I have been using Seachem Purigen in the filter section of my Fluval Spec V aquarium for a few months now. I recently pulled up the filter material and the Purigen has now turned a nice, dark brown patina. Their instructions have the following to say about when to clean: “Exhaustion is indicated by a pronounced discoloration of the beads to dark brown or black.” While not yet black, I couldn’t help myself and decided to have a go at cleaning it.
Being able to clean (regenerate, or recharge) this media and put it back into use is a major positive that I discussed in my Seachem Purigen Review. Their literature states that it can be regenerated up to 10 times. Some people are a bit uneasy about cleaning it as it involves some methodology and materials that could be harmful, namely bleach.
I will rehash Seachem’s exact instructions here, and then I will describe in my own words how to clean your Purigen. From their website:
“Soak in a 1:1 bleach:water solution for 24 hours in a non-metalic container in a well ventilated area and away from children. Rinse well, then soak for 8 hours with a solution containing 2 tablespoons of ChlorGuard™, Prime®, or equivalent dechlorinator per cup of water. Rinse well. Original color and full activity should now be restored and Purigen® is ready for reuse. Caution: some slime coat products may permanently foul Purigen® and render regeneration difficult. Do not reuse if odor of chlorine is detectable. In case of doubt, soak beads in small quantity of water and test for residual chlorine with a chlorine test kit.”
Supplies Needed to Regenerate Seachem Purigen:
- Aquarium Safe Tupperware Container. Preferably one that has a footprint that will allow your seachem bag to lay flat. By aquarium safe, I mean one that is for aquarium use only, that has not been washed with soap. Don’t use a metal container as the bleach will corrode / react with it.
- Bleach. I choose to use Clorox brand as we have it and it was mentioned on Seachem’s website that is what they use.
- Seachem Prime Dechlorinator
- Tap Water
- Your Dirty, Nasty Purigen
Step One: Remove your bag of Purigen from the filter. Rinse it under gentle tap water to remove major sediment. Put the Purigen bag into your Tupperware.
Step Two: Measure out bleach and tap water into your tupperware in equal parts. I wanted to give my Purigen a little elbow room so I put 1-1/2 cups of water and 1-1/2 cups of Clorox bleach.
Step Three: Let this sit for 24 hours. Every once and a while I swished the bowl around a bit to mix up the contents, trying to get all the contents inside the bag exposed to the bleach. The smell off this process can be foul – at the end of 24 hours, it had a bit of a dead fish smell. I kept the bowl out in the garage. I would suggest somewhere outside your home. If you’re in an apartment, maybe in the bathroom with the vent fan turned on. At the end of 24 hours, the water was significantly tinted with junk that had been pulled out of the Purigen. Looking good!
Step Four: Rinse the Purigen. At this point, you have a product that has released much of the contaminates stuck to the surface, but it is swimming in said junk and coated in bleach, neither of which you want back in your aquarium. I spent a solid 5 minutes rinsing the Purigen bag under running, cold tap water. Flip the bag over and over to try and get all the pellets exposed to running water.
Step Five: Soak. Rinse out your tupperware container. Fill with 1 cup of tap water and 2 tablespoons of Seachem Prime. Let that soak for 8 hours. If you are working with a larger bag, keep the ratio but add enough water to cover, say 1-1/2 cups of water and 3 tablespoons of Prime.
Step Six: Rinse the Purigen again under tapwater. That is what the instructions said to do, but then you have chlorinated tap water in your Purigen. Might be overkill but . . .
Step Seven: Rinse tupperware, fill 1/2 to 3/4 with tap water, put Purigen bag in, add two drops of Seachem Prime to remove chlorine. Let that sit for a few minutes.
Step Eight: Put Purigen back into your aquarium’s filter media.
My 100ml bag of Purigen didn’t quite get as snow white as I expected from their description, but it was much, much cleaner after the whole process.
After I added it back to the aquarium, I had no troubles with any of my fish or shrimp. Not too much hassle and very nice to have it back to nearly it’s original state.
If I did this a lot and really relied on the product to be at the ready at all times, I would consider having two bags with one as a backup to rotate in while I clean the other. When you store the product, just make sure to keep it wet; add a splash of water into a ziplok bag and seal it all up.