Aquaponic Gardening

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I bought some swamp cooler filter material from home depot and thought it would work great as a filter material for my tank. after using it for a few hours tank water was green and all my fish were dead. I made a huge mistake. Not sure what they put in the fiter material for swamp coolers but not good for fish. warning to others, dont use this stuff.

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Oh upsetting. I'm so sorry, and thank you for the warning.  How about using gamerus instead of a bio-filter?

I'm sorry for your loss, but you might wish to look further into the deaths of your fish. 

I've been using the blue cooler pads for over 6 months.  Generally I rinse it but there have been times I did not rinse it out.  I've not had any problems with cooler pad.

This photo is only one place I'm using it.  I also have built a wet dry filter out of it for my aquarium and I'm using about 1-1/2 sq ft of it in another aquarium as a screen.   This last application was not even rinsed before using it, but I would recommend rinsing it because there is something that causes suds on the pads.

Filter pads... aren't all the same...

@Bob.... your filter material appears to be "Japanese Mat Filter".... commonly used in aquaria, and aquaculture filters... and probably clean...

The "swamp filter" material could be anything... possibly even the Jap mat filter... but very probably coated/soaked with an algaelcide...or anti-mould substance...


Same goes with "scrubber" pads.... sometimes used in DIY filters...many are clean.. others are impregnated with detergents etc...

Some folks use the floor buffer pads from the rental department, they dont have any additives.

Have you tried adding worms to help keep the solids down?      I'm curious about the need for the additional filtration... is there too many fish? or not enough media beds?

I'm curious.....I thought that the gamerus replaced the need for bio-filter?  Jon???  Anyone else familiar with this?? Thanks!


Wow, that was quick...really sad about the fish and what you are going through...learning curves are sometimes very painful! Just think about the air quality in a home with that cool comfortable breeze blowing through that material...kind of makes L.A. air not so bad, or does it?

Also, the cooler pads could have been from another manufacture...inventory changes 

Great responses to your dilemma.

@ Bob & Kevin, is THIS the product you both used?

I ordered some gamerus a few days ago.  They sound like a good food source and a way to keep the tanks clean too. 

Susie Gehri said:

I'm curious.....I thought that the gamerus replaced the need for bio-filter?  Jon???  Anyone else familiar with this?? Thanks!

A good food source?  Do you mean for fish? (Sorry....if it sounds stupid)

Here is a desription from the e-bays seller I just purchased the gammarus from.

Scuds AKA Gammarus or Caledonian shrimp are small freshwater shrimp amphipods that can grow to about the size of a grain of rice.

Scuds are an excellent source of live food in aquariums and will rapidly colonize the gravel, keeping it clean by eating uneaten food as well as fish wastes. They are omnivorous and will eat almost anything. I use sinking shrimp pellets, rabbit food, frozen vegetables especially corn, rice and dried split peas.

Having live prey to chase has been found to make pet fish live longer lives by providing a predator / prey response. These will cause a feeding frenzy when you put them in your aquarium!

One of my favorite benefits of having scuds in the aquarium is they colonize the filter pads and keep them clean while breeding in them, this makes the filters last well over twice as long. Photo #2 is a 3 week old filter pad covered in scuds. I collected well over 3000 scuds from the filtration system for my 30 gallon aquarium in 6 weeks!

The variety I have is extremely resistant to changes in environment. Outdoors they can survive Minnesota winters as long as they have unfrozen water beneath the ice, and indoors have no problems with my 86* F crayfish aquariums. The key is to slowly change the temperature. This variety is also highly tolerant of the chlorine in untreated tap water. They have survived ammonia and nitrite spikes that killed off most of the rest of my aquarium. Photo #3 shows the test results for the ammonia levels they survived but killed off over 100 crayfish. Every single one that was in there with them.

To test survival rates while shipping, I have packed cultures and placed them in the refrigerator overnight and then let them sit on the table for 5 more days. Only 2 seemed dead and then I shook it and they started to swim! Unless it freezes, gets cooked or x-rayed in transit your culture should arrive alive and active. Shipments to Texas and Florida with 95 F temps arrived with only minimal loss, these guys are tough!

These are super fast breeders and will rapidly colonize your aquarium if carefully introduced. I suggest placing your culture in a small fish bowl to start with and slowly add them to your other aquariums. A 5 gallon bucket with an inch of gravel in the bottom, a heater and an air-stone works great. 86*F is an optimum growth temperature.

When scuds mate the male carries the female on his back as they are swimming. The female carries about 50 fertilized eggs in her egg pouch and these are orange in color and show through her semi-transparent body. The young shrimp hatch within the egg pouch and emerge as fully developed young shrimp but MICROSCOPIC in size.

Photo #4 has about 2 tablespoons of water in the corner of a plastic container, this is about what each culture has for scuds. The Hornwort, Duckweed and water in each culture came from the same aquarium as the rest of the scuds and is full of still too small to see baby scuds. Many of them will only be the size of these commas,,,,,,,,,.  I do put as many mating pairs as I can easily catch in each culture when making them.

Photo #5 is what a typical culture looks like while just made in a 1 quart jar but many will become green water cultures within a few days of being made after being put under fluorescent lighting. These are the best ones because the mixed freshwater algae is one of their favorite foods and it constantly turns their wastes right back into food. I don't send the jar by the way, just what's in it.

Photo #6 is the cultures in #5 after 3 weeks in a window.
The first scud culture I purchased looked like a bag of dead muck. That bag of dead muck is where these came from!!! Scuds love aquarium sludge and spend most of their time hiding in the muck or clinging to plants or debris so they aren't easily spotted by their predators (or you).

I will send a healthy culture with scuds of mixed size. I always make sure each one looks lively before shipping.

You will likely find Snails of any of these types (Malaysian Trumpet, Ramshorn and pond snails) and probably also red Grindal worms, Paramecium, Rotifers and Copepods as well. Don't be surprised if you get a green water culture because these are full of mixed freshwater algae and that is the backbone of an aquatic food chain.

I also put Hornwort and Duckweed in the culture. Besides making good hiding spots and helping to reduce stress during shipping, they are also full of eggs from everything!!! You might even find a juvenile Australian Red claw crayfish if you get lucky. I recently found an almost microscopic fish swimming in one and a dragonfly nymph in another. Lot's of neat stuff comes with the plants I get, bear in mind something bad may come as well. That is why it is always a good thing to put new additions to your aquarium under a quarantine for a while.

If you would like to purchase 2 or more cultures, please select medium flat rate box for the shipping and do not pay, ask for an invoice so I can consolidate the shipping price first. I can fit up to 5 cultures in a medium flat rate box for $11.00

Please keep in mind that I will probably ship in far less than the stated up to10 days handling time.

Thanks for looking!!!

I don't get on here much cause I don't know how to use it.  Where do I go to see your photos? WOW....thank you for this info!! Great lessons!!

The text I quoted is from an e-mail sent to me from the e-bay seller.  I did not include the images.

Photos and videos uploaded by members of this board can be accessed from the tabs at the top of each page.

Susie Gehri said:

I don't get on here much cause I don't know how to use it.  Where do I go to see your photos? WOW....thank you for this info!! Great lessons!!


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