect according to your test strips. There is no such thing as perfect water... only the right kind of fish for the water that you have. Some folks have very low pH and very soft water so they should keep fish that like that kind of water. Others have very high pH and very hard water so they should keep fish that like that kind of water. Others have middle of the road water and they should keep fish that like that kind of water. There are plenty of variety of fish for each kind of water parameters.

    Now that said, what kind of fish do you have now?

    Next, you want to find your tap water baseline. See my blog article (link on the right) for "Find Your Tap-Source Water Baseline" and post your numbers as requested in the article. You can just post them in the comments section below that article. It would probably be best for your fish and your wallet if you use your well water but we will know more once you do your tap water baseline testing. Most bottled waters are NOT good for fish since many of them have been filtered so much that they no longer have all of the vital minerals and nutrients needed to sustain life. This is especially true for distilled water.

    (See next comment for more of my reply)

  8. You should also get a good Master Test Kit instead of the dip strips as the dip strips are MUCH more expensive and give less consistent readings which make people do tests several times making the dip strips even more of a waste of money. A test kit like the API master test kit or the Tetra-Laborette master test kit will cost less than $25.00 for all the tests you need for more than a year... and give you more accurate and consistent test results. Finish using your strips but when it's time for more, get a good master test kit. I have a blog post about "Everyone Needs A Decent Master Test Kit" (link on right) with more details, links and pricing but the best prices I've seen lately are from Walmart.com where they give free shipping to your local store. Walmart.com carries the two kits I mentioned for around $15.00 to $17.00. Regardless of which kit you get, you will have to add on to the master test kit which is why I said less than $25.00.

    As far as vacumming your gravel, YES, you should do this on a weekly basis to suck up all of the poop and other detritus as this build up of detritus will cause you to have poor water quality. For folks with planted tanks, things are different to a degree but you did not indicate that you have live plants so for fish only with fake plants, you should do deep gravel cleaning each week.

    As far as filter cleaning, yes, you made some mistakes with changing out your filters. Even though you have a bio-wheel, in a new tank, the nitrifying bacteria need time to establish full size healthy colonies so you don't want to trash any part of your filter system and only clean it gently. See my blog post "Filter Maintenance And Cleaning..." for more details.

    As a general rule, you should do weekly 25% to 33% PWC's (partial water changes) just to remove some of the polluted water and give the fish clean fresh water and this also keeps the water paramters more stable over time... however, if you have a light bioload in your tank, you can stretch things but if you have a heavier bioload, then you have to do PWC's more often. For example, if you have 1 small fish in a 100G tank, you could probably go months without doing a PWC but if you have 20 fish in the same tank, they would create 20 times more waste so the water would have to be partially changed 20 times more often. The reason for moderate sized partial water changes is so that you do not change the water parameters too much, too fast, as this can stress out fish. There is a chance that when you changed too quickly from your well water to bottled water, this caused your fish to get stressed out too much and possibly caused the Ich outbreak.

    Last but not least, you should go to my blog "A to Z Of Fishkeeping..." and take one or both of the free online tutorials for beginners as they will walk you through all of the basics of fish keeping and will be something you can go back and re-read as needed. Feel free to ask questions here on my blog or in one of the forums that you join.

  9. Thanks Lenny for the quick reply.

    I have a 37 gallon tank with a mixture of three fake and three live plants. My tank consists of three medium angels, two small clown loaches, a medium blue gourami, a medium silver dollar, two black skirted tetras, three medium tetras, three small tetras, one swordfish, two small emerald green corys, a sunburst platty/molly and a chinese algae eater. The tank has minimal ornamentations. A cool looking fake tree stump for the clown loaches to hide in, two porous large lava looking rocks with holes in the center of each for swimming through, and the plants I mentioned above. I know, I know I probably have to many fish or did not do the right "So called way" of starting a new fish tank. I should have waited and done thing slowly, I guess i got over excited and like I said in my last post I jumped the gun and purchased allot of fish all at once and now I am paying the price! I will purchase a master kit as you mentioned, however you wrote, "Regardless of which kit you get, you will have to add on to the master test kit which is why I said less than $25.00". Can you explain what you mean as in add on? I would love to save money and use my well water, but did what Petco told me to do and it is costing me around $16.00 to $ 20.00 a week for all this distilled water. The fish have not seemed to mine, or maybe I just do not think they mind! Anyway, I will read your blog on tap water base line and go from there. Should I start all over again as in doing a major water change or introduce the tap water slowly with weekly water changes?
    I used Mardel for the ick problem or the problem I thought I had.

