I put dirt in my tank a month ago and my plants and fish look awesome, but my filter is a huge mess. I have pretty basic penguin hang on the back model, I think it's 250 or 300 or something like that. my tank is 29 gallons. I have long since stopped using the premade cartridges (too expensive) and use my own combination of floss, foam pads, sponges, and carbon in filter bags. Anyways, ever since I added dirt my filter box is a disgusting muddy mess. Every once and awhile I use a turkey baster to get the nastiness out, and it is literally muddy sludge everywhere. I have found myself having to rinse everything out more often than I usually do, and today when I went to dig out the carbon to put new stuff in a huge black cloud of dirty water poured out of the filter out take and made my tank seriously disgusting. I tested the water chemistry and its fine, but I hate having my tank look ugly every time I touch anything in the filter. Does anyone have experience with this? will the grossness clear up after awhile since the dirt is new, or is there anything I can do to make it less gross? Thanks.  

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What kind of floss/foam are you using and how often do you rinse them out?

Just the bonded foam pads from the pet store (I want to say the brand is marine-land?) and the floss same thing, something I just picked up I couldn't tell you the brand. I rinse the floss every 5 days and the foam every 7-10 usually, but more often recently since its been so gross. 

what did you cap the dirt with? I personally think gravel isnt as good as sand. also don't move plants around or you will make a mess

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