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Problem with Scourer pads


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Had a bit of an incident the other week I thought worth sharing:

Cleaned my dad's aquarium filter for him - Sacem 1000 External Canister on 3ft Tank, 4 young Acei, 3 mature E.Yellows and a Bristle Nose catfish.

The canister is half full of ceramic rings, the rest is wool and a layer of course foam. The course foam had started to deteriorate and I only had a wad of new wool on me, so my dad found some brand new 3M ScotchBrite pads in the cupboard (the green scourers).

On the packet it states "Sterile if boiled", so my dad boiled up a couple of pads, I cut them to size and into the canister filter. When cleaning the filter I used only tank water, didn't wipe down the interior and placed the ceramic into a bucket of tank water not even rinsing it. I only replaced the wool and course foam only and the fish weren't fed (to the best of my knowledge) for at least one day after.

About a week later all the fish stopped swimming, looking quite sick resting on the bottom. Then the Acei started to die one by one. Even the BN was looking crook.

As my little niece regularly feeds these fish I assumed she had been over feeding them and combined with a newly cleaned filter, the tank's nitrogen cycle may have crashed.

After one 20% and three 50% water changes over 5 days, the fish were still sick with all the Acei gone.

Then it clicked - the only thing different to my usual process of cleaning a filter, was the 3M ScotchBrite.

So I pulled the scourer pads out, did an 80% water change and wouldn't you know it - all the surviving fish (the E.Yellows and the catfish) are all happy and swimming around again. It's been over a week since removing the scourer pads and currently the male Yellow is even trying to spawn.

So it had to be the ScotchBrite pads, surely.

I must confess I didn't test the water for ammonia spiking, and I wish I had of because it might have been more conclusive that the ScotchBrite pads were the culprit.

That said, I still reckon it was the pads. Perhaps 3M have changed the manufacturing to make their scourers more abrasive, such as use metal particles in them. Or perhaps they now use various chemicals to make them clean of any biological traces. :dntknw:

I thought it worthwhile letting people know - even if the packet says "Sterile after boiling" it doesn't necessarily mean it'll be safe for fish.

Anyone have experience with this, or thoughts to share? What brands are people currently using?

I've used scourer pads for years, can't remember what brand I got long ago, but never had a problem with them.

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"Sterile after boiling" means it won't harbour germs so it is safe to wipe benches and stoves without spreading bacteria.

I'd hazard a guess that boiling degraded whatever the material is and it was rotting.

Must admit I would not have thought to boil and use a scotchbrite in my filter. At most I'd have rinsed it in water with dechlor.

Interesting story thanks for sharing. Sorry you lost some stock. Glad all seems fine now.

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Most of the sponges and scourers at the supermarkets have antibactia properties built into them nowdays.

I got smoe from bunnings which look like large scourer pads (25x10cm approx) that seam to work ok

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Sorry for all your losses and thanks for the lesson, but lets all stop and think for a bit.........

Why don't we all just stick to good old fish tank filter wool. I don't see why we need to always try to find something cheaper or easier or whatever.....i mean how hard can filter wool be to find and the cost?? For something purposely designed, "cheap as chips".

..........Just stick to what's proven and purposely designed.

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..........Just stick to what's proven and purposely designed? As I mentioned in my original post, I arrived to clean my dad's filter and found the course foam to be degraded and falling apart. All I'd brought with me was wool but I needed to replace the first stage course foam and because I'd used scouring pads for years with no problem, that's why I used them as available.

Wool's great and all, but it clogs up quickly if you don't have a courser filter layer before it to trap the bigger particles. That's where scouring pads have worked well for me in some of my filters. But in an external canister just having straight wool after the ceramic means I'll have to probably go back and clean it again in 3 months time instead of the usual 6 months.

But you're right, us cheap a r s e s should use the right stuff. If only course filter foam was cheaper! :no:

Edited by GTR73
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