  10. To explain, I had four baby guppies that a friend gave to me in a small fish bowl. The babies were just starting to show color and I put them in with the rest of the 37 gallon new fish tank, which was about a month and a half established and was crystal clear! Well they survived and were not eaten. Then one day I saw a single white spot on one guppy. I monitored the little guy and he seemed fine. No eating problems, lethargic acting, etc. I noticed a second single white spot on another guppy and went to the web to research diseases, and found nothing about a single white spot. Every site mentioned Ick, so I removed the two and had two remaining. Then one morning I noticed a third single white spot. After a week or so, I decided to remove the fish, but before I did I woke to find the angel fish fighting over a half eaten baby guppy. I quickly removed it and monitored all the fish for a week or so after that. No fish seemed harmed in anyway or showed any signs of white spots or distress. Then, one morning I woke to find a single white spot on my swordfish. I quickly did some more research and called Petco. They mentioned Mardel for Ick. Before I bought the chemical, I went to the web and read that medications can be worse then the disease itself and one site recommended marine salt and raising the water temperature to kill the parasites. I read that Ick in its attached cysts form could not be killed with any medications, and they had to drop off and be free swimming before attacking them with medication or the salt/temp. way. A few sites were thumbs up for the marine salt and others were against it. CONFUSING! Anyway I called the Mardel company hotline and spoke to a gentleman there who told me to ignore what I read, and that Mardel was a safe and effective way of treating Ick and to stay away from salt because it was a tropical tank and not a salt water tank. (At the time, it made sense to me). When I told him that I read nightmares as in destroying the good bacteria and messing up the cycling process, he assured me that Mardel for Ick would not do this! Well, I used it and guess what, the swordfish's spot went away, and I have him today in my tank, but on the down side, the water turned all kinds of ugly/cloudy stinky/etc. I contacted Petco and Mardel, and EVERYONE had his/her own opinion as in the correct route to take. I ended up buying a ton of stuff that they all recommended, ($$$$) everything from live bacteria, Ph-up, Ph-down, two dwarf African frogs, driftwood, live plants, live mossy plants attached to this certain type of small rock that was suppose to regulate the water, new filters, etc. They told me to switch to distilled water, which I have been doing at a cost of $16.00 to $20.00 a week as I explained above. Finally, I had enough and took everything back including the frogs, (because they never seemed to get enough food and I felt bad, and the pellets seemed to just dissipate into the substrate, which is a medium sized round rock before being entirely eaten). The only thing I repurchased was the three plants that are in my tank as of today. They gave me a full refund after a pleasant chat with the store manager.

  11. So, after awhile and many, many partial water changes, the water finally went crystal clear again, and the test strips were reading perfect. Then slowly but surely the water turned cloudy again??????? Actually Lenny, it went crystal clear twice in the last four months. Then boom, it went entirely greenish last month, and that's when I did a 75% water change, and used stress coat as I always do. However, this time I added seven table spoons of marine salt as directed on the container for my size fish tank and the fish are all fine! I have done two partial water change since then and did use the gravel cleaner on the gravel once. The vacuum was pulling up allot of dirty looking stuff which was actually very dark in my waste bucket container. I rinsed both filters out, (which looked dirty) in the bucket and put them back. I am assuming since I did a LARGE amount of water change, the cycling process has to reboot, and that is why my tank is not up the the level of clarity that it once was. I spoke with a friend of mine who gave me the number of a person who maintains/cleans fish tanks, (tropical and salt) for a living at lawyer offices, hospitals, libraries, etc and explained everything to him. He told me that I SHOULD NOT clean the gravel every time I do a partial water change because that is where the good bacteria is. He insisted I should NOT do a partial water change every week. He told me once a month is just fine. Then again, he never asked me how many fish I have in the tank either, like you asked! Your right, it's like having a blow up kiddy pool, compared to an Olympic sized pool, which one gets dirtier faster!?
    All I want is to do right by these fish and also have a beautiful tank to enjoy! I will listen to your advise Lenny, and ANY other details concerning what you think I need to do since I updated you with more information. My ears are open. Thanking you again in advance my friend!


