Cleaning filter media?

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Still battling my nitrates here. I'm running a canister with filter pads, carbon, and bio balls. I'm slowly switching out the bio balls with live rock. Removing about 3 every 2 weeks. Can I remove more at a time and more often? My tank is fairly new(about 3 months). I would love to just get them all out of there, but don't want to mess things up. Also, should I remove the carbon and filter pads too or just clean them. If I clean them, how often and with what. I am so confused on this. I have read so many different things varying from cleaning media every few days to every few months, cleaning all media with tank water, tap water, and distilled water.
I really wish I wouldn't of even got a canister, but that's what I got before I really started researching things. Now I'm kind of stuck until I can afford my protein skimmer. I eventually just want to run tank with powerheads and skimmer. If I do away with canister now, all I would have is powerheads.
I think I have a giant nitrate factory going on. They are ranging 40-80. Ammonia and nitites maintaining at 0. PH 8.0.
 
You can remove the bioballs faster than that, i would remove a cup or two every week. And i would also be totally cleaning out the canister filter at least once a week. The media you have to dispose of, the rest can be wiped down and rinsed out with tap water.

However you can run a tank with just powerheads, i did so for months, just make sure you have enough flow
 
You can remove the bioballs faster than that, i would remove a cup or two every week. And i would also be totally cleaning out the canister filter at least once a week. The media you have to dispose of, the rest can be wiped down and rinsed out with tap water.

However you can run a tank with just powerheads, i did so for months, just make sure you have enough flow
So do I need to gradually remove the carbon and pads or just dispose of it all at once?
 
Dispose of it all at once, however if the carbon isnt in one of the filter bags it might not go "bad" as fast. I dont know much about how often you should change if it isnt in the bags, i would check the directions on the container.
 
I also ran my 90 with just powerheads and weekly water changes (no skimmer or sump) for the first two and a half months and it did just fine. If you are planning to get rid of the canister and think it is causing the high nitrates, then I'd just stop running it now. You should be good for a few months until you can add a skimmer :)
 
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