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How often should bio balls be cleaned: or shouldn't they be cleaned?
 

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I rinse all my media every time I clean the filter. Tank water only.
 

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If they're in a wet/dry trickle filter, I'd leave them alone. I have setups running 4+ years now and I've not touched them. Anything that gets through the prefilter should go through to the sump.
 

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I cleaned mine in my trickle filter after 8 years. And that was only because I was switching from salt to freshwater. As long as they don't smell to high heaven you shouldn't have to worry about it.
 

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While I agree they don't need to be cleaned, it may be a good idea to give them a good stir once in a while, assuming they're submerged, preferably with a gravel vacuum so you can remove some of the debris to prevent it from breaking down. Of course, this is all relative to your sump setup. My bio balls are in the first compartment before mechanical filtration, no sock, so they get kind of messy if I don't give them a little attention.
 

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Yep, mine get a bit messy too. They're in a cannister, so a good swirl in some tank water gets rid of the worst of the goup, and back to work they go. I've never scrubbed them.
 

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Since everyone is explaining the circumstances of theirs I should preface my earlier comments with the fact that mine come after two stages of mechanical filtration so the water is already pretty clean before they hit the bioballs.
 
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