    The water will finally go clear eventually...right?? I guess patience is a virtue!

  12. OK. First and foremost, you have to decide on which fish you want to keep and which ones you want to re-home as you have WAY TOO MANY fish for your tank size and you will continue to have LOTS of problems, with everything from fighting to health issues caused by stress and stunting to major water quality issues, etc... if you try to keep all of your fish.

    You should go to http://fish.mongabay.com and more particularly the search page, http://www.mongabay.com/search.htm and in the Advanced Search Section do a search on each of your fish, with a BULLET in the Mongabay Fish section and read the profiles/care sheets on each of your fish. Mongabay's profiles have a lot more information than many other website profiles. Pay particular attention to the SC (Suggested Companions) section and you will start to get a better idea of which fish work best with each other... but all of the other sections also are important, like preferred water paramaters and minimum suggested tank sizes... and remember that these tank sizes are based on just a single specimen of the fish so the tank sizes would have to be much larger for multiple specimens and/or when adding other species of fish.

    A 37G tank, presuming this is a tall tank (30" x 12" x 22 3/4" tall... which is just a taller version of the 20G Long Tank), could hold a mated pair of Angelfish and possibly some dither fish (smaller schooling fish that do not add much to the bioload and big enough that the Angelfish won't eat them). The footprint of a tank, which is the same as the water's surface area is very important in determining the number and types of fish a tank can hold.

    The clown loaches will get much too large (12"+) for the 37G tank and clown loaches should be kept in shoals of at least three but five is recommended. Keeping large fish for short periods in an undersized tank is OK but trying to keep them too long will result in water quality issues and stunting of the fish or worse.

    The Gourami (grows to 6") could work with some of the other fish.

    The Silver Dollar grows to 8" and should be kept in a school of at least six so they are obviously too much of a bioload for your tank.

  13. Is the "swordfish" a Swordtail (orange colored with sword sticking out of tail fin?) or an actual freshwater swordfish? If an actual swordfish, it's probably not a good mix for most of your fish as they are probably predatory fish... if they are actual swordfish. I've seen pictures but haven't read much on these fish since they are not very common. Of course, some stores make up exotic sounding names for fish that really have nothing to do with their real lineage... like many of the so-called freshwater "sharks" are actually catfish or other species but because they might look like a real shark, the stores or distributors give them a shark name to lure uninformed buyers. If you don't have a swordtail fish, then see if this is what you have...

    If that is what you have, then read this Yahoo Answers, and all of the answers, which is where I got the above photo link. http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090312095614AAmlROq One of the answers mentions a profile on Badman's Tropical Fish profile http://badmanstropicalfish.com/profiles/profile49.html and both BadmansTropicalFish.com and TheKrib.com are very good and reputable websites with good fish profiles, lots of articles and those are the two sites that have the free online tutorials that I mentioned in my previous email. If that is what you have, as you see, you do not have a swordfish but rather a Halfbeak fish... but swordfish sounds so much more exotic with images of the giant saltwater swordfish that you see fisherman catching and they jump out the water, blah, blah, blah... and then mount them on a large wall. ;-)

    The CAE (Chinese Algae Eater) is another fish that will get much too large for your tank. While talking about Badman's Tropical Fish, here is their profile on the CAE. These fish do eat algae pretty good when young but as they mature and grow, they get much more aggressive and will attack slower moving fish and large bodied fish (like the angelfish) as they like to suck the slime coat off of fish. http://badmanstropicalfish.com/profiles/profile47.html

    The cories, tetras, livebearers (guppies, mollies, platies, etc.) are all OK for your tank as long as you keep their numbers down to a proper bioload.

    As you can see, you really should research your fish BEFORE you buy them to make sure they are compatible with your baseline water and also to make sure they will fit in your tank as adults and that they are compatible with each other.

  14. As far as the add-ons for the master test kits, I have this information on my blog about them but in short, the API kit comes with the tests for pH (high and low), ammonia, nitrite and nitrate so you would need the API combo kit for GH and KH (General Hardness and Carbonate Hardness)... usually around $10.00 for the combo kit. The T-L test kit comes with all the tests except the nitrate test so you would need to add-on the API Nitrate test kit... usually around $7.00 for the nitrate test kit. The T-L master kit and the API Nitrate add-on is a little cheaper up front but the T-L bottles are smaller than the API bottles so the API master kit with the GH/KH combo add-on costs a little more but you end up with a lot more tests from the kit. This may or may not be beneficial since one should get a new kit every year to 18 months as the chemicals lose their accuracy once the bottles are opened and exposed to air and over time they simply become like the test strips and are not as accurate and should be replaced.

    I'll skip commenting on your paragraph about Ich, etc., since you already know what went wrong with that.

    As far as your friend's comments about gravel vacuuming and the good nitrifying bacteria that live in the gravel, all of that depends on the type of filter system one has. If one has a UGF (under gravel filter), then there is a lot of truth to the good bacteria living on the gravel but the fish poop and detritus can be safely vacuumed away without causing harm to the good nitrifying bacteria... and removing the fish waste actually is better for the N-bacteria so they are not competing with other bacteria for oxygen, so your friend is wrong about that. For most folks who so not have a UGF, then only the very top of the gravel will really have much nitrifying bacteria on it and most of the good N-bacteria will live in the filter media since that is where all the food passes through on a continual basis. N-bacteria need lots of oxygen to live so they do best when exposed to lots of water, which they do not get down in the gravel. Leaving poop and uneaten food down in the gravel will only grow bad bacteria over time and not do anything for the good bacteria.

    In closing for now, you need to re-think your plans for your tank as trying to keep doing the things the way you have been doing them will simply not work. Did you friend ever give you any advise about the number and potential size of the fish you are keeping?

    Please go to my "A to Z of Fishkeeping..." page and read over all of the info and links on that page... and join one of the forum listed on the right side of my blog. http://goldlenny.blogspot.com/2007/02/to-z-of-fish-keeping-how-to-training.html

    Lenny Vasbinder

  15. Greeting Lenny,
    You will be happy to know...I returned 11 fish today back to Petco. Two large angels, three medium orange tipped tetras, two medium black skirt tetras, the large silver dollar, the medium chinese algae eater, the tropical orange swordfish (Molly family), and a sunburst platty! I did allot of reevaluating last night after I read your reply e-mail. Trial and error I guess, especially for a starter aquarium owner. I kept one large marble angel, both small clown loaches, (because I LOVE them, and they were $15.00 a piece)!!! two emerald green corys, the powder blue gourami, and three small tetras. That's nine fish in my NEW and IMPROVED 37 gallon bow front aquarium, (33" across, 21" from top to bottom, and 11" from the side glass panels). I did a 35% water change, (which was filthy and green), vacuumed the gravel throughly, (which pulled up black water into the gravel cleaner), cleaned the filter system gently with tank water including both clogged looking filters, added stress coat, little bit of bacteria that I had left over for cycling. I added five tablespoons, (instead of the recommended seven tablespoons because I did this about a month ago or so) of dissolved tropical marine salt in a bowl of tank water, then returned to the tank, cleaned all the plants, (fake and real by soaking them in the partial water change water), and added four new aquatic live plants that I purchased today. Now, I understand that in time the loaches will get bigger, but I will deal with that when it comes around I guess. The tank looks GREAT, (although I do miss seeing a BUNCH of fish, I must admit). It looks literally barren, but that's o.k. Truthfully, it already looks almost clear and the levels are all fine as in Nitrate, PH, hardness, etc... The fish I selected to keep have been living together for five months and they get along great! The only reason I returned the two beautiful angels was because, they were aggressive to one another. The only other fish that was starting to get aggressive was that darn Chinese algae eater, so he was out of there, and of course the other fish I mentioned above. I hope this finally stops the OVERLOAD of the bio-load and my problems are OVER! I will continue reading your blogs, and others, and NEVER go back to where I just came from and this HEADACHE I know I created out of ignorance. What can I say...I learned my lesson! :) Thanks for all your great advise and pushing me to do what needed to be done! Have a great Christmas Lenny as well as a blessed New Years!



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